Does Smoking Weed Really Make You Lose Weight?
Whether or not you’ve ever smoked weed, you’ve probably heard of the munchies — that overpowering drive to eat all the snacks after smoking weed.
But others swear that smoking weed not only makes them eat less, but also makes them lose weight.
Using marijuana may be associated with lower body weight, but it’s not as straightforward as it sounds.
Here’s a look at what we do and don’t know about the relationship between smoking weed and weight loss.
A lot of the noise around smoking weed for weight loss comes from a 2011 review of two surveys. The authors concluded that rates of obesity were higher among people who reported not using marijuana compared to rates among those who used marijuana at least 3 days a week.
Shortly before those results were published, a study examining the association between cannabis and obesity in young people made similar conclusions.
Most recently, a meta-analysis of the relationship between cannabis use and body mass index (BMI) showed that cannabis users had significantly lower BMIs and obesity rates but an increased calorie intake.
It’s important to remember that this research simply suggests there are some links between marijuana use and lower body weight. It’s unclear what’s behind this link, and there’s not enough evidence to say that using marijuana is an effective way to lose weight. Plus, using marijuana comes with its own risks and downsides (more on this later).
Experts have a few theories on why marijuana use is linked to reduced BMI and lower risks of obesity.
It can increase mobility
When used properly, marijuana may relieve symptoms of pain and stiffness. This means people with mobility issues may find that they can be more active when using marijuana.
It may cause some people to drink less
Some experts suspect that younger people who use marijuana may consume less alcohol than those who don’t. This means they’re not taking in calories from alcoholic drinks, which could contribute to lower BMIs.
It can lower stress
Stress eating is a very real thing. Studies show that people are more likely to overeat and reach for comfort foods when stressed.
It’s no secret that weed can ease anxiety and help calm you when you’re feeling stressed. Some believe that this might replace stress eating for some people.
It may improve sleep
Poor sleep can be a factor in weight gain. There’s some evidence that cannabis may improve insomnia. Plus, it may help reduce stress and pain, two of the main culprits behind poor sleep.
It may boost metabolism
There’s some evidence that cannabis interacts with cannabinoid receptor 1 , which plays a role in metabolism and food intake. High amounts of cannabis appear to increase metabolism and reduce energy storage, resulting in a lower BMI.
Using marijuana doesn’t cause sudden weight loss. But experts believe it may help with some underlying factors that can contribute to weight gain in some people.
Much more research is needed to fully understand the link between marijuana use and weight.
The research around marijuana and weight loss catches some people off guard because of the long-standing association between marijuana and major snacking.
Indeed, a recent study showed an increase in sales of junk food, which the authors largely defined as chips, cookies, and ice cream, in U.S. states where marijuana is now legal.
How can people be eating more and losing weight while smoking weed? Researchers are still trying to figure out the specifics, but a balancing act between two major cannabinoids in marijuana might offer some explanation.
THC, the psychoactive compound that produces weed’s “high,” has been shown to trigger hunger. It’s the reason why people sometimes use cannabis as an appetite stimulant.
CBD, on the other hand, seems to counteract certain effects of THC, including its appetite-boosting and mood-altering effects.
At first glance, the research might seem to suggest that smoking weed is a good way to lose weight. But there’s no evidence that using marijuana directly causes weight loss.
It might contribute indirectly by helping with certain issues, including chronic pain and poor sleep, that can contribute to higher body weight.
Plus, using marijuana isn’t without risks, especially if you smoke it.
Marijuana smoke contains many of the same irritants, toxins, and cancer-causing agents as tobacco smoke, according to the American Lung Association.
And because weed smokers inhale more deeply and hold the smoke in longer, they’re exposed to more tar per breath than cigarette smokers.
Over time, smoking weed damages your lungs and airways, reducing respiratory function and increasing your risk for lung infections and even lung cancer.
It can also weaken your immune system, which interferes with your body’s ability to fight disease.
Then there’s the whole issue of misuse and dependence. Up to 30 percent of users have some degree of marijuana use disorder, according to recent data. Younger people are especially at risk, particularly people who use marijuana before the age of 18.
Even though there’s some evidence that smoking weed may affect weight, a lot more research is needed.
Plus, smoking still does more harm than good, even if it’s just marijuana. Using marijuana through nonsmoking methods may offer some health benefits, but it’s not recommended for weight loss.
Last medically reviewed on October 30, 2019
Yes, there's some evidence linking marijuana use to lower body weight, but it's not that simple.
