Adrenal Fatigue And Weight Gain: Is There A Connection?

Is there a connection between adrenal fatigue and weight gain? Did you know that when you gain weight around your belly, this could be an indication of adrenal fatigue? Not many people know this, but chronic stress blocks your weight loss abilities.

Adrenal fatigue is one of the terms used to define a condition of chronic fatigue that many people experience. It is caused when the adrenal glands do not function at the proper level most often when stress occurs.

In the words of James Wilson (author of Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome), both chronic stress and the individual’s lifestyle affect the body’s recovery from physical, mental or emotional stress.

Lethargy and fatigue are some very common problems among most adults today.

An influx of adrenal hormones does go straight to your waist. Your system remains in high-stress mode due to constant pressure, and this causes your adrenals to become exhausted.

Adrenal fatigue is one of the most common hormone problems in the modern world. Yet, doctors and women don’t usually recognize adrenal fatigue warning signs until it’s way overdue.

Addressing the body’s response to stress is the most naturally overlooked way for balancing hormones, stabilizing moods, getting great sleep, achieving a healthier immunity, and stabilizing weight.

Adrenal fatigue and weight gain do not have to be a problem when you take the right steps to amend your lifestyle.

How Adrenal Fatigue Causes Weight Gain

What Does Your Day Look Like?When it comes to adrenal fatigue and weight gain, the way your day goes is a big factor. Has your daily mantra become, “I’m exhausted” or “I’m so stressed out?” You are not alone.

If you often feel tense, stressed, and teary-eyed, feeling as if you can’t handle the pressure any longer, of if stress directs your path in life, you might be suffering from the burnout of your adrenals. If not, you are probably on the way to that state. In the meantime, it can cause hormonal imbalance symptoms.

As the fatigue of your adrenals worsens over time, it can compromise your natural hormonal balance. This can cause you to go through enormous fluctuations in energy. It may even feel as if you are already exhausted from your day the moment you wake up each morning.

As you go through slumps and dips in your day, this is an indication of struggling adrenals. In fact, in women, adrenal fatigue is the most significant cause of imbalanced hormones. As a result, you need to nip adrenal fatigue and weight gain in the bud before things escalate further.

Stress Affects Weight

How Adrenal Fatigue Causes Weight Gain

Generally, weight loss or gain is an issue during and after stressful times. Heightened levels of stress tend to cause hormone imbalances such as adrenaline, DHEA, and cortisol.

An increase in stress stimulates the adrenals to produce inadequate and excessive amounts of these hormones. Hormonal levels do stabilize with less stress but at times, the irregular levels of hormones remain unchanged for long periods, wreaking havoc on the body.

In particular, cortisol is linked to fluctuations in weight. Both the deficiency and excess of cortisol impact the levels of blood sugar and thyroid functions. It also triggers symptoms of low metabolism and weight fluctuation. Stress that leads to an imbalance in cortisol include:

  • Toxic exposure
  • Excess exercise
  • Traumatic or surgery injuries
  • Physical or mental overwork
  • Severe infections
  • Delayed or frequently skipped meals
  • Shifting work schedules
  • Not enough sleep
  • Emotional imbalance
  • Excess intake of carbohydrates and sugar

Other Effects Of Stress On The Body

Cortisol and blood-controlling insulin are related. With the increase in cortisol levels, the body’s cells become insulin-resistant. This may thus lead to Type 2 diabetes, weight gain and an increase in blood sugar. When there is an excessive drop in the level of cortisol, this leads to exhausted adrenals.

When this happens, the level of blood sugar decreases causes low-stress tolerance, weight loss, and hypoglycemia. Both low and high cortisol also triggers low metabolism symptoms such as feeling cold, depressed, fatigued and experiences poor concentration and decreased memory.

To some extent, levels of cortisol facilitate the optimum production of hormones from the thyroid. The proper function of the thyroid helps in maintaining healthy metabolisms.

Both low and high levels of cortisol impair thyroid hormone conversion to its active form from its inactive forms.This causes poor metabolism symptoms and weight gain.

