Cortisol and Weight Gain: Do Cortisol Blockers Work?

Cortisol blockers such as Cortislim promise to help you lose weight by blocking cortisol levels, but do they really work?

There’s a great deal of confusion regarding the role that cortisol plays in weight control. A whole industry has arisen around the idea that blocking the effects of cortisol is a sure fire way to lose extra body fat. Supplements such as CortiSlim are being aggressively promoted as “cortisol blockers” and consumers are responding by shelling over their credit card number in hopes of getting slim without dieting. Do these cortisol blockers work? What is the association between high cortisol and weight gain?

High Cortisol and Weight Gain: What is Cortisol?
Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal cortex, a gland located just above the kidney. It has a variety of important functions including the regulation of blood pressure and blood sugar and plays a role in reducing inflammation. Although cortisol is released into the bloodstream daily, larger amounts of this hormone are pumped out in response to stress. Cortisol is produced in higher amounts during stressful times as a way to help the body better deal with circumstances that may require additional resources. One way it does this is by converting proteins to glucose to serve as additional fuel. This causes an increase in blood sugar levels along with a rise in blood pressure.

Why Are High Cortisol Levels Thought to Be Associated With Weight Gain?
When cortisol levels increase in response to stress and blood sugar levels rise, the unused glucose ends up being stored as fat once the stress is over, resulting in weight gain. Manufacturers of cortisol blockers want you to believe that being overweight is related to psychological stress and increased cortisol production. By blocking cortisol they argue, you can offset this sequence of events.

High Cortisol and Weight Gain: Why Cortisol Blockers Don’t Work
There’s little doubt that very high levels of cortisol cause weight gain, but the amount of cortisol released in response to stress is probably not high enough to result in significant weight gain Weight gain is seen in people who have a disease called Cushing’s Syndrome where the adrenal cortex produces massive amounts of cortisol. In these people, most of their weight goes to the face and the trunk region, including the abdominals resulting in abdominal obesity; but the levels of cortisol seen with this disease are far higher than those that would be seen in people experiencing psychological stress.

It is possible that higher cortisol levels may play some role in abdominal obesity since women under stress tend to have higher levels of abdominal fat. Despite this, no studies have ever shown that cortisol blockers such as CortiSlim actually block cortisol or help with weight loss. The FTC has intervened to try to stop the claims made by these companies that their product blocks cortisol or causes weight loss.

High Cortisol and Weight Gain: The Bottom Line?
There’s no evidence that cortisol blockers such as CortiSlim have any real effect on cortisol levels or weight. In addition, it’s unrealistic to think that all weight gain is related to high cortisol levels and can be fixed by using supplements to block it. Even if high cortisol levels are playing a role in weight gain, the best way to reduce them is through relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga, not overpriced cortisol blockers that don’t work.

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