Does CBD Support Weight Loss?
Could CBD be part of a regimen that helps you lose weight the healthy way? From "fat browning" to metabolic support, research suggests this industrious cannabinoid has a lot of potential.
How can CBD oil help with weight loss?
In this day and age, the pressure to be slim can be overwhelming. From celebrity magazines to Instagram feeds that have been filtered six ways from Sunday, we're constantly bombarded with images of the "perfect" beach body. Let's be real. Nobody's perfect, and what gets sold as the ideal is frustratingly unattainable for most of us.
We're repeatedly told that slimmer is healthier, but is that actually the case? The reality may be way more complex. On the one hand, links have been made between obesity and health problems like diabetes and heart disease. On the other hand, numerous studies have shown that it's possible to be healthy at many different weights. The pressure to be thin can also lead to low self-esteem and dangerous fad-dieting. Crash diets can deprive our bodies of the nutrients and energy we need to stay healthy.
When it comes to weight loss, any decision you make should be about health. That doesn't mean we don't understand the desire to fit into that killer pair of jeans. Let's be honest, we've all craved an extra boost of confidence during beach season, but when it comes down to it, any body on the beach is a beach body!
That said, if you're feeling sluggish, or think your health could benefit from shedding a few pounds, we've got your back. Along with a healthy diet and exercise, CBD oil could be a useful part of a weight-loss regimen that works with your body, not against it.
The role of the endocannabinoid system (ECS)
The body's endocannabinoid system helps to regulate numerous biological processes, including immune response, metabolic function, and more. Its influence is exerted through a network of cell receptors, with the two main receptor types being CB1 and CB2. Neurotransmitters called endocannabinoids bind to these receptors, triggering various biological responses.
While CB1 receptors are concentrated in the central nervous system, CB2 receptors can be found on cells throughout the body. However, in people with obesity, CB1 receptors spread beyond the central nervous system, proliferating in fatty tissue. This suggests a connection between CB1 receptor activation and obesity.
In addition to endocannabinoids, certain external compounds can also affect the ECS. These include CBD and other phytocannabinoids found in cannabis. CBD doesn't bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors directly. However, it's been shown to act on the ECS in complex, indirect ways.
Burning fat and "browning" fat
When it comes to weight loss and overall health, fat tends to get a bad rap. But not all body fat is created equal. Just like different foods contain healthy and unhealthy fats, body fat can also be healthy or harmful. Did you know that fat cells actually come in different colours?
White adipose tissue—or "white fat"—is the result of storing excess calories. Too much white fat stored around the abdomen has been linked to higher risk for metabolic disorders like diabetes, as well as heart disease and other ailments.
On the other hand, brown adipose tissue—or "brown fat"—is a healthy type of fat. Brown fat cells contain a high concentration of iron-rich mitochondria. That's what gives them their brown colour. These fat cells burn calories to generate heat, and may actually help combat obesity. Newborns, hibernating animals, and people with healthy metabolic function tend to have a higher percentage of brown fat.
Well, it turns out CBD could promote the conversion of white fat into brown fat—a process known as "fat browning". Recent research published in the journal Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry found CBD to increase expression of marker genes and proteins specific to brown fat. At the same time, CBD decreased levels of proteins associated with white fat cell generation. CBD also stimulated lipid metabolism (conversion of fat to energy), making it a promising option for obesity prevention.
Metabolic health and appetite control
Obesity has been noted as a risk factor for health problems like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels. The key to that link is metabolic health. An excess of fat in the abdominal region has been associated with insulin resistance, a blood sugar problem that's often a precursor to more serious metabolic disorders.
Insulin resistance is when cells stop responding properly to the hormone insulin. Your body then struggles to process glucose and starts overproducing insulin to compensate. Thus, blood sugar levels go from being too high to dropping dramatically from the extra insulin. The result is akin to a sugar rush and subsequent crash. It's a rollercoaster that leaves you feeling sluggish, hungry, and prone to cravings.
Research suggests a link between the endocannabinoid system and metabolic regulation. Cannabinoid receptors are found in the brain, endocrine pancreas, and gastrointestinal tract. They are an integrated part of the networks that regulate food intake and appetite.
CB1 receptor overactivation appears to play a role in visceral obesity—unhealthy fat stored around the abdomen. Visceral obesity, in particular, has been linked to various health risks—and CBD could play a preventative role. Studies have found that CBD may block the enzymes that activate CB1 receptors. Possible effects include appetite reduction and inhibition of weight gain.
Inflammation and oxidative stress have also been found to play a pivotal role in the development of metabolic syndrome. Through its action on the endocannabinoid system, CBD has been shown to have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. That means it could support metabolic health in a holistic manner, acting through more than one mechanism.
In fact, a study in the American Journal of Pathology noted the "tremendous therapeutic potential" of CBD in the treatment of metabolic disorders. While more investigation is needed, researchers are hopeful for the future of clinical practice involving CBD.
CBD for weight loss — The future looks bright
While there's a lot of interesting research out there about the benefits of CBD, much of it is still preliminary. That said, the future looks bright.
CBD appears to promote healthy "fat browning", as well as play a possible role in regulating metabolism. Healthy metabolic functioning helps balance blood sugar highs and lows. That means more consistent energy levels and fewer cravings. Those effects alone can help you eat right, hit the gym, and be more consistent when it comes to making healthy decisions.
Thus, while more clinical studies are needed, CBD oil appears promising as a supplement. Along with diet and exercise, it may provide additional support for a healthy lifestyle that can lead to weight loss.