When she realised there was no guidance for footballers fasting during Ramadan, 15-year-old Birmingham City academy player, Layla Banaras, decided to do something about it.
Working with a nutritionist at the club, Banaras has drawn up a nutritional planner for footballers during Ramadan.
“When I first started a few years ago, we asked the club and they didn’t have any guidance. My mum and dad went to the FA but they didn’t have anything either. That made me want to do something and make a change,” she says.
“There are two parts to the document. There’s the nutritional plan, which suggests foods that will help you. And there’s a planner – writing down your meals, how much fluid you’re taking in and your energy levels.”
For the next 30 days and 30 nights Banaras will not eat or drink during daylight hours but she will continue to train three to four times a week and play a match at the weekend.
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“During training sometimes I do stop for a rest. But I’ve never felt the fear – like I’m going to pass out. It’s tough but religion is a big part of me and that gets me through it.”
Isobel Cotham, a sports nutritionist with Birmingham City, says preventing dehydration is vital to avoid health risks.
“Muslims who are fasting during Ramadan can’t drink any fluid during daylight hours. So there’s potential for dehydration which can impair performance and be a risk to health,” she says.
“So in the morning and evening meal we’re targeting foods that optimise hydration. These are fluids which contain electrolytes, as they help maintain fluid in body. I’ve suggested having a smoothie in the morning.”
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