About Steve Sisskind, MD
Weight-loss expert Dr. Steve Sisskind shares some insights about making small but powerful steps to get and stay lean. Dr. Steve says we often overeat and under exercise because we are unaware of the mental triggers that cause us to eat too much, and we lack clarity about our long-term goals.
Books Discussed in This Episode
02:35 Dr. Sisskind’s Integrative Medicine Journey: As a young doctor in residency, he found that he was frustrated with his overweight patients and they were frustrated with him. He didn’t have the tools to help his overweight patients to thrive. He decided to figure out the root, rather than give them a band aid and get them out of the clinic.
04:36 Inflammation and Hormones: Hormones released from fat tissue, like leptin, can cause joint pain. Some of his patients who have lost only 10 to 15 pounds, not enough to have much structural impact, have remarkable improvement in pain. Inflammation is from extra stress, eating the wrong foods, not getting enough sleep, etc. The first step in moderating that inflammation is losing weight.
07:02 The Hormone Adiponectin: It is still said that all you need to do to lose weight is burn more calories than you bring in. It is technically true, but it is complicated. There are hormones that are linked to gaining and losing weight. Out of balance hormones are barriers to weight loss. Adiponectin is a hormone that is produced in our fat cells. It is a signaling hormone that says to burn or not burn fat. In those of us who are overweight or obese, adiponectin levels are lower. The more fat we have, the less signaling we have to burn it.
10:37 Insulin Resistance and Impaired Fat Burning: When we consume sugars and simple carbohydrates, insulin’s job is to shuttle those sugars into our muscles and our liver for use. When there is a large spike in sugar and simple carbohydrates, insulin can only shuttle so much energy. During sugar overload, the energy that cannot be shuttled and used is stored as fat. Because insulin is being stressed, it becomes less sensitive and less able to do its job. Insulin resistance is linked with impaired fat burning.
13:00 It Is Not Our Fault: We need to understand that it is not our fault. We all have personal responsibility, but there are many influences at work on our behaviors. We should become more active. This doesn’t mean pounding it out at the gym, maybe it means walking. We need to get enough sleep and proper nutrition.
14:06 What is Proper Nutrition? To Dr. Sisskind, proper nutrition is moving away from processed, refined foods toward whole real clean foods. You can buy anything at the supermarket, as long as it is one ingredient or less. This alone can change your life.
16:11 Genetics and Obesity: Your genetics are not your destiny. Epigenetics is how the environment effects the expression of your genetic code. There are genes associated with risk of obesity, but lifestyle factors like nutrition, sleep, and activity can affect how you express those genes.
17:40 Getting to Your “Why?” We don’t want to be lectured about our weight. We know the reasons. What is it about you personally that is a reason to change? It is a starting point. B.J. Fogg from Stanford speaks to Tiny Habits (http://tinyhabits.com/) about changing behaviors. Willpower is a frontal cortex-intense activity. There is only so much reserve for it. Eventually, your willpower runs out. The Tiny Habits approach is about placing habits into your life that avoids your needing to tap into your willpower.
23:07 Visual Tricks of the Brain: We can be seduced by the visual tricks our brains play on us, or we can use them to our advantage. That is the work of Brian Wansink (http://www.brianwansink.com/). Take a tall thin glass or a wide low glass with the same amount of fluid. The tall thin glass looks like it has more. To help lose weight, use tall thin glasses. The same amount of food looks like there is more food on a smaller plate than a larger plate, so people serve themselves more food on larger plates. Contrasting colors are also important. Fettuccine Alfredo on a white plate blends into the plate, so you don’t think that you have as much as when it is place on a green or red plate. How foods are marketed and packaged influence us to eat more.
28:08 Stress Hormones and Fat: The weight gain trifecta is insulin, fat hormones and stress hormones. Cortisol is produced in your adrenal glands in response to temporary stressful situations. In chronic stress, production goes into overdrive. Cortisol influences fat storage, especially visceral fat around your abdomen. This is a more dangerous fat for your health. It leads to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and more.
30:15 Stress Reduction Steps: Going out for a walk can reduce stress, as well as taking a few deep breaths, eating the right foods and supplementing with herbs and botanicals like Rhodiola and Ashwagandha. These are adaptogenic herbs that help moderate stress and boost mood and energy. Minimizing toxin exposures, as well as getting rest and sleep also affects our stress. Belly fat produces stress hormones.
32:14 Perturbed Gut Bacteria: What we eat and the environment we expose ourselves to are affecting the gut. It can damage the lining of our gut, causing inflammation and hormonal disruption. Probiotics and prebiotics can help. Processed refined sugars and flours feed certain gut bacteria and yeast, which can grow out of balance and become problematic.
35:13 Botanical Interventions: Rhodiola moderates cortisol. Coregenic acid from raw unprocessed beans of caffeinated green coffee bean extract from the sources which were used in studies can moderate glucose metabolism and support insulin sensitivity. Ayurvedic herbs from India affect adiponectin and ghrelin metabolism, to help bring you into a fat burning mode. Ghrelin is produced in the stomach. When you are hungry, it is released to send the hunger signal to the rest of your body. Omega 3 fatty acids reduce the inflammatory response in the body. Dr. Sisskind recommends 2 to 3 grams of omega 3’s per day.
39:54 Dr. Sisskind’s Morning Routine: Dr. Sisskind has 4 young children that need to get to school. Morning is mayhem. He works from home. When things settle, he tries to do some activity, even if it is 10 to 15 minutes of core strengthening exercises or stretching. It boosts the brain for the day. He tries to consume a smoothie containing flax and chia seeds, coconut milk, berries and protein powder which his company makes. He wishes that he had time for meditation, deep breathing, or music therapy. The most important thing he does is the night before. There is a direct correlation between a full night’s quality sleep and the quality of his next day. When you live in the right lifestyle choices, it is not about 20 years from now. It is about how you feel today.
44:11 Dr. Sisskind’s Favorite Herb or Botanical: If you are only going to take on supplement, his choice would be omega 3s because of the reduction in inflammation, and it positively affects mood, brain, heart, skin, and joints.
45:59 Dr. Sisskind’s Health Tip for America: Our food chain and economy are based on corn, wheat and soy. It is proving disastrous for our health. We need to diversify our food source to a clean, organic supply of multiple sources of plant-based foods.