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Effects of Ramadan Intermittent Fasting on Middle-Distance Running Performance in Well-Trained Runners

Brisswalter, Jeanick PhD*; Bouhlel, Ezzedine PhD; Falola, Jean Marie PhD; Abbiss, Christopher R PhD§; Vallier, Jean Marc MD, PhD; Hauswirth, Christophe PhD

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: September 2011 - Volume 21 - Issue 5 - p 422-427
doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e3182293891
Original Research
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Objective: To assess whether Ramadan intermittent fasting (RIF) affects 5000-m running performance and physiological parameters classically associated with middle-distance performance.

Design: Two experimental groups (Ramadan fasting, n = 9, vs control, n = 9) participated in 2 experimental sessions, one before RIF and the other at the last week of fasting.

Setting: For each session, subjects completed 4 tests in the same order: a maximal running test, a maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) of knee extensor, 2 rectangular submaximal exercises on treadmill for 6 minutes at an intensity corresponding to the first ventilatory threshold (VT1), and a running performance test (5000 m).

Participants: Eighteen, well-trained, middle-distance runners.

Main Outcome Measures: Maximal oxygen consumption, MVC, running performance, running efficiency, submaximal O2 kinetics parameters (O2, O2b, time constant τ, and amplitude A1) and anthropometric parameters were recorded or calculated.

Results: At the end of Ramadan fasting, a decrease in MVC was observed (−3.2%; P < 0.00001; η2, 0.80), associated with an increase in the time constant of oxygen kinetics (+51%; P < 0.00007; η2, 0.72) and a decrease in performance (−5%; P < 0.0007; η2, 0.51). No effect was observed on running efficiency or maximal aerobic power.

Conclusions: These results suggest that Ramadan changes in muscular performance and oxygen kinetics could affect performance during middle-distance events and need to be considered to choose training protocols during RIF.

From the *Laboratory of Human Motricity, Education Sport and Health, University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, Nice, France; †Medicine Faculty, Laboratory of Physiology, University of Sousse, Sousse, Tunisia; ‡University of d'Abomey-Calavi, Porto Novo, Benin; §School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia; ¶Laboratory of Human Motricity, Education Sport and Health, University of South France Toulon Var, Toulon, France; and ‖National Institute of Sport Expertise and Performance, Paris, France.

Submitted for publication October 29, 2010; accepted June 14, 2011.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Corresponding Author: Jeanick Brisswalter, PhD, Laboratory of Human Motricity, Education Sport and Health, University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, BP 3259, Nice 06205, France (

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.