There’s a movement happening in the health and fitness space: cannabis enthusiasts are dispelling the old “stoner” stereotype of sitting on the couch eating cheetos and proving that this powerful plant actually enhances our fitness and can accelerate weight loss! As a fitness professional for over 15 years, I believe and teach that cannabis has a significant role to play in our overall well-being, particularly in the realms of fitness and nutrition. When I meet new clients, their ultimate goal is almost always the same – they want to feel better. While weight loss, muscle tone, mobility, flexibility, and improved nutrition habits are common aspirations, the underlying desire is to simply feel better in our bodies. If there’s one thing cannabis consumers know, it’s that cannabis helps us feel better!
How does cannabis help our fitness and nutrition, specifically? Fitness professionals, doctors, and health providers often emphasize that the key to feeling better lies in moving more and consuming more nutritious foods. Cannabis enhances this process in several ways; the right strain of CBD and/or THC can help our bodies find balance, known as homeostasis, by interacting with our endocannabinoid system. This balance contributes to an overall sense of well-being and allows us to feel great!
Even more specifically, cannabis helps us to overcome common obstacles to fitness and nutrition such as lack of sleep, stress, anxiety, lack of focus, mindless eating, pain and inflammation. When we don’t sleep well, or enough, we become too tired to workout, have ineffective workouts and tend to make poor eating choices. We are too tired to cook so we reach for convenience foods.
Stress and anxiety also prevent us from making good food choices, ruins our motivation and zaps our willpower due to the all consuming nature of stress and anxiety. For those who struggle with the ability to focus on tasks, or struggle with time management and organization, cannabis provides clarity and focus which leads to incorporating more movement into the day and choosing more nutritious foods. If you’ve ever been so sore from a workout that you didn’t want to move, or deal with chronic pain, you know this is a major deterrent to working out!
Experienced cannabis users are familiar with the strong mind body connection and it is well-known that both CBD and THC can enhance mindfulness and help us tune into our bodies. By heightening our awareness of sensations like hunger, fullness, energy, and satisfaction, cannabis can reveal patterns of emotional or habitual eating. It may also lead us to recognize that our cravings are not rooted in true hunger, but rather a desire for companionship, comfort, or emotional release. Ultimately, the right dose of cannabis helps us to be “in the moment”, allowing us to savor, enjoy and appreciate what and when we eat rather than mindlessly eating.
For those of us trying to make healthier food choices and watch portion sizes, cannabis helps us make thoughtful decisions about what and how much to eat, rather than grabbing what’s convenient. Being mindful helps us to stop carelessly snacking (especially at night or out of boredom), stop eating after a normal portion (and not go back for seconds!), relax, kick back, enjoy life, feel motivated to move, workout, and connect to our bodies more during movement! Working to improve these habits can help us lose weight, manage weight, and just feel better.
When it comes to fitness and nutrition, we have a lot of data and science regarding what to eat & how to workout but what most people lack is a proper mindset and behaviors. Currently, the majority of the US population is overweight. We are reaching for convenience food despite how they make us feel. Portions are bigger than ever and we’ve learned to ignore feelings of fullness, leading to overeating, often mindlessly. However, if we stay present and pay attention, over time we can tune in to the feelings of fullness and satisfaction in our stomach which greatly cuts down on overeating.
Since different types of cannabis can affect our appetite in different ways, we must also choose the right type and strain for your goals. For example, if weight loss is a goal, it’s important to add CBD to THC, or use a high CBD strain to help suppress appetite. Terpenes are the compounds that give each strain a unique taste, flavor and work with the cannabinoids to produce a specific effect. While terpenes such as myrcene, caryophyllene, limonene and pinene are known to stimulate appetite, if you’re looking to lose or manage weight, look for the terpene humulene, the cannabinoid THCv, and CBD to suppress appetite. Always keep in mind that every body may respond differently to terpenes and cannabinoids and seek the right strain for your goals.
In addition to reducing stress, improving sleep and helping us eat more mindfully, cannabis is effective at reducing post workout soreness, aiding in exercise recovery and can be a calorie-free method of relaxation, serving as an alternative to alcohol and eliminating dehydration and hangovers from derailing our fitness progress.
As you can see, we have just scratched the surface of how cannabis can enhance our fitness and nutrition and accelerate weight loss! I look forward to sharing more details about each of these topics and answering your questions about fitness, nutrition and their connection to cannabis!