The Cortisol Connection to Holiday Energy Drain

December 15, 2022
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

This hidden shortfall is the best kept nutritional secret!

While high cortisol has been connected to stubborn weight gain, it can also wreak havoc when it is too low. A whopping 8 out of 10 women from their 20s to 50s are suffering from some type of adrenal dysfunction—characterized by cortisol that is too high or too low.

The adrenals, small walnut-size glands that sit on top of the kidneys, act as the body’s “fight or flight” glands and produce important hormones like adrenaline and the body’s stress hormones—cortisol and DHEA.

When we are overwhelmed with unrelenting stress—like last minute holiday shopping, bumper-to-bumper traffic, dental appointments or even missed meals—the adrenal glands can’t keep up. My clients’ Salivary Hormone Testing and Tissue Mineral Analysis reports from the past 15 years reveal that nearly 50% of all women suffer from low levels of stress-fighting cortisol and rejuvenating DHEA.

Common Signs of Burned Out Adrenals:

Does this sound like you?

  • Dark circles or bags under your eyes
  • Frequent upper respiratory sickness
  • Always tired, especially around 7am, 11am and 3pm
  • Cravings for caffeine and sugary foods to boost energy
  • Cravings for salt
  • Insomnia
  • Suffering from “Night owl” syndrome (getting a second wind late in the evening)
  • Constantly fighting belly fat

5 Solutions to Restore Your Energy

When you feel a dip in energy, never reach for a quick fix like caffeine or artificial stimulants which only force the adrenals into overdrive and activate cortisol. This over-stimulation forces the adrenals to secrete high levels of cortisol which causes fat to stockpile around the belly. Enter today’s belly fat phenomenon. After years of overstimulation, the adrenals become tired out and can no longer secrete cortisol.

What to do to overcome this response?  Just follow these suggestions to regenerate and reset your adrenal glands for sustained and balanced energy levels:

1. Rebuild Adrenal Function.

Consider a daily supplement like UNI KEY’s Adrenal Formula that contains adrenal glandular tissue, an extract from bovine adrenal glands that carries the DNA/RNA blueprint of the adrenal gland to promote repair. Adrenal Formula also contains key revitalizing nutrients like pantothenic acid—the cornerstone vitamin for replenishing cortisol.

Pantothenic acid was first popularized in the 1970s thanks to the writing of Adele Davis, whose books I devoured. Taking 500 to 3,000 mg daily got me through college and all-nighters.  Then there’s vitamin C, zinc, vitamin B6, vitamin A and tyrosine which all help make strong adrenal hormones. Tyrosine is especially important as a neurotransmitter precursor, while vitamin A—the anti-infection vitamin, boosts immunity. (When the adrenals are off, immunity goes into a downward spiral). In addition, the spleen and liver glandulars in the formula work synergistically with the adrenal tissue extracts to help assimilation and absorption.

Start with one caplet three times daily at 7 am, 11 am and 3 pm. If blood pressure is 90/60 or below, consider upping the dosage to two caplets three times daily at the “adrenal times.”

2. Get a Good Night’s Sleep.

The hours before midnight are the most therapeutic for adrenal rejuvenation. Get to bed by 10 pm, and aim for 7 hours or more. Any later, and you will get a second wind, after which sleep will be much more challenging.

3. Reduce Your Stress Levels.

Set aside time to relax each day—escape with a good book, work in the garden, start an exercise routine, or take a walk. I like Epsom Salt Baths at night which nicely force me to relax.

4. Take Special Minerals.

Sodium: Low levels of sodium are common with adrenal burnout. I find that taking ¼ to 1 teaspoon good quality salt daily helps to balance cortisol levels. Salt is especially important if low blood pressure is an issue.
Potassium: Under prolonged stress, potassium can easily get out of whack resulting in blood sugar abnormalities. I recommend taking 99 mg potassium chloride daily.

5. Power Up with Protein.

Keep metabolic fires burning by consuming 20 grams of protein with each meal. Not only does protein boost metabolism by up to 25% for about 12 hours, it keeps blood sugar/insulin levels steady. Choose from organic, hormone-free protein sources like eggs, lean beef, lamb, poultry, fish, seafood, tofu and tempeh. Or, for an excellent protein boost on-the-go, sip a smoothie made with clean protein powder like Fat Flush Body Protein, which contains 20 grams of protein per serving.

The bottom line is we need all the “natural” energy we can muster this time of the year. Don’t let adrenal challenges shortchange your energy levels before, during, or after the holidays! I don’t know what I would do without UNI KEY’s Adrenal Formula, which I have taken for over twenty years.

I wish you a most magical holiday season this year and during all the seasons of your life!

Christmas card from Ann Louise
The beautiful painting on this card is “Dove of Peace” by my very talented sister-in-law Sandra Gittleman. See more of her paintings here.

Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Liz

    Very interesting and helpful points.

  2. Diana Fraser

    Why do you say that women from their 20’s to their fifties are affected? I am 61 and feel that I am affected by adrenal burnout as well. I do take your supplements! Do we need less supplementation as we age after 50 or 60? Thanks!

    • Team ALG

      That’s just the age range of the study that was conducted. I’ve found that every decade older we get the more we need Adrenal Formula. We’ve had more time to accumulate the effects of stress.

    • Ann Louise

      Dear Diana: The 20s to 50s range described in the blog merely reflects the most typical age range of clients who have actually taken an adrenal stress panel which charts cortisol levels throughout the day. A woman in her 60s also needs support, needless to say 🙂 Keep on supporting your system

  3. Sheila

    Just wondering if wearing a Fitbit impacts cortisol levels. I am reading your book Zapped and am finding it very eye opening. For the past few years my blood cortisol level has been elevated (23-25). I recently had a level of 2.1 which is mouth lower than it was in December. I started using a fit bit zip in November and wonder what it may be doing to my hormones. I am 53 and post menapausal.

    • Team ALG

      Shiela, good to ask about Fitbit. They are so popular. Yes, wireless technology does impact cortisol levels. It would be helpful to take a Salivary Hormone test to assess your present levels.

  4. Michael


    Will 99 mg of potassium chloride daily really make any difference, considering that amount is only 2% of the Daily Value?

    Thank you


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