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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.

Smoke Weed and Be Skinny: The Stoner Diet Plan

A recent study out of the University of Nebraska, the Harvard School of Public Health and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center shows that pot smokers, on average, have smaller waists and higher levels of “good cholesterol” than non pot smokers even though they tend to eat more. Finally, a diet plan that’s fun and effective!

Researchers don’t know what it is about marijuana that makes it such a useful regulator of blood sugar or how it manages to speed up you metabolism, but the proof is in the six pudding cups that you just watched your stoner cousin Tim down in one sitting. So how can one of these slim, THC-laden bodies be yours? As someone who doesn’t really smoke, I’m not sure myself, which is why I — like Dian Fossey going to live with the gorillas — reached out to some of my closest, highest friends (i.e. the ones who are currently on Gchat) for a little advice on how to follow the Stoner’s Diet Plan.

Follow the steps below and then add weed.

1. You can never be too prepared.

I’m lucky to be desk mates with Tracie Egan Morrissey whose book ” Pot Psychology: How to Be ” (which she cowrote with fellow Gawker writer Rich Juzwiak) is the perfect manual for stoners. When I asked her for diet advice, she just handed me a copy and directed me to page 217 — “How to Be a Pothead Without Gaining Weight.”

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Pot Psychology’s How to Be: Lowbrow Advice from High People

Here’s what they have to say on the subject:

The key to not eating like a dog with opposable thumbs is to prepare your snacks in advance of getting high. If you buy a crate of blueberries, you will eat that crate, but at least you won’t be eating a crate of donuts. Or dipping Milano cookies in peanut butter. Or toasting taco shells, breaking them up, and making nachos out of them. Or eating ramen noodles raw. Or making s’mores and substituting Cool Whip for marshmallows. Or eating a whole bag of marshmallows in one mouthful. That’s dangerous and best reserved for kids on YouTube. Only idiots would put their marijuana fueled exploits online.

(Check out Tracie and Rich’s webseries Pot Psychology here !)

When I bothered Rich for more information on how a non-smoker can eat like stoner, he was nice enough not to say “Outta my face, square!” and give me a real answer.

“I recommend buying healthy and throwing out anything unhealthy BEFORE you smoke,” he tells me, then adding this caveat: “But that often means that you just end up making a trip to the store when you are super high, which can be fun and scary and thus exhilarating.”

Friends outside of Gawker Media also recommend preparing ahead of time. One food of choice to have on hand (brought up by multiple sources) was popcorn.

“I make a big bowl of popcorn because it’s pretty healthy and there is a lot of it for the methodical and repetition action that is so pleasing to my high brain,” says Weedina Weedinstein,* a graphic designer and science enthusiast who lives in Brooklyn. “Then I add something sweet like one cookie or piece of chocolate.”

2. Utilize the extra daylight and warmer weather of summer and be active.

Another friend who we’ll call Dopestia Grassley because, in addition to being a stoner, she has a nice gig in PR that she’d rather not lose (also, she’s the dopest), told me that day smoking and being outside is one way that she controls her food intake.

“I think getting the munchies is very dependent where you smoke and when,” she tells me. “Summer is awesome because I can be active and high. I like to do specific things stoned like going to museums, movies or being in nature. Day smoking is better in that respect.”

“Plus you can wear sunglasses,” she adds.

Good advice whether you’re high or not! Thanks, Dopestia!

3. Get a vaporizer.

It’s hard to inconspicuously sneak a bong rip or light up a joint in most public places, so get a vaporizer. They’re discreet and mostly odorless, which will help be out in public and away from the easy access of your own kitchen cupboards.

4. Or just have a baby.

Tracie says, “A really good way to keep trim as a pot head is to have a baby so that you always have to smoke pot away from home, and away from your pantry and fridge.”

Please revisit suggestion 3 before you commit to this. It’s a last resort.

5. Smoke, then fall immediately asleep.

You can’t eat if you’re sound asleep. (Yes, you can. I’ve done it before.)

6. Utilize your social anxiety.

This one comes directly from yours truly! I’ve found that smoking in large groups always leaves me feeling petrified that I might commit a faux pas. It’s horrible and the main reason why I don’t do it very often. The good news? Terror and anxiety tend to eradicate hunger by twisting your stomach into knots. The bad? EVERYONE IS THINKING ABOUT WHAT A PHONY YOU ARE.

8. Forget all of the other advice and eat what you want.

Weren’t you listening at the beginning of all of this? Stoners eat more than anyone (up to 600 calories a day more, says the University of Nebraska/Harvard School of Public Health/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center study) and they’re still trimmer than the rest of us.

Dopestia — who was maybe high when she said this — told me, “I do think that the way most Americans think about food is wrong — that food is the enemy and fat, gluten and carbs are the devils. Maybe stoners just know what’s up. It is the YOLO diet.”

She does advise, however to stay away from state fairs while stoned because they’re full of delicious smelling junk food and you might end up riding “down a huge slide on a potato sack” like she did.

Rich also had some very good advice on what to think about when choosing snacks to eat while stoned.

“Salty-sweet combinations are what being high is made for. Chocolate-covered pretzels are good; chocolate-covered potato chips are better,” he says. (Salty-sweet combinations are also what being alive is made for, but, sure, we still follow.)

He recommends staying a way from meat and seafood:

You really start to think about what you’re eating and how a lot of crustaceans are just bugs of the sea. Also the slipperiness of clams and oysters is a total freakout. And because you can never be sure that you won’t get sick, pot’s paranoia will make you think you’re going to get sick.

In this way, I think eating vegetarian is always the way to go when you are high because at the worst what you’ll get is something that is bland. It’s unlikely that vegetarian dish will spoil your stomach or give you a piece of gristle to chew on and then send your mind to bemoaning the factory farming industry.

Now go enjoy your new diet.

*Some names have been changed.

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DISCUSSION

This is a bit off topic but how often do you guys think that it is ok to smoke pot? I Know that this is a question that one can only answer for themselves but I just wanted some outside opinions. I have been with my boyfriend for six months and he smokes almost every day. Mind you, he is under a tremendous amount of stress right now. He said that it is a coping mechanism. He never seems high though. I would not know if I did not smell it. He said that he has stopped for long periods of time in the past but I just do not like the idea that he needs this stuff to get through the day. He has said that he is gonna stop for a while and then his friends show up and he just caves in and that really annoys me. I wouldn’t mind once or twice a week but every day? I never smoked until I met him and i have tried five times and I just don’t get high so to have to smell that smoke every time i see him. I hope that his troubles ease up soon so that he does not depend on this stuff so much.

Ha! He just called me and was telling me about his most recent problem and out of the blue said that he just feels so anxious and overwhelmed when he isn’t high. He does not smoke in the day time but he is at home right now tying to multi-task a few things and he said that he is so scared about the future that he cannot focus on what he needs to do and that if he could smoke it would calm him down. I feel so bad for him. I do not want you all thinking that he is a raging mess, he isn’t. Have any of you heavily depended on pot in times of trouble?

A recent study out of the University of Nebraska, the Harvard School of Public Health and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center shows that pot smokers, on average, have smaller waists and higher levels of "good cholesterol" than non pot smokers even though they tend to eat more. Finally, a diet plan that's fun and effective! ]]>