Written By: Kevin Cann
Most reading this have heard of the term insulin resistance. This occurs when our cells desensitize to the hormone. Stress and overeating high sugar foods tend to be the major culprits in inducing insulin resistance. This leads to a greater increase in insulin secretion and a greater increase in stored fat. Many of you have probably heard about leptin resistance as well. Leptin is a major hormone involved in our energy homeostasis. It is released from the white cells in our adipose tissue and communicates with the brain, telling it how much body fat we need to store. Too much accumulated fat leads to increased amounts of circulating leptin and a decreased sensitivity in the leptin receptors. This scenario can lead to increased feeding and increased fat accumulation. Some of you may have been eating low carb paleo and not overeating calories, but still struggle to reach your weight loss goal. There is another culprit that may be the issue; adrenaline resistance.
Adrenaline, or epinephrine, is a major component of our flight or fight response. It regulates heart rate as well as blood vessels and airways. It is also a neurotransmitter. As a neurotransmitter it allows us to deal with physical and emotional pain. Adrenaline also releases the fat we have stored and frees it up to be used as energy. Just like with insulin and leptin, too much exposure to adrenaline will cause the receptors of the cells to desensitize. This leads to a need for more adrenaline to get the job done and over time our system will get burned out and we will lose the ability to produce adequate amounts of adrenaline.
Adrenaline is part of the sympathetic nervous system. Under stressful conditions the sympathetic nervous system takes over. Leptin controls body fat over the long haul however; under stressed conditions the sympathetic nervous system decreases leptin and increases adrenaline (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11327106 ). The decrease in leptin can lead to overeating. This is also known as: stress eating.” The sympathetic nervous system under stressful conditions controls the hormones that allow fat to exit and enter our cells. This is why stress management is so important to weight loss. If we do not manage our stress well, leptin levels will stay low to increase eating, and adrenaline levels will stay chronically high, increasing our chances for becoming adrenaline resistant. Once that resistance sets in we become poor at releasing stored fat into the blood stream, but we are still overeating. This is a good way to put on even more fat!
It has long been known that obesity is a byproduct of Protein Gs deficiency. Basically, this protein is part of a group of proteins that communicate reactions to extracellular stimuli. Patients with decreased Gs had a 67% lower response to adrenaline. The researchers concluded that Gs protein should be looked at as a cause of common obesity (http://jcem.endojournals.org/content/84/11/4127.short ). Parathyroid hormone (PTH) resistance was also shown to be a common denominator in that study. Another study found PTH resistance and adrenaline resistance to be an issue for an obese woman (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20075145 ).
Insulin resistance, leptin resistance, and adrenaline resistance is the three headed monster. One leads to the next, and if it does not get corrected, will lead to obesity and disease. One study showed that adrenaline resistance caused from leptin and insulin resistance needed to exist before the onset of type 2 diabetes (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11721888 ). The three of them together have also been linked to obesity-derived hypertension (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11906-002-0035-0 ).
So then how do we correct it? The answer to that is the billion dollar question. For now we need to take what information we know works and apply it. Complete health is a spectrum of lifestyle choices. We need to eat well, manage our stress, get outside, and have adequate sleep. Also, we need adequate amounts of exercise. This is another reason why too much exercise can be hindering your ability to lose fat. Exercise releases adrenaline. If we have adrenaline resistance already, or are chronically in a stressed out state, we can make matters even worse by running too much, or overdoing it in the gym. The best solution is to listen to your body and do your best to do everything to promote positive gene expression.
Thanks Kevin for another great post. It is so easy to forget the stress/adrenaline side of things and to take it a bit easier sometimes. I am 69 and was pretty poorly, with a big tummy as well when I started pale. I did not take 18 months to get that way and so it will take longer than 18 months to be where I want to be, especially with slips and slides with sweeties and Christmas etc
Thank you for a very nutritionally informative post!
John W says
Great post! It’s got me thinking about the affect of caffeine on adrenaline resistance. Does anybody have any thoughts about what daily coffee drinkers are doing to themselves regarding performance and general health? Can a chronic caffeine habit cause adrenaline resistance?
Kevin Cann says
Nicole Allen says
Yep it’s called adrenal fatigue and I have had it. It sucks!
What is protein G? Is it included in all meats? If not, how can we avoid deficiency?
Kevin Cann says
It is a chemical messenger inside of the body.
‘Some of you may have been eating low carb paleo and not overeating calories, but still struggle to reach your weight loss goal. There is another culprit that may be the issue; adrenaline resistance.’
I really needed this today. Thank you! When I follow Paleo, I feel better, but lose no more than 5 lbs. If the stress is too much (not often, but it happens, stress eating kicks in.
I sincerely believe Paleo is the right way for me to eat. But it has been hard seeing virtually no long term improvement over the past 18 or so months. That said, I’ve not managed to do a good job on reducing stress.
Kevin Cann says
Both health and disease are a spectrum. There are multiple aspects that lead to both. Diet is just a piece of it. Having a piece of toast for breakfast daily may not be a big deal in the presence of good gut health, quality sleep, managed stress, etc. However, that same daily toast can be turn the epigenetic tides unfavorablly if we have poor sleep and stress. Diet is a key piece to health, but just that a piece. Take a step back and look at the big picture of your life and figure out ways to improve those areas. It is never a bad idea to ask for help as well!
Thanks for this post. I think this might be my problem. I’ve been eating very low carb and mostly paleo for over 2 years now. The first year I lost 30 lbs, but have since put back on 20 lb (but not as much fat). My biggest problem that I can see has been not enough sleep & too much work related stress, both of which have contributed to overeating. My temporary job ends this week, so I’m planning to start getting into a better bedtime routine. I’m hoping that will do the job!
