Can CBD really help with weight loss? After all, cannabis is usually associated with an increased appetite – otherwise known as the munchies.
Why THC Makes Us Hungry
There are over a hundred different cannabinoids, and they each affect the body differently. THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive compound found in marijuana, stimulates the appetite by binding to specific CB1 receptors in the hypothalamus that are responsible for regulating hunger. THC has also been shown to stimulate the release of ghrelin – also known as the hunger hormone.
According to a study published in the scientific journal Nature Neuroscience, THC binds to and activates receptors in the brain’s olphactory bulb (the part of the brain that is responsible for smell), making food smell and taste better. This is extremely useful in stimulating the appetite, but probably not what you want when you are trying to lose a few pounds.
Luckily, CBD (Cannabidiol) has the opposite effect of THC on the appetite.
Studies have shown that CBD can not only act as an appetite suppressant, but according to Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry Journal, it can assist in the breakdown and oxidation of fat. CBD can also increase the number and activity of mitochondria in the body, which then increases the body’s ability to burn calories.
Why mitochondria are so important for weight loss
Mitochondria are often referred to as “the powerhouses” of the cell because they produce 90% of the energy the cells need in order to survive. Their job is to take in nutrients from the cell (proteins, fats and carbohydrates) and convert them into usable energy.
Mitochondria are key components in a process called fat browning.
We all have two types of adipose tissue (fat) in our bodies. White fat issue is predominantly responsible for preserving energy. Brown fat on the other hand, burns energy which in turns burns calories. The more mitochondria there are present in the body, the more white (inactive) fat is converted into brown (energy-generating) fat and the more calories the body is able to burn.
While CBD can be a useful aid in weight loss here are a few other important factors when trying to lose weight.
1. Eat plenty of protein, carbs and fats
Don’t eliminate entire food groups from your diet.
Carbs provide our body with fuel. Our body and brain, function on glucose, and carbohydrates are broken down into glucose. While you should avoid processed carbs, you should eat lots of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Protein is an important building block for virtually every part of our bodies including hair, nails, bones, blood, cartilage, tissue and muscle. Protein helps to repair and grow muscle tissue after a workout which helps boost your metabolism since muscle burns more calories than fat – even while at rest.
Eat good fats. Fat is essential for your body so don’t avoid all fats. Fat helps the body absorb vitamins and minerals, is great for the skin, is a source of energy and helps keep you satisfied and feeling full longer. Omega 3, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and lignans are all good fats that fight inflammation, are good for heart health, can help counter bone loss and more. Good fats are found in foods like avocados, nuts and seeds.
2. Drink more
Water can help keep you feeling full, helps flush toxins from the body and helps to properly metabolize fat. If you find plain water boring try some sparkling water, or infuse your water with flavors that you’ll enjoy.
Some flavors to try are: lemon, lime, cucumber, watermelon, berries, orange, thyme, rosemary, hibiscus, melon, basil…
Although I don’t typically like energy drinks, mostly because instead of making me feel energized, they usually just make me feel restless, I recently tried Joy Organics CBD infused energy drink mix and was pleasantly surprised. Instead of the usual surge of energy and subsequent crash, I felt a more sustained boost that lasted all day. The drink has zero calories and zero sugar, and contains BCAAs, vitamins, minerals, caffeine and CBD.
Not only does exercise help you burn calories while you are working out, but it can help you burn more calories while at rest too.
Starting an exercise routine doesn’t necessarily mean you need to join an expensive or intimidating gym. Take a walk, or a bike ride. Try some yoga – Gaia has a great selection of yoga classes you can try at home, and they are often running an introductory special so you can try it before you join. Another great website for at home workouts that has hundreds of completely free videos for weight training, pilates, HIIT, cardio, even a bit of yoga is Fitness Blender.
3. Get enough sleep
Poor sleep has repeatedly been linked to a higher body mass index and weight gain. Studies have shown that when the body is deprived of sleep it produces more of the “hunger” hormone ghrelin as well as cortisol, known as the “stress” hormone, both of which increase appetite.
4. Use a food diary
Very often people underestimate the amount of calories they consume in a day. A lot of it comes down to not registering mindless snacking, drinks or little bites and tastes throughout the day. A spoonful of nut butter, a taste of a cupcake, a glass of wine, or a fancy coffee drink can easily add up to hundreds of extra calories in a day. Using a food dairy can be very helpful in making you aware of what you are actually eating in a day, as well as keeping you accountable and teaching you to recognize appropriate portion sizes. There are many good free food diary apps to choose from, like myfitnesspal.com
5. Treat Yourself
If you always feel deprived, there will come a time when you breakdown and eat half a chocolate cake in one sitting. To avoid that, don’t forget to treat yourself…just don’t go overboard.
6. Consider reverse dieting for long term weight loss
Sometimes the problem isn’t overeating, but undereating. If you are finding yourself in a situation where you are eating an extremely low amount of calories, and still gaining weight easily, are constantly yo-yo dieting, or you’ve reached a plateau and are not making any progress you might benefit from reverse dieting.
Our bodies are super efficient at adapting to situations in order to help us survive. When you put your body into an extreme caloric deficit for an extended period of time, something called metabolic adaptation happens. This means that when you drastically cut calories, your body thinks that you are starving and will slow down your metabolism in order to help you survive on a limited amount of food.
Once you begin to eat more, (which you eventually will because you’re starving), your metabolism can not keep up with the sudden increase in calories and you gain back all the weight.
Fortunately, metabolic adaptation does not mean that your metabolism is damaged for good and can actually be reversed. When you reverse diet you very slowly add calories back into your diet to allow your metabolism to adapt to the extra food without putting on a lot of weight.
Basically, you add a tiny amount of calories each week, (about 100) , which is roughly equivalent to one banana. If your body adapts (and there is no weight gain) by the end of the week you will add another 100 calories for the second week. If you see a gain, stay at the same calories for an extra week to give your metabolism a bit more time to adjust.
A reverse diet is not a quick solution. This is something you can do now so that you can end the yo-yo dieting cycle for good in the future. Imagine instead of gaining weight at 1300 calories a day, being able to maintain at 1900 calories a day.
7. Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss
Another technique you may want to consider is Intermittent Fasting. Intermittent fasting is not a diet but a way of eating. It involves eating during a specific window of time, and fasting for the remaining hours of the day. The most common is the 16/8 split – you eat for 8 hours, and fast for the remaining 16, which isn’t really so bad as that includes the time that you are sleeping.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to support weight loss, improve blood sugar, boost brain function and increase longevity.
And, finally, be patient with yourself. Gaining weight takes time and so does long term weight loss.