When I go on vacation, I tend to totally unplug from life. I refuse to even check my work email while I’m on holidays and I try to avoid checking social media too much. I also put rest and relaxation first, making sure I have tons of time to sleep in late and take afternoon naps. And, one of the coolest connections I discovered was that my stomach, despite less exercise, always gets smaller and flatter on vacation. There seems to be a connection between my level of chronic fatigue and belly fat!
We don’t really know what causes chronic fatigue. What we do know is that more women are affected by chronic exhaustion than men, and that it hits us for no apparent reason.
A common complaint I hear from women is that they feel bigger around their middles soon after they notice chronic fatigue. And this connection between chronic fatigue and belly fat isn’t just a coincidence.
Physiology of Chronic Fatigue
It was thought that chronic fatigue is caused by a dormant virus that somehow gets triggered. Scientists and doctors now disagree on what that virus may be, but that does still seem to be one main theory for chronic fatigue. My own chronic fatigue started when I caught pneumonia and it took over 20 years to recover from it.
I’ve done lots of research and self-experimentation into chronic fatigue. It seems like it most likely is related to adrenal dysfunction and inflammation.
What Happens to Your Body with Adrenal Fatigue
When you have adrenal dysfunction, your adrenal glands are in one of two states. One, they work overtime to keep you alert and ready to deal with stress. Two, your adrenal become fatigued and you feel groggy and tired all the time.
Adrenal fatigue and chronic fatigue sound very similar but there are distinct differences.
With adrenal fatigue, you have trouble sleeping – either falling asleep or staying asleep (or both). You tend to crave sugar and salt and you feel burnt out and overwhelmed.
Chronic fatigue makes you sleepy all the time. Generally, your sleep is fine but you can sleep for 10+ hours and never feel refreshed. Muscle and joint pain are common.
It’s sometimes hard to decipher what’s going on. Your adrenals are affected by viruses, hormonal imbalances, inflammation and blood sugar spikes. These things are also very common in chronic fatigue.
Your metabolism slows down, your PMS symptoms get worse, and you might even experience problems like reproductive issues.
How are Chronic Fatigue and Belly Fat Connected?
Chronic fatigue and belly fat go hand-in-hand for a few reasons.
Chronic fatigue and adrenal dysfunction interrupt healthy thyroid production. This can happen because the communication signals between the brain and the thyroid get interrupted. Or your fatigue messes up your hormonal negative-feedback loop.
Poor thyroid function slows down your metabolism, leading to belly fat.
Plus, adrenal dysfunction triggers the release of stored energy (aka glucose) into your blood stream. If you’re exhausted and not really very active, there is nowhere for that energy to go, so your body shunts it to fat cells for later use. Cortisol’s job is to protect your vital organs so most excess energy is stored around the belly as fat.
Stop the Cycle
It is possible to lose belly fat when you live with chronic fatigue, even though it does seem impossible. Chronic fatigue and belly fat can both be addressed with the right foods, without the need to spend hours on the treadmill or follow restrictive diets.
Because the mechanisms behind chronic fatigue and belly fat rely so heavily on hormones, many women have seen an improvement in both simply by increasing their intake of healthy fats!
Add more raw nuts and seeds to your diet. Choose guacamole instead of sour cream for dipping or to put on burgers. Try a spoonful of coconut oil in your coffee instead of milk and sugar.
All these little adjustments go a long way to reduce both chronic fatigue and belly fat. All it takes is adding 1 tablespoon of healthy fat to every meal and snack, and suddenly you’ll start to feel more energized, more satisfied and, yes, even smaller around your middle!
Chronic exhaustion and belly fat are closely related. In fact, if one is not addressed, it’s highly likely that the other will manifest soon. Hormonal imbalances are one major cause of both chronic fatigue and belly fat. Help reverse both by adding more healthy fat to your diet.