Move from Stressed to Thriving with the Adrenal Reset Diet
from Dr. Alan Christianson
Food is not our enemy, it is our solution.
Our food choices can act as a tool to reset this rhythm.
Adrenal Rhythm and Cortisol
A normal adrenal rhythm may be characterized by a surge of cortisol about an hour before you wake up in the morning, which tapers off during the afternoon, and reaches low levels at bedtime. This allows melatonin from the pineal gland to surge and make you sleepy.
Cortisol also helps regulate blood sugar. When well controlled, you have energy and stay lean; when poorly controlled you get depressed and gain weight.
If you miss a meal, eat too few regulating carbs or too many carbs that spike your blood sugar, your blood sugar my drop suddenly. The adrenal response to this is to release extra cortisol in order to move stores in your muscles and liver into the bloodstream and feed the brain. This extra cortisol can make you feel stressed out or irritable when you are hungry.
We can help preserve a healthy cortisol rhythm from the adrenals by modulating the amount of carbohydrates eaten during different times of the day.
In addition, if those carbohydrates have a healthy proportion of fiber to fructose, weight loss can be facilitated.
Fiber and Fructose
Fiber is the indigestible part of carbohydrates, and may be classified as soluble, insoluble and resistant.
Soluble fiber acts to feed the flora of the intestinal tract. It also reduces cholesterol and abdominal fat.
Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the diet and keeps you regular as well as stabilizing blood sugar.
You may not have heard of resistant fiber before. It is starch which cannot be used for energy but can be digested by gut flora. It creates little to no insulin response, so it is stellar in preserving the morning cortisol peak.
Fructose is the sugar in carbohydrates such as fruit which can only be metabolized by the liver. Processed foods overload us with fructose and make the liver struggle. By choosing foods with lower fructose in comparison to fiber, we can avoid blood sugar spikes and help preserve the adrenal rhythm.
Foods like cereal, pancakes, waffles, juice, muffins and pastries spike blood sugar, which causes the morning cortisol which should be high to drop precipitously. The symptoms of this are edginess, lack of focus, and weight gain from inability to burn fat.
If instead, breakfast consists of high quality protein, alkalizing vegetables, high amounts of fiber, and moderate amounts of healthy fats, you can keep morning cortisol high as it should be, and have energy for both your muscles and brain. You also can burn fat for fuel and not store it as weight gain. In addition, blood sugar levels stay stable throughout the day.
Breakfast and lunch that are relatively high in protein help maintain a healthy high morning cortisol. After lunch cortisol drops as insulin rises, which is the beginning of the downward slope to bedtime.
About one-half cup of balancing carbs for lunch will start this cortisol reduction. If you eat less than this, the morning energy level would be maintained, but the high cortisol can cause irritability and may not lower in time for sleep at bedtime. If you eat more carbs than this, your brain goes into sleep mode.
If carbohydrates are absent, cortisol is released to raise blood sugar, and will not lower in time to fall asleep.
In addition, blood sugar may crash, preventing you from falling asleep or waking you up at night.
The amounts of carbohydrates eaten through the day are modulated in order to preserve a healthy adrenal cortisol rhythm.
When you are on the go, you can eyeball the size by imagining the palm of your hand or a golf ball.
Breakfast= protein (palm of hand) + fat (golf ball) + carbs (1 golf ball) + unlimited foods
Lunch = protein (palm of hand) + fat (golf ball) + carbs (2 golf balls + unlimited foods
Dinner = protein (palm of hand) + fat (golf ball) + carbs (3 golf balls) + unlimited foods
Dr. Christianson’s one page synopsis may be downloaded here.
Choose those that are organic and with the least processing. The portion is about the size of the palm of your hand, from 4 to 6 ounces.Beef, lean grass-fed
- Black cod / sablefish
- Canadian bacon, nitrate-free
- Chicken breast
- Crab meat
- Ham, lean, nitrate-free
- Lamb chop, loin, or rack
- Pork chop or loin, lean
- Protein powder, vegetable based
- Salmon, wild caught Alaskan
- Turkey bacon or deli meat, nitrate-free
- Turkey breast, ground
- Trout, rainbow
Focus on raw nuts and seeds. Rotate among types to avoid overdosing on other nutrients in them.
