You may have heard the running jokes about how stoners lose weight despite eating a lot. Is it a scientific phenomenon or is it just a common misconception like lightning doesn’t strike in the same place twice? Let’s see what science says.
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Do Stoners Lose Weight?
Science points to the use of marijuana being linked to lower body weight. Healthline posits that marijuana doesn’t cause sudden weight loss, as a matter of fact, they posit that there is no evidence marijuana even causes weight loss. However, the article does state that marijuana could help with some of the underlying factors that cause weight gain in some people. On the other hand, an article published in Cannabis Cannabinoid Res called Theoretical Explanation for Reduced Body Mass Index and Obesity Rates in Cannabis Users believes it can be used for weight loss. (See section: Is Smoking Weed a Great Way To Lose Weight?)
Why Do Stoners Lose Weight?
There have also been several explanations for why marijuana affects the weight of its users. According to an article titled Theoretical Explanation for Reduced Body Mass Index and Obesity Rates in Cannabis Users, using cannabis increases metabolic rates. The article said, “acute Cannabis consumption reduces energy storage and increases metabolic rates, thus reversing the impact on body mass index of elevated dietary omega-6/omega-3 ratios.”
The study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, further explained that cannabis seems to downregulate CB1R. The article stated, “Chronic cannabis use is associated with down-regulation of CB1R and this down-regulation might help to explain cannabis-associated lower BMI gain for persistent users due to the reduced density of CB1R expression in these users.” In addition to that, the article posits that the anti-inflammatory effects of CB2R could explain the lower weight gain of cannabis users.
Other factors linked to lower body weight
According to Healthline, there are a number of other reasons why using marijuana is linked to lower body weight. The reasons are that it can:
- Increase mobility
- Cause some people to consume less alcohol
- Improve sleep
- Reduce stress
- Boost metabolism
Studies That Show Stoners Are Thinner
There a couple of studies that show evidence that stoners tend to be thinner than their non-stoner counterparts.
One study that lasted over three years had a sample size of over 30,000 cannabis users and non-cannabis users. The study found that there was a lower prevalence of obesity in cannabis users. They concluded that there was a reduction in BMI gain in cannabis users.
Another study, quoted in Men’s Health, said “people using cannabis are less likely to be obese than people who do not use cannabis.”
Is Smoking Weed a Great Way to Lose Weight?
Obesity is linked to several chronic and deadly diseases. Scientists have tried to develop ways for people to lose excess weight such as pharmaceuticals and surgery. According to Theoretical Explanation for Reduced Body Mass Index and Obesity Rates in Cannabis Users, cannabis could work for some people. The article said, “weekly Cannabis use may be sufficient to observe significant weight loss and metabolic benefits.” The reason behind this is that the downregulation of CB1R. The researchers say that it stays downregulated for some time after using marijuana and so they posit that weekly use should be sufficient.
The article even went on to say that it may be better than surgery and pharmaceuticals for some people. However, the article cautioned that people with preexisting cardiovascular conditions or prior MIs should either avoid cannabinoids or use them with caution.
There was an interesting study cited in a Men’s Health article. According to the study, THC caused the obese mice to lose weight but didn’t have any effects on the mice who were normal weight. The researchers believed that the THC affected the microbiome in the gut and that’s what caused the weight loss. The study concluded, “Changes in gut microbiota potentially contribute to chronic THC-induced actions on body weight in obesity.” The study also drew other conclusions, “Chronic THC treatment reduced energy intake and prevented high fat diet-induced increases in body weight and adiposity;”.
What’s the Verdict?
So should you abandon other weight loss methods and just focus on cannabis Men’s Health disagrees. Their article stated that cannabis should not be seen as a prescription for weight loss. According to the article, “If you don’t exercise and have unhealthy eating habits, then smoking weed probably won’t help you have a lower BMI.”
Cannabis and Weight Gain
While some focus on marijuana for its weight-loss potential, some are focusing on how it can help people gain weight.
The idea behind the weight gain theory is that marijuana would increase people’s appetite. People who use cannabis often report that they’ve had munchies. Munchies refers to an increase in appetite people who use weed experience after they’ve had some weed. Usually, an increase in appetite means an increase in weight. Especially since munchies don’t normally have people craving salads and fruits. However, what’s interesting, is that using weed hasn’t been linked to weight gain.
The increase in appetite has been something that has been explored by the scientific community. An article called Marijuana and Body Weight explored whether or not cannabis would increase weight in low weight individuals but not in anyone else. According to the article, “Current data indicate that while low-weight individuals are likely to gain weight with acute marijuana use, individuals in community samples display an inverse relationship between marijuana use and body mass index.”
Studies about Cannabis and Weight Gain
The article Marijuana and Body Weight referenced several studies that explored this. In one study, the researchers wanted to explore whether or not cannabis would increase weight and induce appetite in cancer patients. Unfortunately, the studies were discontinued because there was no difference in results between those using cannabis and those using a placebo.
The article previously mentioned from the International Journal of Epidemiology mentioned “clinical trials demonstrated little to no impact of cannabis-active constituents on weight in patients with HIV or cancer.”
On the other hand, according to the results of a clinical trial, the use of marijuana and THC was associated with weight gain for HIV patients.
It seems that the interaction between cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid receptors are the reason why weed seems to have an effect on weight. While this area requires a lot more research, the data shows that stoners tend to be lighter than non-stoners. Weed appears to affect metabolism which in turn affects how you gain weight. If weight loss is your aim, don’t forget to employ other healthy practices such as a better diet and exercise. In addition to that, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor before undergoing any weight loss plan.