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Does Smoking Weed Really Make You Lose Weight?

Whether or not you’ve ever smoked weed, you’ve probably heard of the munchies — that overpowering drive to eat all the snacks after smoking weed.

But others swear that smoking weed not only makes them eat less, but also makes them lose weight.

Using marijuana may be associated with lower body weight, but it’s not as straightforward as it sounds.

Here’s a look at what we do and don’t know about the relationship between smoking weed and weight loss.

A lot of the noise around smoking weed for weight loss comes from a 2011 review of two surveys. The authors concluded that rates of obesity were higher among people who reported not using marijuana compared to rates among those who used marijuana at least 3 days a week.

Shortly before those results were published, a study examining the association between cannabis and obesity in young people made similar conclusions.

Most recently, a meta-analysis of the relationship between cannabis use and body mass index (BMI) showed that cannabis users had significantly lower BMIs and obesity rates but an increased calorie intake.

It’s important to remember that this research simply suggests there are some links between marijuana use and lower body weight. It’s unclear what’s behind this link, and there’s not enough evidence to say that using marijuana is an effective way to lose weight. Plus, using marijuana comes with its own risks and downsides (more on this later).

Experts have a few theories on why marijuana use is linked to reduced BMI and lower risks of obesity.

It can increase mobility

When used properly, marijuana may relieve symptoms of pain and stiffness. This means people with mobility issues may find that they can be more active when using marijuana.

It may cause some people to drink less

Some experts suspect that younger people who use marijuana may consume less alcohol than those who don’t. This means they’re not taking in calories from alcoholic drinks, which could contribute to lower BMIs.

It can lower stress

Stress eating is a very real thing. Studies show that people are more likely to overeat and reach for comfort foods when stressed.

It’s no secret that weed can ease anxiety and help calm you when you’re feeling stressed. Some believe that this might replace stress eating for some people.

It may improve sleep

Poor sleep can be a factor in weight gain. There’s some evidence that cannabis may improve insomnia. Plus, it may help reduce stress and pain, two of the main culprits behind poor sleep.

It may boost metabolism

There’s some evidence that cannabis interacts with cannabinoid receptor 1 , which plays a role in metabolism and food intake. High amounts of cannabis appear to increase metabolism and reduce energy storage, resulting in a lower BMI.

Using marijuana doesn’t cause sudden weight loss. But experts believe it may help with some underlying factors that can contribute to weight gain in some people.

Much more research is needed to fully understand the link between marijuana use and weight.

The research around marijuana and weight loss catches some people off guard because of the long-standing association between marijuana and major snacking.

Indeed, a recent study showed an increase in sales of junk food, which the authors largely defined as chips, cookies, and ice cream, in U.S. states where marijuana is now legal.

How can people be eating more and losing weight while smoking weed? Researchers are still trying to figure out the specifics, but a balancing act between two major cannabinoids in marijuana might offer some explanation.

THC, the psychoactive compound that produces weed’s “high,” has been shown to trigger hunger. It’s the reason why people sometimes use cannabis as an appetite stimulant.

CBD, on the other hand, seems to counteract certain effects of THC, including its appetite-boosting and mood-altering effects.

At first glance, the research might seem to suggest that smoking weed is a good way to lose weight. But there’s no evidence that using marijuana directly causes weight loss.

It might contribute indirectly by helping with certain issues, including chronic pain and poor sleep, that can contribute to higher body weight.

Plus, using marijuana isn’t without risks, especially if you smoke it.

Marijuana smoke contains many of the same irritants, toxins, and cancer-causing agents as tobacco smoke, according to the American Lung Association.

And because weed smokers inhale more deeply and hold the smoke in longer, they’re exposed to more tar per breath than cigarette smokers.

Over time, smoking weed damages your lungs and airways, reducing respiratory function and increasing your risk for lung infections and even lung cancer.

It can also weaken your immune system, which interferes with your body’s ability to fight disease.

Then there’s the whole issue of misuse and dependence. Up to 30 percent of users have some degree of marijuana use disorder, according to recent data. Younger people are especially at risk, particularly people who use marijuana before the age of 18.

