The following is a guest article from my friend Glen Depke of Depke Wellness. Glen is a traditional naturopath, specializing in adrenal function.
When we think about weight loss, we typically think about diet and exercise. Far too often the issue that is staring us back in the face is that the diet and exercise haven’t helped us achieve our weight loss goals.
How can that be?
After all, we’ve been told for years that if we are carrying too much weight and fat, we simply need to exercise more or eat less. Not so fast!
Many of you reading this article have been watching your diet for years, and killing yourself at the gym, with what results? Perhaps minimal weight and fat loss if any.
When I lived in the Chicago area, I used to work out at a specific gym and almost every time I went to the gym, regardless of the day, I saw this one particular young woman. We’ll call her Jane (obviously this was not her name.) Jane was actually going to college to become a dietician, so she was learning mainstream nutritional ideals, such as calories in/ calories out, cut back on sugar and eat more lean meat and less fat. Based on her studies she was also very aware that she had to burn more calories, so she simply had to work out harder. I would watch Jane every day go from the StairMaster, to the treadmill and sometimes back to the StairMaster for more. She would put a towel on the machines because she would simply be dripping with perspiration. Honestly, I have never seen somebody work so hard, yet never seem to budge with her weight and the same level of fat around her midsection and hips. Actually, it was disheartening to watch.
Was she not paying attention to her diet? Was she lazy with her workouts? Of course the answer to both of these questions was absolutely not!
While I never had the pleasure of working with Jane to help her discover the core of her fat and weight loss challenges, I would bet the house that she had some significant hormonal imbalances.
So that’s the simple answer, right? Hormone imbalance is the weight loss issue?
Well, not so fast again. What hormones and from where? Are we talking about the thyroid and T3 and T4, are we talking about the ovaries and female hormones, perhaps for men the testes and testosterone, or maybe the pancreas and insulin. While all of these are of course playing a role, what we are really talking about here is adrenal function. Understand that your adrenal function will directly affect the pancreas, thyroid and ovaries. So while regulating thyroid hormones will assist your body’s metabolism and help with weight loss, the insulin produced in your pancreas will affect weight loss, and the female hormones produced in the ovaries will assist with weight loss. The common denominator affecting all of this is your adrenal function.
And reason why is adrenal function the focal point when we have so many other glands in the endocrine system playing a role? The answer is simple. Your adrenal function will be a direct response to stress in your life, whether your stress is mental/emotional, inflammatory, infection, injury, chemical, environmental or even spiritual/vibrational. And who in our culture is not dealing with at least one if not many more of these stress levels? The adrenal gland function is most often the first to go, thus dragging down all the other glands and ultimately driving up your weight too!
But that’s not all. Your adrenal function will actually play many roles in weight loss, beyond their affect on the above endocrine glands. Your adrenals will also affect your mucosal integrity and metabolism of fat and protein, thus hindering your body’s ability to regulate body weight and fat. The mucosal lining will impact digestion overall, as this lines the interior of your small intestines, which in turn will have a direct affect on your body’s ability to absorb and assimilate nutrients. In the end, this can leave you craving more food, and overweight. The poor metabolism of protein and fat will also have you sitting at the dinner table longer and more often because your body will be looking for more protein to convert to the amino acids, which are simply the building blocks of life, and more fat to fuel your body and enhance your brain function. After all, your brain is made up of fat and cholesterol. So please understand that poor adrenal function will simply lead to craving more food, more often.
Another area of concern with weight loss as tied into your adrenal function is centered around inflammation. While most are under the impression that the weight you are carrying is fat, you might be surprised how much of your extra weight is actually due to inflammation. You may ask, what the heck does inflammation have to do with adrenal function? More than you may think! Actually, your adrenal function plays a direct role in both pro and anti-inflammatory states. So often I see clients that create inflammation as a part of a healthy immune response, only to be “stuck” in chronic inflammation because their adrenal function is so depleted that they cannot produce the needed cortisone, which is your body’s natural anti-inflammatory hormone.
We can then take this one step further. The chronic inflammatory state leads to an increase in fat cell production, which leads to insulin resistance, which then creates insulin surges, and lastly creates more inflammation. Yikes! Right?
This is an ugly cycle that so many people get into. But why can’t they get out? You guessed it, poor adrenal function.
Beyond this, your adrenal function will also play a role in blood sugar balance, cellular energy (who doesn’t want more energy these days?), your quality of sleep and neural connectivity, all of which play a role in weight loss.
So if you want to reach our fat and weight loss goals, do NOT forget your adrenal function. If you do, you are likely going to miss the weight loss boat. I wish I could have told Jane this years ago!
If you question your adrenal function, you are welcome to take the Depke Wellness complimentary adrenal stress profile assessment.
Glen Depke has made his Adrenal Assessment available to the Jonny Bowden community for free. You can access it by clicking here.