Losing stubborn fat and lowering body weight can be challenging. More people are now using CBD to help them control their appetite, improve fat burning, aid recovery, and reduce stress to manage their weight better. It’s a cannabinoid from hemp that has several important, research-backed properties that can assist in lowering body fat. It’s excellent news that two-thirds of Australians are overweight or obese and need support to bolster their weight loss efforts. CBD can naturally support the health fundamentals that underpin weight loss, whether you’re trying to eat less, boost your metabolism, sleep better or recover from exercise faster. It won’t cure obesity or help you lose weight, though. Combining it with lifestyle, dietary changes, and increased activity is the best way to unlock a healthy weight. Learn how CBD can help with weight loss, how it does so, plus considerations around applying it and the risks involved.
- 1 What is CBD?
- 2 What Causes Excess Body Weight?
- 3 How CBD Helps with Weight Loss
- 4 Combining CBD with Dieting and Exercise
- 5 Risks of CBD
- 6 Conclusion
What is CBD?
Cannabinoids are compounds that are produced by the cannabis plant and have many different therapeutic benefits to the mind and body. CBD is one of hundreds of distinct cannabinoids. Most cannabinoids like CBD, CBN, CBG, and CBDA are non-psychoactive and can’t get you high. THC, on the other hand, is psychoactive and can cause intoxication. It is risky to use due to having the potential for addiction and causing psychosis. CBD’s stress and inflammation-lowering properties in the fitness and healthy community have made it attractive for those looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy body mass. Many now use it both for exercise recovery and performance and supporting sleep. A vital advantage of the compound is its safety. It can be used daily with minimal side effect risks, making it an excellent option for those looking to bolster their day-to-day energy and well-being naturally.
How Does CBD Work?
When consumed, cannabinoids like CBD bind with cannabinoid receptors in the body known as the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Each can be found throughout the brain, body, and organs. These receptors contain binding sites that CBD can attach to. Once bound to the receptor, the cannabinoids trigger the release of enzymes known as endocannabinoids. Examples include anandamide and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG). These are anti-inflammatory compounds the body produces naturally. They aid in improving metabolic health immune function, reducing anxiety and counteracting oxidative stress. Endocannabinoids are the main pathway by which CBD helps with weight loss. The system by which these chemicals are created in the body is the endocannabinoid system. It plays a regulatory role in the body, helping to normalise and support other bodily functions. Its role in regulating appetite, stress and immunity excites those seeking to shed fat. In particular, it can aid in reducing appetite and helping users avoid overeating triggers to reduce excess caloric consumption.
What Causes Excess Body Weight?
Weight gain can be caused by various factors such as genetic makeup, stress, a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, and underlying medical conditions like thyroid disorders. The fundamental determinant of weight loss or gain is the energy balance in the body. If you consume more calories than your body burns, excess calories will be stored as fat cells, leading to fat gain or extra weight. While overeating is the underlying cause of all excess body fat, the reasons for overeating can be complex, interrelated and individual.
Genetics plays a crucial role in body weight. They can affect your ability to gain and hold onto fat, metabolic rate, hunger levels and predisposition to overeating. Genetics can also influence the risk of depression and eating disorders, each of which can cause weight gain. Although we cannot control our genes, we can mitigate their effects on our weight by following a disciplined diet, sleep, exercise, and supplementation approach. In particular, natural products like CBD can support those with genetic predispositions to influence the factors within their control more efficiently, such as their response to stress or appetite.
A significant risk factor for weight gain is depression, anxiety and other mental disorders. These problems cause mental distress, which is often self-treated through addictions to food. The brain releases endorphins, the ‘feel good’ chemicals, when we eat. For those who are chronically sad, stressed or anxious, these feelings can be a relief from their mental state, so much so that many with these mental conditions turn to eating as an outlet and subsequently gain fat through overeating.
Sedentary people move less each day, meaning their metabolism is slower, and the calories they burn daily are reduced. Physical activity each day represents a significant proportion of total energy expenditure. Those leading a sedentary lifestyle are at a higher risk of weight gain. Exercise not only helps people avoid gaining fat, it increases metabolism and improves immune function. CBD can help those seeking to burn fat by reinforcing their training recovery, immunity and sleep. Over time, their metabolism can be enhanced and supported, facilitating greater energy output and fat loss.
