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July 29, 2015 by Leanne Vogel October 6, 2018
Are your hormones all over the place? It could be your adrenals. Signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue, how to heal your adrenals by eating high-fat. Plus supplements and workouts to support you.
Did you know? Your adrenals are responsible for more than just managing stress. They are a major player in sex hormone production and regulation. And, if our calories are too low, the cortisol we’re producing is breaking down our muscles into sugar and stopping us from burning fat. It’s a vicious cycle that I’m seeing more and more in my SPARK Sessions.
Today, I’m laying it all down – what adrenal fatigue is, signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue (they may surprise you), how to heal adrenal fatigue, and steps you can take right now to make sure you support your adrenals every day.
If your hormones (like estrogen, progesterone, etc) are completely imbalanced and no amount of “tweaking” is helping, you need to watch this…
For video transcription, scroll down.
Did you say “yes” to one of the signs that something could be wrong with your adrenals? Which actions are you doing already? Which are you planning to implement to heal your adrenals?
We’re talking about the good old adrenals today and you’re probably thinking, “I don’t really care about adrenals and I don’t have adrenal fatigue and this is not relevant to me.” Stop. Wait. Listen. Just hold on. I’m going to share something with you, and if after I share these couple things, you’re like, “This totally doesn’t apply to me,” then you can move on to my other videos or somebody else’s videos, but I can just about guarantee that 95% of you will relate to at least one of these things: inability to focus, you crave salt or sugar, lack of sex drive and low libido, hypothyroid, cold hands, cold feet, losing hair, imbalanced sex hormones, maybe your estrogen is too low, maybe your progesterone’s too high, maybe your testosterone is all over the map, severe PMS or irregular periods. Did you say yes to any of those things? I bet you did. Continue watching.
Adrenal fatigue, it’s super awesome and something that I have struggled with for quite some time and didn’t even know it until a couple of weeks ago. A little bit later I’m going to tell you how I got into this mess, how I’m getting myself out of this mess, and how you can avoid it. Adrenals, what are they? A lot of people think, “Okay, well, adrenals are linked with stress and it’s just my body’s way of dealing with stress and that is the gland that does all the magic,” when in fact the adrenals do more than just deal with stress. Of course there is cortisol. Cortisol is released in usually two situations. The first is stress and the other one is starvation.
If we are not eating enough, our cortisol is going to be released and we’re going to need more of it and that can impact our bodies. In fact, cortisol helps break down muscle to convert it to sugar so that we have more energy. If we are not eating enough and we are in slight starvation mode, we are breaking down our muscles for sugar and in the case of trying to be ketogenic, if we’re not eating enough, we are [00:02:00] creating more sugar in our body which is stopping us from being in ketosis which is stressing us out which is making us gain weight. It’s this vicious cycle.
Adrenals are also responsible for creating mineral corticoids. These are very, very important when we are looking at the sodium-potassium balance within our body so that we have the right amount of fluids in our nerves, for our brain, for our heart, and all those really important functions within our body. Your adrenals are also responsible for testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and in the case of menopausal women, the adrenals are the main source of where estrogen is created. Interestingly, the precursor for progesterone can also be used to make cortisol, so if our body needs cortisol because we are stressed out or we aren’t eating enough, it is going to convert that precursor to cortisol as opposed to progesterone, which can fly our hormones off track and stall us from losing weight if that’s what your goal is.
The key here is that adrenals aren’t just for a stress response. What is adrenal fatigue? There’s multiple stages to adrenal fatigue. The way that I see it is that there’s a pre-stage, so if you live a semi-stressful life, maybe you’re not eating enough, maybe you don’t have enough nutrients in your diet or you eat the same foods every day, if you just live a life on this planet, chances are you’re at risk of getting adrenal fatigue because our bodies weren’t meant to live like this with constant stress all over the place.
Then there’s the hyper. That’s the next stage. This is that we’re in stressful situations, our bodies happen to create more cortisol, it’s affecting our sex hormones, it’s affecting our sodium-potassium balance, and we are up regulating our adrenals so that it can continue pumping out all the hormones that we need in order to function. Cortisol levels become increased, our weight usually gets redistributed as a result of this, a lot of people [00:04:00] experience depression, anxiety, increased infections, and the breakdown of muscle and bone.
The next stage is hypo. Your body has been pumping out all the hormones all the time, and finally it says, “Enough is enough. Screw this. We’re not even going to bother.” You have all of those symptoms from when you were hyper, but now you’re hypo because your body’s just said, “Screw it, I can’t keep up.” Then you become really tired. You could probably sleep all day and still be tired.
