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Thursday, January 27, 2022

This Is What Smoking Weed Does for Weight Loss

By this point, you’ve already heard all the dead-horse punchlines about stoners and the munchies. Pot-smokers, after all, are solely to blame for weird fast food menu items, bizarre snack chip flavors, and 99% of all Ben & Jerry’s ice cream combinations.

And, okay, pot-induced junk food binges are, obviously, not great for maintaining a healthy diet.

This is because science has routinely shown that irregular eating patterns (i.e., hitting up a late-night drive thru for a taco or four when you already had dinner) can lead to overeating, which can lead to being overweight, which can lead to a whole host of health complications up to and including heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers (colon cancer, for one).

But, jokes (and threats!) aside, there’s also some interesting science emerging regarding how smoking marijuana affects your appetite and an association with weight gain or weight loss.

Researchers are beginning to determine the role marijuana plays in metabolism, fat loss, and—here’s a biggie—motivation as it relates to a healthy lifestyle.

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That may lead you to wonder if enjoying some THC could, in some strange way, actually help you lose some pounds. Or, in the very least, that partaking in weed may not be as bad for your waistline as you once assumed.

Is weed the unsung weight loss tool you’re missing? Or is it a dangerous drug that will leave you raiding the fridge and sabotaging any semblance of a healthy approach to eating?

While the research on all this is still relatively new and limited, some interesting findings are coming to light.

What to know about smoking weed and weight lossSo will smoking weed help you lose weight? Not directly.

“Cannabis may indirectly help with weight loss,” says Abby Langer, R.D., author of Good Food, Bad Diet. “For example, in people whose mobility increases with cannabis, or in those who switch from alcohol use to cannabis.” Meaning, replacing alcohol with weed may lead to reduced calorie intake.

As far as cannabis-induced weight loss, researchers speculate that weight loss may be stimulated by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound in marijuana that causes people to feel high. However this study was done on mice, not people.

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Other studies on mice and rats in Poland, Italy, Hungary, Canada and the UK have also replicated these findings, leading some researchers to conclude that there is “a correlation between cannabis use and reduction in the BMI,” says 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).

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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 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.

What to know about smoking weed and weight gainSo what about the “munchies?” The research isn’t that clear cut on whether having the munchies directly leads to weight gain or obesity. In fact, people who regularly partake in marijuana are actually less likely to be overweight or obese compared to those who don’t, according to a study in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

“The effect on [increasing] appetite is also not as straightforward as you might think,” says Brian St. Pierre, R.D., a Men’s Health nutrition advisor. “THC, the psychoactive compound that produces weed’s ‘high,’ can trigger hunger. Yet on the other hand, CBD seems to counteract the appetite-boosting effects of THC.”

While research has shown that marijuana may affect the mechanisms that trigger hunger in the brain, specifically receptors that release hormones. But even though there’s evidence to support the Cheetos-munching stoner stereotype, other studies have shown that smoking pot doesn’t lead to weight gain.

The 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.

Melissa Matthews
Health Writer
Melissa Matthews is the Health Writer at Men’s Health, covering the latest in food, nutrition, and health.

Taylyn Washington-Harmon
Taylyn Washington-Harmon is the Health Editor at Men’s Health, with previous bylines at Health Magazine, SELF, and STAT.

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Lisa Smith
I spend a lot of time studying foreign languages. I spend a lot of time studying foreign languages.

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