Adrenal Fatigue Weight gain

Adrenal Fatigue Weight gain

Adrenal fatigue weight gain

[ Ultimate Guide for 2021]

Do you have adrenal fatigue with weight gain? Do you feel tired all the time, need coffee to keep going, having trouble falling asleep? Are you gaining weight around your midsection despite a low calorie diet and exercise?

If so, this comprehensive guide will help you understand the science around adrenal fatigue and which diet and lifestyle changes will be best to manage your symptoms.

Read on to discover what adrenal fatigue really is, which foods to eat and which ones to avoid and what nutritional supplements may be best to help your energy and weight loss efforts.

What is adrenal fatigue and is it real?

As a functional Medicine Nutritionist  for the past 30 years, I have seen a lot of clients that are stressed, tired, overweight and have many other symptoms of what is called  “adrenal fatigue”.

This term “adrenal fatigue”, or “adrenal stress” is often used not only to describe fatigue but includes many other symptoms. 

Symptoms of “Adrenal fatigue” 

  • Feeling tired regardless of the length of time one sleeps
  • Difficulty being out of bed for more than a few hours a day
  • Orthostatic hypotension (dizziness/lightheadedness when moving from lying to standing)
  • Cravings for sweets/sugar and/or salt 
  • Sleep problems (hard time falling asleep and/or staying asleep)
  • Lack of interest in sex
  • Poor memory or “brain fog”
  • Increased inflammation (and pain)
  • Weight gain, especially around the middle
  • Low immunity , you get many cold and flu bugs going around
  • A feeling of overwhelm for tasks that you used to be able to handle easily
  • An improvement in your symptoms when on vacation
  • A second wind if you stay up after 10 p.m.
  • Post exercise  fatigue
  • Feeling unusually tired in the morning and the afternoon around 3 p.m.
  • Needing a cup of coffee to get moving in the morning
  • Thyroid problems
  • Low blood pressure

These symptoms are what is thought to be caused by the adrenal glands (two small glands that sit on top of the kidney) releasing either too much or too little cortisol.  

But, did you know that the concept of adrenal fatigue is not consistent with current science. In fact, as I dove further into the research, (especially this recent medical review), I discovered that there is no basis for the term. 

Although this is no longer a valid diagnosis or term, many of the symptoms listed above are real and may be symptoms of a newer term called HPA axis dysfunction. HPA axis dysfunction can make it difficult to lose weight. 

In this blog I will use both terms interchangeably since most people are more familiar with  adrenal fatigue rather  than HPA Dysfunction.

Take Your HPA dysfunction /Adrenal Fatigue Quiz

What is HPA Axis Dysfunction and how does it cause weight gain?

The HPA axis describes the interaction between a group of hormone-secreting glands. These glands are the hypothalamus gland, the pituitary gland, and the  adrenal glands. 

When something stressful happens to us the HPA axis becomes stimulated and the hypothalamus releases a hormone (corticotropin-releasing hormone)  that triggers the pituitary gland to release a hormone (Adrenocorticotropic hormone) which in turn triggers the adrenal glands to release cortisol. 

 But long term chronic stress such as trauma, financial stress,  work pressure, sleep deprivation, poor diet, environmental toxins, and even poor digestion can continually stimulate the output of cortisol having a negative impact on the HPA axis. 

This continuous revving up of the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands,  can lead  to increased storage of fat tissue, resulting in an increase of obesity (1) and a desire to overeat (2).

How to treat Adrenal Fatigue or HPA dysfunction weight gain.

LIFESTYLE CHANGE: These changes include trying to reduce stress anyway you can. Maybe  a job change, perhaps speaking to a negative person less often, downsizing to create less financial stress or speaking with a therapist to help create other changes.

SLEEP: Getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night can be difficult, but with HPA axis dysfunction it is critical. To ensure good sleep make sure the room is dark, cool and avoid too much stimulation at night from cell phones, computers and TV or use these supplements to help naturally induce sleep.

EXERCISE: try for 30 minutes a day, cardio, pilates, gardening, biking, weight training are some examples. Exercise is great to help alleviate stress.

LIGHT: Get at least 20 minutes of early morning light to keep your circadian rhythm balanced (internal process that regulates the sleep–wake cycle). Morning light can help you to sleep better in the evening.

What to eat to lose weight for Adrenal Fatigue or HPA Axis Dysfunction.

Eat This Not That Adrenal Infographic

Adrenal Support/HPA Axis Meal Plan

 The Adrenal Support /HPA diet plan is low in sugar and high in healthy fat and protein as well as various nutrients targeted at nourishing and supporting the HPA/Adrenal system. The diet includes whole, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein (organic/wild-caught poultry and fish), healthy fats ,gluten free carbohydrates, and plenty of fluids.  

What to Eat

  • Fruit, especially berries, kiwi, oranges, melon, and apples. Try to save fruit for your later meals of the day, and stay aware of how much fruit you eat, as too much can quickly raise your blood sugar.
  • Gluten free grains and  complex carbs: brown rice, yams, cassava, quinoa, butternut squash, beans.
  • Vegetables: should make up half of your plate
  • Proteins such as chicken, fish, grass fed red meat, or beans or tofu if you are vegan.
  • Healthy fats (such as avocado, fatty fish, olive oil, flaxseed oil, grapeseed oil).
  • Salt. Adding sea salt or Himalayan salt (in moderation) to your food can also help.

 What to Avoid

  • White sugar
  • White flour 
  • Alcohol 
  • Fried/fast foods
  • Processed foods
  • Caffeine
  • Artificial sweeteners

When you eat is also important, try not to skip meals, eat every 3-5 hours to keep blood sugar stable. Have protein at each meal and not just carbohydrates.

Supplements to Support HPA Axis/Adrenal Fatigue

The most universally accepted supplements for supporting the Adrenal Fatigue and the HPA Axis  are the following.

Complete HPA axis dysfunction vitamin protocol


While there are many factors that can contribute to Adrenal fatigue, weight gain, and HPA axis dysfunction some of them include eating an unhealthy diet, poor sleep, poor digestion and prolonged periods of stress.

To help improve symptoms a healthy diet, 7-8 hours of sleep, exercise, stress reduction and proper supplementation may be able to help.

If you want to learn more about adrenal fatigue (HPA axis dysfunction) and how to manage it, I am here for you at . Contact me today for more information on our services or to schedule an appointment for a free 15 minutes discovery call or full consultation. 




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