Weight Gain

We’ve all heard, and it is well-accepted and proven, that chronic stress (and subsequent Adrenal Dysfunction) adds weight, especially belly fat.

When you’re in a relatively constant stress response, it is akin to your ancestor running from a tiger; this process is metabolically and calorically demanding. There are many opposing forces at play here: high cortisol and adrenaline causing dumps of sugar; high cortisol and adrenaline kicking up metabolism so you burn off the calories; high cortisol and adrenaline desensitizing your cells to sugar and shifting you in the direction of metabolic syndrome; and high cortisol and adrenaline causing your fat cells to be more likely to increase in size.

We have to slow this process down initially, because to continue with this stress response cycle makes it difficult to correct this extremely dangerous metabolic shift. As we do slow it down, it is possible that you are no longer running on adrenaline, which means you are no longer burning off the calories as efficiently. This is important, but at times can lead to mild weight gain.

The problem is that underlying metabolic shifts that have taken place at a cellular level take a while to shift back. You have to convince your body, consistently, that it no longer needs to be stuck in stress mode, no longer does it have to protect itself by overproducing sugar, no longer does it need to store excess sugar as fat, and no longer does it need to stop burning fat as fuel.

The plain truth is that your body has been in this metabolic place for quite some time, sometimes since childhood, and it is continuing. It will shift, it always does; it just takes time. You have to remember that Adrenal Dysfunction and its myriad symptoms didn’t just come on over night. That’s a lot of programming to undo.

Unfortunately, with “adrenal” patients, it’s not as easy as just avoiding carbs, though this helps. Weight gain is more than just “calories in” versus “calories out.” There’s a lot of metabolism (adrenal and thyroid hormone) that happens in between, which happens to be compromised. Add to this the fact that most patients with Adrenal Dysfunction are flat out exhausted, so “calories out” is a problem. Add to that the challenge of eating for psycho-emotional reasons (aka stress) and this becomes somewhat complex. Since this is the case it is essential to focus on what you eat and when.

Sounds daunting? Sounds insurmountable? It’s not. It just takes time and the understanding and guidance of someone who’s been down that road before.

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