Jul 20, 2015
Nutrition Help For Fasting Athletes

It’s a challenge to help Abdul-Malik Abu, a North Carolina State University forward in basketball, carry out traditional fasting in the Islamic month of Ramadan, while keeping up his strength for the game. N.C. State nutritionist Amanda Poppleton worked with Abu to create a nutrition plan that would allow him to do both.

As reported by The News & Observer, Abu fasted from sunrise to sunset, so Poppleton created a nighttime fueling regimen. In addition to snacking throughout the night, Abu woke up at 3:30 a.m. to give himself enough time to consume the 4,000 calories that Poppleton recommended for the six-foot-eight, 240 pound player.

But the more difficult aspect of fasting was hydration. Poppleton estimated that Abu needed 183 ounces of fluid each day, or six 32-ounce bottles of liquid, all of which he needed to consume at night.

“That’s an astounding number to me,” Poppleton said. “(Yet) he still manages to practice with a smile on his face and everything.”

 “I just try to use (fasting) as my biggest strength,” Abu said. “I try not to use it as an excuse for anything but your best performance in all things like the classroom (and) weights. I still have to manage my five times a day prayer in between class and weights. When I’m done with weights, basketball and class, I have the rest of the day to rest up and wait for the sun to go down, keep praying, eat, and do it all over again.”

Poppleton’s plan, along with Abu’s work with Wolfpack Strength Coach Bob Alejo in the weightroom, was a success. While Abu lost 12 pounds in only the first week of Ramadan last year, he had maintained his weight as of the last few days of the holy month this year.

For more about athletes facing the challenges of religious fasting, see the sidebar in the T&C feature, Scheduled Interruption.” 


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