Overtraining And Adrenal Fatigue

Recently I learned another new term reading WordPress. “Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome” caused by excessive dieting and exercising. This is something that seems to happen to fitness and bodybuilding competitors in the attempt to stay shredded all year round.

Physical Fitness Test

Physical Fitness Test (Photo credit: The U.S. Army)

Excessive dieting and excessive working out are not a new thing. The trend lately though is the expectation you should be able to maintain six pack abs all year round. The expectation that you should look like the fitness models you see everywhere.

‘Adrenal Fatigue’ is apparently a syndrome where you become tired constantly and it becomes impossible to keep your body in the insane shape you expect it to be all year long. This seems to be very like what used to be called ‘burn out’ or over-training. This seems similar to ‘Chronic Fatigue’ or what used to be known as a ‘Nervous Breakdown’. The general mode being that after a period of intense stress caused by life events, overwork, extreme overtraining or self starvation either your nervous system or adrenal glands become depleted, worn out, fatigued and you physically and mentally can no longer carry on your normal life. Then the only cure seems to be rest.

From Wikipedia

If you search around the internet you will read that ‘Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome’ is not a real medical condition in that a medical doctor won’t give you that diagnosis. It seems all the alternative therapies might be a bit misleading and perhaps taking advantage of the desperately tired. Your adrenal glands, you will be glad to hear, don’t tend to get tired. There is a problem in that if you have this set of symptoms there is a lack of information on a ‘cure’.

So don’t get suckered into trying to find a cure for a condition you don’t have. Some call it one of the fake diseases. Some will try to make money from your desperation to get better and get back to your old overactive routine.

One possible suggestion is that your adrenal gland uses sodium to make the hormone cortisol. So if you are on a low salt/sodium diet  and you put yourself under lots of stress which means your body tries to make lots of cortisol your system could run low on sodium. It might be your body has run low on other minerals and salts or maybe another nutrient. I don’t know. I’m not a doctor. I do feel that this set of symptoms could be caused by many different factors so each case could be unique to the individual.

The other main reason would be simply trying to do too much. Having a busy, stressful lifestyle combined with trying to train like a professional athlete. Then add in a diet that lacks enough of the fats and nutrients your body needs in an effort to try and stay super lean. Plus if you’re super busy working and working out you might struggle to get a solid eight hours sleep that your body needs to recover from all the stress.

I’m not a fan of workout systems that have you in the gym for two hours every day. Back in last October I gave myself a month of exercising every day for at least 30 minutes. I hoped that might give me a super six pack. I lifted weights every other day and ran, cycled, bit HIIT or did the 200 squats program on the other days. It was an experiment. It didn’t make me super fit or reveal amazing abs. If anything my abs got smoother and I just got skinny because I was on lower calories. The main thing I noticed was a lack of time to do other things.

Since then I’m thinking that trying to keep your body fat that low just isn’t a good idea. That’s nothing new. Very low body fat levels have been known for a long time to be unhealthy. You body needs it for essential hormone production such as testosterone.

Here’s my advice. Make of it what you will.

  1. Don’t exercise hard every day. Give your body at least 3 days off a week.
  2. Don’t try to keep your body fat level below 10%. There is more to life than abs.
  3. Get plenty of sleep. At least 8 hours a day.
  4. Try to have a varied diet with plenty of vegetables. If only eat 3 foods you will lack nutrients.
  5. Practice some form of relaxation. Mindfulness meditation is good.