Adrenal Fatigue & Weight Gain - What You Need to Know
Gaining weight for no obvious reason? Feeling tired and stressed all the time? Craving sweets and salty snacks?
These are some of the typical adrenal fatigue symptoms.
So, how can you get rid of the few extra pounds and reduce stress naturally?
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about adrenal fatigue and weight gain, including:
- What’s Adrenal Fatigue & How It Happens
- Adrenal Fatigue Weight Gain & Other Symptoms
- 9+ Adrenal Fatigue Supplements
- How to Deal With Adrenal Fatigue - 5+ Tips
Let’s dive in!
What’s Adrenal Fatigue & How It Happens
Adrenal fatigue directly affects your adrenal glands.
These are two small organs located on top of your kidneys. They’re responsible for the production of your stress hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine.
The adrenal glands are responsible for your fight-or-flight response when you experience acute stress. That improves your reactions in stressful situations.
But when you’re facing stress daily for long periods (also known as chronic stress), your adrenal glands get exhausted gradually.
That’s when you can’t produce normal levels of the stress hormones and you feel tired all the time. And that condition is known as adrenal fatigue.
However, adrenal fatigue is not recognized by the Endocrinology Society and traditional doctors. That’s because when you experience adrenal fatigue, your cortisol levels are low, but still in the normal range which most doctors interpret as being healthy.
But when you feel exhausted, weak, and out of energy as soon as you wake up, you know the symptoms are real. In this case, you can always reach out to a functional medicine doctor.
Those medics recognize adrenal fatigue as a real condition. They can look into your cortisol levels in more detail and give you guidance on your treatment.
Adrenal Fatigue Weight Gain & Other Symptoms
So, how does adrenal fatigue mess with your weight?
So, when you’re stressed all the time, your cortisol levels are out of balance and can rapidly spike up and drop low instead of following their natural pattern.
This affects insulin too. Your cells become insulin-resistant which increases the production of insulin in your body. So, your blood sugar levels go up resulting in weight gain, especially in the belly area.
Cortisol also affects the thyroid gland functions which control your metabolism. When your thyroid hormones are not at their optimal levels, your metabolism is slower and you gain more weight.
Other adrenal fatigue symptoms include:
- Craving for sweet and salty snacks
- Brain fog and dizziness
- Difficulty falling asleep at night and waking up in the morning
- Increased energy in the night (when cortisol levels spike)
- Tiredness during the day
- Weaker immune system
- Low blood pressure
You can treat mild adrenal fatigue symptoms with the help of natural herbal supplements and adaptogens, a healthy adrenal fatigue-friendly diet, and applying some other useful tips and tricks to your daily routine.
This way, you’ll gradually recover from adrenal fatigue and get back to your normal levels of energy.
Keep in mind that some of these adrenal fatigue symptoms might be an indication of more serious medical conditions. In this case, natural supplements and changes in your diet and lifestyle are not sufficient, and you need to consult a doctor.
9+ Adrenal Fatigue Supplements
Natural supplements can speed up the adrenal fatigue recovery process.
And these are the best adrenal fatigue supplements that can help you feel better and lose weight.
#1. Organic Ashwagandha
Adaptogens help your body to keep your hormones in balance. For example, if your cortisol levels are too high, Ashwagandha can bring them down and the other way around.
The herb also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and strengthens your immune system. It can also improve your memory and brain function since it protects your nerve cells from free radicals.
You can find Ashwagandha in a powder form but it has a strong bitter taste. So, the best way to take it is in the form of capsules.
#2. Organic Maca
Maca is a Peruvian adaptogenic plant that originates from the Andes mountains. It can help you balance your stress hormones and is a great herb that can boost your energy.
Maca also improves your mood, memory, and libido. The plant can cleanse your body from toxins due to its antioxidant effects. It also alleviates menopause symptoms and inflammation in your body.
Maca has an earthy and nutty flavor to it and some people dislike it. So, if you don’t want to experiment with such flavors, the safest option is to take maca in the form of capsules.
#3. Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola Rosea is an adaptogen that can improve your body’s resistance to stress. Taking this supplement will help you regulate your cortisol levels when you’re in stressful situations.
This way, you won’t feel rapid spikes of your stress hormones. As a result, it will get easier to control your weight and bring overall hormone balance in your body.
Some studies show that along with regular exercising, Rhodiola can also help you burn belly fat and help you lose weight.
Rhodiola also improves your brain functions, fights off fatigue, and improves depression symptoms.
#4. Siberian Ginseng
Siberian Ginseng, or also known as Eleuthero, is another adaptogen that helps your body cope with stress.
Iberian Ginseng also prevents your body from developing other more serious stress-related diseases like heart problems and autoimmune disorders.
It also improves your nervous system functions and energy levels. And it can prevent and repair nerve damage in your body, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Siberian Ginseng can improve low blood pressure and the symptoms associated with it.
The plant can also help you stabilize your blood sugar levels since it reduces the insulin resistance in your body and is an effective weight loss supplement.