Stress is the body’s fight-or-flight response. It usually occurs due to social factors, work, underlying mental conditions, or hormone imbalances. When stressed, the body releases cortisol, which is the stress hormone. Cortisol is inflammatory, aggravating the body’s tissues and cells. Over time, chronic stress can cause hormone problems, sleep issues, reduced immunity, and weight gain. Avoiding stress is advisable for those looking to lose weight, as it can also cause overeating for many. Cortisol causes cravings for sugary, fatty foods and leads to extra calories to be consumed. Because CBD is anxiolytic and helps suppress stress, it can help many in counteracting these problems. It offers a pathway to regain control of stress eating and avoid its triggers.
Hormones play a significant role in hunger, energy, mood and metabolism. As such, they significantly influence an individual’s weight. Hormone dysfunction from problems like thyroid disorders, endocrine problems, or poor sleep can lead to overeating and weight gain. Simultaneously, these problems disrupt sleep and metabolism while exacerbating the risk of mental disorders like depression. Problems with hormones can result in repeated cycles of overeating and body fat increases.
How CBD Helps with Weight Loss
CBD supports weight loss through multiple different pathways. These include helping to reduce appetite, keeping average hormone balance, aiding with stress that contributes to weight gain, improving sleep, plus promoting better metabolism and fat browning. It won’t cause you to lose fat on its own, however. You’ll still need to commit to reducing your overall caloric intake and increasing physical activity. Let’s examine the fundamental ways CBD can help you lose weight.
Reducing Overeating from Stress
An overactive stress response is a significant culprit for overeating. It can mess with the hunger hormones, causing weight gain. Stress causes hunger and cravings for unhealthy foods. Many people also ‘stress eat’, where eating in response to stressors is done to help manage the negative or anxious feelings they stimulate. In some cases, this can even lead to binge eating or eating disorders. Over time, chronically stressed individuals overconsume food plus are likely to suffer from sleep problems and hormone imbalances. This all contributes to excess weight and fat gain.
CBD helps to calm the mind and mitigates the effects of stress through the endocannabinoid system. Endocannabinoids produced in the brain’s CB1 receptors help to downregulate the stress response, enabling users to build resilience against stressors. In many people, this helps prevent the overeating that stress can cause, which lets them lose weight more quickly. By lowering overall stress, CBD allows individuals to control cortisol release. Doing so helps prevent the stress hormone from diminishing muscle mass and stimulating surplus fat gain. Cortisol from stress directly influences the body’s metabolism and causes a more significant proportion of calories to be stored as fat instead of being used for energy or muscle. Mitigating its effects is an essential way that CBD can help users shift their body away from fat storage and towards fat burning to lower weight.
Mitigating Anxiety & Depression
Anxiety and depression are linked to overeating and weight gain. Those who are depressed or anxious frequently seek out food to provide pleasure they are otherwise missing in their day-to-day lives. Neurotransmitter imbalances from these mental disorders additionally weaken our ability to resist hunger cravings and maintain self-control.
CBD is anxiolytic, plus it displays antidepressant qualities that make it well-suited to assisting those with mental distress. It supports users with mood, calmness and mental state via both endocannabinoid activity plus acting on serotonin and GABA receptors. Normalising mood and lowering anxiety can correspondingly help with appetite control to avoid overeating from these conditions. This can assist many with mental disorders in cutting fat and maintaining a healthier weight range.
Metabolism & Fat Browing
Studies indicate that CBD helps the body burn fat more readily by supporting the conversion of white to brown fat cells. A 2016 study concluded that the cannabinoid assisted in both promoting thermogenesis (fat burning) and simultaneously driving the suppression of lipogenesis, which leads to body fat creation. It did so by raising the expression of particular genes that accelerate fat browning in adipose tissue, altering their signalling through the endocannabinoid system. In conclusion, the researchers highlighted that CBD had promise as a potential obesity-preventing compound, but further investigation was warranted.
A separate 2018 study repeated these results. It additionally found CBD helped with obesity by supporting reduced food intake and appetite suppression through CB1 receptor activity in the brain. They saw CB2 receptor activity in the body, enhancing metabolism and raising thermogenesis. This activity also boosted the conversion of white fat cells to ‘beige adipocytes’ or transitional fat cells, which could more easily be converted to brown fat and burned. Shifting the mix of fat from brown to white in the body is beneficial as brown fat is much more readily oxidised or burned off by activity and caloric deficits. The body stores white fat as long-term fat stores, which makes it harder to tap into, which people often experience as ‘stubborn fat’. The study suggested CBD had powerful benefits for combatting obesity and avoiding excess calories being stored into body fat, all the while being safe and minimal in side effects.
