Popcorn Power: A Low Calorie Snack for Adrenal Fatigue

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Carrie Lam, MD

Popcorn spilling out of a popcorn maker into a bowl, providing a low calorie snackPopcorn is a whole-grain, low calorie snack that can help with more than shrinking your waistline. Snacking on popcorn can also help with Adrenal Fatigue. Some researchers say that 80 percent of people in developed countries will experience Adrenal Fatigue during their lifetime. With Americans eating about 51 quarts of popcorn per person each year, they may already be helping to remedy their condition without knowing it.

Popcorn is often laden with fat, sugar, and sodium, but it’s easy to make it a healthy snack. Add the right popcorn recipes into your diet for a healthy, low calorie snack that combats Adrenal Fatigue.

The Nutritional Benefits of Popcorn as a Low Calorie Snack

This whole-grain treat is high in fiber and a healthy option for both children and adults (although children under four years of age should not eat popcorn, because it can be a choking hazard). When popped on the stove with oil, three cups of popcorn contain about 150 calories, 7 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of fiber, 292 milligrams of sodium, and 72 milligrams of potassium. Three cups of air-popped popcorn have only about 93 calories, 1 gram of fat, 3.5 grams of fiber, 2 milligrams of sodium, and 79 milligrams of potassium.

Whole Grains

In 2005, the U.S. Department of Agriculture began to recommend increased consumption of whole grains. Whole grains contain all of the grain’s parts because they have not been overly processed. A whole grain consists of the bran, the germ and the endosperm. According to one survey, people who eat popcorn ingest more than twice the amount of whole grains as people who don’t eat popcorn do.

Healthy fats, vitamin E, vitamin B, and protein are all found within the germ of whole grains. B vitamins help maintain healthy cell metabolism, which makes people feel energetic. Adrenal Fatigue can make you feel tired all the time, so it is important to consume enough vitamin B to counteract it.

The bran contains the majority of the fiber in the grain. It also contains B vitamins, essential minerals, antioxidants, and protein. Starch, protein, and fiber are found within the endosperm. Processing whole grains will result in a loss of many of these components and their vital nutrients.


One of the main advantages of eating whole grains is that they provide dietary fiber. Eating enough fiber helps improve your digestion, reduce your risk of cardiovascular conditions, lower cholesterol, and regulate blood sugar. Because consuming fiber can slow the absorption of nutrients in your intestines, it can help you feel fuller longer and prevent the afternoon exhaustion and hypoglycemia that many people with Adrenal Fatigue experience when they consume sugars.

This Low Calorie Snack is High in Antioxidants

Two hands cupping popcorn in a heart shape, representing the health benefits of this low calorie snackA 2012 University of Scranton study found that popcorn contains more antioxidants than some fresh vegetables. Polyphenols, antioxidants that can combat free radicals in your body and keep you healthy, are found within the hull of the kernel. Polyphenols help support the appropriate balance of good and bad bacteria in the large intestine by feeding the beneficial bacteria. A healthy gut can improve symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue by delivering the proper absorption of nutrients to your body and reducing inflammation. Antioxidants also help to relieve oxidative stress on the body.

Support Your NEM Stress Response with Popcorn

The neuroendometabolic, or NEM, stress response helps to regulate the body when it is stressed. If the body is chronically stressed, the NEM stress response system can become dysregulated. Inflammation—which is normally held in check by your immune system and microbiome—may start to run rampant and lead to increase food sensitivities. Metabolism, which normally adapts to stress, can rapidly change, running fast or slow depending on the stage of dysregulation.

When it’s eaten plain, popcorn is packed with health benefits that can help regulate the NEM stress response. It’s polyphenol and antioxidant components help to reduce inflammation and promote healthy gut bacteria. Its healthy dietary fiber helps to regulate metabolism. And it is simply a great low calorie snack to help sustain blood sugar. But not any popcorn is healthy popcorn.

Make Popcorn the Healthy Way

If you load up your popcorn with added calories and toxins, it negates the benefits. Instead of adding artificial flavorings and unhealthy fats, you can turn basic air-popped kernels into a tasty treat with natural options.

Heat alone causes popcorn to pop. Therefore, if you’re using the stovetop method to make popcorn, you don’t need to use any oil. Oils with a low smoke point can be carcinogenic when heated above a certain temperature. In addition, heating healthy oils can damage their antioxidant properties. So it’s better to leave out the oil at this point.

Once the popcorn has popped, you can enhance the flavor by:
Closeup of hand shaking salt out of salt shaker, showing one way to add flavor to this low calorie snack

  • Drizzling it with melted coconut oil.
  • Dusting it with a small amount of sea salt.
  • Sprinkling it with a combination of cinnamon and cardamom for exotic sweetness.
  • Adding sodium-free herbs and spices, such as smoked paprika, oregano, or za’atar.

Keeping a snack with you throughout the day can help counteract symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue, such as dizziness and anxiety. However, a snack that is high in carbohydrates, contains many artificial chemicals, or is covered in unhealthy fats can lead to an adrenal crash. Popcorn helps balance the blood sugar, support the metabolism, and provide essential nutrients. Add a few nuts and dried fruit for a well-balanced low calorie snack that can help you combat Adrenal Fatigue.

A Word of Caution

In advanced stages of Adrenal Fatigue, you may be sensitive to corn and other grains. At that point it is suggested that you avoid popcorn. Work on reducing inflammation by restoring gut health through digestive enzymes and probiotics. Also try eating fish and other sources of long chain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been found to be helpful in reducing inflammation in the body. This, in turn, may help to reduce your food sensitivities.

© Copyright 2016 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Two hands cupping popcorn in a heart shape, representing the health benefits of this low calorie snack

5 - "Thank you and thank you for your website"
Thank you and thank you for your website, it's a blessing.