How fasting makes me a better entrepreneur

Robleh Jama
Jul 6, 2016 · 4 min read

There are plenty of reasons why you might fast. James Clear, Steve from Nerd Fitness, and David Stripp from Scientific American have written about the benefits of intermittent fasting. I’m no scientist, but I imagine that fasting gives your body — and digestive system — a type of detox or break. It’s not about fasting for weight loss, but for other health benefits (especially if you break your fast with good, nutritious food, not like potato fries or anything unhealthy).

Plato said “I fast for great physical and mental efficiency.”

Fasting is not just a modern day fad. It’s something that’s been done throughout history, for religious and nonreligious reasons.

For me, I fast during Ramadan. Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. It’s that month where Muslims fast from dawn to dusk . I live in Toronto, so for me my meals are typically at around 4AM and 9PM.

Ramadan is an act of worship that taps into the physical and spiritual benefits of fasting.

How does it affect me as an entrepreneur?

Fasting gives me less time to do work. With that said though, fasting is effective in that it forces me to prioritize and do more important things. I run on limited energy, which makes me look closer at the things that I thought were important or urgent. Not everything needs to get done right away. There are things that can wait. But when I’m eating on a regular schedule, I just tend to take action rather than think too much about my schedule.

For me, I noticed that I don’t need as much sleep as I thought I needed. My sleeping cycle changes during Ramadan. My eating cycle changes too. I have more self-control than I think I did, and I need less than I thought I needed. If you’re to participate in Ramadan, you must wake up way earlier than usual to eat. When you break your fast and then go to the mosque, you go home and get to bed a bit later. Naturally, this depends on where you live in the world. In Canada I’m typically fasting for around 17 hours, but there are places that do 10–12 hours.

For me, Ramadan is one of my best months as an entrepreneur. Ramadan puts me in a mind space where I prioritize and focus on big picture goals. I’m in a reflective mode, where I spend time and energy on long-term and strategic thinking. I don’t spend as much time on lower level day-to-day tasks as I usually might. Instead, I think more about things that are missing right now and how to fill those gaps. Fasting changes up my work schedule and breaks me out of my routine.

Fasting in short-term is difficult, but I know I’m doing it for the long-term. Naturally, this external, physiological, and spiritual change makes me think deeper about my business as well.

How it affects me as a person

Ramadan helps me reset. Being an entrepreneur means running a marathon, and fasting during Ramadan enables me to work harder when I return to my regular eating and sleep schedule, after Eid. This lowers the chances of burning out, and puts the brakes on routines and all stresses. If you’re Muslim, you can take your worries to God and pray for things that you want, instead of constantly worrying. Ramadan is the month of blessings (and this month has been great for Tiny Hearts).

During Ramadan, I also focus on building better habits and breaking old bad ones. Some good ones for me: I’m increasing patience. I can’t be hangry. I’m training my thought processes and reinforcing my self-discipline.

Ramadan also provides me with perspective. It makes me a bit more grounded, and reminds me that there’s a lot for me to be grateful for. It enables me to be more empathetic with those less fortunate. Fasting is an exercise in empathy. If you can feel what other people feel, it’s much easier to be generous.

While I am physically drained, I experience more spiritual highs. I spend time with my family, reconnect with my Creator. It’s both the anchor and highlight, and my favorite month, of the year. I always look forward to it. After Ramadan, there’s good energy, and I can feel the difference. I remember what it’s like to eat again (during the day). And despite the physical pains, I actually miss Ramadan and prioritizing non-work parts of life a lot more in that month.


Whether you’re Muslim or not, some of these benefits are available to you if you choose to fast. This external change will bring about internal change, and help you zoom out and think of the big picture. It can be tough to do this during your day-to-day routines, so try fasting — and see if it can make you a better entrepreneur.

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Robleh Jama

Written by

Product @Shopify. Previously founder @tinyheartsapps — an award-winning mobile product studio acquired in 2016 by Shopify.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +477K people. Follow to join our community.