There is plenty of anecdotal evidence of the potential positive effects of smoking marijuana. One of the current discussions is whether smoking weed can help with weight loss. Some people say that it can, while others feel that due to the “munchies” most people get when smoking, it would be challenging.
Take a closer look at what we know and what we do not know about whether smoking cannabis helps you lose weight.
Most of the people who argue that cannabis can help you lose weight point to two surveys in a 2011 review. The authors of this review found that obesity rates were higher in those who did not use marijuana than among people who used it three times or more a week.
Another study was published right before this one that found a similar conclusion with a focus on obesity and cannabis in young people.
There is also a meta-analysis of BMI (body mass index) and cannabis use. This shows that cannabis users had increased caloric intake but significantly lower obesity rates and BMIs.
Remember that these researches mentioned show a correlation. A correlation does not mean causation, and there is no proof that smoking marijuana is what is responsible for the differences. There may be another factor at play.
Theories on Why Weed Would Help With Weight Loss
Given the reputation of smoking marijuana, providing you the munchies, it seems counterintuitive to some that cannabis could help you lose weight. Given the previously mentioned research and various pieces of anecdotal evidence, experts have some theories about why using weed could help with weight loss.
For many people, being overweight comes from a lack of mobility. They may be in a great deal of pain that makes it impossible to move comfortably, or they may have limited mobility due to joint stiffness. Smoking marijuana can help relieve pain as well as stiffness.
In other words, marijuana removes the main obstacle for some people that prevent them from being active. It stands to reason that when you are more productive and mobile, you will lose weight due to the increase in calories burned.
Anyone who has ever gone through a stressful time in their life is likely fully aware of stress eating. It is scientifically proven that people have a higher chance of looking for comfort foods and overeating when they are stressed.
Cannabis can help with this by removing or reducing stress. It is commonly agreed that marijuana has the potential to reduce stress. There are two ways that this can help with weight loss. Some people may choose to smoke cannabis instead of stress eating, so they will not be consuming extra calories. Other people may turn to cannabis as an additional activity for stress relief, and as they reduce their stress, they feel a decreased need to stress-eat.
Sleep and weight loss are also closely tied together. Experts agree that poor sleep can result in weight gain. Combine this with the early evidence that cannabis may help fight insomnia, and people end up with more sleep, which reduces the risk of weight gain.
In addition to the studies showing that cannabis may help with insomnia, it can also help people overcome sleep problems due to pain or stress that keep them up. The bottom line is the same: smoking cannabis can result in more sleep, which can help with weight loss.
Decreased Alcohol Consumption
Some experts feel that the younger generation who consumes marijuana ends up drinking less alcohol than their peers. Alcohol is filled with empty calories, so smoking marijuana instead of drinking alcohol results in reduced caloric intake, which could lead to weight loss and a lower BMI. Of course, if you eat edibles instead of smoking your weed, you would make up for this difference in calories.
There is a small amount of evidence that cannabis interacts with the cannabinoid receptor-1 responsible for food intake and metabolism. It seems that consuming higher amounts of cannabis may reduce energy storage and increase metabolism, which combines to lower BMI.
Weed May Indirectly Lead to Weight Loss
All of the potential explanations above have one key point in common. Cannabis is not directly responsible for weight loss in any of these situations. Instead, consuming cannabis affects another underlying factor that can influence weight loss.
For now, the research into this is still very minimal, and more studies are necessary.
Overcoming the Munchies
It is impossible to discuss weed and weight loss without discussing the munchies. Researchers are well aware that smoking cannabis tends to make people want to eat junk food. They feel that some of the ability of cannabis to help you lose weight despite this comes down to the balance of CBD and THC.
THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana, and it is responsible for making you feel high. CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that can counter some of the effects of THC, including the psychoactive effects and the appetite-boosting effects.
This idea implies that strains of cannabis that have ideal proportions of THC and CBD will make it easier to overcome the increased appetite associated with marijuana so you can lose weight via the other ways mentioned.
Weed Still Poses Health Risks
Before you decide to use weed to help with weight loss, you should keep in mind that it does come with some risks. The smoke from cannabis contains cancer-causing agents, toxins, and irritants, including some of those found in tobacco smoke. Not only that, but cannabis smokers usually inhale more deeply as well as hold the smoke for longer. This can increase exposure to tar in each breath compared to cigarettes.
Additionally, smoking cannabis can damage your airways and lungs over time. This increases the risk of lung infections, reduced respiratory function, and even lung cancer. It can also weaken the immune system.
Smoking weed may indirectly help you with weight loss by boosting your metabolism, improving your sleep, encouraging mobility, alleviating stress, and reducing the amount of empty alcoholic calories you drink. Because of the potential health effects of smoking cannabis, however, you should not rely on it as a weight-loss method. Just know that if you smoke and are taking other steps to lose weight, the marijuana may potentially help your efforts.