The Adrenal Reset Diet by Alan Christianson

The Adrenal Reset Diet takes a very different but also very intelligent stance on obesity: that processed foods, pollutants, and stress/pressures in life have caused our adrenal glands to kick into survival mode: their ‘switch’ is turned permanently toward converting food into fat rather than energy. This diet plan addresses the adrenal hormones to put the body back into proper focus and making the best use of the food we eat.

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The plan has four distinctions that set it apart from most other diet books: 1) It is not a ‘low anything’ diet. The author takes the stance that food is the cure, not the enemy. 2) Carbs are not forbidden. The plan cycles through carbs to make the best use of them for your body and ensure they are made into energy rather than fat. 3) Sleep issues are addressed and fixed since that is often a huge problem with not taking weight off (addressing circadian rhythms). 4) Clarity is restored through 5 minute rituals to stop pressure and stress from fooling the body into making fat.

The book makes the point that weight loss is not about willpower or courage. Rather, the weight has come on as a result of improper signals caused by processed food, pollution, and stress/pressures of modern life; those have turned the body into survival rather than thrive mode. Author Christianson believes almost all of the problems causing many individuals’ weight issues are controlled through the adrenal glands; eating effectively and smartly will reset those adrenal signals to consume rather than store fat.

At heart, the book says that the reason to target the adrenal glands is because they regulate other hormones (including inflammation control, sleep/waking, blood sugar control). Those end up a huge factor in controlling weight since the adrenal hormones control whether energy goes toward muscles or fat. By cycling carbohydrates and eating the right food at the right time, the body will make the most of its food. There is, of course, a lot more to it than that (e.g., cortisol control) but it is all explained in the book in detail. As well, fine tuning other diets, such as paleo, to fit within the Adrenal Reset Diet ethos is discussed.

The diet itself does have one drawback in that you really do have to be very mindful of what you eat – and when. It’s a new way of looking at meals that is very nitpicky in many ways but also can be frustrating in the minutiae since there is no comprehensive, mindless,  “eat only low carb’ or ‘eat like a caveman’ type of rule. Rather, it’s about learning to eat fiber, protein, carbs, in various combos in very specific times of the day to achieve the best results. Although there are substitutions, it is a very specific diet that may defeat some dieters in its level of complexity and their desire to go into autopilot to lose weight. The Adrenal Reset Diet is both a very specific but also a very open plan – it’s not about the recipes, just the times that you eat and in what fiber/protein/fat ratios.

A large portion of the book is dedicated to dealing with stress/pressure and sleep issues. I found a lot of the information in there fascinating (if a bit hard to put into actual application). Everything from avoiding sunlight for two hours after waking up (and the suggestion of wearing dark glasses if you have to go to work) – to getting a full 2 hours of sunlight every morning to help with circadian rhythms. It sounds nice ideally but honestly some applications are fairly impractical. This is another reason the diet plan here is both excellent and yet also daunting.

Since there is no ‘low’ anything, the recipes are fairly typical items: stir fry beef to breakfast shakes. There aren’t many of them – the plan is open enough that it is more about thinking about what you eat and when you eat it than the items you are eating or portions. There is, of course, a list of foods to avoid – mostly processed or high sugar ingredients, toxic proteins, etc. There are also discussions about gluten free, vegan, beans, sweeteners.

Since this is such a unique perspective on dieting and such a different plan, I really do feel this is worth a read. A lot of what is in here does make sense and the author takes the time to explain it all in a no-nonsense but friendly manner. It’s a very different take on why we can’t seem to lose weight but keep packing it on in the modern world. As with most diets now, the focus is on lifestyle management and long term benefits. Unlike most diets, there really isn’t a lot of ‘fluff’ discussion about the diseases caused by obesity or the epidemic itself. Most of the book is focused on the science of the adrenal glands and their role of converting food into fat.

Reviewed from an ARC provided by the publisher.

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