Do Edibles Make You Lose Weight?
If you’re asking the question “do edibles make you lose weight,” it might be because you’ve gained a few (or a lot of pounds) through the pandemic and are looking for ways to slim down, or perhaps you just can’t wait to try those delectable-looking cannabis-infused chocolate squares and need a way to justify the calories. Either way, there is good news and a few words of caution for people who are looking to cannabis edibles to help them lose weight.
How Cannabis Edibles Affect Weight
The first thing that we need to make clear is that cannabis edibles aren’t a magic bullet for losing weight. If you’ve experienced significant weight gain, you’ll need a long-term diet and exercise plan to help you get back on track.
That said, there are several ways in which marijuana-infused edibles could support your weight-loss efforts. It really depends on the reasons for weight gain and whether cannabinoids—especially THC and CBD—can help you address the root cause.
Cannabis Consumers Tend to Have Lower BMIs
While it’s certainly not a quick fix, it’s interesting to note that people who consume cannabis regularly tend to have lower rates of obesity than those who don’t. Consider the following studies:
A review that included more than 50,000 American adults showed an obesity rate of 14-17% among people who consumed cannabis at least three days each week, compared to 22-25% for those who had not consumed marijuana in the past 12 months.
A 2015 study showed that places that introduced medical marijuana laws (including Seattle, Washington) saw an average 2-6% reduction in that population’s risk of obesity.
A 2018 meta-analysis showed that cannabis consumers had “a significantly reduced body mass index and rates of obesity” even though they had a higher intake of calories.
There are several reasons why consuming edibles or smoking cannabis under medical or recreational marijuana laws might help with weight-loss efforts, as seen in the studies mentioned above:
Medical marijuana patients who consume cannabis for chronic pain may find that cannabis products relieve symptoms, allowing them to exercise more.
Young people may start smoking weed instead of consuming alcoholic drinks, reducing their caloric intake.
THC causes changes in the gut microbiome in mice, which in turn affects weight loss and digestion.
Consuming large amounts of cannabis appears to downregulate CB1R, increase metabolism, and reduce energy storage—lowering BMI.
CBD-Infused Edibles May Have Specific Effects That Help You Lose Weight
So, we’ve seen some examples of whole-plant marijuana helping people lose weight, but what about edibles that are infused with CBD? According to research, cannabidiol—the main non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in marijuana and hemp plants—appears to modulate appetite in a few interesting ways.
CBD Acts on Appetite-Regulating Cannabinoid Receptors
Studies show that CBD interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain and lymphoid tissue. Some of these receptors are thought to have a relationship with metabolism and appetite.
Moreover, rats that were injected with CBD at doses of 2.5 and 5 mg per kg of body weight displayed significant reductions in body weight, with more pronounced effects at the higher dose.
CBD May Increase or Decrease Appetite
In some animals and people, CBD may reduce food intake. This was the case in a rat study, where cannabidiol reduced appetite and other cannabinoids (cannabigerol and cannabinol) did not.
After parents started using CBD preparations for their children with Infantile Spasms (IS) and Lennox-Grout Syndrome (LGS), many noticed that their children’s food intake increased. However, other parents noticed that their children’s appetite decreased with CBD.
CBD May Encourage the Browning of Fat Cells
Finally, a test-tube study found that cannabidiol helped with the browning of white fat cells, meaning that it could help stored fat cells become available for burning. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this was only a study of cells and not live human beings.
In Some Cases, Cannabis Is Used to Increase Appetite
For some people—including cancer patients and people with eating disorders—an increased appetite is a good thing. In these cases, THC (the psychoactive compound in marijuana) can be used to trigger hunger and increase food intake when the patient’s current intake is insufficient.
Whether to lose weight or gain weight, what cannabis appears to do is support the body’s cannabinoid system, known as the endocannabinoid system or ECS, in regulating appetite. According to a 2011 study published in Biological Psychiatry, patients with anorexia and bulimia appear to have issues with the functioning of the cannabinoid system in the brain. This is where cannabis-infused edibles might help.
Include Edibles as Part of a Healthy Lifestyle
If you want to enjoy edibles and need to lose weight, there are several things you can do to maximize the health benefits and prevent unwanted weight gain:
Make low-calorie edibles at home by adding CBD oil or THC tinctures to your favorite healthy foods. Cannabis metabolizes best when taken with fats, so mix it with coconut oil or yogurt, or make your own cannabutter.
If you buy edibles, focus on things like naturally sweetened gummies and infused beverages rather than sugar-packed chocolates and cookies.
Maintain a healthy diet, rich in whole-food proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, Omega-3 fatty acids, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Maintain an active lifestyle with lots of outdoor time, fresh air, and exercise that elevates your heart rate for 30 minutes, three to five days a week.
If you need more support to help you lose weight, consider training with family or friends, getting a health coach, or attending a healthy cooking class. Once you get all of the parameters right, edibles are just the icing on the cake!