We've probably all had the munchies, but do some strains have the opposite effect? It may sound crazy, but it's true. Here's the inside scoop on skinny weed.
There’s no doubt that cutting calories is one of the quickest ways to lose weight (though keeping it off is another story entirely).
Yet, low caloric intake is definitely not something often associated with cannabis lovers. Anyone who has tried a heavy indica strain knows that the herb can make you hungry for fatty, carb-laden foods.
But can some strains actually help prevent overeating? The answer could be a surprising yes. Here’s why some skinny weed strains are appetite suppressants.
Unfortunately, those looking to lose weight might not be so happy with the results when it comes to smoking weed.
At the moment, there is no correlation between cannabis and weight loss. Cannabis being used as a weight loss tool isn’t effective, as most strains might cause the opposite effect. Instead, cannabis may increase appetite and make someone eat more, thanks to the infamous munchies.
If you’re unsure about the munchies, it’s a phenomenon that occurs after smoking or eating THC, the main psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis. THC interacts with the endocannabinoid system to produce hormones that tell your body it’s hungry. Even if you ate a full meal and smoked some weed afterward, it’s pretty normal to feel hungry again after about 20 minutes.
Simply put, there is currently no correlation between cannabis and weight loss. The only interesting fact is that cannabis has been proven to increase metabolism, meaning the rate at which your body digests and uses food may increase.
However, it’s important to remember that smoking weed to increase metabolism won’t make you lose weight. It might, but only if you’re taking other measures to help you lose weight, like eating nutritious foods and exercising.
That said, there are a few reasons why cannabis could cause weight loss, but you simply can’t rely on one of these methods and expect to see results:
Similar to the section above, cannabis, unfortunately, can cause some people to gain weight rather than lose it. There are a few good reasons for that.
For starters, the main reason why cannabis is associated with weight gain is because of the notorious munchies, which we explained above. When THC hijacks certain cell receptors in the brain, it releases certain hormones to tell our body it needs something…like food.
THC promotes hunger hormones, meaning it’s very normal to experience a spike in hunger about 15-30 minutes after using cannabis. This may cause someone to snack more. Of course, you can avoid weight gain by snacking on healthier foods and eating in moderation, but for a high person, that can be a tough ask.
Similar to the point above, cannabis can keep us from keeping track of what we’re eating and how much of it. When someone is high, loopy, and hungry, they may want to reach for the easiest thing to eat, like packaged, processed foods or microwavable dinners.
Furthermore, when we get to eating while high, it’s hard for our bodies to tell us that we’re full. This is especially true if you’re distracted, watching TV, or scrolling on social media. This, in turn, causes overeating which could lead to weight gain.
Finally, cannabis is known to relax us. It can relieve anxiety while calming us down. When our bodies are completely relaxed, it’s normal to feel sensations like hunger. Marijuana’s relaxing properties aren’t a direct cause of weight gain, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Cannabis makes you hungry for one primary reason: appetite-stimulating cannabinoids. The majority of strains out there are high in psychoactive THC.
When you consume cannabis, THC takes the place of compounds your body naturally produces. These compounds are endocannabinoids.
Turns out, endocannabinoids are critical for appetite and metabolism.
Specifically, endocannabinoids are chemical messengers that tell your body when to release ghrelin. Ghrelin is the hunger hormone that drives you to eat. A couple of the chemical compounds in cannabis activate the same cell receptors in the brain and digestive tract as your endocannabinoids.
As a result, your stomach starts growling, and you find yourself rooting around in the kitchen. There are two primary cannabinoids in cannabis that stimulate appetite:
While certain cannabinoids give you the munchies, other cannabinoids have the opposite effect. In fact, Britain’s GW Pharmaceuticals is actually experimenting with certain cannabis compounds for the treatment of metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a major risk factor for:
In a 2012 clinical trial, GW researchers tested two cannabinoids as a treatment for diabetes. Specifically, they tested nonpsychoactive tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) and cannabidiol (CBD) on 62 patients with type 2 diabetes. The results were quite positive. Patients had better insulin response and greater pancreatic cell function, among several other improvement factors.
The positive clinical trial is supported by earlier pre-clinical research in animals. Another 2012 rodent study found that CBD actually decreased feeding in rats. Rodents were treated with three different cannabinoids:
The rats that were given CBN chowed down significantly more than those given CBG, which had no apparent effect. Yet, the rats given CBD ate less than the other two models.
THCV has also had successful pre-clinical trials. In rodent models, THCV improved insulin sensitivity. When combined with CBD, mice have shown lower levels of fat buildup in the liver and reduced cholesterol. All good signs that these two cannabinoids may help people manage their weight and stave off dreaded metabolic syndrome.
The following strains are known for either their high THCV or high CBD content. As discussed, both of these cannabinoids seem to suppress appetite and improve metabolic function. However, it’s important to note that the higher THC and CBN levels in the strain, the more likely you are to get the munchies.
So, if you’re picking up at a dispensary, take a peek at the testing data to make sure you’re getting more of these “skinny” cannabinoids and less of the munchie-inducing ones.
Harlequin (High CBD): Harlequin is rich in CBD with small amounts of THC. It’s known to be more relaxing and calming rather than the euphoria associated with THC. With high CBD and low THC, you can chill out without reaching for the snack drawer.
Cannatonic (High CBD): Cannatonic is another trusted high-CBD strain with a low THC content that could steer you away from snacking. It’s known for its heavy fuel aroma and calming effects.
ACDC (High CBD): Although this strain is named after an electrifying rock band, it doesn’t have a powerful, high-inducing effect. Instead, its high CBD content makes it perfect for clarity, relaxation, and stress relief without THC-induced munchies.
Doug’s Varin (High THCV): If you’re new to THCV, Doug’s Varin is an excellent strain to start with. It’s rather rare, so you might have to search online for dispensaries around you carrying this high-THCV strain.
Durban Poison (High THCV): Durban Poison is perhaps one of the most accessible high-THCV strains. Although its THC content is pretty high, the accompanying THCV helps counter the unwanted effects of THC, like munchies.
Blue Dream (High THCV): It’s worth noting that not all Blue Dream strains are rich in THCV. There are two common phenotypes of this strain, so be sure to check the testing data to ensure it’s rich in THCV.
XJ-13 (High THCV): Although this strain is rather rare, it’s an excellent choice for consumers looking to dabble in THCV. Its high THCV content makes it perfect for mood elevation, relaxation, and clarity without the munchies.
To conclude, why do some strains suppress appetite? It all depends on their cannabinoids. THCV and CBD both improve metabolism, increase insulin sensitivity and may contribute to less fat buildup in the liver.
In animal models, CBD has even been shown to reduce caloric intake.
Want to cut back on the munchies? Opt for strains high in THCV and/or CBD.