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Adrenal Fatigue Weight Gain: How Your Adrenal Glands and Cortisol Levels Affect Your Weight

There are many factors that contributes to our weight gain, and one of the most important factor is hormone regulation. If you’ve read several of articles you would know that our adrenal glands are responsible for producing and balancing hormones in our body. One specific hormone our adrenal glands produce is the hormone cortisol (stress hormones).

Cortisol levels should be maintained by your body’s endocrine system. But in certain conditions our bodies can produce low cortisol or elevated cortisol levels.

Small increase on cortisol levels is normal if our body is subjected to stress. But in cases of chronic stress, wherein our adrenal glands becomes overtaxed with elevated cortisol levels, it would lead to weight gain. Too much cortisol would promote symptoms such as overeating and it would increase your cravings for salty and sugary foods.

Strenuous Exercise and Adrenal Fatigue

Dr Hagmeyer of explains how your workout regiment may be at times sabotaging the health of your Thyroid and Adrenals.

overtraining2Like many women who come to our office, Mary was a mother of two who began a vigorous exercise program of weight lifting and running, one to two hours a day, six days a week.

Not only did she fail to lose weight, she actually gained weight, and found herself battling more fatigue, more Insomnia, Sugar Cravings, irritability, and constant colds and flus.

As it turns out, Mary was exercising too much and was causing Adrenal Fatigue and Adrenal Burnout.

Overtraining can weaken the body. Here’s why….

While regular exercise is vital to good health, studies show overtraining can actually deplete hormones, depress immunity, lead to bone loss, increase the risk of injuries, slow healing, increase inflammation, and cause a general feeling of burn-out. (1)

Sufficient recovery between exercise sessions and exercising at an appropriate intensity will get you fitter faster without compromising health.

Overtraining-What It Does To Your Thyroid And Adrenals.

Overtraining causes your body to pump out extra cortisol, a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands that helps us cope with stress. High cortisol can cause bone loss, and muscle breakdown, create belly fat, increase sugar cravings, and lead to insulin resistance, a pre-diabetic condition that causes high blood sugar.

Overtraining and low cortisol

Some people who over train suffer from low cortisol, which can lead to weight gain, fatigue, low blood sugar (with dizziness, light-headedness, and irritability), muscle weakness, difficulty recovering from workouts, and poor immune strength.

American life is already stressful Clearly, neither high nor low cortisol produces the desired effects of an exercise regime, and both cause a chronic inflammatory state that ages you quickly. Throw in other factors of modern American life—stressful lifestyles, too little sleep, poor diets, too many sweets and caffeine—and overtraining can be the tipping point into cortisol-driven disorders.

adrenal stress index

This is an example of Panel that was run on one a patient who suffers with thyroid Problems, Sugar Cravings, Constant Fatigue, Irritability in the morning and Insomnia at night.

(The Green line is Normal) The Blue Line is the Patients cortisol Rhythm. Also note how all of her levels are elevated. This is not Good!

Symptoms of Overtraining: Consequences on Your Thyroid and Adrenal.

How much exercise is too much? This varies from person to person. Overtraining for one person can be another person’s warm up. An adrenal salivary panel will show you your cortisol levels, but it’s especially important to pay attention to signals from your body, which is harder than it sounds for the driven athlete accustomed to pushing the envelope.
Symptoms of overtraining include persistent tiredness, worsening strength and stamina, sleep disturbances, slow recovery, aching joints or limbs, injuries, and frequent illness, to name a few.
Exercise should boost energy, not drain it! Appropriate exercise boosts your energy and your sense of well-being.  While some muscle soreness is normal, you should experience energy, mental focus, and a good mood during recovery periods between workouts.

Ask us about an adrenal cortisol panel to help you establish whether or not exercise could be causing more harm.

Listen to another patients who was overtraining and the consequences it was having on her. This patient was working out intensely 5-6x per week.

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Adrenal Fatigue Diet Plan for Weight Loss

Supporting your body’s natural cortisol levels through proper adrenal diet would result in reduction of stress on your adrenal glands. The objective of such diet is to prevent any sudden increase of your adrenal hormones produced when you are not eating for a while.

Recommended Meal Schedule for People with Adrenal Fatigue

In order to prevent excess cortisol levels that would lead to a hormonal imbalance we recommend eating 3 nutritious meals and 2 or 3 snacks in between meals.

Recommended Meal Schedule:

  • Eat within one hour of waking
  • Eat snacks every two to three hours
  • Eat an early dinner

Why Should You Time Your Meals for Natural Cortisol Cycle?