#5. Holy Basil
Holy Basil is not the traditional basil that you use in your food. It’s an ancient plant used in Ayurvedic medicine that helps reduce stress and anxiety.
It also improves memory, physical endurance, and sleep quality.
Holy basil can also reduce inflammation, lower your blood sugar and cholesterol levels. As a result, the insulin resistance in your body drops and you can lose weight easier.
You can take holy basil as tea but it has a slightly bitter taste. The more pleasant option is to just take holy basil leaf extract in the form of capsules.
Licorice extract can relieve your adrenal glands by promoting the normal production levels of cortisol.
Licorice also promotes more balanced energy levels, mood, and healthy sleep. The plant can strengthen your immune system and protect your liver function.
Licorice can improve your weight loss efforts since it promotes the reduction of body fat.
It can also relieve some PMS and menopause symptoms due to its mild estrogenic activity. But you should avoid licorice if you’re sensitive to changes in your estrogen levels.
Licorice extract can slightly increase your blood pressure too. So, if you suffer from hypertonia, it’s also not recommended to use it.
Schisandra has adaptogenic properties that help your body cope with stress and improves your body’s defensive mechanism against diseases.
Schisandra also reduces high blood pressure and is a natural antidepressant. Additionally, it’s known to improve your memory, attention, concentration, and physical endurance.
The plant has a beneficial effect on your liver health which can also increase your energy levels and help you burn more fat.
Maintaining normal levels of magnesium is essential for many functions in your body, including cell energy formation, normal nerve and muscle function, and a healthy immune system.
Magnesium also supports the functioning of your adrenal glands and, in turn, you feel more energized. Magnesium reduces high blood pressure, headaches, and depression symptoms.
Taking this supplement can also stop the weight gaining caused by the hormone imbalance since magnesium reduces the insulin resistance in your cells.
#9. Vitamin B-complex
Vitamin B-complex is essential for maintaining proper energy levels. Most people get vitamin B-complex from their food. But if you experience fatigue, weakness, and depression symptoms, you might have vitamin B-complex deficiency.
In this case, it’s better to take additional vitamin B supplements that can improve your mood, help you cope with stress, and improve your brain functions.
Vitamin B-complex also promotes better metabolism which can stop you from gaining excessive weight, reduce your food cravings, and improve your overall hormone balance.
#10. Omega 3
To get Omega-3 in your body, you should eat fish at least twice a week. But if you’re not a fan, you can get your Omega-3 from a supplement.
Omega-3 improves your body’s reaction to stress by improving your adrenal functions and normalizing the cortisol levels in your body.
Omega-3 is vital for your heart and eye health. And in combination with a healthy diet and exercise routine, it aids weight loss.
The supplement also fights off anxiety and depression symptoms and has anti-inflammatory effects.
And for optimal results, you can get an Omega 3 supplement that comes with vitamin B and vitamin C which makes a nice cocktail against adrenal fatigue.
How to Deal With Adrenal Fatigue - 5+ Tips
To get the most out of the supplements you take, however, you have to make sure you’re following some healthy habits and routines.
This way, you nurture your body and provide it with everything it needs to recover from the adrenal fatigue symptoms.
#1. Reduce Stress
Unfortunately, eliminating stress from your life is impossible. You have endless to-do lists, house chores, work, and meetings you have to attend.
However, there are a few ways in which you can reduce your daily dose of stress.
- Share some of your responsibilities. If your daily schedule includes house chores, grocery shopping, or taking your pet to the vet, you can ask other family members to help. Once you explain how you’re feeling, they will be willing to help you out. This way, you can catch your breath and maybe even catch up on rest.
- Get some me-time. Being constantly busy leaves you with barely any time for yourself. You have to run around and do things for others, do work-related tasks, and a ton of other things. But clearing up a couple of hours once or twice a week can change so much. When you give yourself time, quiet down, and escape stress just for a bit, you will feel more rested and refreshed. Just book this time for yourself and do something that will help you relax.
- Cancel on things that are wasting your time and energy. Being caught up in your daily routine sometimes results in running on autopilot. You just start your day and you do the things you have to do. But if you slow down and write down all your daily and weekly activities, you might find things that you can easily skip. Such activities eat up your time, are not helpful, and don’t bring any value to you. Just scratch them off your list. Instead, give this time to something more meaningful, or just use this time for rest.
#2. Eat Regularly and Improve Your Diet
Eating regularly is a must when you suffer from adrenal fatigue. If you have big intervals in which you’re starving, your blood sugar will go down and cause your cortisol levels to spike.
Instead, try to have 3 meals a day and 2 snacks in between. And make sure you’re stocked up on healthy snacks for that purpose.
Some healthy foods you want to include in your diet are:
- Leafy greens. Spinach, kale, and broccoli are a great source of magnesium that supports your adrenal functions.
- Whole grains. Whole wheat, rye, and buckwheat are rich in fiber, protein, and complex carbs that release energy slowly and keep you full for a long time.
- Healthy fats. Avocado, coconut, and olives are good sources of healthy fats. Adrenal fatigue makes you crave fatty foods. Just make sure you’re choosing the healthy ones, so you feel better and don’t gain extra weight.
