The drill is all too familiar‒you’ve finished the last puff, and your stomach instantly becomes a bottomless pit filled with the unbeatable urge to devour everything that comes in your way‒be it pickles combined with oreo, pizza with french fries, that leftover lasagna that’s been in your fridge suspiciously long‒doesn’t matter, your dazed palette is not picky. And the next day comes the guilt trip.
Every habit or even occasional pot-smoker is familiar with the greedy companion of your high ― the munchies, and, the guilt trip that comes with them. Science says, however, cannabis smokers might be less likely to gain weight.
Smoking Weed and Weight Loss
A recent study sparked a lot of attention by suggesting that there is a tenuous connection between smoking weed and weight loss.
Results from three-year research published in the October 2019 issue the International Journal of Epidemiology found lower rates of obesity in those who smoke marijuana.
The study conducted on 33,000 Americans found that weed users weighed two pounds less than non-smokers on average, and were less likely to be overweight.
Still, the authors of the study cautioned that this doesn’t necessarily mean you should rely upon smoking weed to lose weight, as the relationship between weed and weight loss is still uncharted territory.
In fact, there is not strong evidence that weed can even indirectly lead to weight loss. To date, there are only five substances approved by the FDA that have been scientifically proven effective for losing weight, and weed is not one of them.
“There is one cannabinoid, which is relatively rare, called THCV that does seem, in rodents, to decrease appetite. However, this has not been shown in humans,” Jordan Tishler, a medical doctor, an Instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, told the INSIDER.
THCV can be found in limited amounts in various cannabis strains and is thought to regulate satiety levels by determining how “rewarding” food is. The cannabis market has actually witnessed the rise of brands like Flow Kana and Doug’s Varin, who are launching products high in THCV.
While marijuana is generally associated with increased appetite, as THC is more likely to trigger the munchies, strains high in THCV do exactly the opposite.
James Giordano, professor of neurology and biochemistry at Georgetown University Medical Center told VICE that cannabinoids do have the ability to suppress the appetite, by causing changes in the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, as well as appetite-regulating hormones like ghrelin and leptin, which may make you less hungry and more easily satisfied.
A Question of Lifestyle
Even if potheads are on the thinner side, it doesn’t mean you can smoke unlimited amounts of weed without gaining a pound or two. Marina Yuabova, Assistant Professor at the City University of New York, told VICE in the above-mentioned study, the sub-group of people who smoked pot but didn’t smoke cigarettes, the stronger was the cannabis – the heavier the smokers.
When marijuana is used regularly over a long time, it can promote weight gain due to cravings and munchies, Yuabova suggested.
While there is still not enough evidence to prove the weight loss effect from smoking weed, you can control your weight by learning how to manage the cravings and how to deal with the munchies.
First of all, if you are concerned that cannabis is making you gain weight, avoid high-calorie edibles like brownies which are around 250 calories each.
Even though it’s likely that your discipline is not at its highest when you are stoned, plan ahead and try to satisfy the munchies with nutritious food, like healthy snacks or fruit.
“If you have Doritos in the house, likely you’ll eat them,” says Tishler. “If you don’t and have baby carrots, you’ll eat those instead. Plan to have abundant healthy, crunchy snacks on hand, and be sure you do not have the option for making less-good choices while under the influence.”
While the relationship between weight management and weed smoking is pending future research―with THCV potentially gaining similar popularity to that of CBD, rest assure that weed has an array of other positive health effects on the human body. Of course, that is when weed is consumed moderately and not abused.