Weight Loss Challenges Due To Adrenal Fatigue and Cortisol Dysregulation – Part 1

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Dorine Lam, RDN, MS, MPH


You need to eat healthy to fix cortisol and weight loss challengesOur 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 understanding the weight loss challenges caused by the adrenal glands and cortisol. This is not something that is achieved overnight. That will not change, but there are things that you can do to help kick start the process.

3 Principles for Overcoming Weight Loss Challenges

1. Reduce Appetite

One of the most important elements to beating weight loss challenges 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 weight loss challenges of food cravings and desires, there are several important methods to reducing your appetite.
Water and weight loss challenges

  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 and weight loss challenges. 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 to Overcome Weight Loss Challenges

  • 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

Low blood sugar and weight loss challengesHypoglycemia (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.

Read Part 2 Now!


© Copyright 2014 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.


Dr. Lam’s Key Questions

Depending on the stages of AFS you suffer from, exercise needs to be adjusted accordingly. During early stages of exercise, some aerobic and light weight lifting could be beneficial. But with advanced stages of AFS, even light walking could be a problem.

To gain weight means your intake is more than your output. Consume good beneficial oil with your food – such as extra virgin olive oil. Increase meat in the allowed intake would be beneficial. Nuts and seeds are also high in calories. Coconut and avocado are high in calories also.

Yes, stressful situations require more energy from the body to overcome by way of inflammatory circuit activation. The energy causes the body to be more “hungry.”

Weight loss challenges

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