BACKGROUND. The Holy Month of Ramadan sees Muslim's worldwide fast for four weeks between sunrise and sunset. Several studies have been conducted to examine changes in body composition with Ramadan, yet most have not employed sufficient control measures. Therefore, most theories suggesting Ramadan reduces body mass and fat are based on anecdotal evidence.
PURPOSE. To examine the effect of four weeks of fasting during the Holy Month of Ramadan on body composition in Muslim Arab males.
METHODS. Forty-two males aged 23.6 ± 1.6 yrs (mean ± SE) undertook four different trials over a three month period. The first trial was conducted one month before Ramadan (CON1), the second in the days before Ramadan (PRE), the third in the final two days of Ramadan (POST) and the fourth one month after Ramadan (CON2). A single researcher conducted all sampling, at the same time of the day. Recorded data included 3-day dietary and monthly activity recalls, anthropometric and body composition measurements, including body height and mass, Hip:Waist Ratio (HWR) and seven skinfold measurements. Differences between trials were analyzed with a One-way ANOVA with Tukey 's post-hoc tests. Significance was set at the P<0.05 level.
RESULTS. No changes were recorded between trials in body mass (CON1, 75.6 ± 2.6; PRE, 75.3 ± 2.5; POST, 75.0 ± 2.6; CON2, 75.4 ± 2.6 kg), individual site skinfold measurements, calculated % body fat (CON1, 21.0 ± 1.0; PRE, 20.0 ± 1.0; POST, 19.7 ± 1.0; CON2, 20.2 ± 1.1 %), fat mass, and fat free mass. Estimated weekly energy expenditure (EE) (CON1, 1647.3 ± 512.0; PRE, 1255.6 ± 333.1; POST, 1133.0 ± 238.64; CON2, 796.3 ± 199.2 kcal) and daily energy intake (CON1, 1617.7 ± 72.4; PRE, 1489.7 ± 79.4; POST, 1385.5 ± 60.0; CON2, 1381.4 ± 74.9 kcal), reduced significantly over the three month trial period. Fat (CON1, 61.0 ± 6.1; PRE, 49.3 ± 4.6; POST, 48.0 ± 4.8; CON2, 45.5 ± 4.7 g) and protein (CON1, 79.8 ± 5.8; PRE, 66.2 ± 5.4; POST, 63.0 ± 4.6; CON2, 65.1 ± 5.2 g) consumption significantly altered over the testing period. However, there was no difference in EE, daily energy intake, fat and protein between the PRE and POST trials.
CONCLUSION. The results suggest within this cohort that four weeks of daylight fasting observed during Ramadan does not influence energy expenditure, total energy intake and body composition.
©2007The American College of Sports Medicine