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What are Cortisol Blockers?

By A. Garrett
Updated May 17, 2024
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Cortisol blockers are weight loss and bodybuilding supplements that restrict the production of the stress hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol converts proteins to glucose in order to provide the body with energy. High levels of cortisol cause large quantities of glucose to amass in the blood stream. This combination can pose a challenge to people seeking to build muscle mass or lose weight because the primary source of protein that cortisol draws from is muscle and unused glucose becomes body fat. Cortisol blockers lower cortisol production which allows the body to retain more muscle and store less fat.

Heightened levels of cortisol are the result of the body’s response to anxiety, fear, or taxing physical activity. During these situations, the body may require extra glucose to respond to the outside stimulation. Prolonged periods of stress, however, result in cortisol levels that cause muscle wasting and inhibit the body’s ability to burn fat.

Cortisol blockers contain ingredients that supposedly alter the body’s reaction to tension producing situations or physically taxing activities. Phosphatidylserine, a chemical found in cabbage and soy that has relaxant properties, is the most commonly used ingredient in cortsol blockers. Another frequently used ingredient is L-Thenanine, an amino acid shown to reduce anxiety in humans. Other elements of cortisol pills are designed to stabilize glucose levels in the blood stream. In combination, these individual components aid in lowering cortisol by altering how the body reacts to stress and minimizing the impact of current excess glucose levels.

Before taking cortisol pills, there are some aspects of the supplements to take note of. Manufacturers of cortisol blockers have been criticized over their marketing tactics and claims and were sued by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over such claims. The effectiveness of these supplements has not been subjected to long-term study. Some of the individual ingredients included in cortisol blockers are not medically or scientifically recognized for their ability to control cortisol levels or regulate blood sugar in combination with other ingredients.

No scientific or medical research exists linking cortisol blocking with weight loss or muscle mass. The notion of stress contributing to weight gain is a theory that has only been supported by a few preliminary tests and observations. Also, the ingredients used in cortisol supplements may not be at high enough levels to have a major influence on cortisol or can be consumed as part of a balanced diet instead of as a cortisol pill. Finally, the effects of excess cortisol can be mitigated by exercise and a lower caloric intake.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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