The month-long diurnal Ramadan fast imposes a major challenge to Islamic athletes. Sporting events are programmed throughout the year, with the result that training and competition are often scheduled during Ramadan. The small numbers of well-controlled studies that have examined the effects of Ramadan on athletic performance suggest that few aspects of physical fitness are negatively affected, and only modest decrements are observed. Whereas subjective feelings of fatigue and other mood indicators are often cited as implying additional stress on the athlete throughout Ramadan, most studies show these measures may not be reflected in decreases in performance. The development and early implementation of sensible eating and sleeping strategies can greatly alleviate the disruptions to training and competitiveness, thus allowing the athlete to perform at a high level while undertaking the religious intermittent fast. Nevertheless, further research is required to understand the mechanisms and energy pathways that allow athletes to maintain their performance capacities during Ramadan, and which factors are responsible for the observed decrements in performance of some individuals.
Chaouachi Anis, John B. Leiper, Souissi Nizar, Aaron J. Coutts, and Chamari Karim
Mohamed Romdhani, Nizar Souissi, Yassine Chaabouni, Kacem Mahdouani, Tarak Driss, Karim Chamari, and Omar Hammouda
Purpose: To investigate the effects of napping after partial sleep deprivation (PSD) on reaction time, mood, and biochemical response to repeated-sprint exercise in athletes. Methods: Nine male judokas performed 4 test sessions in a counterbalanced and randomized order. Participants accomplished 1 control session after a normal sleep night (NSN) and 3 after PSD with (1) no nap, (2) ∼20-min nap (N20), and (3) ∼90-min nap (N90) opportunities. Test sessions included the running-based anaerobic sprint test, reaction time, Hooper index, and Epworth Sleepiness Scale. Muscle-damage biomarkers and antioxidant status were evaluated before and after exercise. Results: PSD decreased maximum (P < .001, d = 1.12), mean (P < .001, d = 1.33), and minimum (P < .001, d = 1.15) powers compared with NSN. However, N20 and N90 enhanced maximum power compared with PSD (P < .05, d = 0.54; P < .001, d = 1.06, respectively). Minimum power and mean power increased only after N90 (P < .001, d = 1.63; P < .001, d = 1.16, respectively). Epworth Sleepiness Scale increased after PSD (P < .001, d = 0.86) and decreased after N20 (P < .001, d = 1.36) and N90 (P < .001, d = 2.07). N20 reduced multiple-choice reaction time (P < .001, d = 0.61). Despite performance decrement, PSD increased postexercise aspartate aminotransferase (P < .001, d = 4.16) and decreased glutathione peroxidase (P < .001, d = 4.02) compared with NSN. However, the highest performances after N90 were accompanied with lesser aspartate aminotransferase (P < .001, d = 1.74) and higher glutathione peroxidase (P < .001, d = 0.86) compared with PSD. Conclusions: Napping could be preventive against performance degradation caused by sleep loss. A short nap opportunity could be more beneficial when the subsequent effort is brief and requires frequent decision making. However, a longer nap opportunity could be preventive against muscle and oxidative damage, even for higher performances.
Asma Aloui, Anis Chaouachi, Hamdi Chtourou, Del P. Wong, Monoem Haddad, Karim Chamari, and Nizar Souissi
This study examined the effects of Ramadan on cycling repeated-sprint ability (RSA) and corresponding diurnal variations.
Twelve active men performed an RSA test (5 × 6-s maximal sprints interspersed with 24 s passive recovery) during morning and afternoon sessions 1 wk before Ramadan (BR), during the second (R2) and the fourth (R4) weeks of Ramadan, and 2 wk after Ramadan (AR). Maximal voluntary contraction was assessed before (MVCpre), immediately after (MVCpost), and 5 min after the RSA test (MVCpost5). Moreover, hematocrit, hemoglobin, and plasma sodium and potassium (K+) concentrations were measured at rest and after the RSA test and MVCpost.
Overall, peak power (Ppeak) during the RSA test decreased throughout the 5 sprints. Ppeak measured in the first sprint and MVCpre were lower during Ramadan than BR in the afternoon (P < .05) and higher in the afternoon than the morning BR and AR (P < .05). However, this diurnal rhythmicity was not found for the last 4 sprints’ Ppeak, MVCpost, and MVCpost5 in all testing periods. Furthermore, the last 4 sprints’ Ppeak, MVCpost, MVCpost5, and morning MVCpre were not affected by Ramadan. [K+] measured at rest and after the RSA test and MVCpost were higher during Ramadan than BR in the afternoon (P < .05) and higher in the afternoon than the morning during Ramadan (P < .05).
Fatigability is higher in the afternoon during Ramadan, and, therefore, training and competition should be scheduled at the time of day when physical performance is less affected.
Mohamed Romdhani, Nizar Souissi, Imen Moussa-Chamari, Yassine Chaabouni, Kacem Mahdouani, Zouheir Sahnoun, Tarak Driss, Karim Chamari, and Omar Hammouda
Purpose: To compare the effect of a 20-minute nap opportunity (N20), a moderate dose of caffeine (CAF; 5 mg·kg−1), or a moderate dose of caffeine before N20 (CAF+N) as possible countermeasures to the decreased performance and the partial sleep deprivation–induced muscle damage. Methods: Nine male, highly trained judokas were randomly assigned to either baseline normal sleep night, placebo, N20, CAF, or CAF+N. Test sessions included the running-based anaerobic sprint test, from which the maximum (P max), mean (P mean), and minimum (P min) powers were calculated. Biomarkers of muscle, hepatic, and cardiac damage and of enzymatic and nonenzymatic antioxidants were measured at rest and after the exercise. Results: N20 increased P max compared with placebo (P < .01, d = 0.75). CAF+N increased P max (P < .001, d = 1.5; d = 0.94), P min (P < .001, d = 2.79; d = 2.6), and P mean (P < .001, d = 1.93; d = 1.79) compared with placebo and CAF, respectively. Postexercise creatine kinase increased whenever caffeine was added, that is, after CAF (P < .001, d = 1.19) and CAF+N (P < .001, d = 1.36). Postexercise uric acid increased whenever participants napped, that is, after N20 (P < .001, d = 2.19) and CAF+N (P < .001, d = 2.50) and decreased after CAF (P < .001, d = 2.96). Conclusion: Napping improved repeated-sprint performance and antioxidant defense after partial sleep deprivation. Contrarily, caffeine increased muscle damage without improving performance. For sleep-deprived athletes, caffeine before a short nap opportunity would be more beneficial for repeated sprint performance than each treatment alone.