Does Ramadan Really Affect Athletic Performance?

Does Ramadan Really Affect Athletic Performance in Football? Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante are Muslims but can their performances be effected in Ramadan.

When most of us hear the word Ramadan, our brain automatically thinks of Muslims, and rightly so. We think of Muslims from all walks of life; Lawyers, doctors and so forth. However, we often fail to realize that Muslims are also involved in Sports activities as well.

Take for example the two of the worlds most famous footballers who are Muslims, the worlds most expensive Paul Pogba and two-time Premier League winner and current player of the year N’Golo Kanté.  

In this article, we seek to unearth how such athletes are affected during the period of Ramadan.

Ramadan is a religious fasting event that takes place annually and involves every Muslim across the globe. They refrain from food, water, smoking and even drinking for a period of 29 to 30 days. The Islam religion requires them to have a pre-fast meal before dawn, and have a fast-breaking meal at dusk.

Sleep Deprivation

Studies have shown that fasting has a disruptive effect on the normal sleeping pattern. Notably, those involved in fasting have been reported to experience more periods of wakefulness and reduction in rapid eye movement at night.

This is most likely because of the large meal intake at night. Large meals at night are associated with the increase in cortisol and insulin levels in the body.

These two hormones are responsible for the provision of energy, hence the lack of sleep at night.

Ramadan entails one should abstain from any form of calorie intake during the day. This, in turn, leads to the reduction in energy levels. This might influence the individual to take naps during the day. This may affect athletes negatively in terms of performance.

Energy Level and Fatigue

Fatigue is a by- product of fasting. It can be attributed to low energy production from decreased levels of cortisol and insulin. Fatigue will considerably affect athletic performance negatively. However, studies have shown that if the fasting athlete’s schedule is controlled, the effects will be reduced considerably.

Maybe even to a point that the performance level is not influenced or affected negatively. Short periods of exercise seem to be generally unaffected. However, fasting individuals have a harder time when engaging in longer periods of exercise.

Moreover, studies have reported increased energy levels and high performance in the morning among the fasting individuals. Muslims partake in a pre- fasting meal known as Sahour in the early morning period. This leads to increased cortisol and insulin levels that in turn lead to increased energy levels especially during periods of stress.

Behavioral Changes

Behavioral changes have been reported among fasting individuals during Ramadan. This does not exclude athletes, especially in terms of performance. Their cognitive function is negatively affected, and in turn, affects their performance.

Mood changes are also witnessed among fasting athletes. This could potentially influence training sessions or even the performance of the athletes on the field. However, if their training and sleep schedule is controlled, the effects can be minimal.


In conclusion, fasting does affect athletic performance. Controlling and modifying the training schedules can decrease or eliminate the effects significantly. There are a few advantages of fasting. Fasting has been shown to detoxify the liver and lead to an increase in the growth hormone.

List of Muslim Footballers

Player Nationality Current   Team
Éric Abidal  France retired
Karim El Ahmadi  Morocco Feyenoord
Arda Turan  Turkey FC Barcelona
Sofyan Amrabat  Morocco FC Utrecht
Taulant Xhaka  Albania FC Basel
Mehdi Carcela-González  Morocco Granada CF
Mbark Boussoufa  Morocco Al Jazira
Hamza Mendyl  Morocco Lille OSC
Vincent Aboubakar  Cameroon Beşiktaş J.K.
Ibrahim Afellay  Netherlands Stoke City
Halil Altıntop  Turkey FC Augsburg
Hamit Altıntop  Turkey Darmstadt 98
Nordin Amrabat  Morocco Watford
Nicolas Anelka  France retired
André Ayew  Ghana West Ham United
Jordan Ayew  Ghana Swansea City
Demba Ba  Senegal Shanghai Shenhua
Nabil Bahoui  Sweden Hamburger SV
Abdelaziz Barrada  Morocco Marseille
Valon Behrami   Switzerland Watford
Younès Belhanda  Morocco Marseille
Mehdi Benatia  Morocco Juventus
Nabil Bentaleb  Algeria Schalke 04
Karim Benzema  France Real Madrid
Sofiane Boufal  Morocco Southampton
Majid Bougherra  Algeria Aris
Khalid Boulahrouz  Netherlands retired
Yacine Brahimi  Algeria Porto
Hakan Çalhanoğlu  Turkey Bayer Leverkusen
Emre Can  Germany Liverpool
Marouane Chamakh  Morocco Cardiff City
Mousa Dembélé  Belgium Tottenham Hotspur
Lassana Diarra  France Marseille
Mahamadou Diarra  Mali retired
Nabil Dirar  Morocco Monaco
Edin Džeko  Bosnia and Herzegovina Roma
Karim El Ahmadi  Morocco Feyenoord
Stephan El Shaarawy  Italy Roma
Nathan Ellington  England retired
Mohamed Elneny  Egypt Arsenal
Sofiane Feghouli  Algeria West Ham United
Marouane Fellaini  Belgium Manchester United
Gervinho  Ivory Coast Hebei China Fortune
İlkay Gündoğan  Germany Manchester City
Samir Handanović  Slovenia Inter Milan
Nihat Kahveci  Turkey retired
Frédéric Kanouté  Mali retired
N’Golo Kanté  France Chelsea
Seydou Keita  Mali El Jaish
Sami Khedira  Germany Juventus
Meho Kodro  Bosnia and Herzegovina retired
Riyad Mahrez  Algeria Leicester City
Hachim Mastour  Morocco PEC Zwolle
Admir Mehmedi   Switzerland Bayer Leverkusen
Samir Nasri  France Sevilla
Bibras Natkho  Israel CSKA Moscow
Noureddine Naybet  Morocco retired
Abdelhak Nouri  Netherlands Ajax
Mesut Özil  Germany Arsenal
Miralem Pjanić  Bosnia and Herzegovina Juventus
Paul Pogba  France Manchester United
Franck Ribéry  France Bayern Munich
Zaur Sadayev  Russia Terek Grozny
Bacary Sagna  France Manchester City
Nuri Şahin  Turkey Borussia Dortmund
Mamadou Sakho  France Liverpool
Mohamed Salah  Egypt Roma
Philippe Senderos   Switzerland Rangers
Xherdan Shaqiri   Switzerland Stoke City
Mamady Sidibé  Mali retired
Moussa Sissoko  France Tottenham Hotspur
Islam Slimani  Algeria Leicester City
El Arbi Soudani  Algeria Dinamo Zagreb
Emir Spahić  Bosnia and Herzegovina Hamburger SV
Saphir Taïder  Algeria Sassuolo
Kolo Touré  Ivory Coast Celtic
Yaya Touré  Ivory Coast Manchester City
Abdou Razack Traoré  Ivory Coast Karabükspor
Adama Traoré  Ivory Coast FC Basel
Adama Traoré  Mali AS Monaco
Adama Traoré  Spain Middlesbrough
Armand Traoré  Senegal Nottingham Forest
Alain Traoré  Burkina Faso Kayserispor
Edin Višća  Bosnia and Herzegovina İstanbul Başakşehir F.K.
Lee Woon-jae  South Korea retired
Granit Xhaka   Switzerland Arsenal
Hakim Ziyech  Morocco Ajax
Zinedine Zidane  France retired

Do you think fasting can effect sporting performance? Do you have a special way you manager you performance levels when fasting?

Let us know on twitter.

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