Even though there’s some evidence that smoking weed may affect weight, a lot more research is needed.

Plus, smoking still does more harm than good, even if it’s just marijuana. Using marijuana through nonsmoking methods may offer some health benefits, but it’s not recommended for weight loss.

Last medically reviewed on October 30, 2019

Yes, there's some evidence linking marijuana use to lower body weight, but it's not that simple.

Cannabis and Metabolism: Can CBD Help With Weight Loss?

New research is slowly transforming the way we look at the cannabis plant. A new trend is suggesting that cannabis can help with weight loss. But is this fact or fiction? We take a look at the research to give you the lowdown.

Understanding the connection between cannabis, CBD, and metabolism.

Contents:

As any dieter will tell you, losing weight is hard. It’s also a very personal journey to take. For some, it amounts to limiting alcohol; for others, it’s a symptom of modern-day tension.

Whether you work too much or have children, there’s never enough hours in the day. Then, for those of us who like to relax with a joint at the end of it, you inevitably wind up with the munchies.

Recently, the internet has been abuzz with reports that CBD oil is a promising alternative weight loss supplement. But how true are these claims, exactly? Is CBD good for weight loss?

Potentially, but not directly.

The Endocannabinoid System and Metabolism

What the science all boils down to is our old friend, the endocannabinoid system. Named after the plant that led to its discovery, the ECS is what helps cannabinoids—such as CBD or THC—interact with our body.

Concerning the ECS and weight loss/metabolism, we know it’s directly connected to energy storage and transporting nutrients. As a result, it helps regulate everything from mood and sleep to temperature and inflammation. One study even found the endocannabinoid system to stimulate areas of the body [1] involved in metabolism, such as the gastrointestinal tract and pancreas.

As far as the science goes, the endocannabinoid system is made up of metabolic enzymes that stimulate various parts of the body. It does this primarily via two endogenous compounds—anandamide and 2-AG (2-arachidonoylglycerol) [2] —that target CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body. Given that cannabinoids like THC and CBD interact with these receptors too, it stands to reason that cannabis might be able to aid metabolism and/or weight loss in some respect.

While research on the endocannabinoid system and metabolism is still mounting, we’re learning more about it every year.

Marijuana and Weight Loss: What’s the Connection?

Although we all reach for the nearest snack after a good high, marijuana use doesn’t equate to obesity. In fact, in one study, scientists found that regular cannabis users are less likely to be obese. What it boils down to are two factors: terminology and individuality.

When it comes to weed, most use “cannabis” and “marijuana” interchangeably. However, they’re not the same in this context. Cannabis is the name for the plant, while marijuana is the name for the psychoactive buds it produces—its crop, so to speak. And while cannabis is made up of hundreds of cannabinoid compounds, the main one in marijuana is THC.

But when it comes to weight loss, it all boils down to CBD.

CBD and Metabolism

All cannabinoids have different effects, but they tend to have similar or complementary interactions with the ECS. There are four main ways in which CBD may be able to affect or alter our metabolism.

CBD Oil 15%
CBD Oil 15%
THC: 0.2%
CBD: 15%
CBD per drop: 7.5 mg
Carrier: Olive Oil

Mitochondrial Function

If you remember only one thing from science class, it’s got to be: mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. You might even say it’s the spice of life.

Mitochondria convert sugars, fats, and proteins into the energy that sustains our bodies. Thus, mitochondrial imbalances can affect the way we burn energy, making it harder to lose weight. As a result, fixing those imbalances can greatly increase metabolic health and kick things back into gear.

CBD appears to regulate mitochondrial activity [3] , whipping our ECS into shape, which then helps us achieve metabolic balance, or homeostasis. With that in mind, could CBD combined with diet and exercise possibly increase the rate at which we burn fat? Let’s examine that a bit closer.

Fat Browning

Fat is a complicated macronutrient. We automatically think of it as a bad thing. Scientifically speaking, however, that isn’t the case. On the contrary, there are actually two types of fat in our body: the good fat (brown), and the bad (white).

