Weed munchies are a common side effect associated with cannabis consumption. If you’ve watched any stoner film, you’ve watched the characters embark on outrageous quests to the 7/11 to satisfy their seemingly incorrigible need for all the junk food.
The munchies are not just an unfounded stereotype! Some cannabis users do experience an intense food craving after a session, while others don’t experience the weed munchies at all. The goal of this article is to help you understand why weed munchies happen and how to either avoid them or use them to your advantage.
What Are Weed Munchies?
You may have experienced or are currently experiencing the munchies yourself! It is the colloquial term for the feeling of hunger you get soon after consuming cannabis. The onset is most powerful and immediate when smoking or vaping cannabis.
Weed Munchies and the Endocannabinoid System
There is real science behind this phenomenon. And consequently, cannabis is recommended for those who suffer from a low appetite. Cannabis is renowned for stimulating orexigenic actions in the body, which is the scientific term for food-seeking behaviours. This has a lot to do with our endocannabinoid system (ECS) and the complex interactions that it has with our other body systems, including the digestive system.
Dr. Rachel Knox, M.D., a medical practitioner who focuses her work on the ECS, explains:
“There is not a single function in your body that is not somehow influenced or modulated by the ECS. It behaves like a switchboard, functioning in and across all physiologic processes and organs, acting and reacting to internal and external stimuli, to direct, correct and overall manage your health.” (Knox, 2019).
To learn more about the endocannabinoid system, check out our in-depth article “What is the Endocannabinoid System?”
What Science Says about Weed Munchies
Farokhnia and colleagues conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, human laboratory study in 2020, attempting to discover the precise pathways responsible for the effects of cannabis on metabolism and appetite.
They cite previous studies suggesting that the high concentration of CB1 receptors in the hypothalamus could explain its efficacy as the “central hub for regulating appetite, metabolism, and energy homeostasis” (Farokhnia et al., 2020).
Because cannabis is a sensory stimulant, it elevates your experience of your five senses, including taste. So while cannabis exercises the orexigenic systems of the body, it also increases the pleasurable sensations associated with food consumption. You’ve perhaps experienced this yourself or heard someone with the munchies say that food tastes incredible when you’re high. It is certainly one of many reasons that cannabis is so widely enjoyed.
Luckily, increasing the perceived deliciousness of food is not directly related to insulin resistance and the health outcomes associated with it, namely diabetes. Studies cited by Farokhnia and colleagues “found an inverse association between cannabis smoking and diabetes mellitus.” (ibid)
While it is evident from self-reported experience that cannabis stimulates appetite and heightens the sensation of taste, this isn’t sufficiently scientific. The current evidence generated by studies on cannabis and appetite stimulation cannot confirm causality. For now, it can only be said that cannabis use “modulates blood concentrations of some appetitive and metabolic hormones in cannabis users.” (ibid)
How to Get Through the Munchies
Now that you know a bit about the science behind the munchies, how do you control it? Science isn’t big on answers there, but that’s okay because this isn’t a serious problem. And for many cannabis users, the munchies are a thing of the distant past.
Here are a few approaches that work well to either curb the munchies or harness their power for good!
Preparing for Weed Munchies: Know Your Flavour Vice
For those who get weed munchies cravings for sweet or salty food seem to dominate. Even the most health-conscious folks will have to admit that they’d prefer a candy bar to an apple after a session.
Combating weed munchies is like treating cottonmouth: it’s all about preparation. If you have a kitchen cabinet full of chips and chocolate, the likelihood of making and eating a crispy, savoury salad may be laughable. But, depending on which you’re more likely to reach for, chips or chocolate, you can pre-game a healthy ready-to-go meal or snack to enjoy after your session.
Keep Healthy and Delicious Snacks Handy
This is common-sense advice for everyone, not just cannabis users combating weed munchies. When you know your flavour vice is salty and crunchy, opt for homemade popcorn drizzled in a bit of olive oil and salt. This is a wholesome snack, especially when air-popped. Popcorn is also full of fibre, so it will help you feel fuller faster. Another great option is unsalted mixed nuts. For those with a sweet tooth, check out these no-bake cocoa-peanut butter cookies. Fruit is not your only healthy option!
Curb Your Consumption: Drink Water!
