How Does Weed Affect Muscle Growth?
Weed and muscle growth? Well, that’s controversial.
These days, most people know that weed isn’t that bad for you. It can be debated whether it’s actually more healthy than alcohol.
But does smoking weed affect muscle growth and athletic performance?
Does it affect the hormonal milieu in your body? Does it promote weight gain or even weight loss?
First of all, I do smoke weed occasionally, but that’s not what it’s about today.
But lately, I reconsidered that habit of mine. If you studied the effects of cannabis use on the testosterone levels – you’d reconsider it as well. But more on that later.
Cannabis, marijuana, sativa, weed, dope, ganja – there are many names. you might remember the legendary scene from the classic Pumping Iron, in which Arnold Schwarzenegger smoked a joint.
So, hey – if the king of bodybuilding could build ones of the best bodies on this planet while smoking weed, then everybody can do that, right?
In this article, you will learn more about the effects of smoking weed in the context of muscle growth and fat loss.
We all know that certain athletes train and live in completely different conditions.
It would be simply stupid if one wanted to transfer the principles of a well-trained Schwarzenegger to a natural beginner.
What follows is a scientific, objective review of weed, based on the lead question, “What if cannabis was an ordinary supplement?
Let’s get right into it.
How does Weed affect Muscle Growth & Fat Loss?
The concept of homeostasis has its roots in biology and refers to the active balance between anabolic (i.e. tissue building) and catabolic (i.e. tissue degrading) activities that cancel each other out.
This ensures that the status quo is kept and no changes are realized. (End result is, for example, a relatively constant body weight with the same composition over many years).
Attempting to reduce body fat mass or grow muscle is – at least for the most part – a significant departure from the body’s homeostasis.
An intended departure that affects either the anabolic or catabolic activity of the body.
If your body gets signaled that it HAS to adapt, a change takes place in the body tissue (as the catabolic side dominates, you lose muscle or fats, if the anabolic side dominated, the other way around).
When this process is complete, your body will go back to homeostasis will reach a new equilibrium in which it will adapt to the current condition of the body.
The reason why I mention all this is due to the way weed works – which, of course, also applies to smoke. Or to put it more specifically:
1. Cannabis can improve survival at the cellular level or induce cell death.
2. Cannabis can inhibit or even induce/enhance the action of the adenyl cyclase enzyme. – Important for human tissue.
3. Cannabis can provide a balance between neurogenesis and neurodegeneration.
4. Cannabis can both increase and reduce estrogen.
5. Cannabis can reduce or increase carnitine palmitoyltransferase expression and activity – depending on the cell type.
6. The activity (agonism) of cannabinoid receptors of THCs can even be counteracted by other components of cannabis.
The use of cannabis seems to be able to affect a whole range of body functions through the cannabinoid system. Some reactions appear to have a positive effect on homeostasis some don’t. Pretty confusing isn’t it?
Weed: Ingredients & Metabolism
Weed, or known as cannabis, contains the psychoactive substance tetrahydrocannabinol. the actual name is delta-9-tetrahydohydro-cannabinol, but let’s stay with THC.
THC affects not only the nervous system but also the endocannabinoid system and thus has a certain influence on the perception and the psyche of humans.
The exact potential for addiction and harmfulness is a controversial topic in today’s society.
As with alcohol, chronic cannabis users show tolerance development, but there are many advocates who claim that cannabis use is less harmful than alcohol and can even be healthy.
Cannabis use is a double-edged sword – a coin with two sides, it has advantages and disadvantages.
It is the only plant known to date that acts on the endocannabinoid system of the body (consisting of the receptors cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid 2 (CB2)).
The perceived “high” is the result of acute consumption. Only a few know that the THC is stored in the fatty tissue, from where it finally licks “droplets” and enters the circulatory circuit (which is why you fail at a drug test weeks after consumption).
The metabolism of THC occurs through hydroxylation and oxidation reactions via the liver.
The THC leftovers are excreted via urine.
