You’ve probably heard all the jokes about stoners and munchies by now. After all, 99% of all Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor combinations, odd fast food menu items, and strange snack chip varieties are entirely the fault of cannabis smokers.
Binges on junk food caused by marijuana are inadequate for maintaining a healthy diet. This is because science has repeatedly demonstrated that irregular eating habits (such as stopping at a late-night drive-through for a few tacos after eating dinner) can cause unhealthy and being overweight. Ultimately, this could lead to a wide range of health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer (colon cancer, for example).
Leaving humor and scares aside, some intriguing scientific research addresses how marijuana use impacts hunger and connects to weight gain or loss. Researchers are starting to understand how marijuana affects a healthy lifestyle in terms of metabolism, weight reduction, and lifestyle motivation.
Does marijuana affect metabolism?
A 2011 assessment of two nationwide studies between 2001 and 2003 sparked most of the debate about the effects of marijuana use on metabolism. The analysis found that those who have never used cannabis have higher rates of obesity than frequent cannabis users (at least three or more times per week).
Similar findings were also reached by a 2010 study published in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse that looked at the relationship between marijuana usage and youth obesity. Anecdotal research suggests that cannabis may help reduce the rate of obesity and improve BMI by:
Reducing alcohol consumption
Boosting levels of physical activity.
Assisting with sleep problems
Simulating Cortisol/stress response
Relieving aches and pains that may interfere with the exercise
Furthermore, these findings were validated by a 2018 review published in the peer-reviewed journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, which investigated the association between cannabis consumption and body mass index (BMI). It was discovered that, despite ingesting more calories, cannabis enthusiasts typically have lower BMIs and rates of obesity, which suggests cannabis impacts metabolism.
Tom Clark, the chair of Indiana University South Bend’s biological sciences department, claims that people naturally think cannabis users are overweight because it boosts appetite. Clark and his colleagues examined 17 research involving nearly 156,000 people and discovered that marijuana users were leaner than nonusers. Additionally, their body mass index (BMI) is typically 7 percent lower; for a 6-foot man, this translates to a 15-pound difference. Most intriguingly, marijuana users have a 30 to 35 percent lower risk of being obese.
Clark added that even though THC may cause an initial spike in appetite, the metabolism boosts more than makes up for it over time. He continues by assuming that the consequences of lowering obesity would be even higher if current strains had lost the munchie effects but retained increased metabolic rates. And you don’t have to be a heavy smoker to lose weight. According to research, using marijuana just once can increase your metabolism for approximately four weeks, making you appear leaner.
While the exact cannabis dose required is unknown, THC, in contrast to the more common legal, nonpsychoactive cannabidiol, has a more pronounced impact on metabolism. According to popular belief, our modern American diet is excessively high in omega-6 fatty acids found in foods such as vegetable oil and butter. Omega-6 in excess can induce inflammation in the body. It also overstimulates the CB1R receptor, which elevates appetite, gives food a better taste, lowers metabolic rates, and promotes fat accumulation. Clark claims that THC can “speak” to the CB1R receptor and thus bring balance. In other words, it may aid in the reduction of hunger and weight growth.
The gut microbiome, which also influences weight, may be improved by THC. Increased Firmicutes levels and decreased Bacteroidetes levels are associated with obesity. In a Canadian study on animals, THC was administered to obese mice on a high-calorie diet. Their levels of intestinal flora returned to normal, and they stopped gaining weight.
Still, poor eating habits cannot be fixed by marijuana. Myron Szewczuk, a biomedical researcher from Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, asserts that a diet high in sugar, fat, and artificial sweeteners cannot be sustained if one wants to reduce weight. Not everybody agrees with the reported impacts cannabis has on metabolism. According to Diana Martinez, a psychiatry professor at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York, the evidence indicating cannabis causes weight reduction is not reliable. While there are studies on animals, participants in human studies self-report their results, so it is impossible to tell how much they are consuming.
A study where some participants receive THC while others get a placebo is necessary to demonstrate the notion. Martinez is not always opposed to marijuana and its legaliziation. According to her, it can potentially treat crippling disorders that call for more treatment alternatives, such as chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and Crohn’s disease. However, before extensive human trials can be conducted, restrictions on THC in science need to be loosened in the United States.
What about Cannabis and Weight Gain?
So, how about the “munchies“? Obesity and weight increase may not be caused simply by cravings for food. Research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that regular marijuana users are less likely to be overweight or obese than nonusers.
The impact of cannabis in stimulating appetite is also not as simple as you might expect, according to Brian St. Pierre, R.D., a nutrition expert for Men’s Health. THC, the euphoric ingredient in marijuana that causes the “high,” can make people hungry. On the other hand, CBD appears to offset THC’s stimulant effects on hunger.
The systems in the brain that cause hunger may be affected by marijuana, according to a study, particularly the hormone-releasing receptors. Nevertheless, despite research crediting the Cheetos-eating stoner stereotype, other studies have demonstrated that marijuana use does not result in weight gain.
There is no empirical human-based evidence that marijuana has a profound impact on metabolism that will help cannabis smokers achieve their physical fitness goals. Adhering to a diet strategy that is effective for you is the most excellent method to lose weight.