Dietary Goals of the Adrenal Fatigue Diet

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH


The Adrenal Fatigue Diet is good for everyoneFor sufferers of Adrenal Fatigue, rest and stress reduction are critical to prevent further taxing the adrenal glands. Just as critical as rest and minimizing stress is good nutrition. Eating a healthy diet ensures you have high quality fuel to help you function and nourishes the adrenal glands. However, it can be difficult to know just what to eat (and when) with adrenal fatigue. The Adrenal Fatigue Diet is full of nutrient dense foods to speed recovery from Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome.

When to Eat

When stress levels and exhaustion run high, it can be difficult to remember to eat, but it is important to ensure that your body is receiving the fuel it needs consistently. This helps to prevent blood sugar from dropping too low.
The Adrenal Fatigue Diet offers complete nutrition for optimal health. There is no reason to be overwhelmed with drastic food changes. Start slowly. The Adrenal Fatigue Diet has several suggestions to make you feel better throughout the day and to assist you in achieving greater health and longevity. Remember, begin slowly. Be conscious of what you eat and how you feel after. Starting a food diary may help you track this. Here are several tips to get you started with the Adrenal Fatigue Diet.

Ideally, you should eat breakfast soon after waking, between 6:00 and 8:00 am, but certainly no later than 10:00 am. Avoid fruits and fruit juices first thing in the morning, as fruit is high in sugar and can cause your blood sugar to spike and crash. Keep blood sugar and energy levels consistent by not going more than 2-3 hours without eating. After breakfast, have a snack around 10:00 am, lunch at noon, a snack 2-3 hours later, dinner between 5:00 and 6:00 pm, and a snack before bed. Nuts, and lean protein are all excellent bedtime snack choices, as they contain nutrients known to calm the body.

What to Eat on the Adrenal Fatigue Diet

Adrenal fatigue diet can include seaweedWith the Adrenal Fatigue Diet the bulk of your diet, around 30-40%, should consist of fresh vegetables. Frozen vegetables are acceptable, as they are typically frozen almost immediately after harvesting. This means they may actually be fresher than much of what you find in the produce section. Vegetables should be eaten raw or lightly steamed, as cooking denatures many of the nutrients. Vegetables should also be served with healthy fat, such as olive or coconut oil, to help your body absorb fat soluble nutrients. Seaweed and sea vegetables are excellent choices, as they are easily digested and high in a variety of essential trace nutrients needed in the recovery process.

Another 20-30% of your diet should come from lean protein, and a similar portion from healthy fats, such as nuts and seeds. Whole grains, beans, legumes, and whole fruits can make up the remainder. Use a little high quality pink Himalayan or sea salt to season your food. The salt can help correct sodium levels in the body. Drinking plenty of pure water can help flush toxins from the body, easing the load on the organs.

Dietary Goals of the Adrenal Fatigue Diet

1) Your first meal should be before 10:00 a.m.
2) Meals should be small and frequent: breakfast between 6:00-8:00 a.m., a snack at 10:00 a.m., lunch at noon, a snack at 3:00 p.m., and one more snack at bedtime.
3) Vegetables should make up 30-40% of your diet and half of them should be raw; 20-30% of your diet should come from animal sources; and another 20-30% from fats, like nuts and seeds; 10-20% of your diet should be whole grains; beans and legumes can make up another 10-20%, and 10-15% from whole fruits.
Practices to Avoid
Grapefruits, bananas, oranges and some dried fruits such as raisins, dates and dried figs These fruits are high in potassium which exacerbate the sodium-potassium imbalance in adrenal fatigue and make the condition worse
Fruit juices, whole fruits and dried fruits in the mornings Fruits contain a large amount of fructose, which can cause a spike and then crash in blood sugar levels, fatiguing the body in the morning. Many fruits also contain high levels of potassium which can imbalance the sodium-potassium ratio.
Refined carbohydrates such as white rice, pasta and baked goods such as bread or pastries The high concentration of refined carbohydrates and sugars in these foods spike blood sugar levels and then causes a severe drop, leading to reactive hypoglycemia symptoms.
Sweeteners such as sugar, honey and syrups Consuming too much sugar elicits a metabolic reaction that causes a crash in blood sugar levels. The concentration of sugar in most natural sweeteners is sufficient to cause this crash.
Soft drinks, candies, hot chocolate, coffee, and caffeinated teas On top of having a large amount of sugar that can cause reactive hypoglycemia, these foods contain caffeine and other stimulants that can push your body to work harder than it can sustain, leading to an adrenal crash.
Alcohol, foods you have an addiction to, or foods you are allergic or sensitive to Foods you have a particularly strong aversion or addiction to, or toxins such as alcohol, elicit stressful reactions from your body.
Rushing through your meals A hectic or rushed meal means more work and stress for both your digestive system and your body as a whole.
Deep fried foods, foods browned by frying, hydrogenated oils Trans fats and oils, transformed by heating, are unhealthy and stressful for the body.
Most Beneficial Practices
Have your first meal before 10:00 a.m. Your glycogen reserves are low after a night sleep without eating. Eating early to replenish the supply keeps the body stable and healthy.
Multiple small snacks and meals throughout the day Consistently providing the body with energy, over time, helps keep blood sugar stable and prevents spikes and crashes.
Soaked raw nuts for a bedtime snack A light bedtime snack will help keep your body at a healthy level of nourishment while sleeping, and will help you sleep more soundly
A full array of whole grains, protein and fats in each meal and snack A combination of multiple sources of energy will provide energy in the short, medium, and long term to keep your body’s energy availability stable and high.
Mix essential oils (1-2 tbsp. per day) into your meals and snacks, such as grains, vegetables or meats Essential oils are a powerful source of building blocks and nutrition for your body
Combine multiple sources of proteins from legume, animal, fowl, fish and dairy sources Multiple high quality sources of proteins and fats give your body more well-rounded nutrition and energy.
Digestive enzyme supplements and HCL Digestive aids help break down fibrous foods and proteins your body cannot easily handle on its own. This helps reduce stress in your GI tract and improve digestive function.
6-8 servings of multiple kinds of brightly colored vegetables>strong> Brightly colored vegetables are excellent sources of phytonutrients, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, some of which are unique to each vegetable or hard to find otherwise.
Baby vegetables and vegetable sprouts Young and sprouted vegetables are highly concentrated with nutrients.
Sea vegetables and seaweed Sea vegetables are easily digested and rich in trace minerals, nutrients and proteins that are different from those found in terrestrial food sources.
Monounsaturated oils and fats Best used for low heat cooking. Adding water to the pan before the oil can keep the oil from getting too hot.
Fresh raw soaked nuts & seeds Soaking raw nuts and seeds makes them easier to digest and improves the availability of their nutrients to your body. They can be soaked ahead of time and stored in the freeze.
Acceptable Practices
Whole and unrefined grains Unlike refined grains, whole grains do not spike your blood sugar, as quickly, and contain a much greater nutrition to calorie ratio. However, most people should not eat them with breakfast, when the body’s craving for calories is greatest.
Caution: take it easy as breakfast food. Some people may need to avoid
for breakfast.
Whole fruits: Apples, pears, plums, kiwis, mango, papaya, cherries and some grapes Fruits are a good source of many phytonutrients, but also contain large amounts of sugar. Eat in moderation, and avoid for breakfast.
Polyunsaturated fats (corn, peanut, sunflower and safflower oils) These oils contain essential fatty acids, but transform into unhealthy forms very quickly with heat. Do not cook with these oils; instead add them to food after it has been cooked.