Weed & Testosterone
Now it gets a bit more interesting.
What is the effect of weed on the body’s own testosterone levels?
Studies in rats given a dose of 3-6 mg/kg for a test period of 36 days show that testosterone levels have been reduced by as much as half (already at 3 mg/kg).
The decrease is thought to be due to the decrease in 3?HSD activity, an enzyme crucial to testosterone synthesis.
Another study shows an inhibitory effect of gonadotropin-induced testosterone synthesis as a result of THC administration.
In addition, there is also a correlation between THC and progesterone, a sex hormone.
Testosterone reduction was also demonstrated by Barnett in 1983.
In this study, the subjects received intravenous THC over a period of 50 minutes. The testosterone level in the test group decreased significantly over the subsequent hours compared to the placebo group (5.5 +/- 0.5ng / mL placebo group vs 3.5 +/- 0.5ng / mL THC group.)
All points in one direction:
“In humans, the results are somewhat mixed. Not all studies show a decrease in testosterone yet the significance of the result is a ‘minor, statistically insignificant’ drop to 1 / 3rd suppression of testosterone levels. Overall, it appears to be a suppression of free levels of testosterone in males and females after smoking cannabis. “(Source)
Interestingly, such results were not found in isolated THC administration, suggesting that other components of cannabis sativa are responsible for the decrease in endogenous testosterone levels. (Source)
I think it should be clear: if you want to build muscle mass, you need high testosterone levels, because the more testosterone, the better.
Further hormonal effects from smoking weed affect some other key hormones.
The Cone study notes a short-term increase in growth hormone (from 1ng / mL to 2ng / mL) compared to the control group.
The luteinizing hormone, on the other hand, decreases in acute cannabis use (in the male: responsible for sperm maturation, in the woman responsible for ovulation), although this effect does not seem to be of a long-term nature.
Smoking weed also causes an increase in the circulating cortisol level (stress hormone).
Weed and Body Fat
One last point that may be worth addressing is the impact of cannabis use on body fat.
Cannabidiol (a phytocannabinoid) contained in cannabis has the properties of an adrenergic ?-2 agonist (which is responsible for the stimulation of adrenoceptors).
Thus, the substance acts in the exact opposite direction of the popular fat burner supplement Yohimbine. This basically means that it has a beneficial effect on the maintenance of fat deposits. -No one wants that.
So if you want to lose body fat, you’d better drink a cup of green tea instead of rolling a joint.Does smoking weed affect muscle growth and athletic performance? You will learn more about the effects of smoking weed on muscle growth and fat loss.
9 Ways Marijuana Effects Your Athletic Performance
Marijuana has never been more accessible—or popular. But how does it affect hard-training athletes? Here’s what we know right now.
- Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)
Now that marijuana is legal in several parts of the U.S., researchers are starting to debunk several myths about marijuana. At the same time, weed’s social stigma is beginning to loosen—so much so, in fact, that athletes and fitness gurus who laud weed’s wellness benefits are starting to challenge the stereotype of lazy, overweight stoners.
But is cannabis truly a miracle drug that enhances athletic performance or do its negative side effects outweigh its benefits?
We spoke to several experts in medicine, fitness, and the cannabis industry about how weed can potentially benefit or hurt your fitness.
How Marijuana Can Affect Your Goals to Build Bigge.
Is marijuana the wonder drug your workouts have been missing?
Benefit 1: Reduce Inflammation
Reducing muscle and joint inflammation is one of the most promising areas of cannabis research. Many studies have found that CBD, the nonpsychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana, helps ease inflammation. Now, researchers are looking into its potential to treat autoimmune conditions like Crohn’s disease, lupus, and psoriasis.
Adam Brous, a certified yoga instructor and founder of Ganja Guru Yoga in Denver, CO, uses marijuana in his practice and recommends it to his clients for this purpose. “I have worked with athletes who have found cannabis to be a helpful aid,” Brous says. “Typically, they’re dealing with pain and inflammation of the muscles and connective tissue or recovering from past injury or surgery.”
