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Why Does Weed Make You Hungry?

Feeling starved or empty in the stomach is a common side-effect of smoking marijuana. If not anything, it can give you a run for munchies when you least expect it.

For someone trying to increase their weight, it can certainly boost their appetite. But for those who are already fat, the desire to binge after smoking weed may not be a great idea or feeling.

In any case, it is interesting to know the reasons why the sudden urge to eat or ingest takes place in the first place as soon as we smoke some weed.

Better known as munchies, it may be defined as a strong and sudden desire to eat an item of food, snack, or something edible!

What are Munchies?

Munchies are small items of food or snack that we tend to eat other than our meals. In the dictionary, it’s described as “a sudden feeling of hunger for food.”

In the context of marijuana, munchies are pretty much like the icing on the cake.  Frequent stoners love snacking their favourite snacks (especially something sweet as it is believed to take you ‘higher’) in between their weed breaks. They say it makes everything sound and taste so delicious.

Or maybe it’s the high talking? Well, in this case, sorry potheads, it is!

You see, there is a proper mechanism that makes you feel hungry after smoking cannabis even if you’ve already had your fill of meal for the day.

Why weed makes you hungry?

Weed is a complex herb, perhaps one of the most controversial and shrouded in mysteries.

However, according to whatever little we know, there are certain compounds in the cannabis plant family that when combined with certain substances produced within the body make us feel hungry.

One of the most active ingredients THC (infamous for causing the ‘high’), is also known to affect our appetite, mood, memory, and pain among other things. 

By releasing dopamine in our brains, THC strengthens the pleasure/ reward system associated with eating or drinking our favorite munchies.

There are several processes involved in it too. For instance,

  • Activation of the Endocannabinoid system (ECS) that helps regulate our nervous system.
  • Increase in the production of the “hunger hormone”- Ghrelin, which speeds up digestion and creates hunger in our brain.
  • The addition of cannabinoids called ‘lipids’ that are naturally produced by the brain and play a key role in arousing our appetite.
  • A heightened sensory perception of food as in taste, smell, and texture.
  • Triggering of smell receptors and neurons that are responsible for controlling our appetite. 
  • Enhancement in the joy of eating by increased dopamine.
  • Boost in food palatability by working on our limbic system. 
  • Activation of the hypothalamus and hindbrain that regulates our food intake.

As you can see, there are several ways in which cannabis can make you feel famished even if you are not in the mood to eat anything.

What matters, is the method of consumption. Having cannabis through edibles is naturally less appetising than smoking or vaping.

The bottom line is, that feeling hungry after smoking marijuana is not real hunger as such, but a feeling that our easy-to-trick brains develop after coming in contact with THC and other psychoactive compounds. Unless, of course, you haven’t eaten anything for the whole day or haven’t had munchies in a long time!

How to Manage the Munchies?

Although there hasn’t been much talk or discussion about marijuana causing fat or obesity, overeating unnecessarily is never a wise option. Especially, for those who frequently use marijuana and have developed the habit of overeating.

Remember, a great machine eats less but runs for longer.

So, if you were to indulge in munchies after doping marijuana anyway, make sure to choose something nutritious and healthy instead of going for high-calorie diets such as fats, salts, sugar, and junk food.

Go for fresh fruits, veggies, and cereals to make the most out of those sudden urges to eat. Ditch that bag of potato chips, fried food, or slice of pizza you’ve been keeping in the fridge for late-night munching. 

Just be mindful of what you eat, and exercise often to turn those late-night munchies into strong hard muscles.

Benefits of Munchies

For those who don’t eat much, consuming marijuana can certainly boost your appetite like nothing else.

A pain for the obese and not a healthy choice for weight loss, munchies can still have some benefits. Primarily, weight gain in low-weight individuals, as proven by a study on the relationship between marijuana and body weight.

Apart from that,

  • Munching quenches your hunger between regular meals thus preventing excessive overeating during meal times.
  • It refuels you with energy given you eat the right types of snacks.
  • Munching together with friends and family gives you more time to build closure.
  • It can elevate joy and cause overall well-being.
  • Munchies can help you meet your daily nutrient levels should you be conscious enough.
  • Munching or Snacking also elevates stress and promotes relaxation.

As for patients with conditions such as HIV/ AIDS or Cancer, consuming marijuana for medicinal purposes can positively stimulate their rather weaker appetites. 

However, like everything else, excess of everything is harmful. And the same goes for too much marijuana as well as excessive munching.

Risks of Munchies

Needless to say, overeating is not ideal. Excessive indulgence in munchies, especially those rich in sugar, salt, or fat can have serious side effects on your health as a whole.

From causing weight gain to dental problems and risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes to cardiac conditions, overindulging in munchies can do more harm than good.

Some of the potential risks of over-munching include:

  • Weight gain.
  • Nutrient deficiency should you eat foods that do not have the right amount of essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Chances of chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart diseases.
  • Dental issues if you munch too much sugary stuff and carbohydrates.
  • Fatigue and impaired cognition due to certain foods that are rich in sugar.
  • Dependency on munchies that may be unhealthy.
  • Weakening the effects of drugs if you are on medication.

To be on the safer side, it is crucial to consume munchies in limited quantities and frequencies. At the same time, you should pay some attention to what you are munching, which should not be difficult given that your concentration must be ‘high’. 

So choose healthy and switch between different types of foods and snacks to obtain the right amount of nutrients to maintain good health when you go into a trance.

How long do Munchies last?

Munchies can last for hours depending on the amount of marijuana or the THC you have in your blood.

The method of consumption is yet another important factor that may affect your snacking behaviour including the food of choice.

In other words, the potency of the joint and the rate at which its effects are absorbed.

Speaking of which, cannabis-infused drinks and edibles are less likely to prompt munchies. The majority of the content in those products is food anyway which slows down the absorption of THC and hence its reaction time in the brain.

Inhalation on the other hand takes mere seconds or at max, minutes before it starts binding with the receptors in our brain and stimulating our appetite in the process.

What you can do to control this sudden urge or craving to eat is simply control the amount of THC you take. This shouldn’t be a problem if you’re using cannabis for medical reasons, as in that case, your weed would predominantly contain CBD. These cannabinoids are known for their healing or therapeutic properties.

However, if you use weed solely for recreational purposes, you’ll have to, at some point or another, come to terms with limiting your THC intake, if not instantly, then slowly and gradually.

The idea is to figure out the right amount of THC that is sufficient for you in terms of causing the ‘high’ or the feeling of euphoria without giving you the cramps for munchies.

So the next time you feel the urge to eat after smoking pot, don’t fall for it, as it may just be a false alarm or worse a dopamine-induced trap.


Definitely! As explained above, the smartest way to use weed without craving munchies is by controlling your THC intake or the frequency of marijuana usage in the first place.

Since marijuana tends to complement the reward or pleasure-releasing nature of dopamine, it tempts us to indulge in heavy eating of all things delicious that are rather high-calorie like salt, sugar, or fat.

Instead of stuffing your belly with that, stick to nutritious food such as fresh veggies, fruits, and cereals.

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