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De Effects of Weed on Metabolism and Weight

As the general opinion on weed continues to swift, more research is done to understand how it affects the body and behavior. In this article we go into the current studies performed to the effects of weed on metabolism and weight. Let's explore whether cannabis is more likely to lead to weight loss or weight gain.

What are the effects of cannabis on metabolism?

What is the effect of weed on appetite?

Do you lose weight from smoking cannabis?

Do you gain weight from weed?

Can you lose weight by using CBD?


What are the effects of cannabis on metabolism?

In this study (1) with a relative small peer group of 8 people, smoking cannabis significantly increased both ventilation and hypercapnic ventilatory response. In other words, after smoking, they found that people breathed more. This effect on ventilation peaked 15 minutes after smoking. In general, changes in ventilation usually parallel changes in metabolic rate. According to this controlled experiment, the metabolism and how their bodies burn energy sped up after smoking.

One of the known effects are the munchies people might get after using cannabis. It can make people very hungry and in our experience it usually gives a craving to unhealthy foods. But according to this study (2), even though cannabis can make people eat more, on average high frequent users tend to have a lower body weight compared to sporadic users or people who don’t use weed at all. The researchers conducted a study by using adolescent male mice and gave them a small amount of THC daily. When growing up, these mice had the following characteristics:

  • They has less fat and more muscle mass compared to mice that didn’t got THC.
  • They burned fat for energy more efficiently.
  • They were less likely to become overweight, even when fed a high-fat diet.
  • The mice generated more heat, which can help to burn calories.
  • Impaired Lipolysis: They had difficulty breaking down fat when stimulated by certain signals in the body.
  • Changes in Adipose Organ: Their fat tissue showed some unusual characteristics, such as having more proteins usually found in muscles and showing signs of increased growth.

The conclusion of this study suggest that a daily use of THC might lead to changes in the metabolism, which results in a leaner body. However, it might seem that someone is leaner and healthier than they really are. This because these changes can be rooted in underlying dysfunction within the body’s fat tissue.

In 2021, another study (3) analyzed 17 different research in which more than 150.000 people were involved. The study aimed to see if there is a connection between cannabis and body weight, and if there was, to see analyze the reasons behind it. After looking at these 17 studies, the researchers found that people who use cannabis tend to have a lower body weight and are less likely to be very overweight, even though they eat more.

The theoretical explanation suggest that when people consume cannabis, it triggers a reduction in the activity of a specific receptor (CB1R) in the body. This reduces the storage of excess energy as fat and increases the rate at which the body burns calories. As a result, despite consuming more calories, cannabis users tend to have lower body weights. This mechanism helps to explain why cannabis users may have lower rates of obesity, even with increased calorie intake.

While this suggests that cannabis may have effects on metabolism, we find it important to mention not a lot of research has been done to draw hard conclusions on the effects of cannabis on metabolism. And also your personal situation may vary, as every person is unique and the effects of cannabis are individual.

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What is the effect of weed on appetite?

A common effect of cannabis are the well-known ‘’munchies’’. In our recent article about: Why does cannabis give you the munchies? We found out that this is due to the way the active compound in weed, THC, interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). THC can actvate the CB1 receptors in your ECS. These receptors can make you feel things like happiness, hunger (the munchies) and pain perception.

So when THC binds to the CB1 receptors, it can affect the appetite regulation. Next to this, consuming cannabis also increases dopamine release. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. This heightened dopamine activity intensifies the satisfaction derived from eating, making everything feel and taste way better.

So short term it weed can impact your appetite and we often crave things like sugar and fast food. In the previously mentioned article we have made a list of the best foods to eat when you are high 😉

But many people in Europe smoke weed and hash with tobacco. Tobacco contains nicotine, which is known to suppress appetite. This can reduce the feelings of hunger and desire to eat. This is also the reason why people often gain weight when they stop smoking, they get more appetite and also try to calm their craving by eating in stead of smoking. Next to that, smoking tobacco negatively affects the smell and taste. Not only for food, but also for cannabis! Time to quit tobacco and enjoy the pure weed experience!

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Do you lose weight from smoking cannabis?

As discussed in above, the research (3) suggests that cannabis users tend to have lower body weights. Combine this together with the increase of ventilation (1) that weed seems to have, it could be possible that you lose weight from smoking cannabis.

However, this is likely not the most effective method to lose weight. In general you lose weight when you are in a calorie deficit. This means that you burn more calories than you consume over a period of time, let’s day a day or week. There are two components which you have an influence on to reach the calorie deficit: consuming less calories and increasing physical activity.  

Event though so many people and companies make it seem harder than it is, designing and selling diets and fat burners, at the end of the day it just comes down to simple math. To lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you are eating. When you approach it is way, you can make a sustainable plan to lose weight.

