What’s the biggest problem that Crossfit athletes, physique competitors or anyone that trains hard encounters? We're so focusing on doing MORE in the gym that we never realize what we're doing. The heavier the weight, the more volume, the more frequent workouts and any addition to training robs your body of the precious raw materials it needs to optimize your hormones. With excessive training, your body increases the output of the stress hormone cortisol which leaves you sore, wrecks your sleep, steals your sex drive and slows your fat loss.
It’s called adrenal fatigue, otherwise known as metabolic damage, and I bet you have it right now.
How can I be so sure of it? Answer any of the following questions.
-Do you exercise intensely at least 3 times per week?
-Are you actively trying to lose weight and have reduced your calories recently?
-Do you do any form of aerobic cardio training at least once per week?
-Do you have any stress what so ever in your life (kids, work, significant others)?
If you answer “yes” to any of those questions than you likely suffer from some sort of adrenal fatigue. You may not notice any symptoms described below, after all, there is no set definition of what causes metabolic damage and adrenal fatigue, everyone is impacted differently.
Exercise and Metabolic Damage
How does exercise contribute to metabolic damage?
The reason being that exercising in of itself raises the stress hormone cortisol. When you combine intense weight training with increased amount of activity such as daily cardio like a physique competitor would do or double sessions that elite Crossfit athletes generally perform, your body releases more cortisol. As cortisol rises other hormones such as DHEA and testosterone drop.
Most people know that DHEA and testosterone can increase muscle mass, strength levels and sexual drive but both of those anabolic hormones can also increase your immune system, fight cancer and help you live a healthy life.
What are the signs of adrenal fatigue and metabolic damage?
By no means is this a complete list but in my own personal experience, these are a few of the top symptoms of overtraining which leads to adrenal fatigue and metabolic damage.
- Increased weight gain
- Difficulty burning fat
- Low morning energy
- Increased energy at night leading to sleeplessness
- Increased desire to eat sugary foods.
- Constantly sore muscles and failing to meet or exceed typical gym performance.
- A general reliance on coffee, sugar or other stimulants to get though the day
- Low body temperature
- Frequently feeling cold
- Dizziness upon standing
Remember, EVERYTHING leads to stress which is where smart training, optimized recovery, correct nutrition and supplements come into play.
What type of diet is best for adrenal fatigue?
Traditional low carbohydrate diets and the paleo diet may actually make adrenal fatigue worse
Now I know that sounds weird to anyone following the paleo diet or a traditional physique diet but those types of diets actually INCREASE adrenal fatigue. Why?
They both emphasis cutting carbohydrates out ofthe diet. Now I’m not here to tell you that carbohydrates are great for fat loss, they aren’t. In The Physique Formula I make the case, and show you how, to eat carbohydrates based on your goals and your body type because that's when carbohydrates can help you.
The fastest way, in trained individuals, to recover from metabolic damage and adrenal fatigue is to generally just eat more starchy carbohydrates. While training, recovery and supplementation needs to be modified, the individuals that come to me generally don't eat enough starchy carbohydrates. So just eating more, that's important.
Now we can get into supplements
Top 10 Supplements For Adrenal Fatigue.
This is the top natural supplement that anyone can use to fight adrenal fatigue and metabolic damage, especially female athletes. I often recommend this to all my clients on the very first time I see them. Why? This amino acid provides your adrenal glands with a raw material for the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine which stimulates your central nervous system. Intense training causes your central nervous system to go wacky.
Plus, L-Tyrosine is used by your thyroid gland to make thyroxine. Excessive exercise ,such as the type of training that physique athletes and crossfit competitors undergo,depletes your thyroid. It’s why I provide a healthy dose of L-Tyrosine in The Physique Formula Adrenal Support.
Dosage-500 mg’s one to two times per day.
#2 Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a fantastic nutrient to fight excessive cortisol levels and lower them. When you’re stressed your adrenal glands ravage vitamin C which makes its wise to use a high amount of Vitamin C while you attempt to recover from adrenal fatigue.
Dosage-500-3,000 mg’s one to four times per day spread out evenly.
#3 Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodioa is an excellent adatogenic herb that helps to lower cortisol and reduce stress. One study (1) found that subjects who took rhodiola had significantly lowered cortisol levels than individuals who did not take rhodiola. It’s my personal go to supplement before I start a heavy training cycle. Rhodiola is also included in The Physique Formula Adrenal Support in a generous amount.
Dosage:200 mg’s one to two times per day
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the standardized extract shr-5 of the roots of Rhodiola rosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue
#4 Magnesium Glycinate
While there are a variety of magnesium variations on the market, magnesium glycinate is a amino acid bonded version so the magnesium is better absorbed by your body. Magnesium is essential for muscle contractions and muscle relaxation. Magnesium is also a central nervous system calming supplement and when taken at night, can help you sleep deeper.
Dosage-200 to 600 mg’s per day, at night, based on bodyweight
# 5 L Theanine
This amino acid is found in high amounts in green tea. That’s great. The downside is that green tea contains caffeine and caffeine is very harsh on your adrenal glands. L Theanine is very effective as a post workout aid, when your cortisol is at a peak, or at night when you find yourself with a sudden surge of energy. L Theanine increase GABA and acts like a relaxer. I personally use some L-Theanine the night before an important workout to ensure that I get a deep nights sleep.
Dosage: 100 mg’s before bed
# 6 Eleuthero
Solid research on eleuthero show subjects had an increased resistance to stress and better and more sustained energy levels. Both are vital for hard training athletes who need to keep their training up despite their adrenal fatigue.
Dosage: 100 mg’s once per day
# 7 Licorice Root
No, it’s not the candy. Sorry. Licorice root extract has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine but research shows that it can help to normalize high cortisol levels. If you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning then it’s likely that your morning cortisol is low. Licorice would slowly bring it up to normal. If you get a burst of energy at night, licorice would lower it. It’s very multi-purpose.
Dosage- 40 mg’s once per day to start.
# 8 Panthohenic acid (B5)
Vitamin B5 is a fantastic nutrient to help anyone recover from adrenal fatigue and metabolic damage. Vitamin B5 helps your body to make the hormone pregnegolone. Pregnenlone is a base hormone for all the other hormones in your body and is often depleted during times of stress. Vitamin B5 helps to kickstart your adrenal glands and give it the raw materials that it needs.
Dosage- 100 mg’s one to two times per day
This adaptogenic herb has numerous research studies behind it showing benefits in lowering cortisol and stabilizing blood sugar. Ashwagandha has consistently been used as a simple and cost effective way to fight metabolic damage.
Dosage- 100 mg’s one to two times per day
#10 Omega-3 fish oil
While I often advise people to get their healthy fat from foods like wild caught fish and grass fed beef, taking additional omega-3 fish oil is never a bad thing. Omega-3 fish oil helps to suppress cortisol while improving your insulin sensitivity so you can continue to lose body fat. Most companies don’t give you enough of the active DHA/EPA components of omega-3s and they don’t add additional Vitamin E to boost absorption. The Physique Formula fish oil is extra strength and perfect addition to your diet.
Dosage-6-12 grams per day.