Does Smoking Weed Make You Lose Weight?

Last Updated: November 3, 2023

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

More research needs to be done on whether weed aids in weight loss, but the benefits of smoking weed also come with many harmful risks.

With medical marijuana growing in popularity, many people are beginning to explore if smoking weed can cause you to lose weight. There are some who swear that this is the case; however, the evidence is not clear on whether marijuana actually impacts your weight.

Weed and Metabolism

There is little research into how using weed actually affects your metabolism, though some studies show that smoking marijuana may actually lead to an increased metabolism. Research showing this suggests that it does so by both increasing how quickly the body burns energy and by causing breathing to speed up, causing more energy to be used.

Can Marijuana Help You Lose Weight?

There has been significant debate about whether marijuana can cause weight loss since a study in 2011 showed that people who use cannabis are more likely to have a lower weight than those who do not smoke weed. This study was used to say that smoking marijuana causes you to lose weight; however, it did not show this to be true.

Since this study, there has been more research into whether marijuana use specifically causes weight loss or if people that use marijuana have lifestyle factors that make them have a lower weight. A more recent study showed that people who use marijuana actually ate more calories than people that didn’t but still had a lower weight on average than others. There is still ongoing research to see if marijuana specifically causes weight loss.

CBD and Weight Loss

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a substance found in marijuana that does not create a high, addiction or any of the psychological effects of marijuana in its pure form. There has been interest in exploring if CBD causes weight loss, but so far, there is little evidence to show that this occurs.

The only research showing that CBD could help weight loss found that it may convert unhealthy white fat cells into brown fat cells, which are easier to burn. There have only been a small number of studies into this, however, and more research is needed to determine if this effect would actually have any impact on weight.

Does Marijuana Make You Gain Weight?

It is well known that marijuana causes an increased appetite, often referred to as the “munchies.” This increase in appetite typically causes the person using marijuana to eat unhealthy foods high in sugar or salt. While the increased appetite that marijuana creates would seem to carry a risk of increasing weight, marijuana may cause metabolic changes that negate the increased calorie intake with the munchies.

Weed and Obesity Statistics

While there are studies examining how marijuana and weight are related, there are not good statistical studies that explore the general population. Research does seem to indicate, however, that marijuana users tend to be less likely to be obese than those who do not use marijuana. A clear relationship between how marijuana use itself actually impacts weight is still the subject of ongoing research.

The Takeaway

Studies do tend to show that marijuana users weigh less than those who do not use marijuana. This does not, however, mean that using marijuana for weight loss is a good idea. Even if marijuana was conclusively proven to cause weight loss, it would come with many potential risks, including:

  • Addiction
  • Increased chance of cancer
  • Decreased IQ
  • Increased risk of heart attack
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Increased risk of using other drugs

Following a healthy diet and exercising is ultimately a much safer and more proven method of losing weight than smoking weed.

Sources

U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Marijuana.” MedlinePlus, January 24, 2019. Accessed July 29, 2022.

Zwillich, Clifford W., et al. “The Effects of Smoked Marijuana on Metab[…] Respiratory Control.” American Review of Respiratory Disease, May 17, 1978. Accessed July 29, 2022.

Le Strat, Yann, et al. “Obesity and Cannabis Use: Results From 2[…]ive National Surveys.” American Journal of Epidemiology, August 24, 2011. Accessed July 29, 2022.

Clark, Thomas M., et al. “Theoretical Explanation for Reduced Body[…]es in Cannabis Users.” Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, December 21, 2018. Accessed July 29, 2022.

Parray, Hilal Ahmad & Yun, Jong Won. “Cannabidiol promotes browning in 3T3-L1 adipocytes.” Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, April 11, 2016. Accessed July 29, 2022.

Deng, Boer. “Marijuana flips appetite switch in brain.” Nature, February 18, 2015. Accessed July 29, 2022.

Sansone, Randy A. & Sansone, Lori A. “Marijuana and Body Weight.” Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, 2014. Accessed July 29, 2022.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Health Effects of Marijuana.” June 2, 2021. Accessed July 29, 2022.

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