Even if you don’t struggle with selecting the right snack for the weed munchies, you may still struggle with over-consumption. And you want to avoid this for several reasons. When calories in don’t equal calories out, you risk unhealthy weight gain. And you also won’t feel great once your high subsides.
Drinking water is the best remedy. Sometimes, we confuse the need for hydration with the desire for food. If you drink water first, you may find that you weren’t hungry after all. Not only will drinking water help to prevent or treat cottonmouth, but it will also make you feel full. It may be harder to carry this logic forward with weed munchies, but it certainly helps when combined with a high fibre, whole food snack.
Use Weed Munchies to Reward Healthy Habits
Okay, you’ve tried everything above, but the munchies are still relentless. If you can’t beat it, join it. Try to think of the weed munchies as a superpower and with some mental effort and consistency, and you can spin it into motivational gold!
Working Out With the Weed Munchies
This is more of a psychological hack, but it works if you’re passionate about cannabis and optimizing your physical health. The munchies aren’t entirely bad if you time your sessions correctly and can control a strong desire for unhealthy food.
Healthier Ways to Consume Cannabis
First, ensure that you switch to vaping or consuming cannabis if you are serious about your health. Switching away from combusting cannabis is an absolute necessity if maintaining optimal health is an important, long-term goal for you. You can learn more in our article “The Benefits of Vaping Weed.” Think of vaping cannabis as a way to get your cake and eat it too.
Weed Munchies Before a Workout
Let’s say you’re about to work out. Some regular cannabis users find that using cannabis before a workout can deepen their focus. This isn’t for everyone. If you’ve never tried working out high, then proceed with caution.
But if you are a seasoned stoned exerciser and also enjoy fasted workouts, then the weed munchies may derail the productivity and intensity you were hoping to gain.
You could take two approaches here. If you’re willing to give up the fasted workout, then a fiber-filled smoothie or oatmeal with some nut butter will give you light satiety that will hold the weed munchies at bay.
Leafy greens are nutritionally dense, so a kale-based smoothie is a good start to make you feel sated. Combined with banana, flax, and beets, you will have a powerful, healthy workout aid to go with your pre-workout high.
Since cannabis enhances your enjoyment of any meal, not just the ones we are wired to crave, you can train your mind and body simultaneously to anticipate the smoothie as a reward. Good habits take time to build, so the more you do this, the better it gets.
Weed Munchies After a Workout
Alternatively, you could save your session for after your workout. Your body is still burning calories after an intense workout. So if HIIT is your thing, consider a post-workout session and the accompanying munchies your reward!
Cooking Through the Weed Munchies
Home cooking is rewarding on so many levels. Not only does it save you money, but you also learn to master your culinary favourites. And cannabis deepens your enjoyment of creative activities, so why not combine the two? When you’re up on your feet preparing a meal instead of lounging on the couch listening to your tummy gurgle, even a heavy Indica can make you feel energized and motivated. Especially when you know that there’s a delicious meal on the other end of your effort. It’s worth it!
Manage the Munchies
Now you know more about where the weed munchies come from and how to deal with them. We hope this information will help you have more enjoyable sessions!
If you’re looking for something else to read next, you might enjoy these articles:
Alshaarawy, O. and Anthony, J. C. (2015) “Cannabis smoking and diabetes mellitus: Results from meta-analysis with eight independent replication samples,” Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, [online] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4801109/ (Accessed 27 May 2022).
Cleveland Clinic (2022) “Insulin resistance: What it is, causes, symptoms & treatment,” Cleveland Clinic, [online] Available from: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22206-insulin-resistance (Accessed 27 May 2022).
Farokhnia, M., McDiarmid, G. R. and Newmeyer, M. N. (2020) “Effects of oral, smoked, and vaporized cannabis on endocrine pathways related to appetite and metabolism: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, human laboratory study,” Translational Psychiatry, Nature Publishing Group U.K., [online] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7031261/ (Accessed 27 May 2022).
Knox, MD/MBA, R. (2019) “The endocannabinoid system and the revolution of one | Rachel Knox | TEDxPortland”, TEDxTalks, [online] Available from: https://youtu.be/oJbOQ9P2NYQ (Accessed 22 April 2021).
ScienceDirect (2022) “Orexigenic,” Orexigenic – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics, [online] Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/orexigenic (Accessed 27 May 2022).