Cannabis and Working Out: Little Known Benefits to Training with Marijuana
Sep 06, 2018 Education
Want to drop some weight? To lighten up, the key may be lighting up…
Teetering on the line between taboo and total acceptance, cannabis has finally penetrated the fitness community, owing to benefits beyond the celebrated side effect of just getting high.
Medical research has revealed other effects of consuming cannabis that can actually contribute to fat loss and enhance fitness-related goals.
An article published by the American Journal of Epidemiology on the link between obesity and cannabis has revealed a provocative connection between lower rates of obesity and smoking marijuana at least three times per week. The conclusive analysis of the data from the survey involving a pool of over 40,000 people indicates that:
“despite the evidence that cannabis use stimulates appetite in clinical trials and laboratory studies, cannabis users are actually less likely to be obese than non users in the general population.”
Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience suggests one possible reason for this outcome is that food and drugs compete for the same reward sites in the brain. The hypothalamus, the reward center of the brain, reacts in a similar way to the weed you may smoke to relieve stress or the food hyper-saturated in fat and sugar that you eat when you’re anxious.
Furthermore, medical research has proved cannabis’ ability to reduce pain and inflammation, lower stress and improve sleep. As it turns out, all of these factors are the key links to an enhanced physique — be it fat loss or muscle gain.
People often have the willpower to exercise with enough intensity, duration and frequency to keep their caloric expenditure to a maximum, thereby keeping their waistlines down. However, the achy joints, slow recovery and chronic pain that can accompany exercise, can limit the body’s ability to keep up and continue training.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Pro Athletes Who Use Cannabis for Recovery
That’s exactly what Ultra-marathoner Jeff Sperber does. When he’s feeling sore from training, he resorts to cannabis as a solution. In an article published by Runner’s Magazine, he emphasizes the importance of cannabis in his post-race recovery routine.
Sperber relies on cannabis to control his inflammation and to alleviate the aches and pains from injuries induced by running hundreds of miles at a time. He has prescription pain meds at his disposal, but says in the article that he “can’t do that stuff and function as a normal human being.” However, “As a weed smoker, I can function.”
Other notable professional athletes who use cannabis as part of their post workout regime include Olympic Gold Medalists Michael Phelps and Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati. Phelps was seen on film taking bong rips just 3 months after setting a new world record for 8 Gold Medal wins in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. When you swim as much as Phelps, you know this guy’s muscles need some good old Cannabis for easing the muscle soreness.
Rebagliati has been a prominent figure in Cannabis policy reform in Canada for two decades. Rebagliati won a Gold Medal in snowboarding in the 1998 Olympics, but tested positive to THC after the competition. At this time, THC was not on the banned substances list, so they could not deny his medal. However, the Olympic committee added THC to their banned substances list shortly after this.
Photo credit: Unknown
For the average Joe just trying to stay fit, what this means is that after a typical Saturday night binge filled with IPAs, Jagerbombs and regrettable 2 a.m. junkfood orders, the desire and discipline to “run the extra mile” the next day becomes more achievable after a few bong rips.
With reduced physical limitations, you can push yourself to run further, harder, longer, and burn more calories than before. Just make sure your phone is with you so you can Uber back home in case you get lost (cannabis is not known to improve memory).
Cannabis Helps Reduce Mental and Physical Stress
The other way cannabis can aid in weight loss and help improve your physique is by its ability to reduce stress and as a result assist in lowering cortisol levels.
Have you ever felt like you were doing everything right and still not losing any weight? Exercising eight days a week, no booze, no dessert, and still no results? Just the thought of it is stressful. Pile that stress on top of what is presumably an already hectic life and one can only imagine the amount of cortisol circulating through your body at any given time.
Sounds like it’s about time to puff-puff-pass the blunt to yourself one time and relax.
According to an article published by doctors at the University of New Mexico, “high levels of cortisol cause fat stores and excess circulating fat to be relocated and deposited deep in the abdomen, which left unchecked can develop into or enhance obesity.” Since cannabis is known to reduce stress and thereby potentially lower your levels of cortisol, it might serve as a better nightcap than the usual Pinot Grigio, which can easily contain upward of 150 calories per glass.
Cannabis Can Help Improve Your Sleep to Reach Your Fitness Goals
Unsurprisingly, a lack of sleep has similar if not more damaging effects on fitness goals than stress. Not only does it elevate cortisol levels, but it increases the amount of leptin (the hunger hormone) in the body, making that buttery almond croissant behind the counter at the coffee shop even harder to resist.
Katt Williams, a celebrity cannabis enthusiast who has spent countless hours doing extensive and exhaustive cannabis research, reassures us in his standup special, “Pimp Chronicles,” that aside from happiness and hunger, sleepiness is a prominent side effect of smoking weed.
“You might think he dead. He ain’t dead,” Williams jokes of watching a friend sleep after smoking.
That near-death sleep he’s referring to is critical in order to minimize leptin levels and to ensure your body enters into an anabolic (growth) state, thus allowing for proper muscle recovery. Many people don’t spend much time in this sleep zone and continue to struggle to achieve their fitness goals despite doing everything else right.
Cannabis offers an alluring solution to these common fitness conundrums: Smoke some, sleep more, achieve better results. The strategic implementation of cannabis into a fitness routine is as delicate a dance as the ballet. And trying to hit the spliff in order to actually lose weight is like executing 32 fouetté turns. (Translation: Not easy.)
Why? Because unlike your favorite superhero, the marijuana-induced munchies are a very real thing. Not to mention weed is still technically illegal in Canada and many of the USA states (at the time of writing).
Photo credit: Ezrahelps.com
How to Lose Weight, Be Healthy, and Enjoy Cannabis
Should you happen to live in one of the legal states in which recreational marijuana consumption is legal, or the additional 20 states that have legalized medical marijuana, here’s how you might approach lighting up the firebird and losing weight in the process:
- Empty your fridge and pantry of ALL crap foods.
- Prepare a healthy dinner and dessert BEFORE smoking.
- Smoke ONLY at night just before dinner or 2 hours before bedtime.
- Eat a filling dinner high in fiber and protein. Think veggies, legumes and a lean protein source.
- For dessert, have a large serving of your favorite fruit tossed in a bowl with some non-fat Greek yogurt and granola (healthy people’s ice cream).
- Finally, make like the aggressive children’s book and “Go the F*ck to Sleep.”
By following the above rules, you will be nourishing your body in abundance with healthy vitamins and nutrients in order to give it the tools it needs to perform at a higher level the next day. Cannabis will help reduce muscle soreness, bodily pains, stress and may help improve your sleep; which all contribute to a faster recovery and healthier body.
For those of you who claim healthy food sucks, it’ll taste like your mama made it if you eat it while you’re high. By the end of the meal, you will be too stuffed with fiber to take another bite and can easily talk yourself out of ordering delivery. Plus, there won’t be much time left on the clock for you to get into any further mischief beyond the length of your bedsheets and a few crappy Netflix shows, which you suddenly find to be amazingly genius.
Sleep deeply, wake up happy, and burn more calories more efficiently.
Discussion topic: What has your experience been with using Cannabis as part of your training regime?
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