The Basics: What you need to know about adrenaline (and cortisol) and losing weight.
Your adrenal glands produce adrenaline and cortisol. Stress and other factors cause your adrenal glands to overproduce adrenaline and cortisol. Over time it can lead to adrenal ‘burn-out’.
Adrenal ‘burn-out’ leads to serious health problems. Long-term high levels of adrenaline and cortisol cause your pancreas to overproduce insulin.
Insulin sensitivity is a side effect of the overproduction of adrenaline and cortisol. Over time, insulin sensitivity can lead to insulin resistance – creating further health issues.
To rebalance your hormones, you must change your lifestyle – reduce stress, eat correctly, etc. Stress reduction and stress management are key to a healthy life.
The Details: Continue reading to gain a better understanding of the relationships of the different hormones in your body and how they affect your health and your ability to lose weight.
Adrenaline may be preventing you from losing weight. The hormone adrenaline is similar to hormone cortisol in that it responds to stress. There are times when you might not eat for a while and your blood glucose levels fall to dangerously low levels. Your body is stressed when your blood glucose levels fall significantly. Your adrenal glands can make both adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline (and cortisol) can correct the condition of very low glucose levels in your body by converting glycogen and protein to make glucose. Your body automatically converts to a new source of glucose to meet your body’s glucose needs. Fat is used as an energy source when you have depleted your all your glucose and glycogen stores. The real problem arises when your body has too much adrenaline (or cortisol).
Hormonal Imbalance and Your Adrenal Glands
Hormone imbalance can arise when you allow your body’s glucose levels to fall to low levels by not eating the proper foods on a regular basis. Your hormone levels change to the meet the lifestyle choices you make on a daily basis. If your hormones remain constantly in flux, you may develop serious health problems.
At the beginning stages of hormonal imbalance, your insulin responsiveness begins to degrade. Your insulin becomes more insensitive to levels of glucose in your body – it takes more insulin to do the same job compared to what it used to take. You start out your life with high (meaning good) insulin sensitivity. You are able to eat anything you want and never gain weight. Your age and lifestyle choices begin to affect the sensitivity or responsiveness of your insulin. Gradually your insulin becomes less and less sensitive (or active) to the same quantity of glucose. Your cells become less receptive to receiving the glucose it needs because your insulin is not strong enough to do its job.
Continuously high levels of adrenaline and cortisol can cause insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means that your body will make more insulin than is customarily needed to feed the cells in your body. Long-term insulin resistance generally leads to excessive amounts of glucose, triglycerides and cholesterol to accumulate in your bloodstream.
Without any changes in your lifestyle (food choices, total calories, exercise, nutritional balance, stress relief, etc) your insulin sensitivity will degrade to a level to be classified as insulin resistance. Your body has many built-in protective processes. When your pancreas sends insulin into your bloodstream and discovers that there is still a need for more insulin, it makes more insulin and sends more insulin into your bloodstream. Your body doesn’t want excessive amounts of glucose building up to dangerous levels.
Adrenal Glands and Stress
Similarly, your hormones can experience similar difficulties. Continuous untreated stress can ‘burn-out’ your adrenal glands. This typically happens when you are stressed – day-in and day-out – and there appears to be no end in sight. You are literally fatigued from the stresses in your life. Your adrenal glands have been working overtime to address your internal biochemical needs associated with stress, and you are unable to address the causes of your stress. People with insulin resistance typically start adding a lot of fat, especially visceral fat around their abdomen.
Your adrenal gland secretes hormones that control your blood pressure, heart rate and sweating – to name a few. Adrenal gland burnout does not happen overnight. It takes years of constant overproduction to enter into a burnout condition. The longer it took to burnout your adrenal glands, the longer it will take to recover.
As with correcting stress in your life, you must start by removing the causes of your stress. If you are insulin resistant and have adrenal burnout, you need to remove the sources of those two conditions to recover fully. Depending on how long, and the choices you have made, it might be best to reduce rather than eliminate things such as: over exercising, smoking, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, white sugar, etc. Cold turkey is not always the best way to start fixing a problem.
Insulin resistance can improve with dedicated healthy lifestyle. Your adrenal and cortisol levels will heal with time and careful attention to your stress relief and stress management. It is common to have withdrawal symptoms when adjusting to a new lifestyle. You have trained your body to respond in a certain way to the stresses you accept and to the foods you choose. Fatigue, irritability and depression are common symptoms when rebalancing your hormones. Don’t be surprised if you gain a little weight or experience water retention. These symptoms are generally short-lived and moderate quickly thereafter.
You can reestablish normal biochemical levels of insulin, adrenaline and cortisol by controlling your lifestyle. Consider any withdrawal symptoms as side effects that changing your lifestyle is working. As with most systems in our bodies, one cause is generally not the only cause of the symptoms you experience. It is critical to know that the choices and actions you chose to arrive at your current hormonal imbalance will return to normal if you adopt those actions required for a healthy lifestyle. Some people can adjust easily within thirty days – others might take ninety days to adapt to a new lifestyle. Monitor the changes in your body and be vigilant to those persistent symptoms that won’t go away. There may be another underlying cause producing those symptoms.
Lifestyle changes must become a new habit in your life to effectively rebalance systems that have been out of balance for a long time. Body fat will begin to disappear as you normalize your insulin activity, cortisol and adrenaline levels.