There’s no shortage of bizarre diet plans to choose from today.  There’s the Atkins diet, which places a huge emphasis on the consumption of meat and eggs.  There’s the ketogenic or “keto” diet, which studies have shown to cause insulin resistance (IR), a risk factor for diabetes.  There’s the paleo diet, which attempts to recreate the prehistoric plate by cutting out beans, potatoes, and cereal grains like bran and wheat – all of which have nutritional value when consumed in reasonable portions.  There’s even a plan that cuts out everything besides lemon water and cayenne pepper.  But just when you think you’ve heard it all, there’s one more diet you’re probably not familiar with: the marijuana diet.  Is it too good to be true?  The answer is both yes and no.  On one hand, Cannabis isn’t a silver bullet for weight loss; but on the other, research shows medical marijuana can help fight obesity.  

What is the Marijuana Diet, and Does it Really Work?

The phrase “marijuana diet” isn’t just a reference to general Cannabis use – it’s an actual, concrete regimen.  Behind it is 66-year-old Art Glass, author of The Marijuana Diet, which he self-published in 2013.  If you want to check it out for yourself, you can easily find it on Amazon where it’s available on Kindle for $5.99.  If not, allow me to summarize by evaluating the claims on the cover:

  • “Eat More, Weigh Less” – This statement is true, within limits.  On one hand, studies have shown that Cannabis users do have significantly lower rates of obesity than non-users, despite increased appetite and food consumption.  On the other, you cannot lose weight if you consume more calories than you burn, even if you use marijuana.  If you think you’re indulging a little too much, my tips for fighting the munchies may be able to help you curb your snacking habits.
  • “Fun Sofa Exercises” – I certainly won’t argue with this part.  Notwithstanding injuries or health conditions like ketonuria, physical activity is always beneficial – not only for weight loss, but your overall cardiovascular health.  You can find some more examples of low-impact exercises in my article on simple beginner workouts.
  • Lose 1 LB a Day” – Appealing as this sounds, I have to burst the bubble: Cannabis use alone will not cause you to shed a full pound every single day.  In order to lose one pound, you must burn about 3,500 calories.  Therefore, to lose one pound in a week through diet alone without any adjustments to your physical activity level, you would have to cut 500 calories per day.  For similar effects, you could cut fewer calories but exercise more (e.g. cut 300 calories from your diet and burn 200 through exercise).  You should talk to your doctor about creating a personalized, sustainable, and most importantly, safe weight loss plan.
  • Scientific Studies, 100+ Testimonials” – While I can’t speak to the testimonials, I can confirm that there are numerous peer-reviewed studies demonstrating a relationship between marijuana use and lower obesity rates, not to mention slimmer waistlines and decreased risk of developing IR (and thus diabetes).  You can see a few examples in my article on how Cannabis helps prevent obesity.

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7 Tips for Speeding Up Your Weight Loss While Using Cannabis

Conventional wisdom says that using Cannabis should increase your weight.  Not only has marijuana has been shown to boost appetite and increase food intake – an effect dubbed “the munchies” – it also causes feelings of relaxation and, in large quantities, drowsiness or sleepiness.  Frankly, there’s no logical reason anyone should expect a relaxation-inducing, appetite-stimulating substance to help fight or prevent obesity.  Yet, surprising as the results may be, that is precisely what contemporary research shows us.

Of course, while it’s great that studies show us how and why Cannabis fights obesity, reading research won’t help you lose weight (other than burning about 50 to 70 calories per hour-long session – about what you’d get from a single Jolly Rancher).  Once you’ve looked into the literature, it’s time to start making some changes to your lifestyle.

Besides eating healthier and upping your level of physical activity, you can also try out some of these tips to help rev up your weight loss:

  1. Eat more fiber.  The human body can not digest fiber, which means you feel full longer and will have more regular bowel habits.
  2. Make little choices to be more active.  For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator at work.  Whenever you take your dog out for a walk, spend a few minutes jogging instead of strolling.
  3. Measure portions into a bowl or cup.  You’d be surprised at how quickly those servings can stack up when you eat straight from the box or bag.
  4. Try to eat fewer processed foods, or swap them for more natural ingredients.  For instance, eat fruit instead of cookies to satisfy a sweet tooth.  Having a bag of baby carrots on hand for the munchies is always a great idea.
  5. Don’t eat mindlessly.  Before you eat, ask yourself: are you actually hungry, or just bored and/or stoned?
  6. Brush your teeth regularly.  Nothing kills a junk food craving like having a strong minty taste in your mouth.  (Just don’t overdo it, or you could damage your gums.)
  7. Get more caloric bang for your buck.  A cup of brown rice contains roughly 220 calories.  So does a handful of about 20 Lay’s classic potato chips (160 calories per 15-chip serving).  For approximately the same number of calories, which do you think is more filling?

Just remember: losing weight is a gradual and often difficult process.  There are times when you’ll slip up and get discouraged, and that’s okay.  Just keep moving, one day at a time.  Even if you don’t see visible results right away, your body is getting healthier on the inside.

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Questions on Whether Medical Marijuana Is Right for You? Contact Dr. Jordan Tishler

If you’re suffering from chronic joint pain, glaucoma related to diabetes, or other health problems associated with being overweight or obese, Cannabis may be able to help you get control of your weight.  Call Inhale MD at (617) 477-8886 to learn more about the health benefits of medical marijuana in a confidential consultation.

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