For athletes who want to reap the benefits of CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties without smoking it or getting the high, Brous recommends topical products. “Topicals and tinctures are incredible for locally targeted recovery in highly concentrated doses.”
Jamie Feaster, a former Division I college pole vaulter and current vice president of marketing at marijuana delivery startup Eaze, also turned to CBD for its anti-inflammatory properties when he ruptured his Achilles tendon.
“As an active athlete, it was a devastating injury and I was open to exploring alternative medicine solutions to help me heal,” Feaster says. “The CBD lotion really helped me understand the wellness benefits cannabis can provide. CBD is my favorite form, given that it typically delivers the best results when it comes to anti-inflammatory and healing properties.”
Benefit 2: Ease Soreness and Pain
Going hand-in-hand with its anti-inflammatory properties, cannabis has also been found to alleviate pain. This is one area of cannabis research that has shown many positive results. Marijuana can alleviate pain caused by everything from chronic pain to acute pain from muscle spasms, studies have found—and that’s good news for anyone looking for alternatives to dangerous, habit-forming opiates.
San Francisco-based trainer Zach Scioli of DIAKADI Fitness is an advocate for marijuana therapies to help with muscle recovery and alleviate pain from injuries—but he wasn’t always.
“Societal norms shaped my thinking about marijuana, but it doesn’t take much digging into studies to find that cannabis’ compounds are anti-inflammatory, stress reducing, antioxidative, and pain mediating, to name just a few benefits,” Scioli explains. After suffering a slipped disc in his lower back, he was bedridden for weeks and on a cocktail of painkillers. “Being prescribed extremely strong prescription painkillers to treat pain, I realized their high addiction and toxicity potential. I opted to try CBD oil and high-grade THC extracts to manage pain and inflammation. Looking back, it was the best choice I could have made.”
Christopher Louie, founder of Colorado-based cannabis startup Made in Xiaolin, had a similar experience, although his injury was more catastrophic. He credits marijuana with saving his life. “My passion for cannabis began when it replaced the opiates I was being prescribed for a gunshot wound I sustained in 2003,” he says. Specifically, he was prescribed a powerful pill form of morphine known as Kadian, and when the withdrawal between refilling prescriptions became too much, his doctor put him on Neurontin, which made him suicidal. “Since treating with cannabis I’ve learned that not only does it help with the physical pain, it helps me mentally—it has greatly increased my quality of life.”
Benefit 3: Treat Muscle Spasms
Another area of medical application for cannabis is in treating muscle spasms. Cannabis has shown positive results in treating muscle spasms associated with diseases like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s, and its benefits could extend to athletes suffering from spasms as well. “There have been studies in rodents showing some beneficial effect in muscle recovery and reduction of muscle spasm, presumably due to the anti-inflammatory properties the compound possesses,” explains Erich Anderer, M.D., chief of neurosurgery at NYU Langone Hospital – Brooklyn.
That said, health application of cannabis is a new area of study, and Anderer says scientists need more research on athletes who don’t suffer from any of these disorders. “I don’t know any rats that do CrossFit, so more research needs to be done before we can recommend it for this use with any confidence,” he says. “The problem is that right now there is no scientific evidence it works in humans.”
Benefit 4: Improve Sleep
It’s no secret that THC induces sleep, but studies have also found that it can help people with sleep apnea and even suppress dreams, which is beneficial for those suffering from PTSD. Meanwhile, CBD can ease REM sleep disorder (where people “act out” their dreams) and daytime fatigue. Everyone knows how important sleep is to overall fitness, so this can be extremely beneficial to your athletic performance.
“I recommend CBD to nearly all of my clients for sleep,” Scioli says. “It greatly decreases their stress levels, which in turn improves their sleep quality and duration.”
