'I had the best performance when fasting': UAE athletes reveal their workout regime during Ramadan

Exercise during the holy month has always been a hot topic of discussion, with many experts advising those who are fasting to tone down the intensity of their workouts


Nasreen Abdulla

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Rashid Al Mulla. Supplied photos.
Rashid Al Mulla. Supplied photos.

Published: Fri 7 Apr 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 7 Apr 2023, 1:33 PM

For former professional basketball star Fadi El-Khatib, Ramadan is the time when he delivers his best performance on the court. “I played the world championship while fasting,” he said. “I was the captain of the team. When you are the captain and you are the leader, all eyes are on you.

It happened to be Ramadan. The game was around 1pm and we didn’t break our fast till 8pm. I had the best performance of my life.”

According to Fadi, who now runs a gym in Dubai, the reason he was able to deliver such a good performance was due to his mental strength. “It is a matter of challenging myself to compete while I am fasting,” he said. “And yes, God gives you the willpower to overcome all the challenges, but also you need to take it in your hands to set an example.”

Fadi El-Khatib
Fadi El-Khatib

Exercise during Ramadan has always been a hot topic of discussion, with many experts advising those who are fasting to tone down exercise during the month. Some professional athletes reveal how they manage this workout regime during the month.

Listen to your body

CrossFit champ Rashid Al Mulla said that he listens to his body and adjusts his workouts during Ramadan. “On the one hand, it can promote fat loss and improve insulin sensitivity,” he said. “On the other hand, it can lead to dehydration, low blood sugar, and decreased performance during high-intensity exercise, so you have to carefully decide what your body needs.”

Rashid Al Mulla
Rashid Al Mulla

The UAE national, who also owns a health clinic called Frio, said that his performance does get affected during Ramadan. “Changing the timing and frequency of meals and disrupted sleep patterns does affect [my] physical and cognitive performance during Ramadan,” he said. “In addition to that, there are the challenges of adapting to a new eating and sleeping schedule.”

Rashid Al Mulla
Rashid Al Mulla

Professional endurance racer Shamsa al Shamsi also agreed that during Ramadan, many people experience a decrease in energy levels. “This can impact their exercise performance,” she said. “It's important to listen to your body and adjust your workout intensity accordingly. Additionally, since fasting can lead to dehydration, it's essential to drink plenty of water and consume electrolytes after and before iftar to help maintain optimal performance.”


According to Shamsa, making changes to a workout program when fasting is often necessary. “The changes might include reducing the intensity or duration of your workouts, switching to low-impact exercises, or scheduling your workouts during non-fasting hours,” she said.


“Additionally, it's important to prioritise hydration and nutrition before and after your workouts to help your body recover and maintain muscle mass. People should be careful not to over-exert themselves, skip meals during non-fasting hours, and also avoid eating too much sugar or processed food.”

Fadi El-Khatib.
Fadi El-Khatib.

Fadi, who is nicknamed ‘The Lebanese Tiger’, also revealed that he continues to work out for two hours every day even during Ramadan, choosing to simply change the timing of his exercise regime. “Usually, I work out early in the morning,” he said. “But now, during Ramadan, I do it late in the night.”

Rashid said that he also makes minor adjustments to his exercise regime. “My workout program, in terms of the program, is the same,” he said. “However, I decrease the intensity and loads by 30 per cent.”

Do’s and Don’ts of Exercise during Ramadan, according to Rashid Al Mulla


  • Choose low-to moderate-intensity activities such as walking, yoga, or light weightlifting and conditioning.
  • Break your fast with a balanced meal containing protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates.


  • Don't push yourself too hard during high-intensity exercise, as this can lead to dizziness.
  • Don't train for extended periods without eating, as this can lead to muscle breakdown and cramps.
  • Don't skip meals or restrict calories, as this can lead to nutrient deficiencies and other health problems.


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