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 is with the Research Unit “Evaluation, Sport, Health,” National Centre of Medicine and Science in Sport, Tunis, Tunisia. Leiper is with the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, U.K. Souissi is with the Research Unit “Evaluation, Sport, Health,” National Centre of Medicine and Science in Sport, Tunis, Tunisia. Coutts is with the School of Leisure, Sport & Tourism, University of Technology, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Chamari is with the Research Unit “Evaluation, Sport, Health,” National Centre of Medicine and Science in Sport, Tunis, Tunisia.