I love health, nutrition, and fitness books that focus on science and aren’t trying to sell diets, but miraculous, cure-all diet books? No. Sometimes, though, I check them out from the library for a particular reason and have to skim through them to find what I’m looking for. The Adrenal Reset Diet was one of those cases.
Background: When I saw my endocrinologist in early March, she suggested that I might be suffering from Cushing’s Syndrome, which is a disorder where your adrenal glands are malfunctioning and your cortisol production is abnormally high. (That’s a very general description but I’m not going into the full science of it!) I do have a lot of the symptoms of Cushing’s, so I wanted to read about it. (I’ve since learned that no, I do not have it.) Unfortunately, the internet is pretty much divided between websites that describe the symptoms and testing procedures (like Mayo Clinic) and sites that want to sell a dietary cure or homeopathic remedy (no, no, no!). It’s difficult to research things like “what types of foods might help or worsen the symptoms of Cushing’s” without falling into a rabbit hole. But since I wasn’t going to see the endocrinologist again for a month, I got a little more specific in my search. I wanted to see if there was a link between coffee and cortisol production, particularly in abnormal cases such as Cushing’s. That led me to an article discussing Alan Christianson and his work with resetting cortisol rhythms. Specifically about his evaluation of coffee in relation to cortisol, which was discussed in his book, The Adrenal Reset Diet.
Now, when I checked out The Adrenal Reset Diet from the library, I knew that it was a diet book, and I had no interest in following said supposedly-miraculous-diet. I just wanted to find the information about coffee and cortisol. So imagine my disappointment when I discovered that 1) there was no information about coffee at all in this book, only caffeine, and 2) the only mention of coffee/caffeine at all was a one-paragraph bit about how you should keep your caffeine consumption to early in the morning if you’re having trouble sleeping. Really. Really???? UGH. Talk about false advertising, yeah?
Anyway, in skimming through the book, I reaffirmed my hatred of diet books. Not only is the supposedly-miraculous adrenal reset diet (ARD) just a rehash of the same stuff you’ve heard a million times in a million other places, but it advocates for a dangerously low calorie diet. The thing is, Christianson can fool people into thinking he’s not giving them an insanely low cal diet because he pretends that calories aren’t part of the equation. As someone who is interested in the math of things, though, I’m not even remotely fooled. Take this bit in particular:
Page 60-61, direct quote: Carbs should make up between 35 and 45% of your calories. … In terms of grams, 75 to 90 grams per day is best for most adults who exercise under an hour per day.
Christianson goes on to describe the approximate size and amounts of carbs and when during the day they should be consumed, and he warns not to go below 50 grams or risk getting tired and losing muscle. But if you do the math here, you find what’s really disturbing about the numbers he just gave. Let’s just assume the best possible scenario in terms of “largest number of calories” here. That would be 35% of your calories coming from carbs (so that you have 65% from other stuff), and 90 grams of carbs per day at the high end. So 90 grams of carbs = 360 calories, and if 360 calories is 35% of your calories, your maximum calorie load is 1029 cals. Now let’s take the opposite spectrum – 45% of your calories at 75 grams: 75 grams = 300 calories, at 45% = a total daily calorie intake of 667 calories. So this “miraculous” diet gives you a general range of 667-1029 calories per day, and assumes you can exercise up to an hour a day on this and be fine.
This is 100% WTF eating disorder sh!t. This “doctor” is advocating a diet that will starve you, destroy your metabolism, and completely f*ck up your entire hormone and metabolic system, all in the name of some miracle cure for cortisol abnormalities (which of course is the answer for every health question under the sun, naturally, so that everyone should follow this diet!).
This is why I don’t read diet books. They are f*cking dangerous and unethical, and I think the “doctors” who write them should be stripped of their medical licenses and censured by the medical community. (Not that “Dr” Christianson has a medical license. He’s an NMD, not an MD, and the difference is HUGE.) No thanks, “Dr” Christianson. I will not be following your BS diet plan.
Normally I don’t post about books that I don’t read entirely, nor do I rip books/authors apart in this fashion. However, when it comes to books/authors who are actively advocating dangerous and unethical diets, yeah I’m 100% going to call that out. Do yourself a favor and leave this book on the shelves. This “doctor” and his diet are nothing but trouble.