Adrenal fatigue can be an underlying cause of overtraining syndrome, an umbrella term used to explain a decrease in performance and motivation. If left untreated, adrenal fatigue can spin your hormones out of whack, making you feel tired, depressed and lacking the energy you need to get on the bike to train.
Fortunately, you can improve your adrenal health by recognizing the symptoms and changing your diet.
1. Eat a nourishing whole food snack.1 of 26
Eat a nourishing whole food snack before 10 a.m. to replenish low blood sugar from a night of fasting. Examples of acceptable snacks include nut butter, oats, lemon juice and water or poached eggs.
2. Have a snack that includes protein.2 of 26
Have a snack that includes protein, fat and carbohydrates between breakfast and lunch.
3. Avoid fruit juices.3 of 26
Avoid fruit juices.
5. Drink vegetable juice.4 of 26
Drink 4 ounces of vegetable juice with a pinch of salt with a main meal.
4. Use sea salt.5 of 26
Use sea salt on your food.
12. Stick with grains and root vegetables for carbs.6 of 26
Stick with grains and root vegetables for carbohydrates. Examples include brown rice, millet, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, barley, whole oats, beets, squash and turnips.
6. Eat carbs, fats and protein.7 of 26
Eat carbohydrates, fats and protein in combination at each meal.
7. Steer clear of sugars, sweets and flours.8 of 26
Steer clear of simple sugars, sweets, chocolate, flours and pastries.
9. Eat whole, quality proteins.9 of 26
Eat whole, quality proteins such as eggs, fish, plant sources, meat and dairy (if you can digest it). Quality protein is essential for recovery.
8. Start your day with salted water.10 of 26
Start your day with salted water just after you wake up. Use sea salt.
10. Sushi, sashimi or ceviche is a good raw source of protein.11 of 26
If you can be sure of the safety of the source, sushi, sashimi or ceviche is a good raw source of protein that hasn't been denatured by cooking.
11. Have a digestive enzyme.12 of 26
Have a digestive enzyme that includes HCL (hydrochloric acid), pepsin and papain with meals to aid digestion. A full-spectrum plant digestive enzyme with HCL is also recommended.
13. Consider daily relaxation techniques.13 of 26
Consider daily relaxation exercises such as yoga, meditation or deep breathing.
14. Eat six to eight servings of veggies per day.14 of 26
Eat 6 to 8 servings of vegetables daily. Focus more on vegetables rather than fruit to heal the adrenals.
15. Consume veggies high in sodium.15 of 26
Consume veggies high in sodium such as kelp, green olives, dulse, Swiss chard, beet greens and celery.
16. Avoid bananas, raisins, dates, figs, oranges and grapefruits.16 of 26
Avoid bananas, raisins, dates, figs, oranges and grapefruits. When you do eat fruit, papaya, mango, plums, pears, kiwi, apples and cherries are your best options, but eat them in moderation and consume later in the day.
17. Get essential Omega 3 oils.17 of 26
Get essential Omega 3 oils in the form of cold pressed organic flax seed oil.
18. Include various seeds in your diet.18 of 26
Include raw sesame, pumpkin, sunflower and flax seeds (fresh) in your diet.
19. Consume fresh nuts.19 of 26
Consume fresh almonds, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, cashews, pecans or chestnuts.
20. Remove caffeine from your diet.20 of 26
Remove caffeine, including chocolate, and consider herbal teas such as licorice and dandelion.
21. Eat high magnesium foods.21 of 26
Supplement with magnesium and eat high magnesium foods such as kelp, cashews, almonds, sesame seeds, peas and beans.
22. Eat sitting down in a relaxed atmosphere.22 of 26
Eat your food sitting down in a relaxed atmosphere. Chew your food well so that the process is restorative rather than hurried and rushed, which is exactly what you need to avoid.
Signs and Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue23 of 26
Retired professional cyclist Amy Moore understands adrenal fatigue all too well. After a career filled with a packed race schedule and constant traveling, Amy is finally able to reflect on the signs and symptoms of what was happening to her body.
"After a full year of racing in Europe, my body pretty much shut down before the end of the season," she says.
Amy was in a race in Italy and as soon as the pace went up, she couldn't even push on the pedals. There was just nothing left. She dropped out of the race and literally sat in a hotel room and did nothing for five days.
"I didn't have the symptoms of being sick with a cold or fever. It was just a general feeling of being tired. I barely had the energy to get up and go outside for short walks. I was exhausted in a way I had not experienced in all of my years racing professionally," she says.
"I attempted to race Worlds after a week in bed, but had a very short race and was dropped early on. For months after the season I tried to work out, but even for a short ride of an hour I wanted to stop and cry. The smallest things put me over the edge. It was an emotional time. I was so used to being so active. My body was telling me to stop."
When someone as vibrant and full of energy and life as Amy gets to a point like this, it's not just "being tired." Adrenal fatigue goes beyond needing a nap and a sunny day to perk you up. It's rooted deep into your hormonal system and can get worse with time.
Combat Adrenal Fatigue24 of 26
But how does adrenal fatigue happen, and what can be done to combat it?
When your adrenals are functioning normally, they secrete balanced amounts of steroid hormones. But as we saw above, there are many factors that can interfere. Upsetting this balance can reduce or increase your body's output of adrenal hormones—namely cortisol.
Your body will no longer manage stress as it was designed to. As a result, fatigue sets in and you experience low-energy days more often.
Other Helpful Interventions25 of 26
If you feel that your symptoms fit the profile of adrenal fatigue, look further into causes and remedies for the problem. To improve your health, you'll need to change your lifestyle, see your endocrinologist and get professional testing to begin a proper treatment regime.
But rest assured—you can get better if you listen to your body.
If the "old you" is a distant memory, start taking steps to find your energy again. Give the repair process time and keep in mind that adrenal fatigue can take years to set in, so the fix isn't quick.
Disclaimer: Articles on this site are not meant to replace medical advice. Always consult with your physician when you're concerned with your health.