Training during Ramadan
Training while you are fasting can actually be more detrimental than beneficial! So we look at how you can train safely during Ramadan.
Boxer Amir Kahn recently announced that he wouldn’t accept a much anticipated fight with Floyd Mayweather in September, as he requires 3 months of training and he wouldn’t be able to fit it in with Ramadan occurring in July this year.
The topic of exercise during Ramadan, which requires that Muslims do not eat or drink anything between dawn and sunset for 29-30 days, is not one that can be addressed quickly, not least because it depends what goal we’re trying to achieve. For example, there is some evidence that suggests aerobic training in a fasted state may be beneficial for fat loss, whereas resistance training results in maintenance of muscle mass rather than gain, so Ramadan is probably not the best time to start a bodybuilding programme.
That said, the above examples indicate that, providing adequate safety precautions are taken, there is no harm in training during Ramadan and indeed there may be benefits to doing so, such as ensuring your metabolism doesn’t down-regulate and you don’t lose any training gains made so far.
So we’ll look at some more general guidelines for training safely during this month:
- If fat loss is the aim, then some low-moderate intensity aerobic exercise in the middle of the fasted period is acceptable, however a more effective resistance training session will be possible if it’s done within an hour of either the last meal before the fast, or the first one after. This will provide the energy and nutrients needed to both fuel the workout and recover afterwards, as well as limiting the risk of hypoglycaemia
- Drinking plenty of water between fasts is essential to ensure sufficient hydration
- Maximum performances shouldn’t be attempted. The physiological disruption that occurs when fasting means personal bests are unlikely and high intensity workouts will be too demanding. Not only would that be demotivating, it could increase the risk of injury and fatigue. It’s more about maintenance than progression
- Adequate and appropriate nutrition should still be taken in during Ramadan. Although doing this in the non-fasting part of a 24-hour period may be awkward, this will prevent any issues caused by over-restricting nutrients and calories