Marijuana And Metabolism
Once thought to be a dangerous drug, marijuana is slowly being accepted into the general culture as a potentially helpful and highly useful plant. Among the benefits are decreased insulin resistance, better metabolic function, and other benefits. Athletes have realized the positive effects of utilizing the THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids found in marijuana in their daily regimen to keep healthy bodily functions. It should come as no surprise, then, that marijuana can significantly help with metabolic functions and weight loss.
Marijuana and exercise
The winning combination for people looking to increase their overall health is to use medical marijuana along with exercise. Some of this has to do with its effect on your body’s response to insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is crucial for your body’s use of glucose (sugar) for energy. Glucose should either be used for energy or stored for later in your body, and insulin is a necessary component to making that happen.
If insulin isn’t working properly (or if your body has developed insulin resistance, as with diabetes), your blood sugar levels will get to be too high — when that happens, insulin levels are increased far too quickly, then stored as fat. In other words, too much unused glucose means weight gain. The improper use of insulin in your body, therefore, can also lead to weight gain.
According to one study, people who consume marijuana regularly have 16% lower fasting insulin levels than individuals who don’t use marijuana. Fasting insulin is the insulin that is in your body before you consume food. Marijuana users also have 17% lower insulin resistance than non-users, and users were slimmer than non-users in general.
Some athletes specifically use marijuana for its CBD or THC content to lower their anxieties and relieve some pain (allowing them to push themselves harder during intense workouts). In places where it is legal (such as Colorado), you can even find gym trainers who will lead training specifically geared towards people using marijuana edibles. It is said that using marijuana before a workout increases your pain threshold, making it easier to tough out a challenging workout.
In fact, exercise and marijuana are more similar than you might expect. Both activate the endocannabinoid system in similar ways. This system takes care of pain relief, appetite control, memories, and mood. During exercise the body creates cannabinoids, causing that “runner’s high” type of feeling that eases pain and makes us enjoy working out more.
Because the body stores THC for up to a month, it can be useful for giving people an added boost when they exercise. Fat gets burned, and THC is released into our bloodstream, increasing the level by about 15% right after an average amount of exercise. In other words, you’ll have a stronger “runner’s high” feeling than if you exercised as a non-user.
The endocannabinoid system in the brain
Both marijuana and exercise lead to the activation of our brain’s endocannabinoid system — although we’ve known that for more than a decade already. This endocannabinoid system is responsible for keeping your body in homeostasis. This means pain relief, appetite control, stress relief, mood influencing, and memory regulation.
The most cannabinoids are in our blood less than ten minutes after you smoke marijuana. If you consume an edible, this is more like one to 1.5 hours afterward. THC generally interacts with the CB1 cannabinoid receptor in the brain, while CBN (cannabinol) interacts with the CB2 that is typically located in immune cells. CBD doesn’t bind with these receptors, but it still has big effects on a variety of processes including appetite, pain, immune processes, stress reactions, the secretion of hormones, muscle tissue signaling, and fat tissue signaling.
Marijuana users have a significantly lower rate of obesity than non-users, according to a 2013 study. Their BMI (body mass index) is simply lower. This could have a lot to do with the endocannabinoid system and how it reacts to marijuana. We all know that THC stimulates the appetite (giving us the “munchies”), the longer term effects could actually be lowering the hunger signals.
In addition, CBD and THCV are likely lowering body weight in general, as seen in animal studies. Keep in mind that THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin) is not easily found in most strains of marijuana, so a fat-burning marijuana product is not readily available at the moment — although if you research it right, you could probably find one that works.