Compared to alcohol, which packs 7 calories per gram and is usually accompanied by sugar-laden mixers, marijuana is a diet-friendly, calorie-free way for folks to take the edge off. Plus, it’s been shown to reduce inflammation and ease soreness and pain. But as anyone who’s ever used marijuana will tell you, with toking up comes a ravenous desire to dive head-first into a bag of Cheetos, undoing the progress you’ve been making in the gym and kitchen. This phenomenon is known as the munchies…and it turns out that it’s total BS.
That’s right, stoners and stonettes—marijuana use alone doesn’t make you eat yourself up a waist size. In fact, according to new research from Michigan State University, people who smoke cannabis weigh less compared to those who don’t.
It wasn’t much, but when researchers looked at the body mass indexes of 33,000 participants, they found that pot smokers weighed an average of two pounds less than non-users. The research, which was based on data from the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions, also showed that cannabis users gained less weight than non-users in the long term.
“Over a three-year period, all participants showed a weight increase, but interestingly, those who used marijuana had less of an increase compared to those that never used,” said lead study author Omayma Alshaarawy, who was quoted by EurekAlert!. “Our study builds on mounting evidence that this opposite effect occurs.”
As for the cause of the difference, Alshaarawy isn’t really sure.
“It could be something that’s more behavioral like someone becoming more conscious of their food intake as they worry about the munchies after cannabis use and gaining weight,” she said. “Or it could be the cannabis use itself, which can modify how certain cells, or receptors, respond in the body and can ultimately affect weight gain. More research needs to be done.”
So, there you have it: Lighting up shouldn’t affect your weight (that is, unless you choose to indulge anyway). But that doesn’t mean we’re telling you it’s OK to spark up on the daily, and neither is Alshaarawy. “People shouldn’t consider it as a way to maintain or even lose weight,” she said. Plus, the jury’s still out on the ways Mary Jane will change you in the long term.