The Complex Relationship Between Weed and Weight

The stereotypical stoner isn’t a svelte guy. When you imagine someone who partakes of the good kush, you likely think of someone with the body type of Seth Rogan or Jerry Garcia — a bit on the pudgy side, at best. That expectation is likely due to the long-held belief that cannabis use causes laziness or at least a lack of motivation in conjunction with the notorious munchies, or the spike in appetite and desire for junk food that comes with a weed high.

However, studies show that regular cannabis users actually tend to gain weight at a lower rate than the rest of the population. Why does this happen, and how can the average person harness the power of pot to reach personal weight goals?

Reasons Weed Is Good for Weight Maintenance

In truth, researchers don’t have a good grasp of why research indicates that cannabis users gain weight more slowly than non-users — but they have a few good guesses. Here are some suggested reasons for these research results:

Cannabis consumption increases mobility. Though some weed strains are known for “couch lock,” or the sensation of being so sedate that the user does not want to budge, plenty of other strains are notoriously “energizing,” giving users a mental and physical boost to get things done. Users who prefer “sativa” or energizing strains might enjoy moving more than the average person, helping them to burn more calories.

Cannabis consumption replaces alcohol consumption. In addition to supplying the body with an ample amount of empty calories, alcohol is terrible for the metabolism, essentially slowing it to a crawl. Cannabis users who can fully replace booze with bud are cutting out a critical cause of weight gain.

Cannabis consumption lowers stress. Perhaps the only thing worse for weight than alcohol is stress, which not only wreaks havoc on the metabolism but also can compel people to binge eat comfort foods, like ice cream, chips and fast food. Having a non-food source of comfort in cannabis, regular users again avoid unnecessary calories, and their ability to keep their stress levels low with THC and CBD means their metabolic rate can stay high.

Cannabis consumption improves sleep. Insufficient sleep can cause the body stress, which encourages water retention and slower digestion. Though sleep scientists don’t exactly advocate for cannabis as the sole solution to sleep disorders like insomnia, those suffering from sleep issues can see improved metabolic rate after a good night’s sleep thanks to weed.

Cannabis consumption might boost metabolism. There is some evidence that suggests THC binds to a receptor within the digestive system that affects metabolic rate and reduces energy storage as fat. However, any metabolic boost from cannabis is likely minor and not the only reason behind the surprising research results about weight gain.

Cannabis consumption probably encourages healthy eating. It is likely that there is a psychological element to cannabis consumption and the munchies that many people overlook. Regular cannabis users are well aware that weed increases their appetite and weight, so they likely eat healthier outside their stoner sessions to balance out the bad foods consumed while high. This probably provides for a better health profile overall and a lower propensity for weight gain.

Weed and Weight

Why Cannabis Shouldn’t Be Your Entire Fitness Plan

Before you rush to a Juneau dispensary to pick up as much cannabis as you can under possession laws, you should recognize the limitations of cannabis as a fitness tool. Cannabis alone does not provide macro- or micronutrients to nourish the body; cannabis alone does not exercise the muscles to burn energy and therefore fat. Thus, cannabis alone will not help you reach any fitness- or health-related goals.

However, cannabis can be a useful element within a broader fitness lifestyle change. If cannabis does give you extra energy in your workouts or does replace less healthy coping tools like alcohol or junk food, it will be beneficial in helping you maintain weight or potentially even shed some pounds. Still, you will need to commit to a healthy diet of whole foods and a workout plan if you want those shredded abs you see on models.

Regular cannabis users have a bad reputation for ill-health. Fortunately, more research into cannabis consumption is changing the image of the prototypical stoner — and encouraging more people to sample the sacred herb.

Weed and weight Featured Image Credit: Pixabay