Sunday, August 30, 2009

Athletes During Ramadan?

Asalamu’Alaikum brothers and sisters. Before I say anything on the topic, let me post a disclaimer that I am not, nor do I claim to be, a professional or expert on this subject. I speak only from my lifelong experience as an athlete, through trial and error, and any personal research I may have conducted. For that kind of advice please consult your own health professional. Also, everyone’s body is different, so what may work for me may not work for you.

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.

Ashkaar Qazi
Muslim Youth for Truth Contributor

Saturday, August 22, 2009

So, I'm a girl that's gotta play sports and fast the same time....HELP!

Sports and Ramadan may seem like an oxymoron to many. But, there is nothing wrong with keeping active during this holy month of fasting. Here, I offer some tips of how to exercise or participate in physical activity while remaining healthy and safe. These are based on my experience playing basketball as a high school freshman and common sense :-)

- You must be sure that your body can handle physical activity without any sustenance during the time you partake sports or exercise. So, it may be wise to consult a doctor and think about your current state of health and fitness.
- Having the proper gear/clothes is essential. As a Muslim young woman, speaking to other Muslim girls and women, wearing light but modest clothing is no problem. Exercise pants, a loose long sleeve shirt, an easy and light-colored scarf ( if you wear one), a hat and/or sunglasses, quality tennis shoes and sunscreen are appropriate and easy. Having a water bottle with you so you can rinse your mouth with water is good as well. And, applying chap stick or lip balm also will help to lessen dried lips and a parched mouth.
- If you are an athlete and practice with a team, you should tell your coach that you will be fasting for religious purposes and may need to take additional breaks. You won't be asking for an easy way out of practice, but simply telling your coach that you need to take it a bit easy for the next month during practice. This is also a great way to do dawah ( outreach) by explaining why you fast to your teammates and coach.
- When you complete your physical activity, it would be refreshing to go into a pool or take a cool shower. When you exercise, you lose water due to sweat. So, even though you cannot drink immediately to replenish your body internally, you can externally cool yourself down. And, it's fun to take a dip in the pool!
- Know your limits. Don't over exhaust yourself. If you are feeling really awful, then please stop. Allah swt will, InshAllah, give us all the strength during this Ramadan and give those whose bodies undergo more exertion, extra blessings. Ameen.

Ramadan Mubarak!

Nora Zaki
Muslim Youth for Truth blogger

Sunday, August 16, 2009

So...What's the point of this thing?

Picture, if you will, a group of youth, tweens, teens and college students, in Tampa, FL on a Saturday morning. They are helping their community. They are a diverse group. They are getting rid of stereotypes about themselves. They are Muslim and proud of it.

Welcome to the Muslim American Society (MAS) Tampa's new Media Movement. This aforementioned scene is what we, as members of this beginning group, hope will blossom and thrive. We make no bones about it: Muslims around the world are definitely in a tough situation now. They can no longer remain indifferent to the current social climate. Rather, they must stop waiting for the world to change. Instead, we firmly believe that it is the duty of every able-bodied Muslim to take initiative and change the world for its betterment, especially the youth.

The Holy Book of Islam, the Qur'an, reads: "Verily, Allah (God) never changes the condition of a people until they change themselves." (13:11)

We have decided that it's about time to step up to that challenge and take the lead. If we don't care about our future, who will?