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Does religious fasting affect energy and macro‐nutrients intakes?

Muhammad Muzaffar Ali Khan Khattak (Department of Nutrition Sciences, International Islamic University Malaysia, Kuantan, Malaysia)
Nik Mazlan Mamat (Department of Nutrition Sciences, International Islamic University Malaysia, Kuantan, Malaysia)
Wan Azdie Mohd Abu Bakar (Department of Nutrition Sciences, International Islamic University Malaysia, Kuantan, Malaysia)
Mohd Firdaus Nazri Shaharuddin (Department of Nutrition Sciences, International Islamic University Malaysia, Kuantan, Malaysia)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 17 May 2013

Abstract

Purpose

This study was designed with the aim of assessing the energy and nutrient intakes of male university students before and during Ramadan and comparing it with the Recommended Nutrient Intake (RNI) of Malaysia.

Design/methodology/approach

A total of 30 male students aged between 19‐24 years from International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) Kuantan Campus were recruited before Ramadan. The height, weight, waist and hip circumferences were recorded on day one of Ramadan and also recorded on day 21 of Ramadan to assess the changes. From the weight and height, the body mass index was calculated and from the waist and hip circumference, the waist‐to‐hip ratios were calculated. The respondents were requested to keep three days food record in household measurements; once prior to fasting and once during the third week of Ramadan. The records were then analyzed using Malaysian Food Composition Table and Food Atlas to get the averages of energy and macronutrients intakes of the subjects.

Findings

After 21 days of Ramadan, the results revealed that there was reduction in the body weight and there was significant (P<0.05) improvement in the waist‐to‐hip ratio of the subjects. The effect was more prominent in the normal‐weight compared to overweight respondents. The mean energy and protein intakes were significantly (P<0.001) lower than the RNI for Malaysians of similar age group. However, mean energy and protein intakes increased during Ramadan compared to the first day of Ramadan. This study indicates that Ramadan fasting does not affect energy and macronutrients intake but only the routine of intake is affected.

Research limitations/implications

This research was limited to a specific group of normal and overweight students who were residing on campus of the IIUM. Their intakes might not be consistent with those at home or living outside the university campus. Another thing is that the students might have over‐reported their energy and macro‐nutrients intakes compared to what they have consumed in reality. So, the self‐reported intakes could not be ascertained. The stated factors might have confounding effects on the finding of this research.

Practical implications

Most research argues that the body weight loss during Ramadan fasting is due to reduced energy consumption; however, this is not true in all cases. This study infers that there is no reduction in the total energy consumption, rather there is a change in the pattern of energy intake. This brief study would help researchers planning to conduct research on Ramadan fasting and will caution fasting readers about the intakes.

Originality/value

This study indicates that during Ramadan fasting does not affect energy and macro‐nutrients intake but only the schedule of intake is affected.

Keywords

Citation

Muzaffar Ali Khan Khattak, M., Mazlan Mamat, N., Azdie Mohd Abu Bakar, W. and Firdaus Nazri Shaharuddin, M. (2013), "Does religious fasting affect energy and macro‐nutrients intakes?", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 43 No. 3, pp. 254-260. https://doi.org/10.1108/00346651311327909

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited