Outdated stereotypes losing relevance
The stereotype of marijuana users as lazy and overweight is rapidly losing relevance. In fact, there are many regular cannabis users who are not overweight, unwell, or sluggish.
A rising number of professional athletes, including ultrarunners and triathletes, are reaping the benefits of cannabinoids, claiming that cannabis and hemp products help keep them on track with their workout and nutrition plans, and help them stay in shape. Some even say that cannabis has helped them lose weight.
But cannabis is well-known for causing “the munchies” and the ability of cannabis to increase hunger is just one of the ways in which it’s helping people, so if it makes you more hungry, how can it help you lose weight?
How Can Cannabis Make You Lose Weight?
Cannabis contains biologically active chemical compounds called cannabinoids, the most abundant of which are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The former element is the one that causes you to feel “high” and get the munchies, but both of these cannabinoids also impart health benefits including pain and anxiety reduction.
THC’s propensity to make people feel hungry has long been recognized and it’s only lately has cannabis been considered a potential weight reduction contributor because studies consistently indicate that users of marijuana tend to have lower body mass indices than nonusers.
Although the science around marijuana and weight loss is still evolving, research is suggesting that cannabis could have a small impact. By far, cannabis is not a replacement for a balanced diet and regular exercise. However, using cannabis does not mean that you will end up overeating, overweight, and unhealthy.
THC and CBD are just two of over 100 cannabinoids that can be found in cannabis and hemp plants. One cannabinoid you may not have heard yet of is tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV). It is found in some cannabis and hemp strains and, on the contrary to THC, THCV may help reduce hunger.
THCV has been shown to be an antagonist of CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system of the body and may cancel out the appetite-stimulating effects caused by THC. Strains that are high in THCV have been nicknamed “diet weed” for this reason. Additionally, it is thought that high amounts of THCV alter the gut microbiota, enhancing digestion.
What Do the Scientists Say?
Scientists bring forth a few arguments to explain why using cannabis can actually reduce obesity risk and result in a lower body mass index (BMI).
- It can reduce stress. Eating under stress is extremely typical. When stressed, people tend to overeat and turn to comfort foods that are high in sugar and fat more frequently. It’s no secret that marijuana and CBD help reduce anxiety and make you feel more calm. That’s why some experts think that smoking weed and taking CBD can prevent stress eating.
- It can make people drink less. Cannabis users often drink less, according to research. This could indicate that they aren’t consuming any calories from alcohol, which might result in lower BMIs.
- It can improve sleep. Insufficient sleep can result in weight gain and mounting evidence suggests that cannabis and hemp can help improve sleep. THC and CBD can also aid in lowering anxiety and pain, two major contributors to restless nights.
- It can increase mobility. Cannabis and hemp use can also ease pain and stiffness, helping people be more active and get more exercise.
- It can boost metabolism. Cannabinoid receptor 1 affects metabolism and food intake. Some data suggests that high cannabis consumption boosts the metabolism and reduces energy storage. Consequently, the body mass index decreases.
How Does Cannabis Affect Weight?
According to a 2019 study carried out by Michigan State University and published by the International Journal of Epidemiology, those who smoke marijuana actually weigh less compared to adults who don’t.
The findings also suggest that, generally, new and frequent cannabis users are less likely to be overweight or obese.
The lead author of the study said “We discovered that users – even the beginners – were more likely to be at a healthy, normal weight and maintain it. Compared to 20% of non-users, just 15% of persistent users were considered obese”.
Researchers compared the BMI of 33,000 individuals, aged 18 and older, using information from the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions.
Even while the actual weight difference between users and non-users was small – around 2 pounds for a person who was 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed 200 pounds at the beginning of the study – the variance proved prevalent among the overall sample size.
So, how does cannabis affect weight? It’s still mostly unclear, although there might be a number of causes, according to researchers.
What is for sure is that cannabis use doesn’t result in an immediate weight reduction. In some individuals, it may even result in weight gain. Hence, more scientific study is needed to properly understand the connection between cannabis use and weight.
