The common descriptors that people associate with cannabis users are fairly established; they are either sleeping or eating. The latter even has its own moniker: munchies. And while it is true that consuming weed also induces an increase in appetite, that doesn’t necessarily mean an overall increase in body weight. In fact, a recent study by Michigan State University has revealed quite an interesting result. To quote the researchers of the study, “Contrary to the belief — that marijuana users who have a serious case of the munchies will ultimately gain more weight — those who smoke cannabis, or marijuana, weigh less compared to adults who don’t.”
This new finding has most certainly raised a number of eyebrows on both sides of the cannabis argument. The drug that so many people have thrown doubts upon could very well be the answer to the obesity epidemic that’s been plaguing many countries around the world and has put millions of people’s health at risk.
Weed and Appetite
The moment cannabinoids from cannabis enter the body, it activates the endocannabinoid system that’s responsible for a number of bodily function, one of which is appetite stimulation. The receptors in our brain then trigger the body to release hormones that result in the feeling of being famished. Despite this scientific evidence of weed increasing one’s appetite, many studies have shown that using weed does not lead to weight gain.
In another study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, it stated that those who regularly smoke marijuana are less likely to become overweight or even obese as opposed to people who don’t. The research study included 30,000 subjects who all put on weight during the course of the study. Those who smoked weed, however, gained far fewer pounds. The researchers theorize that cannabis has spurred cellular changes that are connected to weight gain.
The Science behind Weed Use and Weight Loss
So how is this happening? Many scientists point the finger at THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, a compound found in the marijuana plant, the same compound responsible for the feeling of being “high.” Researchers push forth and tested the link between THC and weight loss. A team of researchers from the University of Calgary used animal models in their experiment. Obese mice and regular mice were given daily THC. They found that the compound did not have any effect on the subjects at a regular weight. They did, however, discovered that THC caused obese mice to lose weight. They concluded that THC affected the microbiome of the gut that helped with weight management and regulation.
Several studies in different parts of the world have replicated these results which lead many researchers to conclude that there is a strong relationship between the reduction in BMI and cannabis use. But having said that, there is also evidence that point to the fact that marijuana’s effects on weight are far more complicated than initial findings suggested. The fact is, there are still very few data on marijuana’s effect on the long term weight of users.
Weed and Exercise
But how weed affects one’s weight loss isn’t limited down on the cellular level. In fact, a study that’s been published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health found that using cannabis may help to motivate users to exercise. Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder conducted a survey of 600 marijuana users to explore how people use the plant as it relates to exercise and athletic activity. The survey was distributed among states where cannabis use is legal.
Users of the drug have stated that they use it either before or after their exercise. Many said that marijuana motivates them in their work out routine. They are able to enjoy their exercise more and it also helps them in their recovery. Simply put, cannabis gets them motivated to work out as well as helps them avoid the pain that comes from a particularly strenuous workout, making them all the more motivated to exercise more frequently.
To summarize, further studies about how weed impacts weight management and weight loss still needs to be conducted, although the ones that have been done are yielding very positive results. Marijuana research is still in its infancy and only time will reveal its full potential.