Would you believe me if I told you that cannabis can help you lose fat, build muscle and get fit?
Once you put aside the stereotype of the lazy stoner and look at the actual benefits that cannabis and cannabinoids offer, you’ll soon realise how cannabis can be a very useful tool in your quest for strength and fitness.
So, if you like weed, but you also want to be fit, strong and healthy, follow this guide…
Do hard things
Clearly, one of the most important aspects to getting fit is exercise. It is fundamental to a well-working body (and mind, I’d argue).
Strength training (or resistance training) should be done by everyone, even if building muscle is not your priority. Whether you’re lifting weights or doing calisthenics, stressing your muscles by moving heavy things has incredible benefits, including putting you in a fat-burning state long after your workout is finished.
Aerobic exercise (think walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, etc.) is also very good for cutting fat and boosting endurance. Yoga is another practice that has loads of physical benefits, as well as many mental benefits. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is also incredible for losing weight while rapidly improving your cardiovascular ability.
Just as important as putting your body under stress (exercise) is letting it recover fully. After all, it is during recovery that beneficial physical adaptations are made. To recover efficiently, one of the most important things you can do is improve your sleep.
Sleep is so, so important for health yet it often gets overlooked. The negative effects of not getting enough (or getting poor quality) sleep are plentiful. In fact, unhealthy sleep is associated with obesity, increased food cravings, disrupted hormones, increased glucose sensitivity, inflammation, infertility and much more.
Therefore, make sure you’re getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night! How, you ask?
Start by making sure your bedroom is pitch black at night – black out curtains are useful here. Avoiding artificial light at night aids your melatonin production, which helps you sleep and clears out cell waste during the night. Get some blue light-blocking glasses as well, unless you spend the evenings by candlelight.
CBD can help you unwind in the evening and possibly even make it easier to fall asleep and improve the quality of your sleep. THC has been found to disrupt REM sleep (which is when you dream) and so should be avoided during the hour or two before bed.
Lots get said about which diet is best. Plant-based, vegan, paleo, ketogenic, Mediteranean, etc. The list goes on. However, my opinion is that if you stick to real food (i.e. food that is unprocessed and as close to natural as possible), cook it yourself, and use healthy cooking oils (never vegetable oils/industrial seed oils), then you can hardly go wrong.
Most healthy people I know eat lots of organic plants (vegetables, herbs and spices) as well as grass-fed/wild-caught meat and fish. This is also the diet that most humans have relied on throughout history.
Processed food, excess sugar, industrial seed oils, most grains and products from poorly reared animals should be avoided. Remove these from your kitchen immediately!
Cannabis can be an incredibly healthy additional food source to any diet. In fact, hemp seeds (which are technically nuts) and hemp seed oil are verified superfoods, containing the ideal ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids. Some people also swear by the health benefits of juicing raw cannabis buds and leaves.
Additionally, consuming cannabinoids after eating – especially if the meal’s high in sugar/carbs – can reduce the spike in your blood glucose levels. A stable blood glucose level is important in maintaining insulin sensitivity and controlling weight. A walk after eating is also very effective at this. A walk while vaping is even better!
Did you know that avoiding the sun is as dangerous as smoking cigarettes? That’s right, the health benefits of getting sunlight on your skin and in your eyes cannot be understated. And it’s not just down to vitamin D either.
In a study in mice fed a high-fat diet, UV light reduced obesity regardless of their vitamin D status. Sunlight exposure is not only associated with a reduced chance of death, but a lower BMI, improved circulation, decreased risk of depression and much more.
Nature and fresh air also confer many health benefits. Get outside more!
Smoke less, vape more
Burning anything and inhaling the smoke is never going to be healthy. And cannabis is no exception – when combusted, it produces known cancer causing chemicals like carbon monoxide.
No cannabinoids directly after a workout
Inflammation isn’t always a bad thing. Chronic inflammation can cause many issues, but short term inflammation is needed for the body to repair itself. This is why you get swelling when you injure yourself – extra blood is being sent to the affected area to help it repair.
It’s well known cannabinoids are immune system modulators. When the immune system is underactive, cannabinoids can boost it. When it’s overactive, cannabinoids can suppress it. Therefore, after working out, when your immune system is activated and trying to repair your body, it is possible that cannabinoids may blunt the beneficial inflammatory response.
Let me be clear here – this is just my personal theory. However, it would seem to make sense that taking cannabinoids directly after exercise will reduce your inflammatory response and therefore limit any physical adaptations – which is the whole reason we exercise to start with.
Therefore, what I like to do is wait at least two hours after I finish exercising before I consume any cannabinoids.
If your muscles are becoming excessively sore or tight, CBD can work wonders. Rubbing a CBD balm or cream on the affected area will target the inflammation directly, while using a dropper under the tongue can help with body-wide aches and pains.
CBD is also very handy for unwinding toward the end of the day. I’ve personally replaced an evening glass of wine with a few puffs of some high grade CBD flower in my vape. CBD can also be used effectively for managing anxiety and neuropathic pain.
I’ll sometimes take CBD before a strength workout or a run/bike ride in order to help me get in the zone and focus on the moment.
I will rarely take THC before a workout where I’m lifting heavy or doing something I’m not familiar with. This is because THC can compromise perception and decrease overall power output. However, I have heard of THC helping some people lift heavier than usual. Be careful if you choose to experiment.
I do use THC before a run, bike ride or swim, however, as it helps me focus and relieve boredom. A small dose – one or two puffs on the vape or a low-dose edible – I find works best. Too much and I lose focus easily.
My favourite time to get really high before working out is if I’m doing a stretching-focused calisthenics (bodyweight) session or yoga. It improves my mind-muscle connection massively and, combined with rhythmic breathing, it helps me get into a sort of trance where I feel more subtle, strong and stable than usual. Afterwards, I feel truly amazing – perhaps due to increased levels of THC in my blood.
I highly recommend trying this out.