Adrenal fatigue is a very real phenomenon that’s becoming increasingly common in our fast-paced stressful world. We recruited the help of resident nutritionist Evian Rodriguez to bring you this primer on what adrenal fatigue is, how to know if you have it – and what to do about it.


Your body has two mechanisms to deal with stress. For long-term/ongoing stresses (like an unstable relationship or chronic work stress), our bodies respond with a hormone called cortisol. For short-term/acute stress (like a big deadline, sudden conflict or threat to your physical safety), our body’s response is adrenaline.

Adrenal fatigue is caused by frequent adrenaline responses to acute stress. Too many ‘fight or flight’ responses without adequate time to recover leads to exhaustion of the glands and systems, which is what ‘adrenal fatigue’ refers too.

Modern life includes many more stressors than people once had, which is why we’re seeing an increase in this phenomenon.

what are the symptoms of adrenal fatigue?

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

  • Low energy
  • An insatiable craving for salt
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sensitivity to bright lights
  • Poor stress/confrontation management
  • Poor digestion

In turn, these symptoms will effect how you feel AND perform, which is why adrenal fatigue is a problem. (We have found that adrenal fatigue is often a factor for people who have trouble staying ‘on the wagon’ fitness-wise.)

how to fix & manage adrenal fatigue

If you think you might have adrenal fatigue, it’s wise to speak to a health care practitioner about it for some customized advice. In the meantime, here are three things that will almost certainly help:

  1. Learn to manage stress. Obviously the best thing is to eliminate your stressors altogether but, if you can’t do that, a simple thing you can start doing right away is conscious deep breathing, which can calm down your endocrine system and trigger the release of ‘good’ hormones like serotonin.
  2. Increase your consumption of water while decreasing your consumption of coffee. Believe it or not, dehydration is a stressor for your body. Short-term dehydration will cause the adrenal glands to release adrenaline to cope and long-term dehydration can lead to excess cortisol.
  3. Get moving. We’re not talking strenuous exercise (just yet!). Instead, focus on gentle fluid movements that will unwind the body and release trapped energy and tension. Yoga, tai chi, and even walking are a perfect place to start.

If you have any questions about adrenal fatigue – or want more tips for how to manage yours, Nielsen Fitness now offers virtual nutrition coaching. You can also check out our personal training intro package or reach out at any time to book a free first workout – anywhere in Toronto!