Fasting may have got a whole lot better with food scientists discovering a New Zealand grown hops cultivar can reduce hunger pangs.

The clinical trial, conducted by Plant and Food Research, found Amarasate – an extract from a hop’s cultivar bred and grown in New Zealand – reduced feelings of hunger in young men undertaking a 24-hour water-only fast.

The findings indicate that those who refrain from eating for periods at a time may benefit from Amarasate to keep those stomach grumbles at bay.

Intermittent fasting is gaining in popularity according to Dr Edward Walker, the Plant and Food Research scientist behind the study.

“We know that Amarasate triggers a signal in the gut that tells the brain to stop eating and can reduce food intake when taken before meals. We wondered if this same mechanism would work in people that were fasting, so undertook a study examining hunger during the most challenging type of intermittent fasting day – a 24-hour water only fast.

“The results showed that Amarasate reduced feelings of hunger, even over meal periods when we tend to feel hungrier. The study suggests that Amarasate can give people who wish to incorporate fasting into their lifestyle a better chance of completing their fast and support them in reaching their health goals.”

Trial analysed the hunger of 30 men who fasted over a 24-hour period from 6pm until 6pm, consuming only water.

The men were given either a placebo or Amarasate on three occasions over a three-week period, at 16 hours and 20 hours from the beginning of the fast.

They were then asked how hungry they felt every 30 minutes subsequently and reported feeling less hungry when taking Amarasate.

The hop cultivar is bred by Plant and Food Research and was identified from more than 900 plant extracts screened for potentially controlling appetite, as part of the government-funded Foods for Appetite Control programme.