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Tesco Meal Deals and Early Morning Desserts – Hockey During Ramadan

Mo Hussein and Aman Khan give an insight into their nutrition and hydration for hockey during the Islamic month of Ramadan.

It's match day.

You carb up 2 hours before push back. Plenty of water before the warm up, an energy gel just before the first whistle blows and a glug of isotonic when you sub off. A typical match day.

But for Muslims fasting between sunrise and sunset for the holy month of Ramadan, hockey hydration and nutrition is slightly different.

"Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and fasting during the holy month of Ramadan is the fourth of five essential pillars of Islam," explains Mo Hussein, a Leicester City Men’s player.

"It begins with the sighting of the new moon and lasts for 29 or 30 days, ending at the sighting of the next new moon.

"During this period, it is obligatory for Muslims to totally abstain from eating, drinking, and having sensual pleasures between dawn and dusk.

"It is compulsory for all healthy adults to fast, but there are exemptions such as young children, pregnant women, the frail and the sick etc.".

Ramadan started on Monday 12th April this year and comes to end this Wednesday, 12th May, with sunrise as early as 6am and sunset as late as 8.45pm.

As the Islamic calendar follows the phases of the moon, it falls about 10 days earlier each year in the Gregorian calendar.

As well as fasting, the month is also a time to refocus charitable and voluntary acts, known as Sadaqah.

Mo Hussein and Aman Khan, a student and Ladies player, are both enjoying hockey at the club throughout Ramadan, and they have found ways to ensure they are sufficiently fuelled for the day's activities.

A healthy, balanced meal ahead of sunrise is crucial to sustaining energy levels on a match day (and any day), often leftovers from Iftar (the sunset meal) or a cooked meal full of whole foods.

"In the morning, if I don't have leftovers, I'll eat oats or Weetabix, or anything filling like boiled eggs with lots of water," says Aman.

"I'm continuously eating throughout the night, having three or so meals and snacking along the way but if I eat too much too quickly before Sehri closes (eating before the sunrises) then I just end up feeling ill".

Mo equally finds time, and space, to eat plenty ahead of a match day: "My morning meal includes slow-release carbohydrates like pasta or potatoes, lots of protein usually from tuna or chicken, legumes and pulses, and nuts - my favourite is a mixture of cashew nuts, pistachios and pine nuts - and some fruit.

"Yes, I do manage to consume all of that early in the morning, even finding room for a light dessert".

The practice of fasting challenges Muslims to refocus their sense of gratitude, self-discipline, and self-improvement ahead of the coming year, strengthening faith and becoming better individuals.

"We aren't supposed to make it super easy for ourselves by limiting everything that could make us feel tired or hungry," says Aman.

"Life goes on and as a month of reflection for those who have less than us, the least I can do is go about my day as I usually would and play hockey when it’s on.

"It's a good reminder that not everyone has the luxuries that we do, and I enjoy playing and seeing everyone as well, especially after lockdown".

While many take on water and grab a Pukka Pie in the clubhouse after a game to refuel as normal, the temptation to break the fast is non-existent for Mo and Aman after years of doing Ramadan, mentally preparing themselves in advance and patiently waiting for the evening meal.

While Aman feasts on a Tesco meal deal during training on a Thursday, Mo opts for fruit ahead of his evening meal: "It is customary to break the fast with dates as they are easily digested, a source of natural sugars for energy, and contain many minerals and vitamins necessary for building healthy body tissue and muscle.

"My personal favourite are Medjool dates – they are soft and chewy with a rich, almost caramel-like flavour.

"After a training night (hockey or personal training) I still break my fast with dates but I do tend to give additional focus on rehydration - my personal favourite is watermelon".

The coronavirus pandemic has meant this year is the 2nd with restrictions on socialising, meaning Muslims have been unable to meet up with friends and family, particularly when breaking their fast.

With restrictions easing though, Mo and Aman both plan to celebrate Eid al-Fitr on Thursday (the end of Ramadhan) with family and a feast.

Eid Mubarak to all those completing Ramadan next week!