There’s a myth that weight loss is all about willpower. While willpower may have something to do with success, it’s certainly not everything. The truth is, weight is almost always a result of multiple factors. This is why most experts (not the people trying to sell you fit tea or a weight loss pill) refer to weight loss plans as lifestyle changes.
Losing weight and keeping it off typically involves a lot of time and dedication, along with diet and behavioral changes. It isn’t easy, but considering what a crucial role weight can have in your physical and mental wellbeing, it’s worth the effort.
And while there is no magic pill, tea, or superfood that’s going to make the pounds melt away, the good news is CBD might be able to help your body maintain balance throughout your fitness journey.
What Causes Weight Gain?
Diet is a significant component. However, studies also show some people are more at risk of gaining excess weight than others due to factors such as hormones and genetics. Environment can also factor in, as can other health conditions, including mobility restrictions, hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), chronic pain, insomnia, stress, and depression.
Other contributing factors can include:
Addiction doesn’t just pertain to drugs, alcohol, or nicotine. Junk foods, especially sugary ones, can stimulate the reward system in the brain. In fact, foods high in processed sugar may be on the level with alcohol and cocaine in terms of addictiveness. Like battling a drug or alcohol addiction, people may lose control of their eating behavior (binge eating) and struggle to overcome it. Addiction is not a choice, and disorders like binge eating disorder are real mental illnesses that require professional help.
Insulin is typically associated with diabetes, but it is essential for people who do not have diabetes to understand its importance to our health. The hormone’s primary function is regulating energy storage, dictating when cells should store and hold onto fat. In people with diabetes, the body either does not make enough insulin or cannot utilize insulin as effectively as it should. Certain diets (especially those high in heavily-processed sugary foods) can cause insulin resistance in overweight or obese people. This causes the body to store energy as fat more than it should. Reducing calorie intake and specifically cutting down on sugary, refined-carbohydrate foods can help reduce insulin resistance.
Certain medications, including some antipsychotics and antidepressants, can also contribute to weight gain. Diabetes medication may have a side effect of weight gain as well. The reason for this is that they may increase your appetite, decrease metabolism, or both. Your healthcare team may offer suggestions for preventing weight gain if you are starting a medication that has this side effect.
Leptin, a product of fat cells, is another hormone that can contribute to obesity. Research has found that high leptin levels correlate to reduced appetite in people with a body-mass index within a healthy range. When it’s doing its job correctly, leptin should signal to the brain when fat stores are at the optimal level. However, in some obese individuals, leptin cannot pass the blood-brain barrier and doesn’t work as it should. This condition is called leptin resistance.
How CBD Works in the Body
CBD works by influencing the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). This vast network of endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes is one of our most crucial organ systems. It is located throughout the brain and body and is responsible for regulating several functions, including sleep, mood, digestion, immune response, stress, appetite, pleasure/reward, hormones, and pain sensation. Essentially, the ECS helps us maintain homeostasis, or balance, in various areas.
As you probably noticed, many of the functions mentioned above, including stress, mood, hormones, depression, and appetite, can contribute to weight gain, loss, and maintenance.
By mimicking the body’s existing cannabinoids (endo means body), CBD and its fellow phytocannabinoids (Phyto means plant) may help the ECS work more effectively.
Think of it like oil in a car. When there isn’t enough oil or the oil is contaminated, the car’s engine may be damaged over time. Eventually, the whole machine may be kaput. Fortunately, changing the oil is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your car running well. The same may be true with how CBD affects the body. Giving the ECS more cannabinoids to work with may help the body maintain balance and continue operating optimally.
What the Research Says
We still have a lot to learn about the relationship between CBD and weight. But there have been a few clinical studies to date.
A study by the University of Nebraska College of Medicine, published in 2013 in the American Journal of Medicine, studied 4,657 adult men and women who had or were currently using cannabis. Researchers found using cannabis correlated to smaller waist circumference.
There have also been studies on animal subjects. In these studies, researchers have found CBD may stimulate genes and proteins, enhancing fat oxidation. It may also increase the body’s ability to burn calories and decrease fat cell production.