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News Flash: Cannabis Gives You the ‘Healthy’ Munchies

Cannabis has always been known as the flower that, when consumed in any way, shape or form, will give you “the munchies.”  For years, movies have painted the picture that smokers immediately throw their inhibitions to the wind after a single puff (or even a contact high), immediately becoming ravenous beasts in search of pizzas, candy bars, and anything sweet to get their hands on.

In short, cannabis users share many of the similarities in media portrayals as the beloved character of Yogi Bear possesses.  Whereas Yogi Bear loves picnic baskets and will do whatever he can to get his hands on one, cannabis smokers are always on the hunt for fast foods that hold little to no nutritious valiue (hat tip to Harold and Kumar).  The fact is that the narrative that cannabis makes you gain weight is slowly becoming something for the history books.  In its place is a generation of users that are using it to optimize their health and wellness; while losing weight in the process.

What’s the Deal with THC and the Munchies?

Nobody can discount the fact that when you’re high, your brain suddenly wants all the junk food in the world.  This feeling of fast food euphoria is one of the most common side effects of smoking marijuana and is something that has been studied ad nauseam.  Research from a 2014 study by Nature Neuroscience found that when mice were given doses of THC, it caused the subject’s brain olfactory bulb to increase their smell and make food seem more appetizing.  This caused an increase in food consumption which has led scientists to hypothesize that the stimulation that THC causes has a much more considerable impact on your appetite than was previously thought.

Can Cannabis Really Help You Lose Weight?

A recent analysis of two sets of survey data pooled from 43,093 survey respondents from 2001-2003 by the American Journal of Epidemiology found that a little over 16% of cannabis users were obese compared to over 25% percent of nonusers from the first set.  The second survey set of 9,283 respondents found that slightly over 17% of cannabis users were obese versus over 25% of nonusers.

A March 2019 study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology of over 33,000 people over a three year period found that not only did marijuana users gain less weight than others in that time, they weighed on average just under a kilogram less overall.  All in all, the study found that over 15% of persistent users were considered obese compared to 20% of non-users.  The study also found that users were more likely to be at a normal, healthier weight and stay at that weight.

A large Australian survey of 2,566 21-year-olds also found that cannabis users are much less likely to be obese or overweight.  Interestingly, heavy users (those who smoked weed more than three times a week) were shown to be the smallest percentage of obese or overweight participants out of the entire pool.  Although, these studies may not have shown actual causality between smoking marijuana and weight loss, it definitely does show that those who do consume cannabis products carry around less weight.

Speeding Up Weight Loss with CBD

 Although THC can you to increase your hunger, CBD does not.  In fact, CBD has been known to have the exact opposite effect as THC, helping individuals to stimulate their appetite and decrease their need to graze the fridge for something to satiate their hunger.  Those who swear by CBD also claim that it allows them to convert white fat cells into brown fat cells, thereby stimulating their body to break down fats more efficiently.  A 2016 study backed up this claim when researchers found that CBD plays multiple roles in how the body interacts with fat, with some showing that cannabis can melt away fat in the body by breaking down the fat and helping eliminate it from the body as waste.

As a loss of calories is vital for weight loss, CBD may help burn fat if it turns white fat to brown fat in the body.  Make sure to hedge your bets if you’re looking to regulate your weight via cannabis consumption.  Supplement your cannabis routine with exercise and keeping healthy food choices around you.  This will make your experiences more enjoyable.  If you happen to have a case of the munchies, try indulging in. a healthy chicken salad or an organic, low calorie meal. This will help you feel sated without bloating you up or derailing you from reaching your weight goals.

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