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How Low Cortisol Levels, Adrenal Fatigue, and Weight Gain Are Connected

low cortisol levels weight gain and adrenal fatigue connected

Do you feel a constant sense of fatigue that won’t go away? Even with a proper diet and regular exercise, do you still have a belly that won’t seem to shrink?

If yes, and if your doctor can’t diagnose you with any specific condition, you may have a case of adrenal fatigue.

Adrenal fatigue is a condition where the adrenal glands are no longer functioning optimally. It’s often a follow-up of an episode of chronic stress, but it can also follow conditions such as flu, bronchitis, or pneumonia.

Adrenal fatigue symptoms are often caused by adrenal insufficiency, depression, among other health problems. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, adrenal insufficiency occurs when the adrenal glands don’t make enough of the hormone cortisol.

Cortisol levels tend to be low in cases of adrenal fatigue, which may also be referred to as underactive adrenal glands. This is because the adrenal glands are unable to produce cortisol that is needed in stressful conditions.

This, in turn, leaves your body vulnerable to illnesses and infections. In essence, if you’re fatigued and sluggish, your adrenals may be to blame.

Let’s explore how low cortisol levels and weight gain affect each other.

Why Does Adrenal Fatigue Happen?

Adrenal glands are small glands located above the kidneys.

The main objective of the adrenals is to regulate your body’s stress response. This means that when you’re in a stressful situation, they release hormones such as cortisol to fulfill the demands of the fight or flight response from chronic stress.

These hormones help regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels and aid you to think more clearly during times of tension.

You might then wonder why people can become weak and skinny if they have high cortisol levels. The answer lies in what happens when your body is exposed to chronic stress.

In this case, the adrenals overexert themselves and wear out. Under this scenario, cortisol levels in the body may decrease, resulting in a range of symptoms that affects the entire body.

As a result, you will continue to feel as if your body is in constant response to stress even when there’s no real reason for it.

Other experiences may trigger adrenal fatigue as well, such as:

  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Grief
  • Trauma

If you suspect you have adrenal fatigue, consult a medical professional about it for a clearer diagnosis.

Common Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms

Adrenal fatigue can present itself differently from person to person.

One of the most common adrenal fatigue symptoms of this condition is a change in appetite.

People who suffer from adrenal fatigue tend to crave foods that may be deemed unhealthy. This includes salty and sweet food.

This means that people with adrenal fatigue tend to consume more sodium and sugar than necessary. If left unchecked, this can lead to unhealthy weight gain.

Aside from that, adrenal fatigue may present itself in other forms.

These adrenal fatigue symptoms include:

  • Fatigue in the morning
  • Decreased ability to deal with stress and mood
  • Brain fog
  • Higher energy in the evenings
  • Heavy reliance on caffeine products
  • A worsened immune system

Other less common symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

  • Depression
  • Lesser sexual interest
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle weakness

How Low Cortisol and Adrenal Fatigue Lead to Weight Gain

When looking at how cortisol levels, adrenal fatigue, and a belly fat increase are related, it’s also important to note the role of stress in the equation.

The body is designed to respond to stress by releasing certain hormones like cortisol. This hormone helps regulate blood sugar levels to compensate for higher energy demands during times of stress.

When the body undergoes constant stress due to environmental factors, this may slow down adrenal function due to fluctuating cortisol levels and hormone imbalances.

This adrenal insufficiency, or adrenal fatigue, in short, leads to several symptoms, one of which is the craving for sweets and salty food. This can form habits that lead to weight gain.

How to Overcome Adrenal Fatigue

adrenal fatigue symptoms and overcoming weight gain belly fat exercise

Adrenal fatigue can be a debilitating disease that often takes a long time to cure.

Consulting with a medical clinic about diagnosing and treating adrenal fatigue is the first step to understanding the root causes of adrenal fatigue, such as how your adrenal glands release cortisol into your bloodstream and what your blood sugar level fluctuations may be. This initial testing helps doctors to better understand how to prepare a medical treatment suitable for each patient’s specific set of circumstances.

In combination with a medical diagnosis, lifestyle changes are a useful consideration to support a monitored professional treatment plan.

Exercise Moderately

If you get easily fatigued, you don’t have to strain yourself with intense forms of exercise. When your body already has difficulty managing stress, pushing it too hard might not be the best idea.

While people with adrenal fatigue often benefit from some form of physical activity regularly, it should be moderate in intensity or duration. You must always assess how your body feels after exercising and rest whenever necessary.

Gentle walks, yoga, and meditation can help you if you’re still in the beginning leg of your exercise journey, then you can move into more strenuous exercises once your body acclimates to it.

Get Quality Sleep Levels

A strict exercise schedule and a proper diet won’t do your body justice if you only bring in 5 hours of sleep or less. Sleep helps improve immune function and cell reproduction in the brain. Moreover, it also helps ease symptoms of adrenal fatigue.

While it’s not unusual for people who suffer from chronic stress to have unhealthy work habits, it’s still crucial to try finding time for 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every day. To help you sleep better, try to stick to a schedule and avoid using electronics right before going to bed.

Avoid Stimulants

Caffeine and alcohol are said to exacerbate adrenal fatigue, so avoid them as much as possible. This means no coffee or energy drinks, which can spike up levels of adrenaline in your body.

According to research, adrenaline rises by around 32% while noradrenaline spikes by 14% when there’s caffeine in the bloodstream.

Eat A Healthy Diet

What you eat matters more than you may realize. If you aim to lose weight, cut back on sugar and salt (despite your cravings), and replace them with dark green vegetables and protein sources like lean meats.

You may also consider supplementing your diet with vitamins like B5, B6, and vitamin C to include in your adrenal fatigue diet.

Conversely, avoid food such as soda, white sugar, white flour, and processed food as much as you can. They may trigger cravings that’ll lead to sugar addiction and visceral fat weight increase, which exacerbate your condition even further.

By eating healthy food and following a healthy lifestyle, you not only lose weight and may decrease the risk of diabetes, but also decrease inflammation, improve blood sugar levels, and help increase cortisol production.

Consult a Medical Professional to Treat the Root Causes of Adrenal Fatigue

consult medical professional adrenal fatigue treatment

Adrenal fatigue can be caused by a variety of factors, but regardless of the origin, controlling your cortisol levels play an important role in alleviating this condition.

Insufficient cortisol levels are linked to weight fluctuation because it makes you feel hungry —even if your body doesn’t need extra energy.

By following the guidance of a medical professional, along with lifestyle modifications such as a strict diet and exercise routine, you can help fight against extreme adrenal fatigue and high-stress levels.

The trained staff at Paramount Men’s Medical Center in St. Louis can provide a medical consultation and treatment plan to best support adrenal fatigue, erectile dysfunction, hormone therapy, and overall health. We will tailor the plan to your unique needs, history, and circumstances so you can get the best results possible. Give us a call today to set an appointment with our expert medical team.

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