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Weight loss and adrenal imbalance

By WHN Editorial team

For many years we’ve known that the high cortisol levels that result from chronic stress can be linked with weight gain. Yet this type of weight gain is not usually connected to overeating.

adrenal stress weight gain in woman

Sure, some women may eat more to get a boost of energy when they’re feeling tired and frazzled, but when stress goes unchecked and the adrenal glands (the body’s stress-responders) are out of balance, it doesn’t really matter how many calories we take in!

Whether you eat a lot or a little during stressful situations, your body goes into survival mode and stores fat — a holdover response from when food was hard for humans to find. That means we become weight loss resistant — because the body won’t let go of that fat reserve until the stress that triggered the fat storage is gone or reduced.

Three ways stress is connected to weight gain

When looking at the links between stress and weight gain, researchers conclude that over time, the release of stress hormones, like cortisol, can do three major things to cause weight gain:

Three ways stress is connected to weight gain

Energy level is also a key component of adrenal imbalance. When your energy is low, you’re more likely to make unhealthy food choices and have less desire to get out and exercise. But it’s important for women with adrenal imbalance to eat healthy foods to sustain their energy throughout the day and make an effort to lessen the stress burden on their bodies. This will help create the conditions for natural, lasting weight loss.

Release stubborn weight by balancing your stress hormones

You can ease your body away from holding on to extra weight by supporting your adrenal glands, which are responsible for dealing with stress and releasing cortisol. The best ways to restore the adrenal glands include:

  • Adjusting your eating habits. If you see fat as your food enemy, we suggest you take a closer look at your carbohydrate intake. Many women replace fat with alternatives high in simple carbohydrates, which contribute to insulin resistance and weight gain. Try to limit your carbohydrate intake to 16 grams at every meal and 7 grams per snack
  • Finding methods to cultivate calm. Stress in all forms can contribute to adrenal imbalance. Even things you may not think of, such as being “on the go” all of the time. That’s why it’s so important to make time for yourself and to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n.
  • Using phytotherapeutic herbs to balance your body’s stress-response. Even when you can’t change the stress in your life, you can help reduce its effect on your weight and overall health with hormone-balancing herbs. For example, astragalus root, Siberian ginseng, rhodiola, and cordyceps help boost energy and relieve your body’s stress symptoms.

Our Weight Loss Resistance Package puts everything together to help you lift the stress burden and lose weight for good. Our approach includes meal plans and specific guidance on balancing your adrenals. In particular, we show you what to eat, and also when to eat — because the timing of meals and nutrients is a key factor in helping to reset your adrenals. We also offer our exclusive Adaptisol, formulated using the latest research on phytotherapy to reduce the negative side effects of stress, like fatigue, low energy and feeling “foggy.” Changing how your body responds to stress can make all the difference when you need to lose extra pounds, and we’re here to make it easier for you.


1 Adam, T., & Epel, E. 2007. Stress, eating, and the reward system. Physiol. Behav., 91(4), 449–458. URL (abstract): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17543357 (accessed 03.04.2009).

Torres, S., & Nowson, C. 2007. Relationship between stress, eating behavior, and obesity. Nutrition, 23 (11–12), 887–894. URL (abstract): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17869482 (accessed 03.04.2009).

Gluck, M. 2006. Stress response and binge eating disorder. Appetite, 46 (1), 26–30. URL (abstract): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16260065 (accessed 03.04.2009).

Gluck, M., et al. 2004. Cortisol stress response is positively correlated with central obesity in obese women with binge eating disorder (BED) before and after cognitive-behavioral treatment. Ann. NY Acad. Sci., 1032, 204–207. URL (abstract): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15677411 (accessed 03.04.2009).

Pasquali, et al. 1998. Pulsatile secretion of ACTH and cortisol in premenopausal women: Effect of obesity and body fat distribution. Clin. Endocrinol. (Oxf.), 48 (5), 603–612. URL (abstract): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9666872 (accessed 03.05.2009).

2 Dallman, M., et al. 2003. Chronic stress and obesity: A new view of “comfort food.” PNAS, 100 (20), 11696–11701. URL: https://www.pnas.org/content/100/20/11696.full (accessed 03.02.2009).

Last Updated: October 19, 2021
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