Can Cannabis Help with Weight Loss?

Can Cannabis Help with Weight Loss?

Can Cannabis Help with Weight Loss?

Stoner culture isn’t exactly known for its good health.

More often than not, stoners are branded as forgetful, undisciplined individuals who satisfy their cravings through late-night snack binges, concocting food combinations that are only palatable in an altered state of mind.

Indulging in excessive eating, like the kind that can arise from a good smoke session, can lead to weight gain and obesity. Yet, research has revealed an intriguing paradox: Cannabis consumers have lower body mass indexes (BMIs) on average than their non-smoking counterparts. What’s more, studies have also found that these smokers consume more calories but still maintain lower BMIs. This raises the question: what is it about cannabis that keeps the pounds off?

Cannabis and weight loss are topics still being explored, but emerging research has given us a peek into how our bodies and metabolism are affected by weed. Here’s a look at what we do and don’t know about the relationship between cannabis and weight loss.

Does weed help you lose weight? 

Not directly, at least. 

Much of the talk about cannabis and weight loss stems from a 2011 review published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The authors concluded that “…despite the evidence that cannabis use stimulates appetite in clinical trials and laboratory studies, cannabis users are actually less likely to be obese than nonusers in the general population.” 

Its significance sparked conversion about the relationship between weed and weight, and similar results have been found in more recent reviews and meta-analyses.  

It’s important to note that reviews and meta-analyses, although valuable in synthesizing existing research, have limitations and are not considered the gold standard in scientific research. Studies that would contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the relationship between weed and weight would require better control groups, and scientific measurements rather than self-reports and would need to be conducted over an extended period of time. 

While scientists are hopeful of accomplishing this in the future, there are a few theories on why cannabis may help with weight loss indirectly: 


Some individuals may find that cannabis helps them relax and alleviate stress, which indirectly supports weight loss by reducing emotional eating and promoting helpful habits like quality sleep.

Stress and weight loss are interconnected in various ways due to stress’s impact on hormones, our behaviors, and our ability to recover. When stressed, the influx of cortisol can influence our metabolism and even make it easier to store weight in our abdomen. For those that turn to food for comfort, it can also promote unhealthy cravings toward sugary, high-calorie foods. Lastly, stress can significantly disrupt our sleeping patterns, making falling or staying asleep difficult. Studies show that sleep-deprived individuals have larger appetites and tend to eat more, likely due to its effect on hormones that signal hunger and fullness. 

All that’s to say: Managing stress is vital to weight management. And for some, an essential tool in helping do so is cannabis. In our last post, How 3 Fitness Experts Add Cannabis to Their Routine, it was a unanimous experience shared by all three athletes. Not only was cannabis effective in managing their stress, but it was a natural alternative that fits easily into their disciplined regimens.  

Blood Sugar

Emerging research has shown that cannabis may help increase insulin sensitivity and a lower fasting insulin level compared to sober individuals. One 2013 study concluded that current marijuana use was associated with 16% lower fasting insulin levels. These findings suggest a link between cannabis use and improved metabolic health.

Insulin sensitivity plays a role in maintaining a healthy body weight. When cells are sensitive to insulin, they can efficiently use glucose from the bloodstream as energy. This reduces the need for excess insulin, which can contribute to weight gain. On the other hand, insulin resistance can promote weight gain and make it harder to shed pounds, as high insulin can increase appetite and encourage the storage of fat. 

It’s important to note that research into marijuana and blood sugar is ongoing, and further studies are necessary to help professionals and patients understand the effects more clearly. If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, always consult a physician before considering medical marijuana. 

Better Habits

While stoner culture gets a bad rep at times by mainstream culture, those who are a part of the community understand how it can improve quality of life. For instance, not only are fewer adults drinking alcohol today, but those who consume less than they have in the recent past, reports Gallup. Some experts suspect that the availability of cannabis has contributed to this shifting mindset. If that’s true, that means they’re not taking in calories from alcoholic beverages, which could contribute to lower BMIs. 

Cannabis can also indirectly aid in weight loss by relieving symptoms of pain and stiffness. People with mobility issues may find that they can be more active when using cannabis. Plus, it can help them recover faster, giving them more time to stay active. We answered the question, “Is cannabis performance enhancing?” further on our blog. 

Lastly, mindful and moderate cannabis use has the potential to contribute to better habits through the concept of habit stacking. This is the practice of building new habits by attaching them to existing routines. By incorporating cannabis use into a structured routine, individuals can create a positive environment for habit formation. For instance, if someone uses weed after working out, they can use that as an opportunity to stack additional healthy habits like stretching or meditation. Overtime, this can lead to various positive routines, as one habit reinforces the adoption of others. 

What about the munchies? 

The research around cannabis and weight loss sounds counterintuitive because of the long-standing association between weed and the munchies. In short, smoking can urge some users to snack due to the increase of ghrelin, our “hunger hormone,” and a heightened sense of smell after we smoke. With scent and taste being so closely related, it’s believed that this allows us to taste food better and encourages us to eat more. 

So, wouldn’t that make cannabis users gain weight instead? 

Of course, if you use the munchies as a free-for-all for enjoying all your favorite junk food, then yes, it could make you gain weight. However, some mice studies have suggested that CBD, a cannabinoid in weed, can increase our energy expenditure and improve glucose metabolism and leptin resistance. If this is also true for humans, that could explain why stoners have lower BMIs despite consuming more calories – their metabolisms are working faster. 

Does that mean cannabis helps with weight loss? The bottom line: not really. While smoking weed may be correlated with a lower BMI, cannabis is not a substitute for a healthy eating plan and regular exercise. Cannabis may contribute indirectly by helping reduce stress, improve sleep, and promote healthy habits, but you can’t out-smoke an unhealthy lifestyle!

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