Better Sleep & Recovery
Sleep is critical for healthy hormone balance and in controlling overall body weight. Poor sleep patterns can disrupt the endocrine system and cause our hormones to become imbalanced. This can cause problems with hunger hormones and insulin levels, resulting in heightened hunger, overconsumption of calories, and extra body weight. CBD oil is known for its sleep-improving qualities. It’s able to assist in both improving sleep length and quality. It helps those who are stressed or anxious to sleep better by calming overactive minds and racing thoughts at nighttime.
Evidence for this can be seen in a study done in 2019 on 72 adults who displayed symptoms of anxiety, which was impacting their sleep. Around two-thirds of the subjects saw substantial improvements in their sleep patterns and quality within a month of the study. During this time, they took CBD daily while getting sleep, and anxiety scores were regularly measured to assess changes in their symptoms. It underscored the abilities of cannabinoids like CBD to reinforce sleep health, preventing the disruption of sleep patterns from stress or anxiousness.
Better sleep correlates to improved hormone health that aids in metabolic rate and weight loss. But it also aids with recovering faster. By rapidly recovering from exercise, CBD users can work out more frequently to boost overall caloric expenditure and fat loss. It also helps to reduce the joint inflammation and muscle soreness that can occur after exercise. If you can recover better, you’ll be able to work out harder and raise your overall thermogenesis or fat-burning rate. Over time, you’ll shed more fat while maintaining or improving your muscle mass.
While limiting the hunger-stimulating effects of stress and anxiety is a crucial benefit of CBD for weight loss, the cannabinoid is also able to reduce appetite directly. Feelings of hunger are stimulated by hormones known as ghrelin and leptin. These are produced through a complex interconnection between your brain, gut and pancreas. Notably, the endocannabinoid system in the body crosses each of these systems and helps to regulate them, with the ability to alter hunger signalling pathways. CBD reduces overall appetite and hunger by modulating the brain’s CB1 and CB2 receptors in the gut and pancreas.
An example of this was shown in a 2022 study exploring CBD as a novel treatment for obesity. It proved that CBD had notable anorexigenic (appetite-reducing) effects, plus supported reduced body weight in subjects. It theorised some of these properties were the result of CBD’s serotonergic interactions or modulation of serotonin—part of serotonin’s role in the brain centres on mood and learning behaviours. By interacting with serotonin pathways, CBD may aid users in rewiring habits and unlearning behaviours such as stress eating or overconsumption of food for pleasure. In addition, CBD helps the brain create leptin, a hormone that stimulates feelings of ‘fullness’ that help individuals avoid excessive food consumption.
Lipid & Insulin Balance
Recent research has indicated that CBD and other cannabinoids can aid with insulin sensitivity, lipid balances, and metabolism, which help promote healthy weight. In a 2015 review, CBD and THCV were shown to delay the development of insulin sensitivity and cardiovascular disease. Both displayed properties that enhanced lipid mobilisation (or the ability to use and burn fat) alongside improved insulin regulation and mitochondrial activity (or metabolic rate). These positive results again provided evidence supporting a view of CBD as a natural treatment option for obesity. By helping with overall metabolism, alongside appetite reduction and recovery enhancement, CBD is very well positioned to aid weight loss in overweight individuals.
Combining CBD with Dieting and Exercise
While the research on CBD’s benefits for supporting individuals in losing weight and boosting metabolism is robust, it shouldn’t overshadow the central importance of diet, caloric control and exercise in weight management.
CBD Isn’t a Cure for Weight Loss
Just as you wouldn’t expect to maintain weight loss through fad diets or gimmicky exercise programs, you shouldn’t expect to get immediate fat loss through CBD. It’s better placed as a support mechanism, assisting you in recovering, avoiding stress, sleeping better and aiding in brown fat conversion. But these factors won’t mean you can take it and expect to start torching away fat. Results can only be achieved when combined with long-term, sustained shifts in your habits and lifestyle that bring about weight reduction.
Additionally, CBD can’t be viewed as a solution for obesity or other chronic conditions relating to weight and metabolism. For those looking to find a ‘magic’ fix to help them reverse their obesity, it won’t meet their needs. It can’t replace doing the work of improving your diet, exercise and lifestyle. Starting to use it and expecting results with no other changes to your lifestyle is a recipe for disappointment. Develop a weight loss plan with your physician first, then assess whether CBD is necessary as an added support. Doctors can advise you on the right approach for your health, plus help you avoid any adverse medication interactions that can occur with CBD.
