Weight Loss and Adrenal Fatigue

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH
and Dorine Lam, RD, MS, MPH
www.DrLam.com


Our nation’s health has been on a decline and our weight has been increasing. Many people want to lose weight permanently, quickly and easily, but there are no short cuts. Losing weight requires permanent lifestyle and diet changes and is not something that happens overnight. That will not change, but there are things that you can do to help kick start the process.

3 Principles to Successful Weight Loss

1. Reduce Appetite

One of the most important elements to losing weight is to reduce your appetite. Your brain has a circuit, which controls hunger and generates cravings for just about anything, including snacks, meats, sweets, and many others. The functionality of the circuit is still unknown, but it is there and certainly plays a key role in the foods you consume. Just as with habits, such as smoking or drinking, your brains circuitry desires certain things, especially when it has had its first taste of those things and decided that it was good. The brain then decides it wants or needs it and triggers the process of cravings. This is why quitting smoking or drinking can be an uphill battle. It is no different with food consumption. Over consumption of food is a form of addiction from that perspective

Our bodies are quite complex, with many functional elements and processes. Most are simply routine functionality, stimulated and controlled from the brain’s neuroendocrine system. However, food consumption is an optional element, based on your responses to the signals. There is no set way to function with food consumption; it is controlled by what you do under the direction of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The brain desires pleasures, such as eating certain foods or having sex. These elements are controlled by what you do, not by an automatic system of operation. Pleasures are essential to your brain’s performance through satisfaction. It is an essential element to thriving. However, understanding how to read your brain and take action can be tricky. Especially since nature throws an irresistible desire to the body to pursue them and desire them intensely.

With the ongoing challenges of food cravings and desires, there are several important methods to reducing your appetite.

  1. Drink liquids, preferably water with lemon slices, when feeling hungry.
  2. Eat five small-portioned meals a day. This controls appetite and allows the body to process the food better.
  3. Eat vegetables, small amounts of whole grains (such as quinoa, barley, millet, and buckwheat), and meats at three meals to help control hunger. Use fruits, nuts, and seeds for snacks.
  4. Eat slowly and chew thoroughly. This helps allow more time for the brain to process the satisfaction of hunger.
  5. Avoid sugar in foods. This helps prevent the rising of blood sugar levels in many people, which increases appetite. It also prevents tiredness, which can help control weight levels because you stay active.
  6. Take supplements (see below) to help with suppressing your appetite. Supplements help focus in on the elements that lead to hunger.
  7. In cases with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, it is also best to rotate your supplements with different types, in order to allow the body to properly use and process the various nutrients and the liver sufficient time to clear the metabolic by products out of the body.

Supplements to Consider for Appetite Suppression:

Garcinia Cambogia helps suppress the appetite by containing the extract known as Hydroxycitric acid (HCA.) HCA increases levels of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter inside our brains that makes us feel good. Low levels of serotonin in the brain can lead to depression and the feelings of anxiousness. Higher levels of serotonin, promoted by Garcinia Cambogia, helps the brain deal with stress that often leads to overeating. It also makes the brain acknowledge it is full sooner, leading to a reduction in eating.

Saffron (Crocus sativus L) also helps suppress the appetite by increasing serotonin levels, leading to the control of your appetite. It also helps with emotional eating, by making the brain trigger feel good feelings.

Caralluma fimbriata helps suppress the appetite by controlling the hunger sensitivity of the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus, located within the brain, is used to send signals, which tells the body that it is full. Caralluma fimbriata promotes this signal, leading to the suppression of the appetite.

