If you have adrenal fatigue, you may be making it worse with the kind of exercise that you are doing. Although diet, lifestyle and supplements help in the treatment of this condition, you will have a very hard time recovering if you are making it worse with exercise.
In the age of more is always better, people have come to believe that the harder that they work out, the better their chances of attaining that magazine-perfect body. Although a cross-fit challenge may be the workout of choice for the average twenty-something year-old, over-training can actually have the opposite effect of what most people go to the gym for, especially when you have adrenal fatigue.
How does adrenal fatigue affect weight and metabolism?
Since adrenal fatigue is defined as an imbalance of hormones produced by the adrenal glands like cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, exercising in a way that further impairs this delicate cycle can make things much much worse.
When you have adrenal fatigue, you consistently feel tired, you crave sugar and simple carbohydrates, you have brain fog, and you can feel depressed. Adrenal fatigue essentially means that the body can no longer cope with the consistent stress that it faces on a daily basis.
Under normal circumstances, cortisol helps to maintain proper blood sugar balance by using glycogen stores (the storage form of glucose) from the liver. If you do not have enough glycogen stores, cortisol then breaks down muscle in order to increase blood sugar levels. If cortisol is not functioning properly, as is the case with adrenal fatigue, it can also take excess sugar and store it in the form of fat, particularly in the belly area, instead of having the body use it as energy.
The wrong kind of exercise can make you fat
Yes, you read that right. Exercise can make you fat— certain exercises, that is. When you exercise and particularly when you do high intensity exercises, the body produces cortisol in order to help you to use the sugar from your body as fuel. However, if you have adrenal fatigue your body already has cortisol dysregulation, so a high-intensity workout can lead to a crash which creates worse symptoms and instructs cortisol to store any sugar in the body as fat.
If you have adrenal fatigue and notice that you used to feel great after a big workout and now feel terrible after a heavy workout, it may be time to switch things up and allow your body time for rest and recovery.
What is the wrong kind of exercise for people with adrenal fatigue?
This may be an “AHA” moment for many people that run long distances, participate in high-intensity activities regularly, or work out more than two hours on a daily basis and seem to gain weight instead of lose weight. When the body is in a state of adrenal fatigue, it goes into survival mode, which increases fat stores, instead of normal mode, which burns fat stores.
If you are trying to recover from adrenal fatigue it’s best to stay away from high intensity or long exercises and heavy cardio. Things like running, cross fit and intense sports can increase cortisol and drive you deeper into adrenal dysregulation.
What is the right kind of exercise for adrenal fatigue?
According to Dr. Alan Christianson, author of the book The Adrenal Reset Diet, going for long, slow walks for one hour or more in duration once per week is the key to reprogramming your body to start burning fat again. This form of exercise allows cortisol to do the right job of using sugar for energy instead of storing it as fat.
In fact, Dr. Christianson also recommends going for a slow 10-minute walk after dinner in order to decrease cortisol levels and make us ready for bedtime. This also combats adrenal exhaustion in the morning and makes muscles more responsive to insulin, which allows for more fuel to go to the muscles instead of get stored as fat.
Generally, while you are recovering from adrenal fatigue, sticking to low-impact exercise is best. Exercises like walking, swimming, water aerobics, light strength training and yoga are great options. These forms of exercise also stimulate cortisol to work for us and not against us in our fat-burning attempts.
Should you avoid high-intensity workouts forever?
Once you have recovered from adrenal fatigue you can go back to your regular exercises. But in order to recover it’s important to get enough rest.
The key here is to work with a physician knowledgeable in exercise physiology or a trained exercise physiologist to help cater a workout plan to addressing the issue of adrenal fatigue. Of course, this kind of workout plan will be individualized as everyone with adrenal fatigue suffers from varying levels of it.
For example, one person with adrenal fatigue can manage to do a light jog two times per week, whilst another can only manage a slow walk. The exercise program will have to take into consideration how the individual feels after a workout and should gradually increase to a level of exercise that is sustainable for each individual.
How do you know when a workout is working against your recovery from adrenal fatigue?
A good rule of thumb for adrenal fatigue sufferers is, if you do a workout and feel abnormally exhausted and energy-depleted for more than 30 minutes afterwards, you’ve gone too hard. It is a good sign that you are not doing the right kind of workout for your body.
If you exercise all the time and eat well, yet see the scale going in the wrong direction, again, your workout could be at fault. In these situations, it is sometimes better to listen to your body and be kind to it, instead of push it to go harder and longer. Of course, not exercising at all is definitely not the solution since a sedentary lifestyle leads to other chronic diseases. Finding the right kind of exercise will help you to feel energized and to finally lose the weight you want to lose.
Do you want to heal your Adrenal Fatigue for good?
Are you tired of the guesswork involved in treating your adrenal fatigue?
Are you frustrated that your doctor doesn’t understand your condition?
Are you ready to stop feeling tired all the time and take control of your health?
The Adrenal Fatigue Solution contains everything you need to start treating your Adrenal Fatigue.
Karin B. says…“Before I read The Adrenal Fatigue Solution, I was pretty depressed—I was still sluggish and still struggling with this weight gain and still needing my supplements. Now I’m hopeful—I see how I’ve been exercising wrong for my energy level, and how my diet has been fighting against my supplements. Not all of these changes are going to be easy, but now I know how I can start to improve my own health. It’s so encouraging to know that I have more control than I realized!”
More Adrenal Fatigue Resources:
- 6 Foods to Avoid on An Adrenal Fatigue Diet
- 6 Best Supplements for Adrenal Fatigue
- 6 Best Foods for Adrenal Fatigue
- Ketogenic Diet: Why It’s Risky for People with Adrenal Fatigue
About The Author Tina Christoudias, The Thyroid Dietician
Tina Christoudias is a Harvard-trained registered dietitian with nearly 18 years of experience as a nutrition counselor. Having had personal experience with hypothyroidism, she specializes in diet protocols for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and hypothyroidism and has recently published her book, Tired of Feeling Tired? She is a strong advocate of the Paleo diet and is an Autoimmune Protocol Certified Coach.
This post was originally published in February of 2018 but has be republished in July of 2019 to include updated content.