Adrenal fatigue is essentially the point in which your body has become overwhelmed with too much stress, which includes physical stress. The key to addressing adrenal fatigue for anyone, regardless if they exercise or not, is in reducing the amount of stress you place on your body.
Stress is anything that triggers your adrenal glands to produce more cortisol, adrenaline or noradrenaline. Exercise is a form of physical stress. The biggest hurdle I run across from anyone struggling with adrenal fatigue who is also an avid fitness enthusiast, is getting them to modify and change their training routine.
You don’t have to stop exercising, but if your 24-Hour Saliva Test showed that you are struggling with adrenal fatigue, you don’t want to keep adding more physical stress onto an already exhausted body. This is why it is important in working with someone trained and skilled in these areas.
I believe health and fitness are a lot like debt. The way you get out of financial debt is to cut your spending while trying to increase your revenue. Getting healthy and fit or overcoming adrenal fatigue is a lot of the same. You have to quit doing the things that are making you worse and do more of the things that will strengthen your overall health. It’s just that simple!
Depending on what your current workout regimen is, the first thing you want to do is make sure your aerobic exercise is truly aerobic. The most common mistake I run across from most people, not just those struggling with adrenal fatigue, is that they are performing their aerobic workout at too high an intensity. This will add additional stress to an already exhausted body.
Your aerobic workout should be stress reducing and fairly easy to perform and that’s why you should be able to do it for moderate to long periods of time. If you are performing your aerobic workout at too high an intensity level (walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or dancing faster than you should be), you will trigger “anaerobic” metabolism.
It’s bad to trigger anaerobic metabolism because it is stress producing on the body. Remember, you want to reduce the amount of stress you place on your body, so it is important that you make sure your aerobic exercise is truly triggering aerobic metabolism. This alone can reduce a lot of physical stress that is taxing your adrenal glands.
FYI – A great rule of thumb for aerobic training is that you should be able to perform the exact same aerobic workout again, immediately after your initial aerobic workout. In essence, can you do back-to-back aerobic workouts without a problem? If you did 25 minutes on the treadmill, stair stepper or aerobic dance class, can you do the exact same workout again, right now?
If you can answer yes to that, there is a good chance that your aerobic workout was truly aerobic. However, if your response is, are you kidding me? That aerobic workout took a lot out of me, it wore me out and kicked my rear! If that’s the case, I would definitely suspect that your aerobic activity is being performed at too high an intensity and is more anaerobic than it is aerobic, which means it is actually counter-productive to your current needs.
Don’t assume that simply performing an aerobic exercise means that it is aerobic. A classic mistake done all too often is to assume that any aerobic activity is automatically aerobic. That is simply not the case!
So step number one is to make sure your aerobic workout is being done correctly. What happens for a lot of people who are doing their aerobic workout incorrectly, is that they end up triggering nothing but anaerobic metabolism. Let me point out that there is nothing really wrong with that, BUT you need to make sure you are properly resting and nourishing your body in order to keep up with the physical demands and stress you are heaping on to your body.
The second thing you need to do to overcome adrenal fatigue is to modify your anaerobic, strength training routine. I typically encourage you to cut this down in half. If your strength training routine takes an hour, then cut it back to less than 30 minutes. You can train as hard as you were, but by reducing the amount of workout time, your overall exercise will lessen the amount of physical stress on your body. Remember, the goal is to lessen the amount of stress you place on your body so as not to overload or over-tax your exhausted adrenal glands.
The third thing you want to do is keep your blood sugar stable. A low carbohydrate diet is ideal for anyone struggling with adrenal fatigue and exhaustion. That means you should:
- Don’t skip meals or breakfast
- Eat within 30-60 minutes after waking up and exercising
- Stay away from as much processed, refined carbohydrates
- Each meal should contain some protein
- No carbohydrate rich meals
Each time you skip a meal or eat a meal that throws your blood sugar off, it signals your adrenal glands to produce additional cortisol and adrenaline in order to stabilize your falling blood sugar. Your dietary choices should be what keeps your blood sugar stable, NOT your adrenal glands. Your adrenal glands are a backup or safety valve in helping regulate your blood sugar.
The fourth thing you need to do is optimize your digestive system. If you struggle with bloating, heartburn, reflux, gas, or other irritable bowel problems, you need to correct them in order to reduce the burden on your adrenal glands. All that irritation and inflammation in your tummy is squeezing your adrenal glands to produce more cortisol to help reduce the inflammation. See my Better Digestion for Better Results article for more information.
The next thing you want to do is nourish your adrenal glands. Here we are talking about specific nutrients to support your adrenal glands such as ginseng, astragalus, sacred basil, schizandra or ashwaghada, not to mention Vitamin C, B, and zinc. It takes time to nourish them so don’t think all you have to do is go and buy an adrenal support product and think that is all you have to do. It may take several months before you can properly restore your adrenal glands.
Lastly, stay away from any type of stimulants such as caffeine, ma huang, ephedra and guarana. Most of your so-called “energy” drinks are spiked with some type of herbal stimulant. These may give you an energy boost, but they have a negative, depleting effect on your adrenal glands. I don’t necessarily have a problem with any of the “energy” drinks, but if you’re struggling with possible adrenal fatigue, you need to be aware of that. This is why I prefer using the adaptogenic herbs, mentioned above, since they support your adrenal glands in times of stress.
There is no simple fix in overcoming adrenal fatigue. The faster you address the problem and give your body the proper rest and nourishment it needs, the faster you will be able to once again produce all those growth hormones that are needed to rebuild your body.