There’s probably no question that weed is among the most popular and most commonly used recreational drugs in the world. Its use is legal in many parts of the U.S., and many people have turned to it as a way to self-medicate the side effects of their prescription medications. But has weed always been portrayed as a diet aid? And is it really possible that it could contribute to weight loss? Let’s examine the evidence and dive into the fascinating world of cannabinoids and metabolism.
History Of Weed As A Diet Aid
Although there are anecdotal reports of people using weed to lose weight as early as the 1930s, it wasn’t until the 1960s that scientific research began to explore the topic in earnest. That’s when scientists at the University of Illinois began a series of experiments, giving rats different doses of cannabinoids (the active components of cannabis) and then observing the results.
What they found was that, indeed, cannabis caused the rats to lose weight. But it wasn’t necessarily because they were eating less. Instead, the rats that were administered the drug ate significantly more often than usual, which is why they lost weight. Specifically, they would snack on carrots during the day and consume more of them at night. The next step was for the researchers to try and isolate the exact compound responsible for the weight loss. And in order to do that, they had to repeat the process multiple times, eventually discovering a compound called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and its partial agonist, cannabidiol (CBD).
Though the initial findings were promising, additional research soon proved that THC was not the whole story. Because while THC is responsible for producing the psychoactive effects of weed, it is not found in sufficient quantities in the plant to account for all the available evidence. That’s why, in the years since that initial discovery, scientists have continued to investigate whether or not the metabolic effects of cannabinoids are indeed responsible for generating weight loss, or if other compounds found in cannabis play a role as well.
What Is Metabolism Got To Do With Weight Loss?
If you’re reading this article, it’s most likely that you’re already familiar with the concept of metabolism. But for the unfamiliar, metabolism is a process that breaks down and recycles dietary nutrients into energy for the body. It’s actually a very intricate and sophisticated process, and different foods have unique ways of affecting your body’s metabolism in a positive or negative manner.
When food is consumed, it is broken down into its basic components of protein, carbs, and fats. These components are then absorbed into the blood and transported to the tissues and cells in the body where they are needed. Depending on whether or not these nutrients are being consumed in sufficient quantities, the body may or may not be producing enough energy to fulfill its needs. And when that happens, weight gain follows. So it’s imperative to maintain a healthy balance in your diet when attempting to lose weight.
While protein is the most essential of the three nutrients for building and maintaining a healthy body, fat is also an extremely important part of metabolism. The reason is that when dietary fat is consumed, it is always present in adequate amounts to contribute to energy production. However, when dietary protein is not consumed in adequate amounts, the body will begin to scavenge its protein stores for energy. That’s why it’s so important to maintain a healthy balance between protein and fat in your diet. You don’t want to deprive yourself of either nutrient, but you also don’t want to have an excess of either one.
Can Weed Help You Lose Weight?
So now that you’re equipped with a basic understanding of metabolism, let’s dive into the question at hand: does weed make you lose weight?
Well, the short answer is yes, but it depends on what type of weed you’re using and how you’re consuming it. For best results, follow these guidelines:
Try Other Forms Of Cannabis
If you’re trying to lose weight, most doctors would tell you to avoid oils and concentrates because they are higher in calories. However, there are forms of cannabis that are much easier to digest and have fewer calories than others. For example, in 2011, the U.S. Department Of Agriculture (USDA) studied the effects of various strains of weed and found that all of them aided in lowering food intake and increasing metabolic efficiency, even though they varied in the way they did it. Specifically, they found that strains high in CBD and low in THC caused the greatest increase in metabolic efficiency while strains high in THC caused the greatest decrease in food intake.
This doesn’t mean that you need to limit yourself to these kinds of strains if you want to lose weight. There are so many varieties of weed out there, and the ones that are higher in THC and lower in CBD have been proven to be very effective in the fight against obesity. So as long as you’re not trying to avoid cannabinoids altogether, you should be able to find the type of weed that’s right for you.
Use A Mix Of Nutrients
When it comes to nutrition and health, popular culture often promotes the idea that if you want to lose weight, you need to cut back on the carbs and eat more protein. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. After all, not all protein is created equal, and it turns out that some proteins are actually very good for you, while others may do the opposite. For example, animal protein, when eaten in sufficient amounts, can increase the activity of certain enzymes in your stomach that are responsible for digesting fats. That’s why it’s important to consume different types of protein when trying to lose weight: some proteins will help you gain muscle, while others may help you shed it. So by varying your protein intake, you stand a chance of having a positive effect on both your weight and your overall health.
Diet And Exercise
It’s also important to remember that you can’t just eat your way to weight loss; you need to exercise as well. So while you’re trying to cut back on the calories, you’re also going to have to get yourself out of your bed and into the gym. Walking is a great start, but engaging in sports activities regularly is the best way to ensure you lose weight and keep it off. When you combine diet and exercise, the results are usually spectacular. That’s why most people lose weight following a common diet and exercise routine rather than trying to reinvent the wheel with a new diet plan every week.
Even though your body may be craving food frequently when you first start consuming cannabis, this is actually a good thing. Simply remember that your body is still trying to adjust to the presence of nutrients in your system, so make sure that you give it time to do so. Consume frequently, in small doses, and gradually increase your intake over time. This will help prevent you from experiencing nausea and other side effects that can make you quit consuming the drug. Also, if you feel that your appetite is increasing even though you’re not eating enough, it might be a good idea to take higher doses or try another form of cannabis to see if this is the case. Of course, your doctor and therapist should always be consulted if you experience an increase in appetite or any other side effects during or after treatment with cannabis.
Find A Therapist
Another important factor to consider is your mental health. Without proper care and counseling, you’re setting yourself up for failure. When you’re going through a difficult time, especially if you’re battling with depression or anxiety, it’s easy to slip into a bit of a food rut. The last thing you need is to add another bad habit to your list. So be sure to work with a therapist that can help you find the root of your problems and prescribe you the right medication if needed. Also, you might want to consider visiting a clinic that provides onsite counseling so that you don’t have to drive away after your appointment simply to get back on your feet.
Avoid Stressful Living
Last but not least, we need to address the important issue of stress. Believe it or not, but stress plays a very important role in weight gain. It’s not always the case, but usually when there is excessive stress in your life, there is a significant increase in the amount of calories that you consume. This is because stress inhibits the activity of certain enzymes in your body that are responsible for metabolizing food. This will result in your body being in a constant state of nutritional emergency, where it constantly thinks that it’s hungry and needs to eat to get back to normal. So if you want to lose weight, you need to learn to live and let live. Cut off the stress and you’ll soon see the pounds disappear. For more information on the relationship between stress and weight, check out this article from the American Chemical Society (ACS).