A new diet, inspired by Ramadan, suggests that eating carbohydrates in the evening increases feeling of fullness.
A study has found tucking into a bowl of pasta at night can actually reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
A team from the Hebrew University carried out the research after studying the diets of Muslims during Ramadan, when people fast during the day and eat carb-heavy evening meals.
Complex carbohydrates are a good source of energy and include wholegrain pastas, breads and rice as well as beans.
They found the diet increased satiety – the feeling of being full – and influenced the production of hormones associated with heart attack risk factors.
This made it a promising eating regime for overweight people trying to slim down.
Professor Zecharia Madar, chief scientist at Israel’s Ministry of Education, explained: “The idea came about from studies on Muslims during Ramadan, when they fast during the day and eat high-carbohydrate meals in the evening, that showed the secretion curve of leptin was changed.”
He led a team that assigned 78 police officers to either the Ramadan diet (carbohydrates at dinner) or a control weight loss diet (carbohydrates throughout the day).
After six months researchers examined the experimental diet’s effect on the secretion of three hormones: leptin, the satiety hormone; ghrelin, the hunger hormone; and adiponectin, the link between obesity, insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome.
The researchers found that the experimental diet led to positive changes in the hormonal profiles of the Ramadan dieters.
The diet led to lower hunger scores, as well as better weight, abdominal circumference and body fat outcomes compared to the control group.
The experimental dieters also recorded improvements in their blood sugar, blood lipids and inflammatory levels.
The findings suggest there is an advantage in concentrating carbohydrate intake in the evening, especially for people at risk of developing diabetes or cardiovascular disease due to obesity.
“The findings lay the basis for a more appropriate dietary alternative for those people who have difficulty persisting in diets over time,” said Prof. Zecharia Madar.
“The next step is to understand the mechanisms that led to the results obtained.”
The study was published in the Obesity and Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases journals.