Now, with that caveat out of the way, let’s talk training while fasting. There is no reason to cut physical activity during Ramadan if you go about it intelligently.
First, know your body, its limits, its warning signals, and its potential. The first rule of being a great athlete is to know and respect your body. Only focusing on cranking the weights and ignoring other factors, such as sleep, will result in minimal gain and more likely possibilities of injuries, catabolism, and just constant fatigue.
As far as nutrition goes, during Ramadan, I recommend increasing protein intake during Suhur and Iftar- or any other time you may eat. This is because while you are fasting, the body starts to catabolize and eat away muscle for energy. Increasing protein intake can help to limit this phenomenon. But still, don’t forget your carbs and essential fats.
Once that’s taken care of, we can move on. If it is the off-season for your sport, yet you still wish to train, you have the advantage of creating your own schedule. I would recommend timing your workout to one or two hours before Iftar. This way, you can train, then immediately after, you can eat and consume the essential nutrients you would need for recovery and sustenance- remembering to maintain increased protein intake. As far as how many days of the week you train with this schedule- that is up to you and how well you know your limits. Again, if it’s the off-season, you create your own schedule so take advantage of it and be smart with it.
If your athletic training is during the sport’s season and you are with the team, it may be a little bit more difficult- but definitely possible; I’ve done it my whole life without negative consequences. First, talk to your coach. S/he is your best friend on the team. Tell your coach as much prior to Ramadan as possible about fasting and how you shall be partaking in this. Assure the coach that this is not an excuse for mediocre performance because even during Ramadan you should be playing with full effort. Maybe, the coach may modify the practices a little bit to be closer to Iftar time. During practice, ask the coach for breaks whenever you feel the need. Don’t be afraid- your team is your family and they will understand. Don’t dress in a way that will cause you to overheat. And if you do feel tired, try to cool off a little before continuing. All the while you should still be working as hard as you would be while not fasting. Ramadan is not an excuse. Rather take it as an opportunity to increase you mental strength. Very few things can increase mental toughness like training on an empty stomach can. You will be respected for it- so again, do not be afraid or ashamed or embarrassed to talk to your coach and team. They need you as a player and will help.
After the practice, immediately consume high levels of sugary fruits (possibly blended into a shake) to replenish glycogen stores that were depleted throughout the day and practice. Then consume a high protein meal without forgetting your essential carbs and fat.
Insha’Allah with a little intelligent scheduling, playing your sport will be a breeze during Ramadan. If there are additional questions do not hesitate to post them. Insha’Allah I will answer with my humble advice.
Ramadan Mubarak and Asalamu’Alaikum.
Muslim Youth for Truth Contributor