Robb Wolf says
big issues! do what you can to tighten that up.
I’m curious how you’d recommend quantifying stress. How much is too much? (I’m a professional writer/editor and under pretty much constant deadline pressure. My body seems to have grown accustomed to stress. I work out regularly but have trouble getting my body fat percentage down.)
Kevin Cann says
That question is impossible to answer. There is a huge individual spectrum. I think a better question is how do you feel? How are the energy levels, mood, sleep, and overall health?
What can a person with Fibromyalgia & chronic fatigue do?- is it possible to have been BORN this way? (Like a Genetic condition)….. if so, is there any medical protical to follow? – I am now almost housebound…., but remember
Even as a kid, sleeping a lot; being overweight, anxious etc. Symptoms have gotten worse over time. (& since I was naturally high strung, it actually helped me in high stress jobs….. til I had less & less energy & could no longer “rebound”).., I went to Hundreds of Drs,specialists, Alternative medicine
& holistivc practitioners etc….& none have beenable to offer a recipe to recouperation. I have not been able to work; or even plan Social functions, for years now. I sleep much of the time, & (~80% of the time), can do little more than sit on the couch, doing sedintary things; OR I end up in extreme pain,
and exhausted(& in bed) for days afterward. Can anyone HELP???
Debra An says
There are many ways that a person can become obese.
Myself I lost my weight by exercising 1 hour daily. I always ate healthy foods, so healthy in fact it would gross out some people. I don’t crave sugar, I crave salads a lot and sometimes I crave apples or fruit. After the death of 2 dogs, my 3rd couldn’t walk and a lot of being sleep deprived many nights, in just 3 months I gained back all the weight I lost, but I had to also take anti-appetite pills. After my other dog that I walked with disappeared I got depressed and just didn’t care. I wanted to keep the weight off without taking anti-appetite pills. I can figure out how to lose weight, but I just don’t feel it should be so difficult to keep it off no matter how well I eat. It is extremely frustrating.
Hormones were a big problem that kept me from keeping the weight off. I gained so much weight so fast in the beginning and I used to always be thin. I fixed one of my hormone problems, but the Testosterone hormone is still an issue. I find it hard to get to sleep and stay asleep for one reason or another. It used to be because I suffered from insomnia and then it was the TV (light of both TV s kept me awake because it confused my brain as it thought it was day time. My roommate refused to turn off the TV at night. Now I am lucky if I can sleep the night not having to wake up to give my dog medication for his severe allergies!
So I know until I can stay asleep and get at least 8 hours of sleep a night this is part of my issue. To make sure I had enough probiotics I drink Kiefer daily and eat plenty of foods that will become food for that good gut bacteria (prebiotics). I drink a lot of water daily, so no problems there. I don’t like soda as it makes me feel sick especially colas (yuck). I do know I have reversed my other problems (different illnesses, diseases and injuries).
However until I get this problem fixed with my Testosterone and what is causing it, well let me explain in one word opioids! Yes, opioids are causing my Testosterone deficiency. I have been taking DHEA to try to replace my Testosterone, but I know it is still a issue. Now that my injuries have been fixed (no not by surgery, read the book “You Are The Placebo, Making Your Mind Matter” by Dr. Joe Dispenza neuroscientist. This is what helped me heal my many injuries. Watch The Bionic Woman episode called Biofeedback. This is what I believe we can get to with lots of discipline and practice like in this episode of The Bionic Woman. This will give you an idea of how to heal ourselves from injuries. You don’t need to know the medical terminology of the human body to heal yourself, just the name of the area, etc.).
One of the medication I was taking had also caused weight gain in the past.
There are many other ways a person can become overweight.
Did you know wheat can add on the pounds? You ever heard of a wheat belly? After being allergic to wheat I found out that my food cravings dropped 2/3. The wheat is an appetite stimulate and it gets added to many foods, so be careful!
These are just a few way a person can gain weight, but I believe that because of the many years I was under a high level of stress for so long I believe this caused many of my problems (illnesses, diseases, obesity). I believe yes, the adrenaline resistance is an issue too for me.
I am currently adding the microbes that help keep a person slim which this can be another cause of obesity. If you have had a lot of antibiotics given to you as I had this could be part of the problem. I am fixing everything one thing at a time.
After my dog gets helped by a holistic veterinarian tomorrow this should help him heal his body and reverse his severe allergies that keep me up at night and don’t let me sleep through the night. Fix my dog and I can finally get my sleep back at night.
As far as fixing the insomnia I had I did lots of research to see what works and found many things to help with this problem while helping with others.
I do need to get another dog, as I enjoy taking a dig for a walk. I find it relaxing. Unfortunately the dog with severe allergies (Bandit) can’t go for my long walks because of his severe allergies and a knee injury. Hope to correct his knee problem without surgery though.
Just remember if you are not insulin resistant with or without adrenaline resistance, etc it could be the many other issues.
Like emotional eat, like my sister suffers from. Or eating the wrong foods like my friend Alma (she ate lots of sugar and a lot of carbs). After she cut out the sugary foods and cut her carbs down a lot she lost all the weight with easy. She is one of the lucky ones if that is all you have to do. Don’t worry the sugar cravings will go away when you start eating healthy foods.
However I did find if you don’t eat any sweet for years you might develop a intolerance to them as I had. I got sick eating one peanut butter cup, after over 10 years with eating no sweets. I threw it up. My body said, definitely No! Lol
I hope this helps out everyone figure out why they maybe overweight.