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Adrenal Body Type, Cortisol, and Belly Fat
Today, we’re going to talk about the adrenal body type, which looks something like this.
If you have an adrenal body type, you will store most of your weight in a saggy belly. There are many reasons for this belly fat accumulation, all of which have to do with:
Not getting enough of certain nutrients that create health problems
Nutrient deficiency causing massive cravings and weight gain
Not knowing how to exercise for the adrenal body type
Not knowing how to eat right for the adrenal body type
Stress and the Adrenals
If you have the adrenal body type, in order to understand how to lose weight and how to get rid of belly fat, you first have to understand the adrenal glands and what stress does to hormones like cortisol.
The adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys. These two little glands are stress glands, and they are in charge of all kinds of major processes in the body—including fat accumulation and weight gain.
Most of us have a lot of stress. Just think of the many things that can stress us out daily—school, work, life, finances, kids, relationships, marriages, being overweight, bills, taxes,
Traffic . . . basically, life, right?
When you’re stressed out, your body protects itself, especially around the middle where your gut and other important organs are, by encasing this area in layers of fat.
Stress and Weight Gain
Pretend you’re being chased by a tiger. How would your body react to that? I’ll tell you. Your body would be flooded with cortisol-creating adrenaline so you can, hopefully, make it out of that situation alive—the body always wants to live.
And the human body interprets stress as “Danger! Danger!” and that release of cortisol causes the storage of belly fat and weight gain. This is why we gain weight from stress. Not maybe at that moment, but it triggers processes that induce weight gain.
When running from that tiger, you would also be so frightened you would not be able to sleep, you’d have problems with digestion, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol, because you’re running on sugar and adrenaline.
So if you stay stressed out all the time, you deplete your adrenal gland eventually, which throws your hormones out of whack, especially cortisol, and this makes you gain weight.
Stress does accumulate. You’re like a bucket storing up droplets of stress one after another until the bucket tips over, and there’s no more water in it. Then, you’re completely drained: exhausted, out of energy, and gaining weight all at the same time.
What I’ve learned is that if you look at when you started gaining weight and examine that time closely, you’ll typically find some kind of stress event that triggered it. That’s because you gain weight with stress, and the more stressful the situation, the more it impacts the body.
Whether it’s illness, trauma, stress at work or home, this can trigger weight gain. It could be a joyful stress, even, like a marriage, the stress of a wedding, a divorce, a big move . . . even kids gain weight after illness such as strep throat or chicken pox.
Any kind of stress can accumulate and create a situation where you are so jacked up you cannot sleep well enough to burn calories or recover from exercise – which all happens during delta wave sleep (deep), which I will explain in this article. And if that happens, we will see receive no benefits from all our efforts at diet and exercise.
. . . And what stresses us out the most?
Haven’t you found that to be true in your own life?
There are all kinds of people that cause us stress throughout our day-to-day lives, way beyond immediate family. You’ve got stress from people at work, good friends, casual acquaintances, friends going through problems.
You’ve got the victim type.
You know, the “please help me, please help me” type that always seem to want your help and advice about what was done to them but never accepts your suggestion.
They’d rather complain without doing anything about it. Don’t get me wrong. There are legitimate people who are victims of life, but when they never accept help from you is when it gets frustrating.
Then there are the antagonists.
We all have these stress-causing people in our lives at one time or another, typically in the workplace. This type gets satisfaction out of making things harder for you.
Then there are the depressed people, who bring you down, and you’ll give them a solution to make them feel better, and they just say “No, it will never work.” Don’t get me wrong. I love helping but when people are at low, the amount of energy it takes for you to bring up is extremely draining to your adrenals.
Or there’s the really happy person, who exhausts you with extremely positive attitude, making you feel like something is wrong with you if you’re not that happy like them.
Then there are the real stressor-outers—passive-aggressive people who seek to undermine you at every turn. We all know these kinds of people, especially at the workplace. They act like they’re your friend to your face and claim that they will stand up for you, but they don’t.
They are the fickle, disloyal type, and they love gossip. They are dangerous because they backstab you – undermine you.
My uncle was like this: “Congratulations, you’re a chiropractor. By the way, why didn’t you become a real doctor?” Or, “That’s a nice haircut; did you get it at Cheap Haircuts (a hair salon)?”
So you have people bringing you up and down all day and some of them covertly. All of this equals stress.
Here’s my advice on stress and on people:
If you find yourself dealing with a stressful person and you don’t want to absorb their stress, accept the fact that you cannot reason with these kinds of people. They will never see your point of view. They have to be right – and they’d rather be right than successful anyway.
When the adrenal glands are exhausted, you can become completely stressed out to the point your behavior in the presence of others changes. You become super-edgy and you’ll find yourself being unkind or intolerant with people, especially incompetent people (or people you perceive as incompetent). Of course, people make mistakes. But people making mistakes around you right now are going to present problems; for them and for you.
Realize that you’re not crazy. Your adrenals are just burned out.
What is actually happening is that you’re reacting more than you should because your buffer for stress has gone down and that in and of itself creates more stress.
The Adrenals and Brain Craziness
When you have adrenal problems, you’ll notice your mind is often flooded with thoughts and memories. You might feel that you’re talking to someone while having another conversation in your mind.
You also might find yourself a horrible listener all of a sudden. Instead of listening to people, you find yourself just waiting to talk, and this can create a host of problems with other people—especially the people you are around the most, such as at home and in the workplace. They’ll find you not-so-pleasant to talk to right now, and this will cause you hurt and them hurt, so you need to heal yourself.
These symptoms are a result of the effects of stress upon your brain. See, the way you think is not linear anymore. You forget things and have to backtrack. Someone is telling you something that is really important to them but you cannot pay attention in conversation long enough to even seem empathetic.