Metabolic Syndrome

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is common with Adrenal Fatigue. This is normally due to the combination of low cortisol and high insulin levels when the body is under stress. The normal stress response by the adrenals is to increase the blood glucose level. Glucose release is slowed as the output of cortisol reduces in adrenal exhaustion. This slowing, along with a high insulin level, leads to an increased demand for glucose. Ultimately, this leads to hypoglycemia with common symptoms of dizziness and fainting. As cellular energy demand is not being met by blood glucose, the body will turn to protein and fat as sources of energy. This pathway is not quite as efficient so the body is put on overdrive in order to provide the required energy. This increased demand is difficult or impossible to meet without adequate cortisol levels to elevate blood sugar levels by facilitating the conversion of glycogen, fats, and proteins to new glucose supplies. Clinically, one of the hallmarks of Adrenal Fatigue is a state called reactive hypoglycemia, when the serum blood sugar is normal but symptoms of hypoglycemia can be severe. In the presence of increased insulin and decreased cortisol, the blood sugar level drops rapidly, and frequent small meals are needed to replenish the body’s energy needs.

Hypoglycemia itself is a significant stress on the entire body, and especially on the adrenals. While this can be overcome with a sugar fix consisting of an instant load of sugary drinks such as juice or soda, this is only a quick-fix remedy. Usually the symptoms will disappear immediately, but then return after 1-2 hours. Reactivation and restoration of normal cell functions require extra amounts of energy beyond what is normally required for the maintenance of normal energy burn. With each hypoglycemic episode, more cells are damaged. Thus, the body reaches a new low with each incidence of hypoglycemia. If this happens at the same time as the demand for glucose increases, the stage is set for an adrenal crisis. With each plunge, the Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome increases and reactive hypoglycemia worsens. By the end of the day, the person may feel nearly exhausted without having done anything. Low blood sugar levels are most likely to occur at around 10:00 AM, 2:00 PM, and from 3-4:00 PM.

2. Increase Metabolism

Metabolism plays a partial role in weight control and weight loss. Metabolism is the process of converting food into energy. Most weight gain is from the food and drinks consumed, but metabolism does contribute to weight through the energy production process. It turns the food and drinks you consume into energy. Calories are combined with oxygen, which generates the energy. Depending on sex, weight, age, and body size, metabolism levels can vary. Nevertheless, your rate of metabolism accounts for around 70% of the calories you burn, on a daily basis.

Reducing food consumption to a starving level is not healthy because it reduces your metabolism. Metabolism is necessary for the body’s functions to operate properly. If you do not consume enough healthy foods, your metabolism slows down, and your body’s system functions follow, in order to conserve the energy required by the body for survival. Starving can trigger undesirable adrenal crashes as well.

A higher metabolism level allows the body to burn calories more efficiently, leading to a more controlled weight level. Low levels of metabolism only burn so many calories, and the rest is converted to fat. A higher metabolism is also generated by strength training and exercise. Muscle burns calories faster than fat, so exercise and workouts can contribute to your weight loss success. Too high a metabolic rate, however, can lead to anxiety, nervousness, and trigger adrenal crashes as well. A proper balance is key.

Several supplements available help with increasing your metabolism, which is an important step in reaching weight loss success. Supplements can vary and other ingredients may be combined with them as well to create a synergistic effect. A customized program is best to allow the body to process and use the nutrients effectively.

Supplements to Consider for Optimizing Metabolism:

Chromium is known to enhance the action of insulin, which is critical for the metabolism and storage of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in the body. Chromium comes in various ways, including organic, bioavailable forms like chromium picolinate and GTF Chromium Polynicotinate (chromium polynicotinate), which are easily absorbed. GTF Chromium Polynicotinate is actually Chromium Polynicotinate. The GTF is an old, outdated term for a possible composition for GTF that was never proved to exist. However, you may see this on some supplements today, just because it is searched for or referenced with Polynicotinate. Chromium also includes chromium chloride, an inorganic form mixed with chloride. This form of chromium is one of the original types and is not as common or effective. Lastly, chromium picolinate, chromium arginate, chromium asparate, and chromium citrite are forms of chromium that are mixed with amino or organic acids to enhance absorption.

Iodine is needed for the normal metabolism of cells. It helps with the production of thyroid hormones, which affect every cell in the body. The thyroid hormones tell the body how much energy to make. Without iodine, the hormones cannot be produced. Low levels of the thyroid hormones results in a reduction of energy. Ashwagandha may boost the function of the thyroid hormones that may help with increasing energy levels. Maca also contains iodine and promotes using glucose in your blood to create energy instead of storing in fat. Maca balances hormone levels, which prevents the feeling of a crash.