However, marijuana’s effects on sleep do come with some caveats. One small 2004 study found that young adults who took THC before bed slept normally, but woke up feeling sleepier and with an impaired memory. The same study found that a blend of 5mg CBD and 5mg THC resulted in less stage-3 sleep, but better performance the day after on a number recall task.
Another benefit: Marijuana can be an alternative to traditional sleep medications, which can be habit-forming and come with a litany of side effects. “Eaze recently released our 2017 State of Cannabis data report, which found that 95% of respondents used cannabis to help reduce their sleeping and anxiety medication consumption,” says Feaster.
Colin Anderson Productions Pty Ltd / Getty
Benefit 5: Improve Mental Acuity
Contrary to popular thinking, marijuana may not have detrimental effects on brain function. In fact, it could be the opposite. Regular, low doses of THC actually restored cognitive function in old mice, according to a June 2017 study published in Nature Medicine. Anecdotally, many of the fitness experts who spoke with us said weed helped them get in the “zone” with their workouts.
“Cannabis has helped my mental game and focus incredibly. Early in my practice, cannabis helped to reduce anxiety, and keep me calm and focused on one task,” he says. “Later, I noticed that cannabis acted as a catalyst to achieve a meditative ‘flow state’ that is crucial to success in athletics.”
Risk 1: Damage Lungs
“Marijuana can hurt athletic performance significantly if you smoke it,” says Anderer. “It has been linked to structural damage in the lung—possibly even cancer, although the evidence is not as strong as it is with cigarettes.”
All athletes know that healthy lungs are essential to your overall fitness, so they should be wary of smoking anything.
Scott Chipman, the head of Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana, cites the lack of regulation in marijuana production as one of the key reasons he’s opposed to it. “Marijuana smoke is registered in California as a carcinogen and contains four to five times the toxins, irritants, and carcinogens as tobacco smoke and 20 times more ammonia, a poison,” he says. “And, a recent UC Davis study of marijuana samples from four Southern California dispensaries found 93% of the samples tested positive for contaminants including pesticides.”
Of course, airborne contaminants aren’t necessarily exclusive to marijuana, and not all marijuana products are consumed via smoking, but the hazards are there nevertheless.
Sumetee Theesungnern / EyeEm / Getty
Risk 2: Impair Motor Skills
It’s no secret that, like any intoxicant, marijuana can impair your motor skills.
“Cannabis use can acutely impair decision making and motor coordination that can make certain activities more difficult, such as driving,” says Jeff Chen, M.D., M.B.A., the director of the Cannabis Research Initiative at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.
While Feaster believes in the healing properties of marijuana, he notes that some physical activities shouldn’t be done under the influence. “Marijuana can be a great supplement for recovery after workouts, but I don’t recommend using high levels of THC when pole-vaulting!”
Scioli agrees: “THC should not be used just prior to resistance exercises. It decreases reaction speed and global stability—not what you want when lifting heavy objects.”
In the same vein, research has now found evidence that while marijuana may actually restore cognitive function in older users, it can be harmful to the developing adolescent brain. “Cannabis use during adolescence is correlated with decreased neurocognitive performance, changes in brain structure, and alterations in brain function,” Chen explains. “However, like with other cannabis findings, you can only demonstrate correlation and not causation in observational studies.”
Photographer is my life. / Getty
Risk 3: Increased Likelihood of Chronic Depression
“In medicine, whenever we look at the therapeutic use of a compound, we want to ensure the benefits outweigh the risks—and there are certainly health risks to cannabis use,” Chen says. One of the risks of extended cannabis use is an increased likelihood of depression. “Heavy long-term usage of cannabis is correlated with increased risk of psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia,” he says.
Depression can be detrimental to fitness, both by decreasing motivation and causing numerous physical side effects. Depression and stress increase the body’s cortisol levels, which can lead to weight gain, a weakened immune system, blood sugar fluctuations, and gastrointestinal problems.Marijuana has never been more accessible—or popular. But how does it affect hard-training athletes? Here’s what we know right now. ]]>