It might give you the munchies, but does weed speed up your metabolism?
Up until recently, marijuana hasn’t been widely regarded as a weight loss product. Well-known for causing the munchies, for a long time the rule of thought was that it would make you gain weight. Well, as it turns out, that way of thinking might be outdated.
Recent studies are suggesting that not only does weed not make you fat, but it might actually help you lose weight. How can that be? It all has to do with the body’s endocannabinoid system, and how cannabis interacts with it.
How the Endocannabinoid System Works
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex system in the body that maintains homeostasis, and it has an effect on your behavior, your mood and your appetite. It also plays a pretty important role in the way your body accumulates fat. An over-active ECS can cause obesity.
Cannabis interacts with the ECS by interacting with cannabinoid receptors in the body. It could cause you to feel “the munchies” by activating CB1 receptors in the gut, making you feel less satiated. However, when researchers sought to discover if the munchies made it more likely for cannabis users to be obese, they found the opposite.
A scientific review in 2011 concluded that obesity rates were actually higher among people who didn’t use marijuana. Additional studies have corroborated this finding. And not only that, but science has shown that cannabis consumers tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI), despite also showing an increased intake of calories.
So even thought it might give you the munchies, marijuana doesn’t make you fat. But does weed make you skinny? The research so far has proven to be compelling. Another recent study has discovered that marijuana users have a lower level of fasting insulin. Lowering insulin levels is essential to losing weight. And even more interesting, the researchers also found that marijuana users had a smaller waist size.
However, science has not yet figured out why cannabis might help weight loss. Researchers have theorized that perhaps cannabis affects the metabolism. So far, what’s most likely is that cannabis’ weight loss effects might be more indirect.
How a Cannabis Diet Can Help You Lose Weight
Now that we know that cannabis doesn’t cause obesity, and that it may actually encourage lower insulin levels, how else can it help weight loss?
For starters, weed can help increase your levels of activity. Cannabis is well-known as an anti-inflammatory, which might be beneficial when it comes to getting active and staying active. By reducing muscle and joint inflammation, it can ease the symptoms of soreness and stiffness that come with physical activity.
In fact, more and more athletes are turning to cannabis products like CBD to help improve recovery time, by combating pain and inflammation. Some athletes say that weed helps make exercising easier. Studies have also shown that marijuana might actually motivate people to work out. It seems the stereotype of a lazy stoner with the munchies might a thing of the past.
Research has also been looking into marijuana and its effects on the body’s metabolism. So far, preliminary findings are showing positive results. This study in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research (2018) found that cannabis could increase the body’s metabolic rate. However, this finding might be dependent on individual diet.
Cannabis has also been shown to improve sleep for some users, which can also aid in losing weight. Poor sleep can cause changes to the body that affect your appetite, which can lead to unwanted weight gain. Cannabis can also lower stress and for some consumers, and reduce alcohol intake — both of which can contribute to weight gain if gone unchecked.
What You Should Know About Marijuana and Weight Loss
Before you start labeling cannabis as a weight loss plan, there are a couple of things that are good to know. Namely, if you don’t exercise and maintain unhealthy eating habits, cannabis may not help you all that much. In addition, smoking weed might affect your lungs, which could in turn affect your ability to exercise and maintain healthy fitness levels.
By itself, a cannabis diet most likely will not get you to that number on the scale you’ve been hoping for. Sorry, but so far the science isn’t altogether conclusive in regard to weed as a weight loss drug. It can’t erase the calories in that box of donuts or cheeseburger.
But in conjunction with healthy eating, exercise and plenty of sleep, it may be able to help the body maintain a healthy BMI. What is most encouraging about all of this new research is the idea that marijuana alone doesn’t cause consumers to become obese. However, more studies are needed to fully ascertain the weight loss benefits of cannabis.