Green tea is rich in many polyphenols that can activate the body’s thermogenic fat-busting activity. Iodine should be digested and supplemented. Dosages vary from person to person. Those already on thyroid medication should limit iodine intake if symptoms of hypothyroid arise. Licorice root helps increase the liver’s ability to remove toxic metabolic substances. Aside from that, it maintains acid levels in the stomach and improves the stomach lining, which helps to slow the digestion of start and keep the insulin levels balanced. These supplements, however, can be too stimulating for those with advanced Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome. Proper guidance is needed to achieve success.

Fiber helps by linking with bile to help get the excess cholesterol out of the body. Fiber also reduces digestion rates, to help control the levels of blood glucose, which therefore reduce metabolic syndrome symptoms.

3. Reduce Fat Cell Production

Fat cells act as the body’s garbage dump. Toxins and other consumed, unusable garbage are stored there. The more that is consumed, the more waste there is, leading to more mass in fat cells. Fat cells can either grow in numbers or grow in mass. Knowing how to reduce fat cell production is important if you are trying to lose weight or lead a healthier life. In the ever-growing world of discovery, many artificial/consumable products have been developed–and continue to be developing. The body is not made to handle such synthetic compounds. Humans were designed to consume natural, beneficial fats. Untouched, the body has a difficult time processing artificial fats in the food we consume. This leads to the expansion of fat cells, as well as the increase in fat cell production.

Reducing fat cell production is important to weight loss success. There are several ways to help with the reduction.

  1. Watch what you eat and pay close attention to the ingredients.
  2. Eat in moderation to control fat cell growth.
  3. Exercise and stay active. Studies have shown that a diet alone does not reduce fat cell production much. The same diet, combined with exercise and with staying active, reduced the size in fat cells significantly.

Supplements to Consider for Reducing Fat Cell Production:

Raspberry Ketones help reduce fat cell production by stimulating the release of adiponectin, which metabolizes and burns calories. This procedure generated from raspberry ketones reduces blood sugar levels, increases the release of insulin, increases metabolism, and increases the tissue responsible for burning the bad white fat cells stored in reserve.

African Mango helps reduce fat cell production by reducing the secretions of leptin hormones within fat cells. It also increases adiponectin secretions within fat cells. African Mango helps the body distinguish between muscle cells and fat cells, thus targeting only the burn of fat cells.

Capsicum frutescens (Cayenne peppers) help reduce fat cell production by heating up the body and forcing it to burn fat cells. This burning of fat cells is turned into heat. It also helps the body burn a higher amount of calories than it normally would.

Weight Control and Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome

Adrenal fatigue plays a significant role in weight gain, yet is not noted by scientists or health institutions as an identified condition. This condition occurs when the adrenal glands become exhausted and do not operate correctly. Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome reduces the proper production of hormones. It can often come from stress or long-term medical illnesses and infections. In summary, adrenal fatigue causes tiredness at any point in time during the day. It creates that feeling of having no energy and the feeling of needing to lie down.

Many people suffer from adrenal fatigue, yet do not even know it. This condition causes tiredness, anxiety, depression, memory loss, allergies, lack of concentration, insomnia, overall exhaustion, and many more issues. Tiredness and exhaustion alone can contribute to weight gain and other health issues. Almost every adult experiences adrenal fatigue at one point in time or another, yet many experience it long term. It can be difficult to pinpoint adrenal fatigue as the problem, since most symptoms are tied into other health issues. Nevertheless, many people face this serious problem every day.

Recovery from Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome is not ordinary, since the condition is not noted as a real condition by many institutions. Successful weight management must start with ensuring optimal liver function. Let’s take a closer look.

Liver Congestion

One of the commonly associated conditions with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome is subclinical liver congestion.

The liver is the major detoxification center, acting as a filter to remove foreign substances and wastes from the blood. For example, the liver clears toxins such as alcohol, solvents, formaldehyde, pesticides, herbicides, and food additives. The liver functions to convert toxins into compounds that the body can safely handle and remove through the kidneys (as urine), skin (as sweat), lungs (as expelled air) and bowels (as feces). The liver is also responsible for breaking down nutrients, medications, vitamins, and hormones into small, inert metabolites.