© Copyright 2004 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

The Adrenal Fatigue Diet is good for everyone

DrLam.com
5 - "Thank you"

Thank you. An honest response. You are certainly no quack - congratulations for your work in the alternative field. It is certainly hard to find a mainstream medical doctor who knows anything alternative. Even chiropractors have been labeled quacks. Things are changing for the better. Live long, and prosper, Dr Lam. I will continue to refer to your site for quality information.




13 Comments

  • reza says:

    hello dr lam
    please tell me Dark Chocolate , green tea ,White rice, bread are Helpful for adernal fatigute?
    tanks a lot

    • Dorine Lam RDN says:

      Take dark chocolate and green tea in a limited amount, because they can be stimulating.

      Limit the use of white rice and bread because metabolic imbalance is related to AFS.

      Dorine Lam, RDN, MS, MPH
      Registered Dietitian and Senior Holistic Nutritionist

  • gil says:

    another comment: you tell people to eat whole grains (phytic acid) that removes the nutrients, chelates them out of your body and legumes are full of lectins, that destroy the protective “sugar” molecules of your stomach & intestine lining …. so I start to take advise here with a serious grain of SALT ! (pun intented)

  • gil says:

    this diet does not give insulin a rest in the day… spike spike spike, no rest, no weight loss, no nothing… high insulin = more cortisol release

    please explain to us all how much SALT we should add a day ?

    the sodium / potassium is important… we need 4700 mg of potassium

    so how much sodium for a normal person & how much for a person in adrenal fatigue state ?

    • Matt says:

      Why do you think this diet promotes high insulin levels?be uses of the high fat and protein? Just curious

  • Katie says:

    Hi, Dr.Lam! I am a college student who lives a very busy and stressful life. I also have had chronic acne since around the age of the 15, however, it got significantly worse after an especially stressful year and a couple months of experimenting with low carb dieting. I have always tended towards being underweight so low carb dieting made me even skinner. I soon after developed a multitude of environmental allergies, digestive problems, pmdd, unstable blood sugar levels, worse acne, brain fog and severe dry eyes. I have had these symptoms for many years now. Do you think all these symptoms could be related to adrenal fatigue? Thanks so much!

    • Dr.Lam says:

      It’s hard to say. You are at an age of great hormonal instability with a stressful and busy life. Weight can alter body hormone profile and diet plays an important role as well. My input is limited without much more details. On the surface it does not seem to relate to AFS.

      Dr Lam

  • Tara says:

    Is it possible to heal severe adrenal fatigue with a vegan diet?

  • Lori says:

    I eat bananas because I don’t get enough potassium, and it was always my understanding that bananas are a great natural source of it. I tend to have severe cramping in my feet,mostly after workouts, and its painful. I usually have to hold a pressure point on my foot in order to get it to stop or to lessen the pain. Would you suggest taking potassium supplements instead since bananas aren’t recommended on this plan?

    • Dorine Lam RDN says:

      That’s why there are exceptions in all diets. We need to look at each person and adjust the diets and supplements to your body’s need. If you need to eat banana for certain issue, do continue or you can take potassium supplement instead of the banana. Either one is fine for you. This is a variant from the Adrenal Fatigue Diet.

      Dorine Lam, RDN, MS, MPH
      Registered Dietitian and Senior Holistic Nutritionist

  • Izzy says:

    I have seen in some articles that grapefruit juice helps increase cortisol levels, but Dr Lam seems to caustion against it?