Ricky Williams on fasting, energy, religion

On a conference call with reporters in the Twin Cities this week, Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams was asked a question few players would have an enlightened response about.

Husain Abdullah won a starting safety job for the Minnesota Vikings this summer despite adhering to a daytime fast in accordance with Ramadan. For a month, Abdullah didn't eat or drink anything from sunrise until sundown while participating in an NFL training camp.

Williams was asked if he could do it. He said he could.

"It's not that big of a deal," Williams said. "It just depends. I've got a lot of experience with eating and with fasting. Part of the reason people fast, especially in a spiritual and religious context, is to understand that you don't need food as much as you think you do. There's other ways to harness energy and keep yourself healthy and keep yourself playing at a high level."

Based on a long conversation I recently had with Williams, I believe him. He informed me he would consume as little as 1,000 calories a day in training camp. Abdullah's daily diet was around 3,800 calories during Ramadan.

Williams shared his metaphysical philosophies on diet and religion, but I wasn't able to include all of his thoughts in a feature about Williams' unconventional training methods.

Williams is a vegetarian who relies on coconut water and Greek yogurt (a dairy that prevents him from being a full-blown vegan) for sustenance.

"There are other ways to get energy," Williams told me. "The main source of energy is the sun. One of the main reasons we eat is for energy. So the energy we get from food is energy plants have metabolized through photosynthesis and then some animal eats it and it goes into the animal's tissue and then we eat their tissue. There are other ways to access energy."

Williams is vaguely religious. He was raised Southern Baptist and is convinced his success is the result of his family's dutiful, twice-weekly trips to church. His father is a minister. Two grandmothers are ministers.

He still considers himself a Christian, but when he began studying yoga he became more inclusive. Symbols of multiple religions -- Christian, Hindu, Buddhist -- adorn his house. His eclectic library includes the bible as well as books on astrology and witchcraft.

"Religions are something that were developed based on culture," Williams said. "The religions are many, but God is one. I believe based on what I've studied, all religions say the same thing but in different ways.

"I really enjoy learning about different religions and different ways of doing things and different ways of looking at the world. Some people would consider the occult a religion or the mechanism behind religion. It's using words and using your thoughts to create an internal reality."