Biology of Sport
eISSN: 2083-1862
ISSN: 0860-021X
Biology of Sport
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vol. 33
Original paper

Impact of Ramadan intermittent fasting on cognitive function in trained cyclists: a pilot study

K Chamari
W Briki
A Farooq
T Patrick
3, 4
T Belfekih
CP Herrera

Athletes Health and Performance Research Center (AHP), Aspetar, Qatar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar
University of French West Indies and Guyana, Department of Sport Sciences, (ACTES) Laboratory, Pointe-àPitre, Guadeloupe, France
National Sports Medicine Program (NSMP), Aspetar, Doha, Qatar
Sport Performance Research Institute of New Zealand (SPRINZ)
Biol. Sport 2016;33:49-56
Online publish date: 2016/01/13
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This study assessed selected measures of cognitive function in trained cyclists who observed daylight fasting during Ramadan. Eleven cyclists volunteered to participate (age: 21.6±4.8 years, VO2max: 57.7±5.6 ml • kg-1 • min-1) and were followed for 2 months. Cognitive function (Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB), Reaction Time index (RTI) and Rapid Visual Information Processing (RVP) tests) and sleep architecture (ambulatory EEG) were assessed: before Ramadan (BR), in the 1st week (RA1) and 4th week of Ramadan (RA4), and 2 weeks post-Ramadan (PR). Both cognitive tests were performed twice per day: before and after Ramadan at 8-10 a.m. and 4-6 p.m., and during Ramadan at 4-6 p.m. and 0-2 a.m., respectively. Training load (TL) by the rating of perceived exertion (RPE) method and wellness (Hooper index) were measured daily. If the TL increased over the study period, this variable was stable during Ramadan. The perceived fatigue and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) increased at RA4. Sleep patterns and architecture showed clear disturbances, with significant increases in the number of awakenings and light sleep durations during Ramadan (RA1 and RA4), together with decreased durations of deep and REM sleep stages at PR. RTI (simple and multiple reaction index) reaction and movement times did not vary over the study period. The RVP test showed reduced false alarms during Ramadan, suggesting reduced impulsivity. Overall accuracy significantly increased at RA1, RA4 and PR compared to baseline. At RA4, the accuracy was higher at 0-2 a.m. compared to 4-6 p.m. Despite the observed disturbances in sleep architecture, Ramadan fasting did not negatively impact the cognitive performance of trained cyclists from the Middle East.

riders, fasters, intermittent fasting

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