Fasting & Programming

I’m not sure how many of you know but for the past 10 days I have been fasting. Fasting you say? No, I am not protesting the demolition of a national park (not that I wouldn’t I love parks).

For those of you not familiar with Ramadan it’s a holy for the month for muslims where they fast from sunrise to sunset. That’s not entirely true, its technically between the prayers that occur very close to those times. This fast includes food and drink!

I also thought it might be interesting to share my perspective as software developer practicing this fast.

Lunar vs. Solar Calendars

That being said I won’t go too deep into the religious details but it is something that I practice every year.

It occurs at different times in the solar calendar due to the fact that Ramadan is a month in a lunar calendar which consists of 354.37 days compared to the solar calendar’s 365 days. Therefore the times in which a fast occurs shifts throughout the  solar year.

For example this year it landed in probably the highest number of daylight hours possible, and by next year it will only shift backwards ~two weeks relative to where it was this year on the solar calendar. So fasting is going to get harder before it gets easier.

Winter is coming.


So you know you going to be fasting tomorrow, literally the entire day of no food and drink. What would you eat to make that day go by easier?

Okay so I can eat right up until sunrise? So that means wake up just before sunrise and eat like a boss.

When is sunrise? 4:09 am EST for where I live.

To say the least thats a annoyance; especially when you have to be up in 4 hours to go to work.

Usually for me I find it really hard to eat anything after waking up from sleep, so I drink as much water possible. Hunger usually abides( by abides I mean you get used to it) after the first couple days. The real struggle is thirst. You end up getting really parched.

Drink lots of water. Food too if you can stomach it.


I am a full time developer, which means I spend most of my days looking at a terminal and writing code. I am also no stranger to extreme measures to increase productivity and focus.

Let’s just say fasting isn’t one of them. All of my co-workers; I have worked with past and present have been extremely understanding and respectful of the fast.

Also as a by-product of this kindness they have coined the term: Ramadan code.

But all joking aside; I have to say it is incredible how worse off you are when you aren’t able to eat(or drink) and trying to do work that is involved. For example today I was in some code that I wrote literally a little over a month ago without difficultly and for the life of me I was unable to write something very similar without doing it over 6 times.

Your ability to focus and keep things in context is severely diminished; that bundled with the shadow of the man you used to be can be quite the 1, 2 punch to your ego and more than your daily recommended source of frustration.

In conclusion, this has taught me a few things:

  • Eat well.
  • Exercise.
  • My yearly dose of humility is only months away.
  • Don’t skip meals to save time. 5 good hours are better than 10 bad ones.

Hopefully this was insightful; if you have any questions please hit me up.

Also another little thing. This entire blog post was written using the dictation feature in Mountain Lion.

Mahdi Yusuf

engineer, speaker, writer, and home labber.