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What Marijuana Does to Your Metabolism
The effects of marijuana use are wide-ranging. Some strains make you feel sleepy and relaxed, others make you feel energetic and creative; but one of the most universal effects of getting stoned is acute, unremitting hunger. It is a phenomenon known as “the munchies,” and though it is commonly associated with late night, high-calorie diets, studies suggest that the relationship between cannabis use and the human metabolic system is more complex than it might seem.
In fact, the rate of obesity andВ diabetes among weed smokers is dramatically reduced compared to non-marijuana users, researchers found. Also, frequent marijuana users are generally slimmer than non-users, with waistlines that are 1.5 inches smaller, on average, than their former or non-using counterparts.
After surveying 786 adults in an Inuit communityвЂ”where more than half of the indigenous population reported frequent cannabis useвЂ”researchers at UniversitГ© Laval in Quebec, Canada, determined that smoking pot statistically correlated with lower body mass index (BMI), lower fat percentages, and lower fasting insulin levels.
Published in the journal Obesity, the study’s findings support what several other research institutions have found regarding the effects of marijuana on metabolism. In 2013, the American Journal of Science released a report that also noted the low prevalence of obesity in cannabis users despite an abundance of empirical and anecdotal evidence linking stoners to high caloric diets.
“The most important finding is that current users of marijuana appeared to have better carbohydrate metabolism than nonusers,” Murray Mittleman, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the lead author of the study, told Time. “Their fasting insulin levels were lower, and they appeared to be less resistant to the insulin produced by their body to maintain a normal blood-sugar level.”
In that study, researchers analyzed data reported by more than 4,600 people participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination SurveyвЂ”48 percent of whom had used cannabis at least once and 12 percent reported they were active users at the time of the surveyвЂ”and what they discovered seemed to defy explanation. Current marijuana users had 16 percent lower fasting insulin levels than former and non-users; they also showed, on average, 17 percent reduction in insulin resistance.
Remarkably, population-based data from these reports also indicate that regular marijuana users are about 30 percent less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. So even though smoking pot might give you the munchies, rending you defenseless against a bag of Doritos (as the cliche would have it, at least), rates of obesity and diabetes are reduced nonetheless among stoners.
“Cannabis smoking may also result in similarly increased energy expenditure as with cigarette smoking,” Michel Lucas, an epidemiologist at UniversitГ© Laval, told ATTN:. “In fact, cannabis smoking directly increases heart rate and blood pressure for several hours, as with tobacco.”
“[It would] be very interesting to see if the cannabis effect is the same when you eat or smoke it,” he added.
The rate of obesity and diabetes among weed smokers is dramatically reduced compared to non-marijuana users, researchers found. In 2013, the American Journal of Science released a report that also noted the low prevalence of obesity in cannabis users despite an abundance of empirical and anecdotal evidence linking stoners to high caloric diets.
Cannabis and Metabolism: Can CBD Help With Weight Loss?
New research is slowly transforming the way we look at the cannabis plant. A new trend is suggesting that cannabis can help with weight loss. But is this fact or fiction? We take a look at the research to give you the lowdown.
Understanding the connection between cannabis, CBD, and metabolism.
As any dieter will tell you, losing weight is hard. It’s also a very personal journey to take. For some, it amounts to limiting alcohol; for others, it’s a symptom of modern-day tension.
Whether you work too much or have children, there’s never enough hours in the day. Then, for those of us who like to relax with a joint at the end of it, you inevitably wind up with the munchies.
Recently, the internet has been abuzz with reports that CBD oil is a promising alternative weight loss supplement. But how true are these claims, exactly? Is CBD good for weight loss?
Potentially, but not directly.
The Endocannabinoid System and Metabolism
What the science all boils down to is our old friend, the endocannabinoid system. Named after the plant that led to its discovery, the ECS is what helps cannabinoids—such as CBD or THC—interact with our body.
Concerning the ECS and weight loss/metabolism, we know it’s directly connected to energy storage and transporting nutrients. As a result, it helps regulate everything from mood and sleep to temperature and inflammation. One study even found the endocannabinoid system to stimulate areas of the body  involved in metabolism, such as the gastrointestinal tract and pancreas.
As far as the science goes, the endocannabinoid system is made up of metabolic enzymes that stimulate various parts of the body. It does this primarily via two endogenous compounds—anandamide and 2-AG (2-arachidonoylglycerol)  —that target CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body. Given that cannabinoids like THC and CBD interact with these receptors too, it stands to reason that cannabis might be able to aid metabolism and/or weight loss in some respect.
While research on the endocannabinoid system and metabolism is still mounting, we’re learning more about it every year.
Marijuana and Weight Loss: What’s the Connection?
Although we all reach for the nearest snack after a good high, marijuana use doesn’t equate to obesity. In fact, in one study, scientists found that regular cannabis users are less likely to be obese. What it boils down to are two factors: terminology and individuality.
When it comes to weed, most use “cannabis” and “marijuana” interchangeably. However, they’re not the same in this context. Cannabis is the name for the plant, while marijuana is the name for the psychoactive buds it produces—its crop, so to speak. And while cannabis is made up of hundreds of cannabinoid compounds, the main one in marijuana is THC.
