If you haven’t already read Part 1 of this blog series from last week, make sure to click HERE to do so.
Some of the information from the first blog in this series will be helpful to understand the principles and content we cover today around how these hormones work against your health.
In Part 1 of this series we discussed what adrenaline is, and role it plays in our fight or flight response and everyday life and what triggers the release of adrenaline ( hint it rhymes with stress).
Lastly we spoke about how adrenaline resistance develops, and makes it exceptionally difficult to lose fat, but specifically why adrenaline resistance makes it difficult to lose abdominal fat. If you want to know why this happens, read Part 1 HERE.
This week we’re going to look at how insulin, leptin and and adrenaline resistance create the perfect storm can wreck your health, and prevent fat loss. We’ll wrap up this week’s blog by discussing how to prevent/reverse this adrenaline resistance.
When Stress Takes Charge
Our fight or flight response and adrenaline are both part of the sympathetic nervous system which takes charge in stressful situations.
The hormone leptin is the the main regulator of body fat in the long term, however in times of stress leptin takes a back seat to the fight or flight response and adrenaline for managing body fat.
The sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) takes control over the hormones that determine whether you burn or store body fat in these perceived life or death situations.
Even if these situations are not a true threat, when the stress response it triggered the brain sees these situations, and makes decisions through the life or death lens.
For this reason alone you should be taking stress management seriously when it comes to fat loss and consider it in the same way you do sleep, exercise and nutrition.
The Three Horsemen
Chronic stressors will trigger the release of adrenaline and cause lower leptin levels. Lower levels of leptin signal to the brain that we have insufficient fat stores.
Because in leptin resistance your brain can’t “see” the leptin it assumes that we must not have sufficient fat stores, and increases the appetite to help prevent starvation and “replenish” fat stores.
Regardless of how much body fat you actually have on your body, the low levels of leptin signal to the brain that you are famine and need to eat a lot of food!
Because leptin also signals satiety in the brain and helps to shut off hunger, with diminished leptin levels you will feel less satisfied by foods and will have a greater tendency to overeat.
While this is all going on with the hormone leptin, that chronic stress throughout the day that is causing the overproduction of adrenaline to get the same job done.
Over time the adrenal glands get burned out from the overproduction of adrenaline, and now the body has a hard time making enough adrenaline to meet the body’s demands.
To make a bad matter worse this state of overeating energy dense foods along with stress makes your cells less sensitive to the hormone insulin.
Your body has to secrete a much greater volume of the hormone insulin to clear sugar and amino acids from the bloodstream.
This insulin resistance makes the body very inefficient with carbohydrates, and increases the chances of the extra calories being put into body fat stores.
With lower levels of leptin the metabolic rate is slowed down to make sure you aren’t able to burn off those precious fat stores in case of another famine.
As you can see adrenaline resistance works in unison with leptin and insulin resistance to make fat loss nearly impossible, while it’s easier than ever to overeat and gain body fat.
Next we’ll be covering the ways to help avoid and repair adrenaline resistance, but many of these will also help with leptin and insulin resistance as well.
Climbing Out Of The Hole: Reversing and Avoiding Adrenaline Resistance
Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night: Sleep in our most powerful anti- stress and recovery tool. Inadequate sleep leads to elevated stress hormones, high fasting blood glucose levels and interferes with leptin function.
Remove Inflammatory foods from your diet: Many times people have food sensitivities that they aren’t aware of. When you eat these inflammatory foods it registers as a stressor in the body and causes an increase in the stress hormones. Common inflammatory foods include: wheat, soy, dairy, trans fat, vegetable oils, preservatives,
Limit caffeine/stimulant consumption: There’s no surprise that everyone loves their morning cup of coffee, but if you have adrenaline resistance you will need to take a break from caffeine and stimulants for a while. The goal is to remove anything that could register as a chronic stress on the body for a period of time. Replace coffee with a tea or decaf coffee until you have a better hold on your stress and hormones.
Train Smartly: You can get great results with three to four training sessions a week that last forty five to sixty minutes, lots of walking and one to two sprint sessions per week. Add in some hiking and yoga if you’d like and make sure to move your body frequently throughout the day. A sedentary lifestyle increases insulin resistance.
Avoid Highly Processed Carbohydrates and Sugars: cookies, cupcakes, muffins pastries, chips, pastas, energy and granola bars. These not only contain processed carbohydrates and tons of extra sugar but also inflammatory vegetable oils and chemical/preservatives.
Meditation: The free app headspace or calm are both awesome! Meditation has shown in studies to decrease the stress hormones. For me personally it feels like meditation turns down the volume on stressful situations.
Practice being grateful: Write down 3 things you are grateful for in the morning
Change how you frame a situation: If you can change how you view a situation, and see how you played a part in what happened you will be able to view it in a different light and feel more empowered and like less of a victim which helps to lower stress.
Engage in play: play catch with a baseball, football or go play some basketball. Do something fun for yourself that you have no attachment to the outcome of. This activities have been shown to help reuce stress even more when done outside in the sunshine.
Schedule social events with those you love: Social connection and spending time with loved ones is crucial to reducing stress and being a happy healthy human.
Take a 20 minute walk: Get out into nature if possible or walk in a park. Spending time in nature reduces stress hormones and makes people more relaxed.
Practice deep breathing: Close your eyes and focus on the feeling of breath entering and leaving your body. Start with three minutes and work your way up to 5-10 minutes.
Laugh More: Watch a funny movie, some stand up comedy, or a funny video on youtube. Make it a daily habit to have at least one good belly laugh.
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These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained, while keeping you accountable along the way.