Bodenseekreis: Football despite fasting: Muslim athlete and nutritionist talk about sports in Ramadan

At the end of April in front of the Ditib mosque in Friedrichshafen: Orhan Öskürci arrives in a dark BMW and gets out. He wears white clothes and has a soccer ball under his arm. The 20-year-old SV Kehlen winger looks rested. He says, “I’m fine, I feel good.”

This is despite the fact that as a devout Muslim he has been fasting for nearly four weeks. It’s been eight hours since the last meal, scrambled eggs and toast. He has to wait another eight hours for the next one. Still no signs of fatigue or lack of water: Öskurci looks fine.

“I have noticed how fasting changes my body – in the positive,” says Orhan Öskurci.

“I notice how my body changes through fasting – for the better,” says Orhan Öskurci. | Image: Mario Wossner

4 p.m. without eating or drinking

Öskurci has been fasting during Ramadan since the age of twelve, along with her family. He has two siblings and still lives with his parents. “I learned to fast from my parents,” he says. For him this means: not eating or drinking between sunrise and sunset. “The stomach must be empty.”

Every evening he breaks his fast with water. He can only eat from 8:30 p.m. to about 4:30 a.m. That’s enough for two meals, significantly less than usual.” I always plan to eat a lot, but my stomach contracts so much during the day that I can only handle one serving at a time. “, he explains.

Fasting during Ramadan is very similar to intermittent fasting, reports Katrin Rahrig, a nutritionist in Friedrichshafen. Here too, no food should be consumed for 12, 14 or 16 hours. Unlike Muslims who fast, drinking is allowed here.

Fasting in Islam

Lost four kilograms

What are the consequences of fasting for Orhan Öskurci? “I notice how fasting changes my body – for the better. I feel my muscles getting stronger,” says the footballer. After four weeks of Ramadan, her body is in better shape than before. It burns a lot of fat. This year, he has already lost four kilos and still weighs 72.

Öskurci is actually fasting for religious reasons. “But losing weight is kind of the icing on the cake. A nice bonus,” he describes. But for purely health reasons, he never fasted – or even gave up anything in particular. “If I fast, then completely – but only during Ramadan,” says Öskürci.

Nutrition and hormone consultant Katrin Rahrig.

Nutrition and hormone consultant Katrin Rahrig. | Image: Katrin Rahrig

Nutritionist Katrin Rahrig knows what’s going on in the body: “Carbohydrate stores in the liver are eaten away and depleted.” It takes about 16-24 hours for men – 14-20 for women to start breaking down fat. “This means that fat stores are used to produce energy.

soccer and fasting? “Stamina is Gone”

According to Öskurci, it even takes a few days for this change to occur in the body. “The first few days are always exhausting for me,” he says. He then feels apathetic and has little desire to do anything. Above all, the lack of liquids is a problem, which he feels especially when he plays sports, which he does despite everything.

The 20-year-old trains twice a week at SV Kehlen and there is a game every weekend. Öskurci says, “After a few days of fasting, I feel fit again in everyday life, but I lose my stamina when I exercise.” Once he was not allowed to participate in a training session. His trainer said, “Orhan, you’re not sprinting today, you’re fasting.”

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Are fasting and exercise dangerous in combination?

So is exercising without a lot of food problematic? Expert Katrin Rahrig refuses. “It’s safe to exercise while intermittent fasting.” In contrast, therapeutic fasting — that is, not eating anything — can lead to circulatory problems. “Intense sport like football is not popular here,” says the nutritionist.

Rahrig cautions though, as lack of water is more of an issue when fasting during Ramadan: “In general, you should make sure to drink plenty of fluids while fasting.”

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