From Ergo Log
Muslims who are fanatic about pumping iron often worry about when they should do their training during Ramadan: during the day, on an empty stomach, or after sunset when they've eaten and drunk. It makes little difference, researchers at the University of Sfax in Tunisia discovered. A little late for this year, but useful to know for the future.
The researchers did an experiment involving 16 bodybuilders in 2011. The average age of the subjects was 25. They didn't do competitive weightlifting, but continued training normally during Ramadan – which in 2011 fell in August. They trained 3-4 times a week and did an average of 20 sets per workout.
Half of the bodybuilders trained after sunset, between nine and ten o'clock in the evening [FED]. The other half trained at the end of the afternoon, on an empty stomach, between four and six o'clock [FAST].
The researchers examined the bodybuilders just before Ramadan started and when it had ended. Contrary to the researchers' expectations, no significant differences arose in body composition between the two groups.
The bodybuilders who trained after sundown built up slightly more lean body mass; the bodybuilders who trained in the afternoon lost a little lean body mass.
The researchers had expected to find significant effects in the subjects' blood, for example on glucose levels, concentration of inflammatory proteins or parameters that reflect the activity of the immune system. But they didn't. Ramadan had neither positive nor negative effects on blood composition.
The only significant effect that the researchers detected was that the concentration of 'good' cholesterol, HDL, rose during Ramadan, in the bodybuilders that trained during the day and in the ones that trained in the evening.
The researchers suggest that bodybuilders could use Ramadan as a period to try and lose some weight. The long fasting period each day stimulates the body's fat burning. The bodybuilders in the study lost no fat, probably because their caloric intake – about 3400 kcal per day – didn't go down during Ramadan.
The bodybuilders didn't pay attention to their diet. During and before the Ramadan period their diet consisted of about 15 percent protein. There's room for improvement there.
The researchers also discovered that the subjects' daily liquid intake went down by just over half a litre during Ramadan, and the subjects did show mild signs of dehydration.
"Trainers should educate bodybuilders on the importance of hydration during the nighttime in order to compensate for the dehydration that occurs during daytime within the month Ramadan", the researchers conclude. "In addition the trainers should stress the importance of adopting a nutritional protocol similar to that of the normal non-fasting period."
J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013 Apr 25;10(1):23.