Mythbusters: Does Marijuana Increase Your Metabolism?

Can you use marijuana to lose weight?

Metabolism
Photo by Flickr user Dominic Melton

Have any of those weed-induced trains of thought lead you to wonder why marijuana makes you so darn hungry? Thought so. It is pretty remarkable when you think about the amount of food you can fit in your stomach when you’re stoned. Two pizzas, a burrito and 17 chocolate chip cookies for dinner? Not sober, no problem.


If you know what we mean, you’ll also know it happens almost immediately. When we say ‘it’ we mean the very real and very demanding force every smoker has come to know as the munchies. A few puffs in and your stomach gives you that grumbling signal that it’s ready for some grub. But what exactly is it about marijuana that makes you hungry? Is it a mental thing, or is it actually physical?

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First things first, let’s clear the air in saying that the properties in marijuana itself can not make you fat.

“In 2013, the American Journal of Science released a report that noted the low prevalence of obesity in cannabis users despite an abundance of empirical and anecdotal evidence linking stoners to high caloric diets.” According to the study, “the most important finding is that current users of marijuana appeared to have better carbohydrate metabolism than nonusers,” Murray Mittleman, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the lead author of the study, told Time. “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.”

So far so good, right? Maybe, but even with all of the studies and research out there, it seems that there is still not definitive answer on this serious debate. With a lack of scientific evidence to back up the argument that marijuana in fact does increase your metabolism, we are left to speculating alternative points of view.


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Some suggest that Mary Jane may be inducing a mental rather than physical need for munchies. Go Ask Alice explains that “the cannabinoid receptor system in your brain is thought to be involved in pleasure-seeking behavior, sensitivity to smells, and a heightened response to sweet flavors — all things that could send you dashing to the pantry.”


However researchers also have argued other physical benefits related to metabolism. Go Ask Alice also suggests that, “some research on endocannabinoids — chemicals similar to marijuana, that your body naturally produces — has led researchers to think that blocking cannabinoids may decrease the chance of someone developing metabolic syndrome — which is a group of risk factors that can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and other possible health issues.”


Without having a clear answer, we say enjoy the munchies responsibly and opt for delicious and healthy rather than “whatever is in the fridge.”


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