Dr. Partha Nandi said the jury is still out on the long-term effects of intermittent fasting, but he said it could work to reduce calories and help dieters lose weight.

Dr. Partha Nandi said the jury is still out on the long-term effects of intermittent fasting, but he said it could work to reduce calories and help dieters lose weight.

Photo provided by Kali Nandi, from the “Ask Dr. Nandi” show

Tick tock, get your appetite on a clock

Intermittent fasting may help fuel weight loss

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published September 26, 2018

METRO DETROIT — Most of us are used to steering clear of the refrigerator during the night — save for the occasional midnight snack raid. 

But what if you went even longer without eating than just from bedtime until the alarm blares? What if you went 16 hours instead of eight, or maybe even 24? What would happen to your body?

Well, the throngs of folks devoted to the newest diet trend, intermittent fasting, would likely tell you that what happens is lasting weight loss, along with a myriad of other health benefits. The concept is that when you pack all of your calories into a smaller period of time each day, you tend to consume fewer of them.

Seems pretty simple, right? That’s the idea, according to Dr. Partha Nandi, a gastroenterologist, a professor of medicine at Oakland University and host of the locally filmed medical talk show “Ask Dr. Nandi.”

“If you don’t eat for 16 or 24 hours at a time, is it surprising to me that you would lose weight? No. You’re reducing your calories,” Nandi said. “I think where the appeal of this comes in is that you’re not really on a diet where you restrict carbs or eat a certain kind of food. It’s more about when you eat.”

Of course, intermittent fasting isn’t an excuse to starve yourself for hours on end and then gorge on junk food during your eating window. Nandi said, of course, that won’t do much. But the simple yet effective structure might be the key some folks need to rein in their calories.

That’s the way Scott Genord sees it too. He’s a fitness trainer and the owner of Pulse Fitness in Pleasant Ridge. He thinks intermittent fasting is another diet option for folks who want to take control of their eating.

Scratch that. It’s not a diet; it’s a lifestyle.

“A lot of clients of mine jump from diet to diet because they don’t see results, but they won’t. This isn’t for 30 days; it’s for 30 years. It’s a lifestyle change, and I always tell people they need to find what works best for them,” he said.

Genord suggests to clients who want to give intermittent fasting a whirl to allow at least three months to see results. That’s a good amount of time to test the schedule against the demands of their professional and personal lives. 

Those who are able to fast and see results — great. Genord says stick with it, because once you’ve trained your body to depend on itself when food isn’t available, your metabolism will slow down and the pounds can come back with a vengeance. 

Nandi agreed with that point, saying the results of intermittent fasting might not be sustainable since, for many people, it’s too tough to keep that kind of schedule for years to come.

Oh, and we’re not totally sure what intermittent fasting might do to our bodies after years of practice anyway. While fasting isn’t new to human bodies — evolutionarily, we’re made to use reserve sources of energy in our bodies when nutrition isn’t available — but fasting as a diet trend is relatively new.

“All the studies we have on intermittent fasting, which show us you’ll definitely lose weight and it could theoretically increase insulin sensitivity, affect your heart health and blood pressure — those are all short-term studies on animals,” Nandi said. “As a long-term realistic solution, I don’t know. We can’t promise people anything that this is going to be a better option.”

But both experts encouraged healthy readers to give intermittent fasting a try if it sounds like the right option for them. Nandi said those with existing medical complications like heart ailments, diabetes or other blood sugar issues; women who are pregnant or trying to conceive; and children should steer clear of fasting or at least talk to their doctor first.

Genord suggested that those who want to make intermittent fasting an effective tool to get healthy should seek out friends or a nearby support group willing to take the journey too.

“Any nutrition or fitness goals are about accountability. If you bring in someone or something to hold you accountable, it gives you a little more support than doing it on your own. We have small groups here that meet and discuss their challenges and best results, and they tend to do better,” he explained. “You just want a plan besides walking in and mindlessly grabbing whatever you want from the pantry.”