At Open Your Mind we believe that the cannabis plant has so much potential and can be used in a well-balanced and productive life, but we think that it should not be used for the wrong reasons. Even though research suggests that it might be possible that you lose weight due to cannabis consumption, we do not think it should be used for this reason. That’s why we want to give you some tips to lose weight in an effective and sustainable way.

Tips for losing weight without weed

  • In the first week, track all the calories you are eating. Make sure not to miss any foods, as we want to have a reliable average of the amount of calories you consume. After the week is done, sum up the intake of the 7 days and calculate the daily average.
    Make sure to weigh yourself as well in the first week, and note both numbers down.
  • Starting the second week, eat around 10% less than the week before. So per day this means about 250-500 calories less. If you think about it this way, 10% is not that much. If you fail a day, no worries, just eat the surplus less the next day. We want to make sure that at the end of the week you ate 10% less calories over the complete week.
  • Weigh yourself during the weeks and see if you are losing weight. Yes? Great, keep the same amount of calories! No? Remove 10% again.
  • Increasing physical activity is always a good idea, but people overestimate how much this impacts the calorie formula. When you sport really hard for an hour, you burn about 500 calories. That is only 10-20% of your daily caloric intake, so eating less can have easily the same effects.
  • There are plenty of other tips regarding losing weight such as good sleep and proper hydration, you have heard about it plenty of times. Just take above into consideration, all it takes is counting your calories daily, lowering it down a little bit and stay consistent. And of course you can still enjoy smoking weed 😉

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Do you gain weight from weed?

As we have established by now, research suggests that cannabis is more likely to increase your metabolic rate, rather than decreasing it. However, this can be different for every person. Maybe you are not a chronic marihuana smoker but every time to smoke, you get crazy munchies and can’t restrain yourself. Believe me, we have all been there!

Cannabis can make you feel more hungry due to the effects of THC. When you are high everything seems to taste even better and it can be hard to stop eating. We understand that this is not always a good thing for you, if you want to live healthy. But don’t worry, we got some tips for you:

  • Drinking enough water can ease the hunger a bit. Partially because it will fill your stomach, and also as the feeling of hunger can also be a sign of dehydration.
  • For us it helps to plan the snacks in advance you are intending to eat. Before getting high make something healthy like a bowl of fresh fruits.
  • Chewing gum can help as well, as it keeps your mouth occupied.
  • Drinking coffee tends to decrease hunger as well for some people, might be worth a try. Did you know you can also make weed coffee? Read about it, and many other ways to use cannabis in our article!

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Can you lose weight by using CBD?

So far we have mainly written about the effects of THC on metabolism and weight, but some claim that cannabidiol (CBD) has a positive effect on weight loss as well. CBD also interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in regulating various physiological processes, including appetite and metabolism.

According to this systematic review research (4), the majority of the performed studies report that CBD reduces appetite and/or body weight. However, the researcher mention that further research has to be done to make definite conclusions.

Some of the performed studies suggest that cannabidiol supports weight loss by:

  • Reducing appetite of appetite, as CBD suppressed the hormone ghrelin, which triggers feelings of hunger.
  • Promoting ‘’browning’’ of fat cells, which could potentially increase the body’s ability to burn calories. This process involves converting white fat, which stores energy, into brown fat, which burns calories to generate heat.
  • Regulating the metabolism. Some studies suggest that CBD help improve the metabolic health and insulin sensitivity, which both contribute to weight loss.

Just as we wrote in the chapter about smoking weed for weight loss, we think that CBD will not be the most effective way to do so. Nothing can beat the caloric formula: burning more calories than you consume.


Liked this article, or missed something? Let us know in the comments!


Source reference

  1. Zwillich, C. W., Doekel, R. C., Hammill, S. C., & Weil, J. V. (1978). The effects of smoked marijuana on metabolism and respiratory control. PubMed, 118(5), 885–891.

  2. Lin, L., Jung, K., Lee, H., Le, J., Colleluori, G., Wood, C., Palese, F., Squire, E., Ramirez, J., Su, S., Torrens, A., Fotio, Y., Tang, L., Yu, C., Yang, Q., Huang, L., DiPatrizio, N. V., Jang, C., Cinti, S., & Piomelli, D. (2023). Adolescent exposure to low-dose THC disrupts energy balance and adipose organ homeostasis in adulthood. Cell Metabolism, 35(7), 1227-1241.e7. 

  3. Clark, T. M., Jones, J., Hall, A. G., Tabner, S. A., & Kmiec, R. L. (2018). Theoretical Explanation for Reduced Body Mass Index and Obesity Rates in Cannabis Users. Cannabis And Cannabinoid Research, 3(1), 259–271.  

  4. Pinto, J. S., & Martel, F. (2022). Effects of Cannabidiol on Appetite and Body Weight: A Systematic Review. Clinical Drug Investigation, 42(11), 909–919.  


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