- Almonds ¼ cup
- Almond butter 2 Tbs
- Avocado 1/3 medium
- Brazil nuts ¼ cup
- Chia seeds 2 Tbs or ¾ oz
- Coconut unsweetened 2 Tbs
- Coconut oil 1 Tbs
- Flax seeds 2 Tbs
- Guacamole 3 Tbs
- Hemp seeds 2 Tbs
- Macadamia nuts ¼ cup
- Macadamia oil 1 Tbs
- Olive oil 1 Tbs
- Olives ½ cup
- Pistachios, shelled unsalted ¼ cup
- Pumpkin seeds 2 Tbs
- Sesame oil, toasted 1 Tbs
- Sunflower seeds 2 Tbs
- Walnuts ¼ cup
- Vegan mayonanaise 2 Tbs
Focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans. You can stock frozen veggies and fruit and low sodium canned beans.
- Acorn squash ¼ cup cooked
- Adzuki beans ¼ cup cooked
- Barley ¼ cup cooked
- Beets ¼ cup cooked
- Black beans ¼ cup cooked
- Blackberries ¼ cup
- Blueberries ¼ cup
- Brown rice ¼ cup cooked
- Butternut squash ¼ cup cooked
- Cannellini beans ¼ cup cooked
- Corn kernels ¼ cup cooked
- Garbanzo beans ¼ cup cooked
- Grapefruit ¼ medium
- Great northern beans ¼ cup cooked
- Hummus 2 Tbs
- Kidney beans ¼ cup cooked
- Kabocha squash ¼ cup cooked
- Lentils ¼ cup cooked
- Navy beans ¼ cup cooked
- Parsnips ¼ cup boiled
- Peas ¼ cup cooked
- Peach ½ medium
- Pinto beans ¼ cup cooked
- Potato ¼ cup boiled
- Quinoa ¼ cup cooked
- Raspberries ¼ cup
- Oats: gluten-free rolled ¼ cup raw
- Strawberries ¼ cup
- Sweet potato ¼ cup cooked
- Turnips ¼ cup cooked
Limited carbohydrates for quicker weight loss
Limit these to only a few times a week or less
- Apple ½ medium
- Banana ½ medium
- Cantaloupe melon ½ cup cubed
- Honeydew melon ½ cup cubed
- Kiwi ½
- Mango ¼ cup cubed
- Orange ½ medium
- Pasta, gluten-free ¼ cup cooked
- Pear ½ medium
- Plum 1 medium
- Pineapple ¼ cup cubed
- Plantain ¼ cup cooked
- Nectarine ½ medium
- Watermelon ½ cup cubed
Unlimited Foods, as much as you want, whenever you want (as snacks, too)
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Artichokes, artichoke hearts
- Bamboo shoots
- Bean sprouts
- Bok choy, baby bok choy
- Brussels sprouts
- Celery root
- Collard greens
- Green beans
- Green onions, scallions
- Lemon juice
- Lettuce greens: green leaf, red leaf, butter, romaine, radicchio
- Lime juice
- Peppers, green and red
- Salad greens: chicory, endive, escarole, arugula, watercress
- Snow peas
- Sugar snap pea pods
- Summer squash: crookneck, zucchini
- Sunflower sprouts
- Swiss chard
- Turnip greens
- Water chestnuts
- Winter squash: spaghetti, pumpkin
Dr. Alan Christianson
The Adrenal Reset Diet book is his third, after The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Thyroid Disease, and Healing Hashimoto’s: A Savvy Patient’s Guide. He also offers free podcasts on ITunes as Reset Me with Dr. C.
Currently, Dr. Christianson is offering a free cookbook to
“find out exactly how to press the reset button & transform your body from stressed & fat to thriving & fit with Dr. C’s favorite recipes.”
Please comment below if you have bought The Adrenal Reset Diet book, or tried this approach, and what your results are.
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