There are available tests that address the imbalance of hormones properly. For blood sugar and thyroid, blood tests help in pinpointing any issue causing symptoms of lower metabolism. Plus, levels of cortisol and adrenal functions can be assessed accurately by naturopathic doctors using the ASI or adrenal stress index.

ASI tests indicate whether you have a deficient or excessive adrenal function. When you suspect that what you have are adrenal fatigue and weight gain, see your health care practitioner and ask for recommendations that address the issue.

Since both symptoms tend to seem alike, they each require separate treatment. Determine the individual rhythm of your adrenals. In twenty hours, the ASI test requires taking four saliva samples. This helps determine the level of your hormones throughout the day.

Once the rhythm of your adrenals has been determined, adrenal-balance individual plans for treatment are prescribed and include recommendations for the diet, nutrition supplements, and lifestyle counseling.

Adrenals Produce Stress Hormones

hormone imbalance and weight gain

Your adrenals are two glands shaped like walnuts, each weighing about five grams. They sit on your kidneys and produce functional hormones in your body. A critical job of your adrenals is to produce tons of stress hormones when you are going through stressful times.

All it takes to begin exhausting your adrenals is a few months or weeks of stress. You may get more and more signs of hormonal imbalance.

Your body and brain can no longer differentiate between a real threat and a perceived threat. You react the same when you see an actual iguana or when your computer suddenly restarts itself on its own.

You feel the same when you look at your ‘to do’ list, dress up for a dinner party that fills you with social anxiety or had a fight with your partner. Exhausted adrenals feel like you are in the fight or flight response all of the time. Adrenal fatigue causes stress in the following areas:

  • Diet
  • Spiritual
  • Chemical
  • Emotional
  • Physical

Dietary Triggers for Adrenal Fatigue

When you overload on high sugar food, carbs, and caffeine, this stimulates the repeated release of cortisol. Sometimes our days are so hectic you just want to forget about counting calories and selecting your food and eat whatever tastes good at the moment.

Comfort food like potato chips, Oreo’s, chocolate, cheesecake, and candy are the go-to stress-eating feel-good trigger foods we reach for. This sets up a pattern of adrenal fatigue. Chronic issues of your stomach, such as IBS, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, leaky gut, and food sensitivity causes adrenal fatigue.

Spiritual Triggers

You may feel like there is no direction or purpose in your life when you are going through adrenal fatigue. A clear symptom of adrenal fatigue is when you just feel off, listless, bored by everything, like nothing is interesting.

Chemical Triggers

Your liver is overloaded with toxins that come from prescription drugs, antibiotics, xeno-estrogens or you may have worked or lived in places like farms or factories that are toxic. You may not know it but your environment may be causing adrenal fatigue if all other factors seem to be okay.

Emotional Triggers

Relationship problems, financial problems or work pressures can take its toll. Past unresolved abuse and trauma. Feeling not good enough, unworthy, over-achieving all the time leads to adrenal fatigue. The people at work or home could be causing you immense stress.

Physical Triggers

You experience one infection after another such as herpes, EBV, and Lyme. You may suffer from food sensitivity and allergies. Excess sports like over-exercising and running marathons can worsen or even cause adrenal fatigue. Too much exhaustion or, even the other extreme, lethargy, could be a trigger.

Hormonal Imbalance

No matter what triggers your adrenal fatigue, the result is a hormone imbalance that wreaks havoc on your system. Your adrenal glands can become wholly and utterly worn out. The very hormones meant for keeping you alive or giving you energy when you feel like you are under threat can begin compromising your health until they become depleted.

Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

When facing a stressful situation such as a job interview, the response for fight or flight may immediately kick at the moment it is your turn. Your body may experience a rapid stress cascade of responses including:

  • Dilated pupils to let in more light for sharpened fight or flee focus.
  • There is an increase in perspiration to help in preventing your body from overheating in case of a quick getaway.
  • The heightened ability for blood clotting in case you are injured
  • Your hearing and mind zoom in on information of the senses. You can not easily focus on reading a book or writing a report.
  • Heart rate and breathing speed up to pump nutrients and oxygen to your brain and muscles so you can think very quickly and act fast. You can feel your muscles tensed up, ready to run.
  • Cortisol, nor-adrenaline, and adrenaline are quickly pumping out of your adrenal glands. The job of these hormones is to ensure that there is a quick dump of glucose into your blood to give you the focus and energy you need to handle any emergency.
  • Everything else shuts down so your body can remain alive and become mobilized. Digestion and repair of your tissues get delayed. Reproduction and immunity are in slow motion. Women who are stressed chronically may even have a hard time becoming pregnant.

It is important to understand the relationship between obesity and stress. People tend to stress about the environment, their family, their finances and their job. But can all of that pressure wreak havoc on your health?

Stress causes the body to react in many different ways. Whether you are stressed at work or running with the bulls, the reaction of your body is the same. A chain reaction begins when your brain perceives stress. Ultimately, your body signals your adrenals to produce cortisol.

Fight Or Flight Response

How Adrenal Fatigue Causes Weight Gain

Known as the stress hormone, cortisol sends the body into flight or fight to help it with managing stress from the environment. Imagine how you would react to a burning building.

Your blood sugar increases, blood pressure goes up, your heart rate increases and your pupils dilate. When you feel that there is no more danger, you start relaxing. This is how the human body survives.

Keep in mind, however, that the body goes through the same reaction when the stress is mental and not just physical. When you go through mental stress daily, with no periods of relaxing in between, the adrenal glands’ ability to stop the production of cortisol breaks.

The reason is that stress never really leaves. If money, family or work stresses you out daily, your adrenals start wearing off and become fatigued.

Cortisol increases the intake of high calorie, energy-dense food that supports the body’s need for immediate energy. The increase in fatty, sugary food causes the body to store fat, causing weight gain. When it escalates to obesity, this is a big risk factor for kidney disease, atherosclerosis, stroke, and heart disease.

How To Treat Adrenal Fatigue

How To Treat Adrenal Fatigue

If your doctor diagnoses you with the condition of adrenal fatigue, alternate medical practitioners might recommend you to modify your lifestyle. The malfunction might become chronic mainly due to prolonged and stressful events and poor health.

Since stress is the culprit, you will need to do the opposite. In other words, avoid stress at all costs. Create a peaceful environment and engage in activities that relax you.

Try and plan your day to include avoiding triggers. It may take a while for your body to go back into its natural, stress-free state, but the time will come if you practice relaxation consistently.

Optimize sleep to regain strength and energy. Take naps when you can. Before bedtime, limit distractions. Use earplugs, white noise, avoid fluid, and silence your phone. At night, limit bright light exposure.

There should be no caffeine intake at night, for obvious reasons. Exercising during the day should help you sleep better at night. The effects of adrenal fatigue and weight gain simply cannot go on when you sleep soundly every night.

When adrenal dysfunction has caused weight gain, a good place to start to amend this is with your diet. Low inflammatory food will help. Balance quality protein, healthy fat and smart carbs at every meal. Eat every two hours.

Take magnesium, B-Vitamins and Vitamin C for best results. When you practice better lifestyle habits, adrenal fatigue, and weight gain become a thing of the past.

Understanding The Causes

Since alternative medical practitioners believe in the existence of adrenal fatigue, they claim that the condition can occur due to wide varieties of reasons. Exposure to toxic chemicals, recurrent diseases like infection or illness, stressful and prolonged physiological circumstances are some of the common causes of adrenal fatigue.

In fact, the adrenal fatigue symptoms are recognized at a later stage when the adrenal glands have started performing much lower than usual. In the initial stage, the symptoms are mild due to which the condition often goes unnoticed and undetected.

The aim is to improve the overall functioning of the adrenal glands and in the process help the patient get relief from the episodes of fatigue. Based on the severity of the symptom and the condition of the disease, the treatment options might vary.

Using a holistic approach to therapy can help support the recovery of the adrenal glands and return them to their normal function.

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