Picture this: It’s 8 p.m., you’ve digested dinner, smoked a few bowls, and then, like a ton of bricks, it hits you. Hello munchies!
Donuts, chips, veggies and ranch…any snack really, will do the trick to satiate your growling stomach and fulfill your ravenous urge to eat. But why is it that you just can’t stop eating that box of cookies, even if you’re still full from dinner? And will all of this munching lead to eventual weight gain or other health issues? Let’s discuss.
Getting the munchies is actually somewhat of a mind trick. The human brain naturally produces cannabinoids that control our mood, appetite, memory and reactions to pain. After consuming marijuana, the THC that’s ingested then latches on to these cannabinoid receptors in our brains. As this happens, neurons start firing to the hypothalamus signaling hunger, rather than producing the chemical that tells you that you’re actually full. Smoking weed also effects cannabinoid receptors in the olfactory bulb, which impacts how much we eat and also emphasizes the taste and smell of food all together. Cannabis fools the brain into thinking you are hungry and also that the food you are eating tastes better than it actually is, therefore explaining why people get the cravings that they do after smoking, and why they just can’t stop snacking once they have started.
There is a ton of verified and publicized research out there showing that eating late at night can lead eventual weight gain, so that’s always a factor to keep in mind when it comes to the timing of when your munchie-mania sets in. However, new medical research proves that although smoking cannabis does result in an increase of appetite, the substance itself, does not cause people to gain weight or eventually become fat over time. Quite the opposite happens actually, which is definitely good news! Researchers working for the medical journal Obesity, conducted a study and discovered that the connection between marijuana use and the body, is that consuming it results in lower body mass index, lower fat mass and lower fasting insulin levels.
The study consisted of analyzing data from 786 cannabis users and comparing glucose levels, body mass, and other biological information. While further research still needs to be conducted on the subject, the authors of this particular study found that cannabis not only affects tissue metabolism, but can lead to lower blood sugar levels too. A similar study published by The American Journal of Medicine noted that it’s possible that cannabis use could even reduce the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes because of its effect on blood sugar and insulin levels. The studies show that in general, using marijuana stimulates physical activity and leads to increased energy levels (how’s that for disproving the stereotype of so-called stoners?). For a majority of people, body weight is a direct result of how they treat it, i.e.) exercising and diet. If a person is more active, it would only seem natural
that they have greater control over their weight leading to a lower body mass index. Furthermore, in this study, evidence displayed that having a lower body mass resulted in having lower blood sugar levels. What’s also interesting to me, especially based upon my usual pot-induced cravings
for chocolate and pretty much desserts of any kind, is that researchers concluded that more often than not, cannabis use is associated with healthy eating practices. Studies like these indicate that marijuana can have it’s own place within a healthy and active lifestyle and can also be used in a responsible manner.
This being said, obviously having a poor diet and eating late at night will result in weight gain over time. Diabetes is also a prevalent and major problem in the United States that people should keep in mind when selecting the foods that they eat. While marijuana alone might not cause you to gain weight, this shouldn’t give you the green light to stock the cupboards with junk food and unhealthy munchies with the mindset that you will never gain weight if you just eat after smoking.