Perhaps you’ve been on the diet roller coaster before; you’ve worked hard, lost weight, continued to work hard then stopped losing weight despite your continued effort. Maybe you’ve even gained weight, even though you changed nothing about your diet or exercise routine.
If this sounds like you, then you may be experiencing adrenal fatigue or HPA – Axis Dysfunction.
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
Simply put, adrenal fatigue is when your adrenal glands can’t keep up with the demands outside stressors place on your mind and body. And let’s face it with this pandemic we have been under chronic stress.
Your adrenal glands are responsible for regulating and producing all kinds of hormones that affect a number of different things including your blood sugar, blood pressure, metabolism, and your fight or flight response. One major hormone your adrenal glands are responsible for producing is cortisol. Cortisol is produced when your body is placed under stress. While the initial effect of dieting is to help you shed unwanted pounds, long term calorie restriction and overtraining can actually place your body under a significant amount of stress, which leads to elevated cortisol levels.
While it’s a good thing to have your cortisol levels elevated at certain points during the day, continually elevated cortisol levels can lead to adrenal fatigue. The constant demands placed on your adrenals to either fight or flee exhausts them and they can no longer regulate things the way they are supposed to.
Some common symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:
- Continual fatigue
- Difficulty waking up
- Depression, anxiety
- Trouble concentrating
- Moodiness and irritability
- Body aches
- Sugar cravings
- Difficulty sleeping
- Weight stored in the midsection
- Brain fog
- Dry skin, hair loss
- Lowered libido
What causes adrenal fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is caused by an overload of stressors for a prolonged amount of time. Some of those stresses can be linked to:
- Stress (mental, emotional, or physical)
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Environmental toxins
If you feel like you are in adrenal fatigue the best thing to do is to consult with your Doctor. Your doctor can run a saliva test to see if this is indeed your problem.
One of the most common reasons I see in my clients for adrenal fatigue is not fueling their body well or more importantly not eating enough. This can cause their body to go into starvation mode, which is a constant state of stress. This is particularly common in women who diet regularly and exercise too much. They are causing their bodies to live in a constant state of stress, and after a while adrenal fatigue sets in. This causes their body to continue to store fat, which brings many women to a weight loss plateau even though their behaviors haven’t changed.
So, how do you avoid adrenal fatigue?
Eat Enough of What Your Body Needs. Avoid low-calorie diets, and eat to fuel your body well. Do your best to eat as clean as you possibly can to avoid taking in any further toxins. Ensure that you get enough carbs, particularly after a workout. Watch your caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and processed food intake. Stay hydrated. Carb cycling is a great way to burn fat, without causing too much stress on your adrenals.
Get plenty of sleep. Most people need 8-10 hours of sleep per night. Do your best to get as close to that as possible. Sleep is a restorative time for your body, which is super important to your overall state of mind and your adrenal health. Check out this podcast on the importance of sleep.
Manage your stress levels. You can’t keep yourself from experiencing stress, so learning to cope effectively with stress is your next best option. Find a way that works for you to relieve stress and practice it daily! I have started using the Calm Mediation app for 10 minutes every morning.
Avoid overtraining. Cortisol levels increase significantly after 45 minutes of high-intensity exercise. So stop spending hours on the treadmill and do 30-40 minutes of high-intensity interval training, or strength training, that is more effective at burning fat without making your adrenals work too hard. Be sure to work in rest days in order to give your body time to repair itself.
Adrenal fatigue is common for women who juggle a lot. We live in a society with tons of demands on women, and most of us have countless stressors thrown at us every day. Doing what you can in terms of food, exercise, sleep, and stress management will go a long way in decreasing the likelihood of adrenal fatigue and helping you stay on track in your weight loss journey.
If you are ready to get off the diet roller coaster for good and find a lifestyle then click here to find out how.