Signs that something could be wrong, maybe you’re thinking, “Okay, well, maybe I do have problems with my adrenals.” Things that I noticed, long recovery, very weak muscles, especially in your legs, if you’re going up the stairs and you’re like, “Seriously, I can’t even get up another flight of stairs,” cravings for sugar and salt, boosted energy in the evenings, usually around 9 PM, your second wind and you could go all night, if you’re short-fused, you’re always just this close away from totally blowing up on anybody, low blood pressure, irritable or overwhelmed, so not only are you short-fused where you could snap at any moment, but when people ask you questions, you’re just irritated and if you get a couple things on your plate, you’re not really sure how to deal with them and you have a really hard time piecing them all together.
To share a little bit about my story and how I got adrenal fatigue, when I was a teen, I obsessed about nutrition. I battled with a very, very, very long case of an eating disorder and I obsessed about food all the time, searching for perfection, manipulating my body to places that, looking back, that just weren’t realistic to me, excessive carbohydrate intake and over-training. Usually those two go hand in hand. I used to pound the carbs and then go for a twenty kilometer run and then pound the carbs, and pound more carbs on top of those carbs and then even maybe go for a five kilometer jog in the [00:06:00] evening. I pushed myself to very long distances and a lot of training, sometimes two, three hours a day.
Poor sleep habits like being on your laptop until midnight or bringing your work into your bedroom or sleeping with some lights on. I was burning the candle at both ends for a really long time. I was running a full time job, I was running my business, I was meeting with clients, I was trying to be a wife, and it was too much. My husband’s job loss a couple of years ago when we were living in Montreal and losing his job and not knowing where we were going to live and how we were going to get home to Calgary and all these things, it was a really stressful situation.
The kicker that brought all this to light all at the same time, I’d been doing all of these things over the last ten, fifteen years, I started weight training in January because I was in ketosis and I was totally rocking it. I had a lot of energy and I was ready for the next phase and I was super pumped and building muscle within the phase and I started training and weight lifting super heavy, drinking a lot of caffeine for my post-recovery, but it was enough that I totally crashed. You’ll notice that a constant theme within these things that I shared with you is that they were ongoing stressors. These are things that are going on every day, time and time again.
Our bodies were built to deal with stress in a one-off basis. A tiger’s chasing you and you have to run away. It’s a lot of stress, but it’s in a small period. To constantly be over-training, have bad sleep every single night, stress about proving yourself to others and being perfect, these are all constant stressors that you’re dealing with every day, day in, day out, keeping in mind of our community, and most of us are high-fat, keto ninjas, see, this is the benefit of having a stand-up desk. I can do ninja moves. If you are a high-fat, keto enthusiast, which chances are, I think maybe you are and [00:08:00] you want to figure out how to continue eating high fat, keto, relatively low carbohydrate in order to stay in fat-burning mode and also eat whole keto foods and thrive and also heal your adrenals, you got to listen to this.
The first is nutrition. Let’s chat a little bit about what you would do if you have adrenal dysfunction and you want to support yourself with the foods that you choose. The first one you could try is eating high fat, keto, low carbohydrate throughout the day and then pound the carbs every night. For me and my next phase of ketogenic fat-fueled awesomeness is that I’m eating low carbohydrate, high fat, keto for breakfast and lunch and you’ll notice I just said breakfast. I’m going to explain that in a second. Then dinner, I always have, every single night, I have some sort of starch. This is like sweet potatoes, plantains, cassava, white rice.
Breakfast, about five times a week, I have a full on breakfast because in the case of healing your adrenals, the more nutrients the better. My keto Rocket Fuel lattes that I’ve been enjoying almost every day in doing intermittent fasting, I’m putting the breaks on that most of the time. I save two days a week where I treat myself to the glorious goodness of the keto Rocket Fuel latte because I love them so much and I feel so fabulous on them, but I understand that when your body is trying to heal from something, it’s good to pump it full of nutrients. Just because you are not measuring high amounts of ketones in your blood doesn’t mean you’re not fat burning.
If you’re eating high fat, keto, low carbohydrate throughout the day and then doing the carbs at night, when you wake up, chance are you’ll be fat burning and you go low carbohydrate, high fat, keto. Listen to your body that way. As I mentioned before, varied produce. Switch it up every week. Buy some new keto vegetables and different berries and low carbohydrate fruits that you can enjoy that round off the nutrients that you’re getting on a weekly basis.
[00:10:00] Stress. You knew it was coming. Stress management, you got to get that stuff under control. In my case, what I found is really, really helpful, Epsom salt baths every night. It has lots of magnesium. It helps me sleep and relax. Near infrared sauna, which I blogged about over on my site, healthfulpursuit.com. I’ve included a link right here and you can read about how I’ve been using the infrared sauna to detoxify, which is another huge part to healing your adrenals, and also to create a healthy habit every day that I am doing to get into a place of calm all the time, or as much as possible. Magnesium oil, the stuff is awesome. I add water with it and rub it on my belly. I have included some of these products below that you can go check out and see if it’s right for you.