Using CBD for Exercise Recovery
Advantageously, CBD is very well tolerated and all-natural. It’s also a good option for vegans because it is entirely from plants and contains no animal products. If you’re concerned about it triggering allergies, food intolerances or gut irritation like IBD, try using a pure isolate extract that has no carrier oil. Many CBD products use carriers such as olive oil, MCT, or coconut oil to help disperse CBD plus enable it to be absorbed better. But for some, oils from plants can be a source of discomfort, bloating and nausea if allergies exist, particularly amongst those with gastrointestinal sensitivity.
Using CBD to bolster your exercise and fitness regime is a good idea. It’s already commonplace for athletes to use cannabinoids to help reduce aches, mitigate pain, recover faster, and sleep better. All facets of recovery can be supported through its anti-inflammatory, stress-reducing and calming properties. Many use it as a topical or cream that can help provide targeted alleviation of aches in a particular muscle or joint region after heavy training. Using it to offset fatigue, exercise more, and recover better will help you gain faster weight loss results.
Risks of CBD
Using CBD isn’t risk-free. Like any potent and beneficial health product, it can have side effects and risks among those looking to lose weight. These side effects can still occur despite being infrequent and usually transient or passing.
Is CBD Safe for Weight Loss?
CBD itself as a compound is highly safe and has a low side effect risk and mild side effects when any occur. Most users never experience any issues using pure CBD. Problems can, however, happen when combined with other medications being used, as well as from allergies or intolerances to carrier oils like MCT. Checking in with your doctor should be the first thing you do before trying it. They can help you avoid usage risks and create a dosage plan that meets your health needs. In particular, they’ll know your existing health conditions, any medications you’re using, and intolerances that can help identify potential sources of risk.
A critical risk with using CBD is taking it when you’re already employing pharmaceuticals like heart medications, blood pressure drugs, Olympic or other weight loss medications. Health risks can occur due to their interaction with CBD in the liver, where detoxification enzymes can become suppressed, which leads to build-ups of toxins. Don’t mix medications you’re already taking with CBD, as it can cause liver problems and toxicity. Speak to your doctor first to check on safety.
Allergies can also present when taking CBD, which you could be sensitive or intolerant to. Some people find they have reactions to cannabinoids such as CBD, which can mean a higher side effect risk. To find out sensitivities, it’s worth trying very low doses of CBD initially as a test for any issues upfront. Discovering you’re susceptible to side effects isn’t something you want to find out at high dosages of CBD. Similarly, carrier oils can trigger allergies in many people. Low-quality CBD products often contain contaminants like solvents or metals. Never buy products that aren’t verified to be high quality. They should offer a certificate of analysis from an independent lab that assures cannabinoid content, plus GMP or similar manufacturing quality assurances to indicate the product was produced using quality-controlled methods.
If you run into side effects like dizziness, dry mouth, diarrhea or lethargy, these should pass rapidly within hours. When they don’t, you may need to adjust your dose or look for a better product you aren’t intolerant to. Severe or persistent side effects could indicate a bigger problem that requires medical attention. Check with your doctor if your side effects continue for an extended period.
Will CBD Increase My Appetite?
Many confuse the THC cannabinoid with CBD due to both being derived from the cannabis plant. However, they’re entirely distinct. THC is a psychoactive compound that stimulates appetite through the brain’s CB1 receptors. In particular, it can cause the brain to trigger the release of hunger hormones such as ghrelin. It does this by activating CB1 receptors in the hypothalamus, the body’s primary control mechanism of hunger and mood. THC is well known for causing the ‘munchies’ that are associated with cannabis use. However, CBD won’t cause the same problems for those seeking weight loss as a goal.
In contrast, it aids in suppressing appetite via similar pathways, helping you reduce food intake. Ensure you avoid products containing THC, even at trace levels. This includes low-quality products that can become contaminated with it. Accidentally ingesting it could mean your appetite increases and weight gain results.
Considering CBD to support your weight loss journey is a wise decision. It has several aspects which make it an ideal candidate for weight management, stress control, metabolic function, and fat reduction. Extensive research backs this natural extract from hemp’s ability to mobilize and burn fat by converting it into more easily metabolized forms, helping to reduce and control appetite, balance lipids and hormones, and promote recovery from exercise to improve metabolism. Each of these properties is beneficial for counteracting obesity and reducing body weight. However, the best results are combined with lifestyle, dietary, and exercise improvements. Before trying it, it’s essential to confirm with your doctor that it’s safe for you and will meet your health needs.