White fat is predominant: It’s the fat we developed to keep us from starving when we were but cave-dwelling creatures. White fat stores and supplies our body with energy, cushioning our organs for extreme scenarios we won’t face in our lifetimes. As a result, white fat can really mess with the metabolism. Brown fat, on the other hand, generates heat and burns calories.

In a study published in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, researchers found that CBD can convert white fat to brown [4] . While further human studies are needed, this poses great potential for using CBD oil alongside a weight loss or management programme.

Insulin Regulation

In order to keep the body safe, the liver removes toxins and converts excess sugars into insulin. These sugars come from basically everything we put into our bodies, be it fruit or beer. From there, it’s passed on to the pancreas, which sends it to the cells.

Irregular insulin levels can overload the liver and pancreas, throwing the body out of whack. Furthermore, too much insulin in the bloodstream means we can’t burn fat. Consequently, you’re going to have a much harder time dropping the pounds.

CBD has some potential to stabilise insulin levels, henceforth kickstarting the process of curbing weight. This is demonstrated by a preclinical study [5] that found CBD to lower instances of diabetes in non-diabetic mice.

Appetite Suppression

Marijuana (led by THC) is an appetite stimulant. As a result, some doctors prescribe medical marijuana to chemotherapy patients whose appetites have been affected. Of course, anyone who’s gotten the munchies will probably cosign that in a heartbeat.

While it’s true that THC makes you hungry, this is not the case with CBD. Believed to be more of an appetite suppressant, isolated CBD will not have you shoving sweets into your face. Instead, as a 2012 study on rats shows, it is more likely to reduce food intake [6] .

Does CBD Help You Lose Weight?

CBD is not a one-size-fits-all weight loss solution. In fact, some people might actually gain weight when using it. With research still being so new, it’s going to take some time until we know more about CBD’s effects on our metabolism.

For now, the best way to see if it works for you, individually, is to pay attention to how—or if—your appetite changes while using high-CBD strains or oils.

Does Smoking Weed Promote Weight Loss?

No. It’s very rare that smoking weed will help you lose weight.

However, experts believe it can help with some of the underlying factors related to obesity, such as promoting healthy sleep and lowering tension.

Why Does Cannabis Make You Hungry?

That familiar craving you get when you’re high comes down to THC; the same compound that gets you high. Although research is still in its infancy, one study published in Nature Neuroscience [7] gets us a bit closer to figuring out why.

THC increases the pleasure we get from certain things; therefore, if there’s chocolate in the fridge, it’ll taste even better when you’re high than it does normally. One way to fix this “issue” is to have healthier alternatives at hand for when the munchies hit. Let’s face it, you’ll gain less weight with carrot sticks than you would a slice of cake.

Controversy of Using CBD or Marijuana for Weight Loss

While there are potential benefits to using CBD for weight loss, there are plenty of controversies to even the playing field.

The biggest issue is that there haven’t been any studies into using CBD to lose weight directly, at least not in humans. Although animal studies exist, we won’t have real answers until we know its effects on us. For now, everything is just conjecture.

In a study in the American Journal of Medicine, researchers found that marijuana use offered a 17% reduction in fasting insulin [8] . That being said, a different study in Translational Psychiatry found that increased ECS activity [9] may lead to insulin resistance and obesity.

Similarly, in the case of a study that indicated lower rates of obesity in cannabis smokers, its authors go on to say weed shouldn’t be relied upon [10] as a dietary aid. Their study simply didn’t indicate a clear relationship between marijuana and weight loss.

Cannabis, Metabolism, and Weight Loss: The Bottom Line

The bottom line is, there’s no evidence that smoking weed can help you lose weight. Moreover, adding CBD into a weight loss plan without exercising or maintaining a healthy diet likely won’t do much either.

On the other hand, adding CBD to a healthy exercise and eating plan could be an excellent complement, thanks to its versatility and overall support of the ECS. At the very least, there is nothing to indicate that taking CBD will make you gain weight. And, since it’s well tolerated and offers numerous other benefits, there’s really nothing standing in the way of you incorporating CBD into your weight loss or weight management regimen.

When it comes to weed, we've all heard about—or experienced first-hand—the munchies. But could cannabis actually help you lose weight? What about CBD? ]]>