But when it comes to weight loss, it all boils down to CBD.
CBD and Metabolism
All cannabinoids have different effects, but they tend to have similar or complementary interactions with the ECS. There are four main ways in which CBD may be able to affect or alter our metabolism.
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If you remember only one thing from science class, it’s got to be: mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. You might even say it’s the spice of life.
Mitochondria convert sugars, fats, and proteins into the energy that sustains our bodies. Thus, mitochondrial imbalances can affect the way we burn energy, making it harder to lose weight. As a result, fixing those imbalances can greatly increase metabolic health and kick things back into gear.
CBD appears to regulate mitochondrial activity  , whipping our ECS into shape, which then helps us achieve metabolic balance, or homeostasis. With that in mind, could CBD combined with diet and exercise possibly increase the rate at which we burn fat? Let’s examine that a bit closer.
Fat is a complicated macronutrient. We automatically think of it as a bad thing. Scientifically speaking, however, that isn’t the case. On the contrary, there are actually two types of fat in our body: the good fat (brown), and the bad (white).
White fat is predominant: It’s the fat we developed to keep us from starving when we were but cave-dwelling creatures. White fat stores and supplies our body with energy, cushioning our organs for extreme scenarios we won’t face in our lifetimes. As a result, white fat can really mess with the metabolism. Brown fat, on the other hand, generates heat and burns calories.
In a study published in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, researchers found that CBD can convert white fat to brown  . While further human studies are needed, this poses great potential for using CBD oil alongside a weight loss or management programme.
In order to keep the body safe, the liver removes toxins and converts excess sugars into insulin. These sugars come from basically everything we put into our bodies, be it fruit or beer. From there, it’s passed on to the pancreas, which sends it to the cells.
Irregular insulin levels can overload the liver and pancreas, throwing the body out of whack. Furthermore, too much insulin in the bloodstream means we can’t burn fat. Consequently, you’re going to have a much harder time dropping the pounds.
CBD has some potential to stabilise insulin levels, henceforth kickstarting the process of curbing weight. This is demonstrated by a preclinical study  that found CBD to lower instances of diabetes in non-diabetic mice.
Marijuana (led by THC) is an appetite stimulant. As a result, some doctors prescribe medical marijuana to chemotherapy patients whose appetites have been affected. Of course, anyone who’s gotten the munchies will probably cosign that in a heartbeat.
While it’s true that THC makes you hungry, this is not the case with CBD. Believed to be more of an appetite suppressant, isolated CBD will not have you shoving sweets into your face. Instead, as a 2012 study on rats shows, it is more likely to reduce food intake  .
Does CBD Help You Lose Weight?
CBD is not a one-size-fits-all weight loss solution. In fact, some people might actually gain weight when using it. With research still being so new, it’s going to take some time until we know more about CBD’s effects on our metabolism.
For now, the best way to see if it works for you, individually, is to pay attention to how—or if—your appetite changes while using high-CBD strains or oils.
Does Smoking Weed Promote Weight Loss?
No. It’s very rare that smoking weed will help you lose weight.
However, experts believe it can help with some of the underlying factors related to obesity, such as promoting healthy sleep and lowering tension.
Why Does Cannabis Make You Hungry?
That familiar craving you get when you’re high comes down to THC; the same compound that gets you high. Although research is still in its infancy, one study published in Nature Neuroscience  gets us a bit closer to figuring out why.
THC increases the pleasure we get from certain things; therefore, if there’s chocolate in the fridge, it’ll taste even better when you’re high than it does normally. One way to fix this “issue” is to have healthier alternatives at hand for when the munchies hit. Let’s face it, you’ll gain less weight with carrot sticks than you would a slice of cake.
Controversy of Using CBD or Marijuana for Weight Loss
While there are potential benefits to using CBD for weight loss, there are plenty of controversies to even the playing field.
The biggest issue is that there haven’t been any studies into using CBD to lose weight directly, at least not in humans. Although animal studies exist, we won’t have real answers until we know its effects on us. For now, everything is just conjecture.
In a study in the American Journal of Medicine, researchers found that marijuana use offered a 17% reduction in fasting insulin  . That being said, a different study in Translational Psychiatry found that increased ECS activity  may lead to insulin resistance and obesity.
Similarly, in the case of a study that indicated lower rates of obesity in cannabis smokers, its authors go on to say weed shouldn’t be relied upon  as a dietary aid. Their study simply didn’t indicate a clear relationship between marijuana and weight loss.
Cannabis, Metabolism, and Weight Loss: The Bottom Line
The bottom line is, there’s no evidence that smoking weed can help you lose weight. Moreover, adding CBD into a weight loss plan without exercising or maintaining a healthy diet likely won’t do much either.
On the other hand, adding CBD to a healthy exercise and eating plan could be an excellent complement, thanks to its versatility and overall support of the ECS. At the very least, there is nothing to indicate that taking CBD will make you gain weight. And, since it’s well tolerated and offers numerous other benefits, there’s really nothing standing in the way of you incorporating CBD into your weight loss or weight management regimen.
When it comes to weed, we've all heard about—or experienced first-hand—the munchies. But could cannabis actually help you lose weight? What about CBD?