Processing and excreting waste byproducts after nutrients have been assimilated by the cells is an important function. In the presence of advanced AFS, this function is invariably compromised, along with the body’s digestive and absorptive mechanisms.

Unwanted waste byproducts and metabolites are normally excreted out of the body on a timely basis. With suboptimal or slowed clearance, the body might slowly accumulate undesirable waste byproducts or metabolites. They remain in circulation. The more advanced the fatigue, the more serious this problem becomes. Unwanted metabolites accumulate and can turn toxic inside the body. This leads to a variety of undesirable symptoms tied to inflammatory responses. A weight loss program that does not concurrently take care of liver health can increase burden on the liver, triggering advanced adrenal fatigue crashes.

The Optimal Approach

Supplements can contribute significantly by providing the body the nutrients it needs to function properly. In the case of weight loss, they can help to optimize metabolism, reduce fat cell production, and suppress appetite. Since the liver is sensitive to being overburdened in Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, rotating supplements is important. This allows the body and the liver to clear out all the different nutrients more effectively and efficiently. If you do not rotate your supplemental intake, your body will naturally develop a resistance to the supplements and their toxic metabolites may build up. Depending on your supplement intake routine, it is best to use several different supplements and take a different one each day. It is also important to stay on a routine, to maximize the effectiveness and productivity from your supplements.

Because each body is different in the way it reacts to nutrients and supplements, self-navigation for weight loss is not recommended for those with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome. An improper approach can lead to bigger adrenal crashes and worsen the condition. A personalized approach is best. Following the principles of appetite reduction, increased metabolism, and reduction of fat cell production while allowing time for liver clearance to be optimized are key pillars to successful weight loss without triggering adrenal crashes.


About The Authors

Michael Lam, M.D., M.P.H., A.B.A.A.M., is a western trained physician specializing in nutritional and anti-aging medicine. Dr. Lam received his Bachelor of Science degree from Oregon State University, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from the Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California. He also holds a Master’s degree in Public Health. He is board certified by the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine where he has also served as a board examiner. Dr. Lam is a pioneer in using nontoxic, natural compounds to promote the healing of many age-related degenerative conditions. He utilizes optimum blends of nutritional supplementation that manipulate food, vitamins, natural hormones, herbs, enzymes, and minerals into specific protocols to rejuvenate cellular function.

Dr. Lam was first to coin the term, ovarian-adrenal-thyroid (OAT) hormone axis, and to describe its imbalances. He was first to scientifically tie in Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) as part of the overall neuroendocrine stress response continuum of the body. He systematized the clinical significance and coined the various phases of Adrenal Exhaustion. He has written five books: Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome - Reclaim Your Energy and Vitality with Clinically Proven Natural Programs, The Five Proven Secrets to Longevity, Beating Cancer with Natural Medicine (Free PDF version), How to Stay Young and Live Longer, and Estrogen Dominance. In 2001, Dr. Lam established www.DrLam.com as a free, educational website on evidence-based alternative medicine for the public and for health professionals. It featured the world’s most comprehensive library on AFS. Provided free as a public service, he has answered countless questions through the website on alternative health and AFS. His personal, telephone-based nutritional coaching services have enabled many around the world to regain control of their health using natural therapies.


Dorine Lam, R.D., M.S., M.P.H., is a registered dietitian and holistic clinical nutritionist specializing in Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome and natural hormonal balancing. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics, holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health in Nutrition, and a Master of Science degree in Nutrition from Loma Linda University, in Loma Linda, California. She is also a board-certified, Anti-Aging Health Practitioner by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. She coauthored with Michael Lam, M.D., the books Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome - Reclaim Your Energy and Vitality with Clinically Proven Natural Programs and Estrogen Dominance and numerous articles on Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome. Her personal research and writing focuses on the metabolic aspect of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome. She is married to Michael Lam and is an integral part of the telephone-based nutritional coaching team helping people overcome Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome.