How CBD can help with weight loss
Cannabidiol (CBD) has been touted as the remedy that helps with many physical and mental conditions, but CBD and weight loss—can it be true? The answer is a qualified yes, although it’s not a miracle cure for obesity.
While diet and exercise remain the critical ingredients for weight loss, CBD is yet another tool that can be used in the fight against fat.
Research is in very early stages that show CBD has indirect benefits for weight loss in reducing anxiety and stress and improving sleep quality. Besides helping to control those issues, it seems that CBD works indirectly in stimulating the body’s response to metabolism.
Several large-scale studies have investigated the body weights of cannabis vs. non-cannabis users. The results show that cannabis users are leaner despite taking in more calories than nonusers. The data is limited, and the science on the subject is in the early stages. Still, the results are intriguing enough to be worthy of more study.
The data suggest that CBD can help to improve sleep quality, reduce anxiety, manage chronic pain, and reduce stress—all factors that may lead to weight gain. In 2015, researchers examined the connection between chronic pain and obesity, which often occur together. The thinking is that because CBD can help chronic pain sufferers, it may help them achieve weight loss goals.
Because CBD has proven effective for improvement in sleep quality, anxiety relief, and stress reduction—issues that play a role in weight gain—it stands to reason that using CBD to address these problems can also help people meet their weight loss goals.
CBD, mitochondria, and metabolic health
Mitochondria are subcellular structures. Essentially a cellular powerhouse, they generate chemical energy to fuel cells’ biochemical reaction. Mitochondria convert sugars, proteins, and fats into the energy that the cells use to function.
When mitochondria don’t function efficiently for many reasons, it gets harder to produce needed energy and more challenging to lose extra pounds. Even though your daily food intake supplies the fuel, mitochondria may inefficiently convert that energy. As a result, the liver converts unused energy, in the form of sugars and fats, and stores them for future use as fat.
CBD can help to increase the number of mitochondria as well as boost their activity. Through CBD’s influence with your cellular signaling system (endocannabinoid system or ECS), ECS receptors stimulate cellular mitochondria to become more active or less active, as needed.
The ECS works to achieve metabolic balance—homeostasis—and CBD can help to reach that balance. Combined with exercise and diet, CBD indirectly helps reduce fat storage by prompting the ECS to increase your fat “burn rate” through its interactions with the ECS receptors CB1 and CB2.
Most people don’t know or understand the important difference between types of body fat (adipose). Brown fat has significantly more mitochondria than white fat and provides the energy to maintain body temperature. White adipose is the stored product of excess high-sugar and high dietary fat.
Researchers believe brown fat uses white fat as fuel for its energy production. They also think exercise stimulates the hormones that trigger brown fat activation.
A study in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry speculates that CBD may be able to convert white fat to brown fat in what’s called browning. Several things happen as a result of browning:
- Fat oxidizes and breaks down
- The body uses calories more efficiently and “burns” calories better.
- Protein expression decreases (which refers to how the cells use proteins to generate fat cells)
Researchers are just beginning to investigate fat browning and CBD’s role in accelerating white adipose conversion to brown. The authors’ findings are preliminary but intriguing enough to require further study.
Regulating insulin levels to burn fat.
When you eat, the intestines absorb the nutrients from that meal into your bloodstream. High-sugar or high-fat foods, or energy-dense foods, cause an energy surge in the bloodstream. That’s fine if you’re using it up with exercise and regular metabolic function.
However, if you’re not using all the energy you take in, the liver converts it to the fat stored in your body. Diet and exercise are still the best way to lose weight and keep excess pounds off, but sometimes weight loss plateaus, making it seem nearly impossible to lose the last few pounds. This is where insulin plays a role.
A hormone, insulin moves sugar into cells that convert its energy. Years of high-sugar food gradually increase insulin levels so that even when you change things up, the levels stay high.
When insulin levels are high, it’s harder to burn fat. Also, insulin loves lipids and fatty acids and resists fat breakdown. Each of these tendencies, especially the combination of them, leads to stored energy, aka fat.
A study of 4,700 people with metabolic disease found that they experienced a 17% decrease in fasting insulin when using CBD or cannabis. Lower insulin levels make it easier to lose weight.
Lower fasting insulin levels and a sustained decrease in insulin levels also stabilize insulin levels overall. Together they help kickstart efforts to reach a healthy weight. CBD helps your body decrease and stabilize your insulin levels.
Choosing and using a CBD product
With the rise of online CBD retailers, it’s essential to choose carefully because labeling can be wildly inaccurate or downright misleading. A reputable retailer will gladly share their product’s certificate of analysis provided by a certified third-party lab. Also, look for CBD made from organic, U.S.-grown cannabis or hemp.
At a minimum, use a full-spectrum CBD. If possible, select a pure CBD with added limonene and caryophyllene terpenes for increased energy and focus.
How to use CBD
According to a Neuroscience Letters’ study, the optimal CBD dose is 2.5 mg per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. Remember to adjust the dose as you lose weight.
Together with even moderate exercise, reducing dietary intake is a tried and true recipe for sustained weight loss. While there is no magic wand to speed the process, CBD and traditional weight loss methods can work together to help you meet and sustain your weight loss goals.