Can CBD help you lose weight?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural compound gaining a lot of popularity in the natural health world. Some people believe that CBD can aid weight loss, but does it work?
CBD is one of many cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Another cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis. There is no evidence that CBD causes a high.
The only uses of CBD that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are for treating rare forms of epilepsy and specific causes of seizures. All other uses are off-label.
While research suggests that CBD may be a promising treatment for some health problems — including relieving chronic pain, improving sleep, and reducing inflammation — there is not enough evidence to prove that it is effective for any of these issues.
Researchers are also looking at the possibility that CBD can help people lose weight and reduce their risk of issues associated with overweight, such as diabetes and metabolic disorder.
In this article, we discuss the existing research behind CBD and weight loss. We also look at the possible risks and legal status of CBD.
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CBD may aid weight loss due to how it affects the body and brain.
The effects of CBD in the body are largely due to how it affects the body’s natural endocannabinoid system. This system responds to different chemicals in the body through two cannabinoid (CB) receptors, called the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
CB1 receptors are most dense in the brain and central nervous system. CB2 receptors are mainly in the immune system.
In people with obesity, however, CB1 receptors become more widespread, especially in fatty tissue. Because of this, researchers believe that there may be a link between the activation of the CB1 receptors and obesity.
CBD works with other cannabinoids to potentially activate many receptors, such as endocannabinoid and serotonin. This may play a role in weight loss or other critical metabolic functions.
For more information and resources on CBD and CBD products, please visit our dedicated hub.
There is some evidence to suggest that CBD can help a person lose weight or help prevent metabolic disorders.
Many proponents say that CBD can help a person lose weight by reducing their appetite.
Most people associate cannabis with a stimulated appetite, as people tend to feel hungry after using cannabis. While THC may cause hunger, there is little evidence that CBD does the same.
THC, when it stimulates the CB1 receptor, releases a hormone that increases food intake. On the other hand, as the authors of one 2018 study note, CB1 receptor antagonists may help reduce appetite and control obesity. This is because CB1 receptor antagonists block off or “deactivate” the receptor.
The authors also note that stimulating the CB2 receptors decreases inflammation and reduces food intake, thereby possibly helping reduce obesity.
An older animal study from 2012 found that exposure to CBD reduced appetite in rats. No direct studies that show that it reduces appetite in humans.
Turns bad fat into good fat
Proponents of CBD for weight loss also claim that it can convert white, or “bad,” fat into brown fat, which may help the body burn calories.
White fat may increase the risk of many chronic conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.
A 2016 study helps back up this claim. The researchers found that CBD plays multiple roles in how the body interacts with fat.
In the study, CBD helped convert white fat cells into brown fat cells. It also stimulated the body to break down fats more efficiently.
The researchers note that CBD may be a promising therapy for preventing obesity, but more studies in humans are necessary.
Research from 2018 helps explain how CBD might break down fats in the body. The process of turning white fat cells to brown fat cells actually changes how these cells act in the body.
Brown fat cells may be a more active form of fat. They burn off energy as heat, meaning that they actually burn calories.
As a loss of calories is important for weight loss, CBD may help burn fat if it turns white fat to brown fat in the body.
Reduces the risk of metabolic disorders
As other 2018 research notes, there is a close link between obesity and several metabolic disorders, such as:
Overactivation of the CB receptors in the body may be partly responsible for this. Overactivation of the CB1 receptors in the fat tissue throughout the body could contribute to obesity and metabolic risks.
A review in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research also notes some highlights of past studies surrounding CBD and metabolic factors in animals
For instance, a treatment using CBD reduced total cholesterol by 25% in rats with obesity. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of CBD also appeared to decrease blood sugar levels and increase markers for liver health.
While initial results from studies on CBD and weight loss raise some interesting potential connections, there are a few important things to consider.
CBD, or any other compound, supplement, or drug, is not a treatment for obesity. These supplements and compounds are not healthful replacements for a healthful diet and regular exercise.
A person who adds CBD to their weight loss plan without also exercising and eating healthfully may not see any benefits.
It is best to work directly with a doctor when using CBD for weight loss. Doctors will want to discuss any other medications the person is taking, as CBD may cause adverse interactions.
The FDA does not regulate CBD products in the same way they regulate drugs, so companies sometimes mislabel or misrepresent their products. That means it’s especially important to do some research and find a quality product.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a natural compound that comes from the cannabis plant. Some people claim that it can aid weight loss by supressing appetite and burning fat. Learn more here.