People who consume marijuana are often portrayed as being lazy, absent-minded, and munchie-craving individuals. This stoner stereotype has persisted over the years despite the decreasing stigma surrounding cannabis. The fear that cannabis will turn active individuals into couch potatoes has driven some away from the drug.
It’s times like this where we need to consult the power of science by looking at the latest studies regarding weed and your waistline.
Cannabis is known to be an appetite stimulant. Marijuana consumers eat 600 calories more per day than their nonsmoking counterparts. This would lead some—who haven’t done sufficient digging—to conclude that weed makes you fat! Surprisingly, this isn’t the case.
Obesity is a disorder caused when a body has an excessive amount of fat. Body mass index (BMI), though not a perfect way to determine obesity, is a measure of body fat based on weight in relation to your height. A BMI of over 30 is considered obese. (You can calculate your BMI here.)
A study posted in The Journal of Mental Health Policies and Economics and conducted in 2016 found that marijuana was negatively associated with BMI. Negative, in this sense, is a positive thing. It means that those who consume marijuana had a lower BMI. More specifically, daily marijuana users who were female had a BMI that was 3.1% lower than non-users, whereas daily male users had a BMI that was 2.7% lower than non-users.
Another study published in the May 2012 issue of Phytomedicine found that cannabis exposure was associated with weight reduction in an obese rat model.
Impact of Weed on Insulin Levels
The American Journal of Medicine conducted a study in 2013 titled “The Impact of Marijuana Use on Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance among US Adults.” For this study, 4657 men and women self-reported their marijuana use and blood levels after a 9 hour fast. It was found that current marijuana users had a 16% lower fasting insulin level and 17% lower homeostasis assessment of insulin resistance. The study also concluded that marijuana users had smaller waistlines than non-users. Not too shabby, right?
A study published by the University of Miami discovered that marijuana users were 54% less likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome than non-smokers. The conditions that are associated with metabolic syndrome include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat, and abnormal cholesterol levels. When these conditions occur at the same time it increases the likelihood of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.
The evidence that marijuana has an overall positive effect on health is mounting. That being said, cannabis for weight loss should not be viewed as a revolutionary shortcut. The studies mentioned above often state that more studies need to be done to control for certain factors and seek to discover the reasons why marijuana has the positive effects that it does. Regardless, we can only work with the studies that have been published thus far and the initial results appear to shine a positive light on marijuana’s effect on people’s weight and metabolism. It’s important to note that the best way to ensure you don’t gain weight is to expend more calories than you eat.