Learn | 03.28.2024

Does Cannabis Consumption Affect Your Weight?

From munchies to metabolism boost: Weed’s weighty impact.

You may find it hard to believe that cannabis can lead to weight loss if it’s the main culprit behind your late-night fridge raids.

With cannabis becoming a staple in wellness and lifestyle sectors, questions about its relationship with weight are more relevant than ever. 

From sparking sudden snack marathons to potentially revving up your metabolism, your green friend has a more complex relationship with your weight than you may think. 

Join us as we explore the ins and outs of cannabis consumption and its impact on your weight.

Does Weed Make You Gain Weight?

Despite popular belief, cannabis itself doesn’t directly lead to weight gain. Instead, it’s the well-known munchies associated with weed that often expand the waistline.

A 2018 study revealed that THC, a key component in cannabis, could actually lower Body Mass Index (BMI), a health metric based on height and weight. This effect is linked to THC’s capacity to downregulate CB1 receptors, correlating with reduced obesity rates among cannabis users. 

This didn’t come as a surprise since a 21-year follow-up study published in 2010 found that daily cannabis users were less likely to be overweight or obese compared to non-users. Interestingly, as per BMI analyses, occasional users had a higher likelihood of weight gain than daily users.

But before you turn to cannabis for weight management, understanding the role of dosage can change the game.

According to an older clinical trial, non-user males didn’t consume extra food after smoking one joint, but their food intake noticeably increased after 2-3 joints. Essentially, higher cannabis doses led them to snack more frequently rather than eat larger meals. 

So, you may want to steer clear of consuming large amounts of cannabis if you want to avoid a snack raid. 

Plus, it’s crucial to remember that weight gain isn’t necessarily a negative aspect; priorities can lie in maintaining health, strength, and mindfulness.

Does Weed Increase Metabolism?

Studies suggest that regular cannabis users might see an uptick in their metabolic rate and reduced BMI. The effect stems from THC’s interaction with CB1 receptors, a key part of our body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). 

The ECS serves as a regulatory network, keeping vital processes like appetite, mood, memory, and even fertility in check. THC, the component in cannabis that gets you high, targets CB1 receptors located in areas of the brain that manage appetite, metabolism, and how we process calories.

While THC can rev up your metabolism, its continual activation of CB1 receptors may also heighten your appetite, leading to those infamous munchies.

CBD’s Role In Appetite Regulation

CBD, on the other hand, takes a different approach. Rather than engaging with CB1 receptors, CBD has more of an impact on serotonin receptors. It also prevents the body’s natural store of endocannabinoids from breaking down too fast. 

Evidence points to CBD’s potential as an appetite suppressant, aiding in weight management and possibly supporting weight loss.

Cannabis Consumption Methods & Weight Impact

Photo by Elsa Olofsson

The impact of cannabis on weight can vary significantly depending on the method of consumption and the dosage. 

Vaping, for example, can deliver a potent dose of THC, potentially influencing hunger more directly than other methods.

Let’s explore the distinct ways in which smoking, edibles, and vaping can each potentially affect weight.

Smoking

Traditionally, smoking cannabis is associated with an instant boost in appetite, potentially leading to increased food and caloric intake. While THC in smoked cannabis might give a temporary metabolic lift via CB1 receptor interaction, it could also lead to weight gain if not balanced with healthy eating and regular physical activity.

Vaping

Vaping was once viewed by many as a less harmful alternative to smoking, but emerging research is showing its harmful effects on the lungs by increasing inflammation and weakening barriers. Vaping cannabis offers a direct route for cannabinoids to enter the bloodstream through the lungs. Much like smoking, vaping activates CB1 receptors with THC, potentially boosting metabolism but triggering appetite with consistent use.

Edibles

Edibles offer a distinct experience by releasing cannabinoids through the digestive tract, causing a delayed but more sustained effect. This slow release often means a longer-lasting increase in appetite compared to smoking or vaping, and overindulgence is all too easy.

Striking A Balance

Let’s be blunt: neither smoking nor vaping are shortcuts to shedding pounds, and both carry their own health risks. Yet, evidence points to an intriguing effect of cannabis on weight management and reduced BMI, likely tied to how it engages with the brain’s cannabinoid receptors.

Ultimately, the journey with cannabis and weight is personal, blending science with self-awareness to forge a path that harmonizes with our health goals.

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