I dropped 50 pounds in 2016 and I credit marijuana for the weight loss. Seriously.
You’ve no doubt heard all the munchie jokes and the claims that cannabis makes the user lazy and unmotivated. But there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that the herb doesn’t necessarily make your body grow.
An American Journal of Medicine study in 2013 found that people consuming cannabis at least three to five times a week had 16 percent lower fasting insulin levels and smaller waist circumference. Yes, you read that correctly: a smaller waist circumference.
How is this possible? Researchers are still trying to get to the bottom of the science, but some speculate that cannabis appears to regulate the glucose-absorption process, increasing levels of “good cholesterol” and improving metabolic functioning.
Another theory suggests that cannabis interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the brain that control memory and appetite. When triggered by CBD (a non-psychoactive component found in cannabis), the results can be an increased appetite. But these receptors can become desensitized over time, making the regular user less likely to gain weight.
- Related Inforgraphic: Munchie Madness: Will Cannabis Make Me Fat?
Essentially what may be happening is this: Marijuana will generally promote appetite and binge eating when first using marijuana. Eventually, it has the opposite effect the cannabinoid receptors in your brain become desensitized or trained.
“The most important finding is that current users of marijuana appeared to have better carbohydrate metabolism than nonusers,” says Murray Mittleman, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the author of the study. “Their fasting insulin levels were lower, and they appeared to be less resistant to the insulin produced by their body to maintain a normal blood-sugar level.”
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So now that we’ve got the science out of the way, let me walk you through my 50-pound weight loss. First of all, just smoking weed is not going to help you lose weight. You seriously need to adopt a healthier lifestyle and be mindful of what you are putting in your body.
For me, it started with digging my FitBit out of the junk drawer and joining Weight Watchers in May. By Labor Day, I shed 50 pounds.
Here are a few tips:
Get Off Your Butt
It’s simple math, really: Energy in, energy out. If you burn more calories than you take in, your body shrinks. Go figure.
My FitBit reminded me every day that I needed 10,000 steps (or about 5 miles) a day minimum. Eventually, my daily goal became 15,000 steps a day. Put in your earbuds and take a few 15 minutes walks a day. It’s not that tough.
Cut Back On The Booze
My days of heavy drinking are behind me. I enjoy a cocktail, a glass of wine or a pint of beer like most people. But because of Weight Watchers I became keenly aware of the calories in just one drink. Moderation, people.
Eat Like A Grown-Up
For me, this meant dedicating myself to a balanced diet. I did not exclude one kind of food — I enjoyed pasta, pizza, steak and the occasional piece of cake. But I also loaded up on fruits, vegetables and healthier proteins. (Side note: Hemp seed is a superfood that should be part of your diet.)
Get A Good Night’s Sleep
This was the key for me. For decades, I have trouble getting to sleep. I’ve tried just about everything except for sleeping pills. I have heard too many Ambien horror stories and I let my doctor know this would not be an option for me.
When I can’t sleep, I usually get out of bed instead of tossing and turning. My feet and brain would take me directly to the fridge where I would consume calories I didn’t even need. It was just midnight snacking.
Fortunately, cannabis is a wonderful sleep aid. Each night for dessert, I allowed myself a small piece of cannabis-infused chocolate followed by vaping or smoking a small amount of the herb. On most nights, a blissful sleep was the result.
For My Fellow Weight Watcher Peeps:
When I attend my Seattle meetings, the issue of alcohol comes up nearly every week. For those unfamiliar with how the program works, food and beverages are given point values based on calories, carbohydrates, fat, etc. A 5-oz. glass of wine is 4 points. So if you have two glasses (remember, 5-oz is a serving), you have just spent 8 points. One 12-oz. bottle of Sierra Nevada beer is 5 points. Your basic 2-oz. martini is 6 points.
The number of points per day is based on your age, weight and other factors. For me, my daily point allocation is 35 points. So two beers is nearly a third of my entire points for the day. Remember that small piece of chocolate I eat for dessert? That is 1 point for a tiny piece. If I go crazy and have three pieces — which I do on weekends on occasion — is still only 3 points. Still, the tasty cannabis treat is still half of the points of a martini.
Are there specific strains that are better for weight loss?
Once again, the research is inconclusive. But there is some evidence that strains containing a higher concentration of the compound THCV are better than others. THCV is a cannabinoid often found in so-called “landrace strains” and acts as an antagonist of the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Some scientists theorize that this blocks THC from overwhelming your brain, thus suppressing the appetite.
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If you are fortunate enough to live in a state where you can purchase cannabis from a reputable retailer or dispensary that tests its product, ask your budtender for these strains high in THCV such as Super Silver Haze or G13.