By Thomas Wrona
They say that maintaining a healthy weight is as easy as balancing calories in and calories out - simply burning off as much as you consume. If only it were that simple in real life. For many of us, staying at the proper weight is an ongoing battle..
Although there’s no magic bullet when it comes to weight loss, CBD may play a role in easing some of the challenges associated with hitting and keeping your target weight. In this article we'll be taking an in-depth look at exactly how CBD can benefit your weight loss journey, focusing on three areas: hormones, metabolism, and mobility.
CBD and Your Weight
1. Hormonal Health
It may sound a little cryptic when we say CBD helps one's body communicate with itself, but don't forget that it's all due to CBD's impacts on the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS, in turn, is so good at fostering cellular signaling that leading researchers call it "a literal bridge between body and mind." In this case, CBD's effect on the ECS means good things for hormonal health and signaling.
Several hormones are especially important to maintaining a healthy weight; the most important two are probably leptin and ghrelin. If these hormones are imbalanced - or worse, if one's body is no longer sensitive to them - then attempts to lose weight will likely be nothing but futile.
It's the same concept seen with insulin, a better-known metabolic hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar. When insulin functions properly it helps one build muscle and shuttle nutrients around, but if one's body becomes insensitive to insulin, things backfire and it begins to promote the storage of fat. Insulin resistance effectively locks fat cells in place, preventing them from being burned as fuel.
The good news? CBD seems to assist with insulin sensitivity. It’s mechanisms of action may lower inflammatory cytokines that may promote weight gain.
CBD holds promise for optimizing ghrelin levels, too. Ghrelin produces hunger signals whenever it's time to eat; it may even contribute to one's preference for certain eating habits of mealtimes. Scientists are investigating whether CBD could help reduce these hormonal hunger signals by antagonizing (i.e, quieting down) the brain's CB1 receptors, though more supporting research is needed.
2. Your Metabolism
CBD means good things for mitochondrial health. In case you haven't been in a high-school science class recently, the mitochondria are the "powerhouse” of the cell and are responsible for energy conversion. Mitochondria use oxygen to convert large molecules (like the fats, proteins, and carbs we eat) into a specialized fuel called ATP.
Why is this important? Because mitochondrial health means energy gets burned efficiently, and conversely, mitochondrial disease has been tied to obesity. CBD might just protect against this sort of dysfunction - even mitochondria have cannabinoid-sensing receptors. CBD is known to strengthen mitochondria to regulate cellular stress, so it's likely only a matter of time until CBD and obesity connections are found as well.
Also, CBD may help your fat cells stay healthy. Fat was once thought to be inert and practically useless, but that couldn't be further from the truth. It turns out that some types of fat actually burn other types of fat for fuel. And thankfully, CBD promotes the development of these special fat cells, according to a groundbreaking study completed in 2016. Researchers found that CBD promoted the development of brown adipose tissue (the metabolically active type of fat), which in turn promoted less overall fat production and more overall fat burning. Can you guess what makes brown fat, well, brown? An increased density of energy-producing mitochondria, of all things!
3. An Active Lifestyle
CBD and the active lifestyle go hand in hand. If you're experiencing more hope, less pain, and reduced inflammation, then of course you'll gravitate towards being active. For obvious reasons, increased activity means you'll also be a track towards a healthier weight.
Consistent physical activity means you'll be burning more calories, but its benefits go much deeper than that. The human body isn't a calorie-counting machine, after all, but an ever-changing, always-evolving living being.
Indeed, increased physical activity has been tied to everything from improved mitochondrial health to enhanced leptin sensitivity to reduced inflammation. Exercise may even benefit the endocannabinoid system. If these effects seem familiar, it's because they are - it's almost like the active body wants to be healthy and fit.
It's safe to say that CBD may help you with both sides of the weight-management equation: correctly utilizing the energy of calories in and maintaining sufficient activity levels to have fun burning calories.
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Thomas Wrona is a cannabis consultant, health + wellness advisor, and former professional athlete. He enjoys writing about all things CBD, both here and at Wrona Inc.