Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the active ingredient found in marijuana or cannabis. Marijuana smokers have long wondered if THC increases metabolism. Scientific literature has yet to explain the effects, if any, that THC has on metabolism, but health care providers, such as Health Services at Columbia University, report that the body processes food normally whether you are high on marijuana or sober. You can increase your metabolism and lose or maintain your body weight by using traditional weight-loss methods.
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Effects on Metabolism
If you are a regular pot smoker, you have experienced “the munchies.” According to Go Ask Alice, an online health resource operated by Health Services at Columbia University in New York, smoking marijuana does not increase your metabolism. It increases your appetite for sweet and fatty foods, and without caloric restriction, exercise and a healthy diet, you will gain weight. Stock your refrigerator and pantry with healthy foods so that when the urge strikes, you can indulge in better-for-you foods like yogurt or baked potato chips. Marijuana is an illegal substance, so refrain from using it unless medical marijuana is legal in your state and you have a valid prescription from your doctor.
Aerobic exercise keeps your lungs and heart healthy and reduces the damaging effects of smoking marijuana. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise weekly. Exercise elevates your metabolism because your working muscles have higher energy demands than resting muscles. After a workout, your body begins a recovery phase and continues to burn calories. The more intense the workout, the longer your metabolism remains elevated. According to the American Council on Exercise, your metabolism can remain elevated for as long as 24 hours after your workout. Consult your doctor to ensure that you are healthy enough to engage in exercise prior to beginning your workout regimen.
Use free weights or a weight machine to wake up your muscles and increase your metabolism. Plan to engage in resistance training two to four times weekly to increase your lean muscle mass, which speeds your metabolic rate. Replacing fat with muscle will help you maintain a slim physique and boost your resting metabolic rate, which will help compensate for that cookie you ate while smoking marijuana.
People often assume that physical activity and exercise are interchangeable terms, but they are different. Exercise is a planned and structured activity that incorporates specific movements to achieve a specific goal. Physical activity is random and sporadic with no goal in mind. So if you are a couch potato, get moving. Walk to your mailbox instead of driving to it. Park your vehicle far from the front door on your next shopping trip. Unload your groceries from your vehicle one bag at a time with no help from your family; the race to get your cold items into the refrigerator will help you work up a sweat. Regular exercise and physical activity will help negate the effects of your increased appetite due to smoking marijuana.
- GoAskAlice.com: Does Smoking Marijuana Increase Your Metabolism?; July 2004
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans; October 2008
- American Council on Exercise; Does an Aerobic Workout Cause an Individual's Resting Metabolic Rate to Stay Elevated for a Long Time After a Workout?; Cedric Bryant; 1999
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Cannabis/Marijuana ( Δ 9 - Tetrahydrocannabinol, THC)