T Nation

How to blunt Cortisol Response?


I know this is the gear forum but for right now I have decided to train naturally. I have been using purely Test boosters and protein, etc. But I constantly feel tired and burnt out even though my training volume and intensity are relativly low. I am just getting back into the game so I am trying to take it slow at first. I weigh 190 lbs. with between 10%-12% body fat. I want to lose about 15 pounds and get pretty shredded. I have to keep my overall body weight down because I am involved in a weight class sport.

So Basically I just want to get as ripped as possible but even with a low training intensity I feel burnt out. A while ago I had some endocrine bloodwork done and Test Level was fine. But Cortisol in the morning was elevated. I am also on 125 mcg. of T4 (Synthroid) everyday for long standing hypothyroidism (tons of family history). Anyway since the Test level was good and the Thyroid levels are corrected the only thing that appears might be out of wack and causing this tiredness is the Cortisol level. I know Cytadren will suppress it but that is pretty extreme and will have all sorts of other endocrine interactions. The jury seems to be out on weather or not phosphatidylserine works or not? Any other thoughts from experienced chemical geniuses out there???


P.S. - While my overall bodyfat isn’t too bad it is disproportionatly worse on my stomach and “love handles” while other areas look relativly ripped.

umm what about diet? sleep? do you party/drink? what exactly is relativley low volume?

How are your stress levels? How much sleep are you getting?

There were a couple good articles on Sleep back in issues 282-283. Sleep (or lack thereof) can affect T-levels, GH levels, and Cortisol levels. This can have a definite impact on body comp and how you feel in general.

Don’t party(drink), get at least 6-8 hours of sleep, if tired during the day take a 30 min nap, decrease you stress levels, take a good multi-vitamin, and look into the supplement PS. Do not try any of the cortisol suppression drugs, as cortisol is essential to life. You just want to keep it in check and this can be done through natural methods.

Also cortisol is naturally increased in the morning, and decreases in a few hours, its your bodys natural response. Unless it was very elevated its nothing to worry about.

Colt makes an excellent point. I wouldn’t diagnose yourself with high cortisol levels on the basis of a single test. Rather, you’d want ~4 saliva tests throughout the day repeated on separate occasions.

The saliva test is preferred because a lot of people’s cortisol levels will go off the charts when they see a needle. Granted, there is a lag time between ACTH secretion and cortisol release, but the saliva test still merits preferential treatment based solely on convenience.

Thanks Guys for the feedback. I know everything you guys are saying is right. I try to get 6-8 hours a night but you guys know how it is. Especially on a low carb diet I just can’t seem to fall asleep at night. As far as the stress goes I try to keep it under control but I know its not. For me I just feel its normal but everyone else would think I was crazy if they knew the half of it.

Do any of you guys think that Phosphatidylserine is worth trying? I have heard mixed things about it and I wonder if it would be worth the price since it is somewhat expensive for a regular “supplement”.

Anyway I can’t wait to drop these pounds so that I am at the body fat level I want to be, and then maybe I can consider adding something “exciting” into the mix.

Thanks Again.


Try the PS for 6 weeks and see if it makes a differece for you. I believe Muscle Link still sells Corti-block, that may be a good brand for you to try?

You really think having a BF of 4.45% is something you can maintain (that’s assuming you lose 15 lb. and really are at 12% now and don’t lose any lean mass in the process)?

I don’t know why that struck me as odd but it did.

Good point SteelyEyes. I may actually have to lose some lean tissue to be 175 at a body fat percentage that is maintainable. But the WEIGHT is the actual important part. I need to be 175 or under with the best possible body comp I can maintain.


MVAC, hi I seem to have very similar difficulties, I take synthroid, (for last 10 years), I prefer to be gear-less for now as well, but I too have hit the wall on several occasions, I have recently done a natural BB show and got my bf% to 8% but now 6 weeks later, after working like an animal for 4 months, its all I can do to drag through a routine, if you try the cort blok let me know how it goes ,Splint

From what I understand you “try” to get 8 hours and you “try” to keep your stress levels down. Similarly, fat people usually “try” to eat healthy and exercise.

The main thing is that TRYING changes nothing. It doesn’t make fat people skinnier and it won’t drop your cortisol. In the words of Master Yoda, “There is no try, just do”. Sleep 8 hours and decrease your stress. See how your cortisol responds.

I realize this isn’t always easy, but nobody said this lifestyle was a simple one.

I’ve heard a good ginseng extract will help lower cortisol levels but you have to take at least a gram.