What is the proof that adrenal fatigue and weight gain are actually related, especially as some self-styled experts are claiming adrenal fatigue is a myth?
And what are the symptoms of adrenal fatigue anyhow?
First of all, don’t let anybody tell you different: you are a bad ass. Your body is the product of millions of years of evolution designed to help you survive, thrive and create more badasses to survive and thrive for years to come.
It’s worked out pretty well for the previous 50-200 millennia (depending who you ask), but in the last century or so things have gotten a bit off-kilter.
The same fight-or-flight response that saved your ancestors from saber-tooth tigers and similar perils is now one of the biggest perils in our modern lives.
This pops up in a lot of different ways, but today we’ll talk specifically about how it impacts your weight.
If your diet and exercise habits haven’t changed, but you’re still putting on pounds you neither need nor want, adrenal fatigue from that fight-or-flight response firing at the wrong times may be the problem. Here’s what you need to know about it.
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is part of your body’s fight-or-flight stress response. When you feel threatened or anxious, your bloodstream floods with cortisol and adrenaline from your adrenal glands. This is great in the short term, especially under circumstances where physical effort will save the day, since it lets you make extreme effort with ease.
Over the long term and without an outlet, it creates a cycle where your body needs more and more adrenaline and cortisol to reach the physiological states it thinks it needs to be in. Eventually, you reach a point where what your body thinks it needs exceeds what your body can produce. This state is called adrenal fatigue.
How Does Adrenal Fatigue Impact Weight Gain?
When you use a fight-or-flight adrenaline dump for the purpose it was intended (outrunning predators and running to protect your children), your body burns a lot of calories to make that overdrive happen.
Because of this, the presence of adrenaline and cortisol triggers your body to store more calories as fat. Your metabolism slows temporarily to save up energy for your next encounter with danger.
High levels of cortisol also reduce your sensitivity to leptin (the hormone that tells you when you’re full).
When you’re suffering from adrenal fatigue, your body produces more adrenaline and cortisol in response to stress…which means you have heightened levels of both hormones much more frequently…
Which means your metabolism is slower and it takes more food for you to feel full pretty much all of the time.
If there’s a better recipe for weight gain that doesn’t involve ice cream and Netflix addiction, I don’t know what it is.
Of course, the physiological impact of adrenal fatigue on weight gain isn’t the only impact.
The stress at the core of adrenal fatigue has been linked to a host of mental and physical ailments which can also cause weight gain.
Combining those issues with reduced energy, unhealthy choices due to stress and lost sleep and you have a recipe for weight gain that might actually involve ice cream and Netflix.
What Can I Do About Adrenal Fatigue and Weight Gain?
Adrenal fatigue can cause a vicious cycle where the condition causes extra weight gain, which causes extra stress, which then causes still more weight gain, until there seems to be no way out from under the problem.
Breaking free from this cycle requires a two-pronged strategy to fight both the short-term weight gain and the long-term stressors that cause the adrenal fatigue in the first place.
Fight Short-Term Weight Gain by Maintaining Healthy Habits. Do this by:
• Eat on a defined schedule of three regular meals and two snacks each day, controlling portions for all five. This keeps you from “stress eating” by establishing healthy eating patterns.
• Respond to snack cravings by drinking a glass of water, to “trick” your body into feeling full without giving it calories it doesn’t need.
• Eat the most food earlier in the day, when cortisol levels are naturally high. Eating increases cortisol, so eating at night can skew your natural rhythms and cause more adrenal fatigue.
• Prepare meals and snacks ahead of time, so healthy options in controlled portions are readily available when it’s time to eat. Without that, it’s easy to either take the easier, less healthy option or to eat more than you should.
• Get 30-40 minutes of moderate exercise every day. If possible, schedule your workout for the morning so there’s less chance that schedule demands will run long and tempt you to skip.
Fight Long-Term Adrenal Fatigue by Reducing Stressors in Your Life. Do this by:
• Guard your sleep like it’s a huge pile of money by scheduling 8-9 hours per night (accounting for an hour of falling-to-sleep time). Eat light meals at the end of the day to make sleep easier, and try to be done with screen time no less than two hours before you go to bed.
• Take time to play, interact with family and other loved ones, rest, read and do other activities you enjoy. If this means saying “no” to a request you didn’t want to honor, or insisting on taking extra time away from commitments, that’s okay.
• Practice breathing, zazen, yoga, tai chi or another form of meditation. Hundreds of studies have found regular meditation directly fights stress and curbs the causes of adrenal fatigue.
• Get 30-40 minutes of moderate exercise every day. Yes, we said it twice. It’s that important.
Adrenal Fatigue and Weight Gain Conclusion:
Adrenal fatigue is a medical condition affecting thousands of men and women each year, and it can directly impact your efforts to lose weight. The best thing to do about adrenal fatigue is to remove as many stressors from your life as possible.
However, modern life means that you can’t always immediately end all stressors (trouble at work, for example) and life in general includes other stressors that are worth the stress (raising kids, planning a wedding, etc).
While you’re working on the big picture changes to reduce your stress level, use the advice we’ve listed above to keep your weight on track in the short term.
You should also download our Free Ebook which will show you several other ways to keep your hormonal driven weight gain in check.