If you believe the hype, people who enjoy cannabis can't resist bingeing on sugary, fatty snacks (Here's looking at you, Harold and Kumar). But - proving once again you can't believe everything you see on TV - people who use cannabis are actually thinner, on average, than those who don't light up. It could in fact, help you lose weight.
Here are four reasons to rethink the Doritos-loving, couch-locked stoner stereotype.
1. It decreases your likelihood of obesity
According one study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, obesity rates are approximately one-third lower among thrice-weekly cannabis consumers than among those who don't partake.
The data, which came from a survey of 52,000 participants over 18, indicated that "22% of those who did not smoke marijuana were obese, compared with just 14% of the regular marijuana smokers. The second survey found that 25% of nonsmokers were obese, compared with 17% of regular cannabis users," according to TIME.
2. It speeds metabolism
A study published in the journal Obesity tracked the body mass index of adults in a Northern Canadian community where half of adults reported frequent cannabis use, and most ate diets high in fat: those who used cannabis reported better carbohydrate metabolism than non-users. Harvard medicine associate professor and lead author of the study Murray Mittleman told TIME, "Their fasting insulin levels were lower, and they appeared to be less resistant to the insulin produced by their body to maintain a normal blood-sugar level."
Current marijuana users had 16 percent lower fasting insulin levels than former and non-users; they also showed an average of 17 percent reduction in insulin resistance. Higher fasting insulin levels are a sign of metabolic dysfunction, and is often accompanied by higher body fat mass, poor glucose tolerance (prediabetes) and blood lipid abnormalities.
3. Smoking doesn't always cause the munchies
Some users seem to be immune to the munchies, no matter how much cannabis they consume. This might have to do with the strain they're smoking: while some entrepreneurs claim you need special Skinnygirl cannabis to avoid marijuana-induced hunger pangs, there are plenty of strains that experts say won't increase your appetite. Marijuana critic Jake Browne recommends Blue Dream, "Lots of food athletes I know," writes Jake Browne, "say it gives them the same feeling as a runner's high after a couple puffs, helping them power through the reps. Very rarely does it put me in the mood to munch, something I rarely say about sativa-dominant hybrids."
4. It can actually replace compulsive overeating
We all need rewards when things go well, and coping mechanisms in times of stress - and just as some people turn to delicious treats as a way of winding down, others smoke a joint. As the Colorado Pot Guide suggests, "obese people, or people who chronically overeat, do so because the process triggers the nucleus accumbens, or the reward center of the brain (this is especially true when the foods of choice are laden with concentrated sugars and refined starches). In other words, overeating acts like a drug by stimulating the same area of the brain -- cannabis users have their own high and don't need to overindulge in the same way." In other words, treating yourself to a session might actually prevent you from rewarding yourself with unhealthy food.