You’ll also notice a lot of memory problems. You’ll go downstairs and you’re like– “Why did I come down here, anyway?” Or, you’ll go to the store on a mission to get some important item that you need, buy a bunch of stuff you don’t need, and forget the item you went there for. It’s maddening.
That’s because the adrenals are like the GPS of the system and without them, we are lost.
The adrenal glands use up lots of nutrients in the body – B-vitamins, minerals, vitamin C, etc. This is when you start manifesting symptoms of adrenal fatigue. The best remedy I have for this is called Adrenal Day Formula.
Take 3 of these during the day and you’re adrenals can recover and you will feel relaxed again. Or better yet, slip some into the coffee of some of these stressed out people around you.
Permanent Fight or Flight Leads to Fat City
With adrenal fatigue, you’re in that constant stage of fight or flight from stress that leads to all kinds of weight gain and storage of fat around the mid-section of your body.
To combat this, what you should do is to completely unplug and turn off for around half an hour a day. Go for walk, look at a tree, a bird, a cloud, or go outside at night and look at the stars.
Computers stress the body—in fact, all of those blue-light emitting devices. And people experiencing sleep problems because of adrenal fatigue should stay as far away from them as they can—especially near bedtime.
I’m sensitive to energies, and I don’t even like using my cell phone because I feel like it is microwaving my brain. I strongly believe computers, cell phones, tablets, smartphones—that the stress of the blue light upon our system and the stress of this huge expanse of information we can never read or begin to study is stress in and of itself.
For people really having adrenal problems, you may even want to move that digital alarm clock across the room. You don’t even need that amount of light shining on your eyes at night. Plus, all it does is to remind you, hour by hour that passes, that you’re not sleeping.
You just watch the a.m. rapidly approaching, knowing you have to get up to an exhausting day. And that can cause more stress.
How Many Sit Ups Will It Take—One or One Thousand?
Now, as I mentioned earlier, our adrenals cause our body to accumulate weight around the middle. It’s our body’s way of protecting us from harm.
This kind of fat is not easy to lose and the trouble is, sit ups and exercising a lot, even dieting, will cause us to lose muscle, not weight, and everywhere but the belly.
How many sit-ups, you might wonder, will it take to get rid of this belly?
Well, sit ups are not going to do it. Even thousands won’t get rid of it.
It is because that belly isn’t caused by what you’re eating, and it’s not caused by accumulated fat—it’s caused by HORMONES.
Therefore, if you want to lose weight, you’re going to have to reduce your cortisol. You have to fix the problem behind the weight gain to get rid of the weight gain, right?
If you have a belly caused by stress on the adrenals, how are you going to lose the fat without healing the adrenals?
One big problem is that the very things adrenal body types are doing to lose weight, like extreme diet and exercise, is destroying their hormones and metabolism, which = more weight gain.
And this further physical stress on a stress-depleted body causes complete exhaustion. You get extremely tired after exercise and your body cannot recover from the exercise properly and easier, and because of that, exhaustion and stress accumulates.
Then, people reach out for stimulants, which further exhaust the adrenals.
Taking stimulants and drinking gallons of coffee will deplete the adrenal glands, and since you’re already stimulated, these stimulants only exacerbate the exhaustion upon your adrenals, throw the hormones more out of balance, and lead to more weight gain.
Over time, with heavy exercise, which causes too much stress upon the adrenals, you’ll find that your legs are getting thinner but the belly stays. This is because; you’re burning off your leg muscles and using up the precious proteins there. Then you get knee problems.
Adrenal exhaustion also causes that pendulous abdomen that comes with collagen buildup. That’s often the most confidence and contentment-destroying symptom of adrenal problems.
Then stress goes after the gluteus maximums (the butt), too. So you end up with no butt, skinny legs, and a huge, sagging belly.
Menopause can do this as well. I’ve had relatives who used to have a teensy, Scarlett O’Hara kind of waist, and because of menopause, now have HUGE, sagging bellies.
That’s what hormones can do for weight gain in the abdomen. And it’s hard to lose.
You’ve got to start now, with preventative strategies to fix the hormone loss.
The Importance of Deep Sleep, and What to Do about Exercise
If you’re dieting and not sleeping, you’ll notice an inability to lose weight. This is because you’re not reaching the deepest level of sleep that you should. You’re fighting to sleep all night. Then, you finally manage to sleep for a couple of hours, and then it’s suddenly time to get up, right?
Your body repairs from exercise, stress, and burns fat when you sleep deeply and healthily. Without it, weight gain-causing stress really accumulates.
Ideally, you’re supposed to go through 4 stages of sleep, and the deepest stage is delta wave sleep.
This stage of sleep is precious and important. You burn 98% of your fat during delta wave sleep. And this is also when your body heals and benefits from exercise.
So if you’re not sleeping, you’re not burning all of your fat or getting as sculpted from exercise as you could be.
What about adding more exercise then?
Well, yes, exercise does burn calories, but not necessarily fat calories.
When a normal person exercises, they stress their body out physically, but the benefits from the exercise are gained later during deep delta wave sleep as the body repairs and burn fat. So, good sleepers get to wake up a couple of ounces to a pound lighter and more in shape when they sleep well, eat well, and exercise right.
But that does not work if you are not sleeping.
Fight all you may but you must fix your sleep cycles if you want to reach that delta wave sleep and burn off fat.
So, if you can sleep and recover, yes, you lose weight.
This is why you have to cure the problem, not the symptoms. My recommendation is to find ways to relax before bedtime and learn to unplug at least half an hour a day or more.
Learn more Body Types from Dr. Berg Video Blog.
Apply all these tips and your adrenals will improve.
Hope this helps.
Dr. Eric Berg