Recent surveys were done in the United States estimate that over 22 million people over the age of 12 regularly use cannabis. Also interesting is that an increasing number of adults and seniors are taking up the habit. Most of these adults who do use cannabis regularly are doing so for recreational purposes. As the results stated – 90% of adult respondents admitted that they use it recreationally, while only 10% said that they use it for medicinal purposes.
One of the most notorious physiological effects associated with marijuana is having an increased appetite – often referred to as having the “munchies.” While it may seem logical to suggest that an increased appetite would result in weight gain, existing epidemiological studies have found that marijuana users are less likely to be obese.
One particular study published in 2013 in The American Journal of Science released a report that revealed that there was a low prevalence of obesity in cannabis users despite the overwhelming empirical and anecdotal evidence that links stoners to high-calorie diets. The Key finding was that current marijuana users appeared to have better carbohydrate metabolism than non-users.
So what does all this mean for those who quit the habit? Will you get fat if you stop smoking pot? Let’s take a closer look below.
Marijuana Use and Metabolism
A study that was published by scientists from the University of Miami in 2016 reported that regular cannabis users were 54% less likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome when compared to non-users. In case you’re wondering, metabolic syndrome is the term used to describe a series of co-occurring health problems. These include; high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body weight around the waist and belly, and abnormal cholesterol levels.
When these factors all occur together, there’s an increased likelihood of developing diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. The above-mentioned study examined data from close to 8,500 individuals through the National Health and Nutrition Surveys. Participants were between the ages of 20 and 59 years old. They found that marijuana users on average displayed the following signs:
- Less risk of developing type 2 Diabetes
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Had lower blood sugar levels
- Lower levels of bad cholesterol
- Less abdominal fat
These findings are in agreement with other research that has been done on marijuana and metabolism.
What exactly is the connection between marijuana and metabolism? Scientists are perplexed by the particular reason that cannabis users are less obese on average, but they agree that it has something to do with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Ingesting cannabis gives the metabolism a jolt, and this creates hunger pangs in most people.
However, studies have also found that cannabis provides a “cardiometabolic protective effect” which means that it positively affects dietary wellness. According to research that was done by GW Pharmaceuticals, two compounds found in cannabis namely, CBD and THCV, have been found to speed fat loss, lower cholesterol, and raise metabolism.
Marijuana Users Have a Lower BMI
In another study done by the University of Miami and published in The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics, researchers looked at more than 13,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 26. Body measurements of each participant were collected to calculate BMI, and marijuana use was also tested. Six years later, when the participants were between the ages of 24 and 32, researchers looked again at BMI and marijuana use.
They found that the BMI of women who smoked pot daily were 3.1% lower than those who didn’t smoke daily. Moreover, the BMI of men who smoked pot daily was 2.7% lower than those who didn’t smoke pot.
One of the most extensive studies on marijuana use and weight issues done to date was by a team of researchers from Michigan State University (MSU). The study was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology and investigated whether people who use marijuana on a regular basis were more likely to gain weight.
The study found that marijuana users were less likely to be overweight or have obesity. Interestingly, over a 3-year period, all participants experienced an increase in weight, but those who used marijuana had less of an increase when compared to those who never used. In addition, a lower BMI was found in both new and regular users.
Does This Mean That You Will Get Fat if You Stop Smoking Pot?
Now for the most important part, the reason you’re reading this article in the first place. We’ve now established that smoking weed has the potential to increase metabolism. In addition, regular pot smokers are often found to have a lower BMI. So ultimately, yes, it’s highly possible that you could gain weight if you stop smoking pot.
As we’ve seen above, research has shown that smoking weed could speed up the metabolism. This means that when you quit smoking, it’s very possible that you will gain weight because your metabolism has slowed down. You could try to increase your activity to counteract this effect, such as walking up the stairs instead of using the elevator, and parking further away and walking.
You can check out this firsthand account from Joe, the founder of Crutch 420 – a Youtube channel that covers various topics related to weed. In this particular episode, he details how cannabis affects the metabolism and how he got fat after he stopped smoking pot. He even tried to change his diet – eating healthier – but it still didn’t help his weight gain. Joe is convinced that smoking pot kept his body in check and kept him from gaining weight while maintaining a healthy appetite.
But that said, there are many different factors at play, and it’s also possible that you don’t experience any weight gain. If you do pick up weight after quitting pot, you need to think about other factors at play. For example, are you sure that you are still eating the same amount that you were before? If smoking pot was working as a distraction or oral fixation, you might now be eating out of boredom, and this could explain the weight gain.
Final Thoughts: Will Stopping Smoking Make You Gain Weight?
The topic of marijuana and metabolism, and more specifically weight problems, is still a relatively new issue. A lot more research needs to be done before we can definitively state that marijuana speeds up the metabolism and thus helps the fight against obesity. However, research thus far has shown that weed certainly could raise metabolism and regular weed use is typically linked to a lower BMI.
Essentially, this means that yes, it’s very possible that you will gain weight if you stop smoking pot. Of course, we cannot say you will definitely gain weight. Every individual is different, and each person’s body responds differently under similar circumstances. There are also many different factors that come into play which could affect weight gain. But it certainly is something to think about if you’re planning to stop smoking pot.