- Seeds and nuts. Walnut, hazelnut, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds among many others are a great source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, which help to regulate your adrenal glands’ functions.
- Lean meats. Aim for organic meats. They’re rich in proteins that will give you extra endurance throughout the day.
And some unhealthy foods that work against your efforts to fight off adrenal fatigue and weight gain:
- Sugary snacks and soda. Cookies, cupcakes, doughnuts, and all sorts of snacks loaded with sugar might seem tempting when you suffer from adrenal fatigue. But you should stay away from them because they cause rapid blood sugar spikes followed by sugar withdrawal and more sugar cravings. On top of that, they cause excess production of insulin and hormone imbalance which causes you to gain weight.
- Refined grains. Products made with white flour like bread, pizza, and pasta contain little to no fibers and healthy nutrients. They contain mostly unhealthy carbs which make you feel full, give you lots of empty calories, and prevent you from losing weight.
- Processed foods. Among these foods are all sorts of processed meats, cheeses, microwave meals, and cereals. These are stripped of their nutrients and give you mostly empty calories that leave you craving more since you are unsatisfied with your meal.
- Hydrogenated oils. You can find them in peanut butter, coffee creamers, packaged snacks, and fried foods. They contain lots of chemicals and preservatives that make you feel even more fatigued and weak.
- Deep-fried foods. French fries, onion rings, and fish and chips among others are fried in oil that’s been reused multiple times. Oils that are heated for too long start releasing free radicals and toxins that are generally dangerous.
- Fast foods. These are stripped of nutrients and don’t contain any fresh ingredients. So, you end up consuming lots of empty calories with no nutritional value.
- Coffee. You might feel tempted to reach out to your coffee cup more than ever since that’s what helps you get through your busy schedule. But coffee does more harm than good when you experience adrenal fatigue. That’s because coffee gives you an energy rush, stimulating your already fatigued glands to produce cortisol. But once the effect is gone, you’re left with an even more severe feeling of tiredness.
#3. Don’t Skip Breakfast
Try to avoid skipping breakfast. Usually having breakfast within an hour after waking up will prevent your blood sugar from dropping and cortisol levels from spiking.
Also, aim for a healthy and nutritious breakfast that is rich in fibers, protein, healthy fats, and carbs.
For example, you can include foods like quinoa, whole-grain foods, sweet potatoes, veggies, nuts, and seeds.
If you’re in a hurry in the morning, you can also mix up tasty and nutritious smoothies. Just combine a handful of berries with some veggies, nuts, and plant-based milk. These smoothies include all nutrients your body needs to get some extra energy in the morning.
#4. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is crucial when it comes to adrenal fatigue recovery and weight balance.
That’s because sleep affects your hormone balance.
And with adrenal fatigue, you might feel tired all day but wide awake in the night. Staying up late prevents you from getting enough sleep. And you feel even more tired when you wake up the next day. On top of that, you might feel the urge to eat more than usual. And as a result, you gain weight.
You should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep. This way your body can recover during the night and you won’t get such rapid cortisol ups and downs.
#5. Improve Your Sleep Quality
If you have trouble falling asleep at night or you’re waking up during the night, try to do something relaxing before going to bed. You can also try to take some natural sleep supplements that will calm you down and help you sleep like a baby.
Also, avoid doing work and bright screens in the late hours. Make sure your bedroom is dark and cool so you can fall asleep easier and have better sleep quality.
You can also put a diffuser with calming down essential oils like lavender, chamomile, and sage.
Try to stick to a sleeping routine instead of going to bed and waking up at different times. This will help your body and your hormones to follow a pattern and you’ll achieve better balance.
And try to sleep as much as you can. Your body needs it to recover.
#6. Reduce Intense Workouts
If you’re trying to lose weight you might want to stay active and work out regularly. But doing that when you feel exhausted can do more harm than good.
When you do high-intensity workouts, they only mess up more with your stress hormone levels.
What happens during such a workout is you get a temporary spike in your cortisol levels. But after the workout, they drop rapidly and you end up feeling even more exhausted than before. You also might end up consuming more calories to compensate for the intense tiredness you’re feeling.
To avoid this vicious cycle, try to stay away from cardio and intensive exercises.
If you want to stay active, you can try low-intensity activities like:
- Tai Chi
This way, you’ll feel refreshed and fit without the fatigue.
However, if you’re experiencing more severe adrenal fatigue symptoms, it’s better to let yourself rest.
Once you feel better you can start gradually incorporating some light exercises. Here's a guide of the best adrenal fatigue exercises you can start with.
Adrenal fatigue symptoms can knock you off balance, make you feel unproductive and prone to weight gain.
To improve the symptoms you can start taking natural supplements and change your daily routine so you can pay more attention to what your body needs.
Also, try to incorporate more rest, healthy and nutritious food, good quality sleep, and light workouts in your daily schedule.
Feeling better and more energized won’t happen overnight but be patient and you’ll gradually start noticing the positive changes.