How to Prepare Your Body Nutritionally for Exercise - dummies

How to Prepare Your Body Nutritionally for Exercise

By Richard Snyder, Wendy Jo Peterson

If you have adrenal fatigue, it is even more important than it would otherwise be to take care of your body’s nutrition before you exercise. Here are some important things to consider when planning for a workout:

How to time meals and workouts

Ideally, you should plan your workout between breakfast and lunch or between lunch and dinner. Don’t exercise first thing in the morning. Many people skimp on sleep in order to exercise before going to work, and adrenal fatigue can be associated with significant sleep-related problems. You don’t want to cut your sleep time short or to miss putting some nutrition in your body a couple of hours before exercising.

Very late in the day after dinner is often a bad time for someone with adrenal fatigue to exercise, too, because he or she may be fatigued from the day.

If you’re going to work out in the morning, be sure to start your day with foods high in protein; seeds, nuts, and avocados are great not only before but also after a workout. Juicing in the morning or taking a greens protein powder can provide your body with all the fuel it needs before a workout.


One effect of longstanding cortisol secretion is muscle atrophy, in which muscles have little texture or strength. On a cellular level, the muscle fibers are wasted; this condition is called sarcopenia.

Trying to exercise with a muscle that’s wasted is about as effective as trying to drive a car when it’s out of gas: You can’t. You need to provide the right kind of nutrients to that muscle so it can build back up, allowing you to get the full benefits of exercise. This is where leucine comes in.

Leucine is the one amino acid that can help reverse muscle atrophy. Adrenal fatigue causes muscle catabolism, or breakdown; a supplement that contains leucine can help build the muscle back up.

Look for a powder that combines leucine and other amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids, and plant-based antioxidants, including chlorophyll and spirulina. Take half of a scoop in the morning and another half scoop (a heaping tablespoon) about an hour before you exercise. Talk with your healthcare provider before starting this supplement. You can find many brands of these at your local health food store.

Why can’t you just take leucine alone? Because when you take in amino acids, you need to take all of them together for nutritional and metabolic balance.

How to promote efficient energy use

In many ways, adrenal fatigue creates an energy crisis for muscle cells, so you need to account for that before exercising. Taking supplements can boost energy production by the cells, especially the muscle cells. Here’s a typical pre-exercise cocktail, especially if you’re doing heavy aerobic work or muscle resistance training (remember to talk with your healthcare provider before using these supplements):

  1. Take ubiquinone (coenzyme Q10) and pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) with the meal prior to your workout.

    For example, if you’re planning to exercise at noon, take these supplements with your breakfast.

  2. Drink 1 to 2 glasses of alkaline water and take 2,500 to 5,000 milligrams of D-ribose powder 1 hour prior to exercise.

    The mineralized water helps bathe the cells and eliminate any toxic buildup. You can put the D-ribose powder in the alkaline water. The water may be sweet because of the D-ribose.

Avoid certain supplements and foods

Just as knowing which supplements to take before your workouts is important, you also need to know which supplements and food to avoid. In particular, if you’re doing muscle resistance training, your goal should be to build strength and endurance, not large muscle mass. So here are a few supplements and foods you should stay away from:

  • Creatine: Creatine is a raw fuel for muscle, used by many power lifters and body builders to increase muscle mass. You don’t need it, so you shouldn’t be taking it. Creatine is a lot for your body to process. It can stress out your adrenals and kidneys.

  • High-protein-load supplements: Although your body needs protein to function, you don’t need megadoses of it. Your body and adrenal glands have to work hard to process protein. You can give your body all the protein you want, but if your muscles are in a catabolic state, all the protein in the world won’t help.

  • Ephedra: Ephedra is an herb that provides energy but normally with only short-term gains. It can cause dehydration and increases the risk of developing kidney stones. There are reports of serious side effects and ephedra-related deaths, and even the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has a consumer advisory about it.

  • Sugary foods and drinks: Drinking a sugary cola drink or eating a candy bar before working out to provide them with “energy” is a dumb idea. You may obtain a short-term energy rise, but you put yourself at risk of bottoming out.

    The sugary food or drink acutely increases the workload of the adrenal glands to pump out those stress hormones, and chronic ingestion of sugary foods and drinks forces the adrenal glands to work harder. Sugar also increases inflammation, which worsens adrenal stress. Stay away from sugar before working out.