If your diet leaves you hungry all afternoon, try shifting things around. Eating most of your carbs at dinner might increase your satiety throughout the day—not to mention reduce your risk for obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
In a recent study, published in the journal Obesity, Israeli researchers put 78 overweight police officers on one of two weight-loss diets—the first ate carbs throughout the day while the second saved them for dinner. (The study authors say the latter diet was inspired by Ramadan, during which Muslims fast all day and eat a starchy, celebratory dinner at night.)
After six months, the officers who concentrated their carbs in the evening were less hungry during the day, lost more weight and body fat, and showed better measures on a series of factors (like blood sugar and lipid levels) crucial to combatting obesity and diabetes. The study also found that the carbs-at-night plan had a positive effect on the secretion of a few key hormones that regulate hunger, satiety, and glucose levels.
So is carb-loading at dinner the answer to curbing mid-day cravings and keeping your weight—and health—in check? Possibly. The study was small, so the effect might not work for everyone. But what’s important to remember is that when you eat your food is just as important as what you eat. Always listen to your body…and figure out what works for your own appetite and energy levels.