Acupuncture, I’ve been doing this weekly. It’s a little bit costly but I’ve been doing it for about two months and I’ve seen a drastic impact on how I’ve been able to handle stress on a daily basis. Usually it’s cupping on my back, cupping and acupuncture together, highly recommend the combo. Walking in the morning or setting up a morning routine. It is so, so powerful whether it’s a five minute meditation or even breathing five times and honoring where your body’s at right now. That morning practice is huge. For myself, it’s waking up and journaling for twenty minutes and then going for a walk with my dogs for however long I can do it, coming home, having breakfast, and then starting with my day.
You know how I mentioned that over-training causes adrenal fatigue? Depending on what stage you’re at, you will probably have to lower your workouts. Yep, I said it. Lately, all I’ve been doing is walking. I’m also working through the fact that your body’s going to change as your body changes. If you’ve been told that you have adrenal fatigue or you notice that you’re really stressed out, you have to honor that. At least in my case, figure out how I got to this space, how I can change my [00:12:00] life to heal my body so that I can continue to be on this world and do the work in this world that I was meant to do and connect to the people that I was meant to connect to. Just having a goal of, “Weight, weight, weight, and I need to lose weight and I need to look a certain way and my perfection,” there should come a point, and there has in my life over the years where I’ve said, “Yeah, that’s important for sure. I want to look a certain way, but not at the cost of my health.”
When it comes to workouts, in the pre-adrenal fatigue stage and when you’re hyper, some things that my clients have done on their days off to really help their body recover from stress, is things like the near infrared sauna, hot and cold therapy, so at our house, we run a cold shower, jump into a bathtub that’s hot and amazing, stay in there for thirty seconds, and then go into the cold shower and then go back into the tub and then into the shower. You can do the hot-cold therapy at home. When you get into more of the stage three, the hypo, it’s really about relaxing and sleeping and eating. Things like yoga, yen yoga’s so great, yoga nidra, tai chi, qigong, sun exposure, sitting out in the sun for a couple of minutes, your sauna, do your walking if you want to walk, but that’s about it. Not power walking, just honoring your body and taking a chill pill.
After about four to eight weeks of doing this light exercises, after about the eight week mark doing things like high intensity interval training maybe once or twice a week and slowly going out from there. At least that’s what I have worked with my clients and it’s been quite successful. With sleep, keeping to a schedule is a big one. I sleep from 11 PM to 8 AM every single day. Waking up naturally can be another huge thing if you are able to do that. If you are not able to do that and you’re like, “Leanne, I have a life and I have to be at work,” [00:14:00] go to bed earlier so that you can wake up naturally.
Supplements, ensure that you are supporting your bone health at every stage and I’ve included a link below for the bone supplement that I use. These supplements really, really, really vary on what stage you’re at with your adrenals. In the case of boosted cortisol, things like vitamin C, DHEA, which is a little bit controversial, so definitely look into that, and chromium for blood sugar because when our cortisol is increased, our blood sugar gets a little bit wonky and chromium can help with that, as well as cinnamon in every single meal.
If you’ve gotten to the hypo stage, what I use with my clients are things like B complex, B5, sublingual, B6, so this is the magnesium oil but it is B6 liquid and you rub it everywhere, magnesium oil is another good one for the exhaustion, Siberian ginseng.
There you have it, adrenal fatigue in as compact of a nutshell as I could possibly put it in. So many of you have been asking about adrenal fatigue and thyroid function and sex hormones and adrenals is a great place to start looking and discovering what is there and what our bodies are doing.
If you loved what I shared, I would love for you to subscribe to my channel. That was a little rain dance thing going on. You can click here [00:16:00] to subscribe to my channel and you will get updates every week about some awesome stuff and I am just about to leave on a plane to Vancouver to attend Wanderlust Whistler which is a yoga festival. I’m going for almost an entire week and I’m super pumped. If you’re going to be there, you should tweet me, be_healthful. Tell me that you’re there and follow me on Instagram and we should meet up and do some downward dogs together or have a kombucha toast because I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of kombucha at that party. I hope to see you there if you are attending and if not, I will see you next week. Okay, bye.
I work on finding the best products that have quality ingredients, care about their customers, and have integrity. The brand(s) I’ve shared here are awesome, and I stand behind them 100%. Opinions in this blog post are never ever influenced by the partner. Like, never!
HI! I’M LEANNE
Nutrition educator + keto enthusiast. I want to live in a world where every woman loves her body, nourishing fats are enjoyed at every meal, and the word “restriction” isn’t in the dictionary.