Like other hormones produced in our body, cortisol levels follow a natural cycle inline with our circadian rhythm. Under normal circumstances, our adrenal glands begins to produce cortisol early in the morning (around 6 am) and will reach its peak at mid morning (around 8 am). As the day goes by, these cortisol levels gradually reduces, with noticeable increase during mealtimes, in order for our body to prepare for our normal night time rest.

We know that you might have a busy schedule and might not keep tabs on our recommended meal timings so here are some health tips:

Breakfast: As we’ve mentioned in our adrenal fatigue diet article, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating a nutritious breakfast within an hour after waking waking will help your metabolism and it will help your body get enough cortisol levels all through your day.

Lunch: Lunch could be your largest meal of the day that helps to keep your cortisol level in-check. Due to other people’s busy schedules, lunch is eaten in a jiffy. We recommend that you eat you lunch in a much more relaxed pace, choose a place to eat that will help you relax to help your body’s stress management.

Dinner: Eat your dinner by 5 or 6 pm (if possible). If you can’t follow this, we suggest you to have a light meal for your dinner. Most of my patients tend to eat a lot during dinner or before to bed. This would result in an hormone imbalance in your stress hormones that will help you get that good quality sleep.

Foods to Look Out For To Help Reduce Stress On Your Adrenal Glands

Our food choices, most of the times, are directly connected to how stressed we are. When facing chronic stress, we tend to go for our “comfort foods”, it could be a cookie, cake, ice cream, coffee or soda. These sweet cravings makes perfect sense since its our body’s response to low blood sugar.

But do not be fooled by this, the sudden boost in your energy levels from these foods will be followed by a sudden plunge in energy levels that would make you feel exhausted. Simple carbohydrates, mostly found on sugars, stimulates an increase in blood sugar and to counteract this effect. Our bodies produces insulin that clears this increased blood sugar levels to proper levels so fast that your body would crash. This vicious cycle of spike crash wouldn’t happen if you eat complex carbohydrates. But keep in mind that too many carbohydrates would still lead to blood sugar imbalance.

Better Food Choices That Support Your Adrenal Healing

  • Eat High Quality Protein. 

    Protein provides a stabilizing effect on your blood sugar levels. This would result in helping you overcome cravings for caffeine and sugars that would lead to the vicious cycle of spike-crash. Nuts, beans and other plant proteins are an excellent choice to incorporate to your meals or snacks.

  • Gluten-Free Foods. 

    Choosing gluten-free foods to balance your adrenals would greatly help your adrenal health especially if you have food sensitivities. Gluten-free grains like wild rice, quinoa, “pure” buckwheat are worth a try if you want to introduce yourself to a gluten-free diet.

  • Avoid or Limit Caffeine Intake. 

    As mentioned earlier, caffeine could overstimulate your adrenal glands. Caffeine is well known for keeping you up at night and it could throw-off your sleeping patterns. Caffeine cravings often indicates that your cortisol levels and blood sugar are low and in addition to that, your serotonin may be also imbalanced. If you are experiencing this, instead of taking another cup of coffee, take a break and relax for a while.

  • Eat Fresh and Organic Food. 

    If you are going to the mall for your groceries, choose fresh, whole foods, if there are organic or locally grown then those are an excellent choice too. These type of foods are devoid of chemicals, preservatives or added hormones that could contribute to imbalances that is already happening in your body.

  • Keep Your Salt Cravings In-Check

    People suffering from adrenal fatigue often have salt cravings, as salt can increase your blood pressure. But keep in mind that hypotension or low blood pressure is a common sign of adrenal insufficiency. If you feel symptoms like lightheadedness it could be a sign of a low adrenal function. Incorporating a good quality iodized sea salt to your diet would be a great help to your adrenal and thyroid functions.

Our Chronic Fatigue and Adrenal Recovery Program is a customized, natural treatment for people who suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, high DHEA, or Low DHEA or Exercise Induced Adrenal Disorder.

We use advanced testing methods, nutritional supplements, Dietary modifications, Hormone and endocrine support formula, and lifestyle guidance.

To see if our Adrenal Recovery Program is right for you, schedule a Free 15 minute Phone Consult by filling out our online questionnaire

Still have questions? Our Free 15 minute personalized Phone consult is a great place to start.

Each person who suffers with symptoms of  Fatigue, Brain Fog, hormonal imbalances, weight gain has a different set of mechanisms or causes.

Our office will customize a Health Restoration Program based on your testing and tailor it to your individual needs. We know that this can be a difficult time and situation, and are here to help.

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