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Smoking Weed for Weight Loss: Does it Work?

What to know before toking up.

You’ve probably heard that ongoing punchline about how stoners always have the munchies. But is it actually true? Maybe.

Research shows that smoking marijuana does affect the mechanisms that trigger hunger in our brain: receptors in our brain trigger the release of hormones that make us feel famished, causing us to gobble up everything in sight.

But even though there’s evidence to support the Cheetos-munching stoner stereotype, that doesn’t mean it’s entirely true. Other studies have shown that smoking pot doesn’t lead to weight gain.

In fact, people who regularly smoke get high off weed are less likely to be overweight or obese compared to those who don’t, according to a paper published in the International Journal of Epidemiology. The study included more than 30,000 participants. All put on weight during the three year study, but those who smoked weed gained the fewest pounds. This was determined by comparing Body Mass Index for participants in the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions study.

Researchers tied to that study theorize that cannabis may create cellular changes that impact weight gain.

And this isn’t the only study that indicates stoners may weigh less than people who don’t smoke. A 2011 study from the American Journal of Epidemiology, concluded that even if weed consumption increases appetite, “people using cannabis are less likely to be obese than people who do not use cannabis.” Other studies indicate that many cannabis users have trimmer waistlines than non-users, as well as lower cholesterol levels. What’s more, these results have proven to be true regardless of sample size or factors like age and gender.

So why else might this be the case? Researchers speculate it’s because of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound in marijuana that causes people to be “high.” To test the link between THC and weight loss, researchers at the University of Calgary examined obese mice and mice at a regular weight, both of which were given THC daily. The researchers found that while THC did not have any effect on the size of the mice who were already at a regular weight, it did cause the obese mice to lose weight. The researchers hypothesized that this was because THC caused changes in the gut microbiome that helped regulate weight loss and digestion.

Other studies in Poland, Italy, Hungary, Canada and the UK have replicated these findings, leading some researchers to conclude that there is “a correlation between cannabis use and reduction in the BMI,” said Dr. Sunil Aggarwal, a Washington-based physician and cannabis researcher. “This association holds even after controlling for other variables,” such as age, gender, or why a person is smoking marijuana to begin with (so for instance, a cancer patient who uses marijuana as a method of pain relief).

That said, there’s also some evidence indicating that marijuana’s effects on weight fluctuation are more complicated than Aggarwal would suggest. Didier Jutras-Aswad, a professor of neuroscience at University of Montreal, has studied how cannabis affects the functions of neurobiological circuits controlling appetite.

“It is known … that cannabis causes temporary increase in appetite,” which can indeed lead to weight gain, he said. Yet he conceded that “as to whether it actually causes weight gain in the long term, the available data is limited.”

It’s important to note that cannabis isn’t a prescription for weight loss: If you don’t exercise and have unhealthy eating habits, then smoking weed probably won’t help you have a lower BMI. Plus, you also want to consider that smoking weed is tied to breathing problems, psychosis, and mania-like symptoms in people with bipolar disorder. In fact, research suggests that smoking marijuana can lead to chronic bronchitis even injure the cell linings on your lungs, according to the American Lung Association.

Bottom line: there’s no evidence suggesting weed will help with your physique goals. The best way to lose weight is by following a diet plan that works for you.

​​Contrary to popular belief, smoking pot doesn't lead to weight gain — according to a few studies. In fact, weed might even help you maintain your weight.

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.

Reduces appetite

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.