Here's how cannabis can help lose weight this summer

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The sharp rise in the munchies — seriously, it’s a thing — is being blamed on the legalization of recreational pot.

But a study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in March 2019 by Michigan State University highlights an interesting finding. “Contrary to the belief — that marijuana users who have a serious case of the munchies will ultimately gain more weight — those who smoke cannabis, or marijuana, weigh less compared to adults who don’t,” Michigan State University notes.

While marijuana does increase appetite, it could also help with losing weight; the trick is figuring out which weed strain will end up becoming a fitness buddy.

Are long-term marijuana users less likely to be obese?

It seems as though that’s true. A study published in 2011 evaluated the presence of obesity among adults over the age of 18. The results showed that “of the 50,736 eligible respondents from the U.S., the prevalence of obesity was significantly lower in cannabis users than in non-users.” Another study, published in 2010, collected data from 2,566 adults over the age of 21. Once again, findings highlighted lower overweightedness and obesity among adult cannabis users. Still, “further research is needed to examine the mechanism of this association,” researchers added.

“The effects can be varied on individuals,” says Dr. Murdoc Khaleghi, senior medical advisor for Elevate Hemp, a U.S.-based manufacturer of CBD products. “Some people admit that cannabis makes them more alert, while others find the effects calming. The big difference lies in the cannabis strains,” Dr. Khaleghi notes.

What cannabis strains can help you lose weight?

 The basics of losing weight include monitoring calorie intake, exercise and getting proper rest or sleep both before and after workout sessions. And while cannabis can’t solve all of life’s problem, it can certainly help.

FILE – In this Feb. 20, 2015 file photo, Alaska Cannabis Club CEO Charlo Greene smokes a joint at the medical marijuana dispensary in Anchorage, Alaska. AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File

“I discovered early on that cannabis sometimes reduced my appetite. One time I sat down to have a meal, after I had vaporized, and I was no longer hungry,” says Bethany Rae, founder of Flower & Freedom, a community exploring cannabis use for fitness. “I later learned that it was strains high in THCV that were reducing my appetite instead of stimulating it.”

THCV, also known as tetrahydrocannabivarin, is a compound found in cannabis that acts as an appetite suppressant, unlike THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, that is known to increase appetite. Some of the cannabis strains high in THCV, as recommended by Civilized, are Durban Poison, Doug’s Varin, Dutch Treat and the stoner classic, Girl Scout Cookies.

Then, there’s cannabidiol (CBD): wonder drug for some, marketing scam for others. For the rest, CBD is the compound found in the cannabis that doesn’t cause any high, one that “can potentially decrease appetite,” says Dr. Khaleghi.

A 2017 study researching the safety and side effects of CBD did conclude that it seemed to have a better profile with regard to experiencing cannabis’ side effects, including a change in appetite and weight. “CBD is not an appetite stimulant; it certainly has less weight gain properties in contrast to THC,” Dr. Khaleghi adds.

How weed can help with workouts, post-recovery and a good night’s sleep

There’s no easy way to lose weight other than sweating it out; cannabis, however, can be a welcome cheerleader. If getting out of the bed, motivated, is proving a struggle, strains such as Durban Poison, Harlequin, Ghost Train Haze and Green Crack, as recommended by Leafly, have a solid track record for fighting fatigue and boosting energy.

“I find cannabis helps me keep a healthy body weight by reducing inflammation and muscle pain; it even helps me recover faster from exercise,” reports Rae. For soothing out raw muscles, Civilized recommends strains such as Sour Diesel, Girl Scout Cookies, Blue Dream and Sweet Kush.

A recent study suggests that “contrary to the belief — that marijuana users who have a serious case of the munchies will ultimately gain more weight — those who smoke cannabis, or marijuana, weigh less compared to adults who don’t.” iStock / Getty Images Plus

Then there are the much-needed Zs, a lack of which is directly associated with obesity. Poor sleep can increase appetite, hunger craving and subsequent higher calorie intake, reports California-based healthline, a privately owned provider of health-related information. “Lack of sleep, in general, makes me feel hung-over and tired the next day. If I am tired, I am more like to seek out food that is high-energy, high-calorie food,” Rae says.

Even though research on sleep and cannabis is still in its early stages, a 2017 study found that CBD might hold promise for REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, sleep behaviour disorder and excessive daytime sleepiness. When it comes to cannabis strains for a good night’s rest, Greencamp recommends Purple Kush, God’s Gift, Grandaddy Purple and MK Ultra.

How to use THC and still remain fit

THC is one of the many reasons people use cannabis: to get high. But if THC stimulates hunger, does that mean a person should stay away from it? “If I’ve had too much THC in my body, I usually add in CBD,” says Rae. “If I am going to consume a strain that’s high in THC and has very little CBD, I might take some sublingual oil drops of CBD half an hour before to get some CBD in my system to help smooth out the experience.”

From left: Bethany Rae, founder of Flower & Freedom, and Dr. Murdoc Khaleghi, senior medical advisor for Elevate Hemp.

Interestingly, when it comes to weight gain in overweight people, THC doesn’t seem to be a problem. In a 2015 study, adult male DIO (diet-induced obesity) and lean mice were treated daily with THC (two mg/kg for three weeks and four mg/kg for one additional week). THC helped reduce weight in obese mice, but didn’t help the ones that were lean.

“When a person is overweight, their metabolism is actually higher. People don’t realize, but overweight people burn more calories than normal weight individuals. That’s because some of the excess weight, whether it be fat or muscle, is metabolically actively burning calories. A body’s natural tendency is to burn calories from the excess weight and restore to normal weight,” explains Dr. Khaleghi.

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