The ‘munchies’ thing
Why do we get munchies when smoking weed? The answer to this question was provided in the 1990s when scientists discovered the human endocannabinoid system. Scientists proved that our bodies produce substances that are comparable to those in cannabis and interact with receptors to manage essential biological activities like mood, sleep, metabolism, appetite, stress, and others.
Cannabinoid receptors type 1 (CB-1), mostly found in the central nervous system, and type 2 (CB-2), primarily located in the immune system and peripheral nervous system, are the two most well-known and extensively researched endocannabinoid receptors. The CB-1 receptors in the hypothalamus, dopamine pathway, and olfactory system—which controls your sense of smell – all respond to THC, the cannabinoid that lends cannabis its euphoric effects.
THC makes these areas of your brain, which control your feelings of contentment, energy balance, and appetite, believe that you are hungry. Dopamine is released when THC is ingested, which makes eating and pretty much any activity more enjoyable when you’re high.
How to deal with the munchies?
There are a few methods for handling hunger attacks.
- Eat a meal: Getting high on an empty stomach is a certain way to feel really ravenous. Starting your journey with a full stomach can help you prevent experiencing hunger later.
- Portion your foods: Bring out the snacks you want to eat and portion them out. By making portions, you’ll have to make stops when eating. Popcorn, almonds, granola, trail mix, fruits, and vegetables with dips are the greatest kinds of snacks that will keep you away from the food you wish to avoid.
- Drink water: Since our bodies contain up to 60% water, it is sensible to stay as hydrated as possible prior to smoking pot. It will also increase your sense of fullness.
- Drink water to stay hydrated: Most likely, your mouth will get dry. Water will help.
- Try not to overindulge: It’s important to strike the appropriate balance. If you take too much THC, it will make you ravenous and if you take too little, it could not have the desired effect.
- Listen to your body: Eat if you’re hungry. Find something to do if you’re becoming bored. Just avoid eating if you’re bored.
- Eat wisely: Consume your pre-portioned snacks to sate your desires for salty and sweet foods.
- Watch out for food containing fats: If you are feeling excessively high, avoid consuming foods heavy in fat as this may increase your body’s absorption of THC. On the other hand, if you want your high to last longer and be stronger, eat some avocados or peanut butter.
- Chew gum: Chew some sugar-free gum to get the flavor of your munchies out of your mouth. Additionally, it helps reduce post-sesh hunger.
Is Smoking Cannabis Legal?
Cannabis is becoming legal in a continuously increasing number of U.S. states (check out “is cannabis legal in my state?”. Most Americans now have access to cannabis, whether for medical or recreational purposes, thanks to the legalization of medical marijuana in 38 states, including Washington DC.
According to some TV reports, the fall of 2022 may see the arrival of retail marijuana in Vermont, while legislators expect Washington to establish a regulated recreational market. However, a budget proposal in Congress might prolong the district’s sales prohibition.
This rapid change in how people perceive cannabis can indeed fast-track its legalization, especially when more and more Americans speak out in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational use. According to a CBS News survey conducted in April 2022, two-thirds of Americans call for both federal and state legalization. An earlier Pew Research Center poll supports these findings.
The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 also helped propel the federal normalization of marijuana use and farming by removing low-THC cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act’s regulatory purview.
Moreover, this law granted hemp farmers access to the national banking system, federal agricultural grants, water rights, and other advantages of growing a recognized crop like marketing, agronomy research, and crop insurance.
However, several states have already legalized marijuana use, such as New York, where CBD, or cannabidiol, has been legal for medical use since 2014. According to New York’s CBD laws, you can legally purchase medical CBD products in physical stores or online shops.
California also became the first state to legalize marijuana in 1996 with Proposition 215, approved by 56% of voters. However, the state only legalized sales and distribution in 2016 and became in effect in 2018.
However, there are still states, such as Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin, where recreational marijuana is prohibited, while medical use is limited to only CBD oil.
Guam officials signed a contract with Metrc, a cannabis regulatory systems supplier, in November 2021, moving the island one step closer to starting its industry.