Intermittent Fasting with Cannabis: Can You Use CBD and Marijuana on the IF Diet Plan?

Cannabis and the Intermittent Fasting diet are two of the hottest trends in 2020, but many wonder can you smoke marijuana or consume CBD oil-infused products while adhering to the IF diet? Let's review the research on using cannabis while fasting to see if they can both be done safely while still reaping the beneficial medicinal effects of each.

Two of the new 2020 decade's hottest trends are cannabis (CBD) and intermittent fasting (IF). While both are health-centric in nature, many wonder can you smoke marijuana or use CBD when adhering to an intermittent fasting diet plan.

Let's review if the medicinal plant's use can safely, effectively and legitimately be consumed while practicing the IF diet where the saying goes, ‘the less you eat, the longer you live, the more you get to eat.'

Intermittent Fasting and Cannabis Use Guide in 2020

Intermittent fasting is one of the diets that is presently gaining traction in the health industry, used for losing weight, promoting balance in blood sugar levels and overall just allowing the body's digestive system to rest and recharge by cycling between periods of fasting and eating.

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Google Search Trends 2020 data on Intermittent Fasting and Cannabis

As you can see via Google Search trends analytics, intermittent fasting and cannabis are both in-demand 2020 topics of interest as people are starting to seek the therapeutic benefits of each – but the real question is people who consume CBD or smoke marijuana, can they do one another or both while practicing the intermittent diet regimen?

The IF diet is fairly easy to follow, as it requires the user to go through lengthy fasts that last through the majority of the day, which is upwards of 16 hours. The schedule that the user follows can be modified to meet their own daily demands, and the participant primarily can eat what they want.

With any diet, choosing healthier foods is obviously more encouraged for better results, but there’s no specific rules to follow this. This type of dieting has also been frequently linked to the improvement in insulin sensitivity as well as increasing overall longevity and wellness.

The consumption of cannabis is primarily known for stimulating the appetite, improving relaxation, and even eradicating pain by using CBD oils or gummies. But could it positively impact the experience of intermittent fasting? Let’s first discuss the intermittent fasting diet, what the requirements are, and why so many people have gravitated towards its use.

Many people wonder about using marijuana and it giving you the ‘munchies' or increased appetite hunger cravings may be against the ‘eat less' intermittent fasting diet, but first let's dive into what intermittent fasting is, the types of IF diets to follow and then answer the question head on whether or not cannabis (marijuana and CBD) is applicable for fasters.

Intermittent Fasting: Then and Now

Intermittent fasting may seem like an all-encompassing trend now, but the practice has been around for over a thousand years and is just now resurfacing as a hot diet trend. The practice for ancestors was seemingly involuntary, as the early humans had to seek out ways to find food every day and were not always successful. Over time, religious and cultural groups found ways to employ fasting for their own purposes, often as a sacrifice in return for spiritual or other rewards.

The fasting experienced in today’s culture isn’t that different, apart from the current branding it has amongst health-focused individuals. Health and weight loss are major topics of discussion in the modern world, and studies even show that close to 45 million Americans work to follow diets every year. The market for exercise and weight loss products is highly profitable, adding up to approximately $33 billion spent amongst consumers that want to shed weight, no matter how successful their willpower is.

The Commitment

Intermittent fasting, for many, isn’t just a temporary decision or diet; it is a change from their previous lifestyle, and the modifications that can be made to accommodate any schedule make it easier to stick with diets. Most commonly, consumers will follow one of three  different fasting methods, the 18/6, the 16/8, or the Eat-Stop-Eat.

In the 18/6 plan, the individual abstains from eating for 18 hours, allowing themselves a matter of six hours to get all of the nutrients that they need in a day. The same rule applies for the 16/8 plan, except that the participant fasts for 16 hours with 8 hours left to consume all their daily nutrients. Most of the time, these first two plans basically cut out snacks at bedtime and end up skipping or pushing back breakfast until it is in the non-fasting part of the day.

The Eat-Stop-Eat method is a big more extreme. The participant is required to abstain from everything but calorie-free liquids for a full 24 hours. After the day is over, the user can eat with no limits for a whole day, but they repeat the fasting again on day 3. With this method, consumers often see the best results, as they preserve their lean muscle mass and improve hormone levels.

There is also the 12/12 split where you can ease into the Intermittent Fasting diet schedule and have a larger window per day for consuming foods and eating meals. Another intermittent fasting name is OMAD, or one meal a day where it is probably the most extreme version of IF dieting where you fast for 23 hours and eat just one meal every 24 hours. Also one other popular method of fasting intermittently is the 5:2 system where you eat normally for five days while essentially taking two days off from eating or very limited food intake.

But Why?

The whole advocacy for this type of diet is due to the way that the body’s metabolism works. According to information from medical publications, after 16 hours without eating anything, the body automatically starts to use stored fat in place of glucose to improve weight loss. The body is put into a state of ketosis, much like when someone goes on the equally trendy ketogenic diet.

The other purported health benefits and wellness effects of doing the intermittent fasting diet include:

During ketosis, the body has to work to replace old cells and to repair damage to DNA. That’s where CBD and cannabis comes in.

Can Cannabis Improve Success in an Intermittent Fasting Diet?

One of the most common effects that consumers associated with cannabis use is the “munchies,” which is due to the stimulation of the appetite while consuming THC. For that reason alone, getting the stoned effects of THC may seem counterproductive to the fasting process. However, don’t be quick to shut down the use of cannabis compounds, as there are a few that could actually help.

The compound in cannabis that many consumers are also familiar with is CBD, and reports from CBD Clinicals state that the substance is able to reduce the appetite, making it helpful to fasting. It also is linked to the prevention of diabetes and fighting inflammation in the body. Plus, since consuming snacks while anxiety or nervous is fairly common, CBD is capable of helping to curb this type of emotional eating with its relaxing effects.

Still, there are other compounds in cannabis that may prove to ultimately be helpful, when it comes to intermittent fasting. Tetrahydrocannabivarin, or THCV, is found in cannabis in small quantities and is primarily lauded as a suppressant for the appetite. It works in an opposite capacity to THC, which means that it can help consumers not to worry about the pangs of hunger that often begin during this type of regimen. Unfortunately, THCV has not yet reached the market, so consumers would be left simply with using CBD for now.

While CBD may not be good for the fasting moments in this type of diet, THC could still be alternated during the hours that the user is eating instead. With healthy meals, consumers may need to make certain foods more palatable, and THC can serve its purpose. Realistically, when it comes to cannabis use during an intermittent fasting diet, the key to success lies in using THC and CBD at the right times.

Can Intermittent Fasting Flush Out THC from the Body?

On the opposite side of the cannabis discussion, a different question may arise. Rather than using cannabis to promote greater success in a fasting diet, can a fasting diet be used to push out THC? To answer this question, it is important to understand the way that THC works in the body.

THC can be consumed as either an edible product or an inhalable one, and each practice has a different reaction in the body. When smoking, THC is absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs, reaching the heart before it is pumped through the entire body. It takes about 15 minutes for the psychoactive molecule to peak, while the non-psychoactive molecule can last for up to 7 days.

When ingesting THC, the bloodstream absorbs the THC through the stomach and intestines, which then filters through the liver for it to be metabolized before binding with any of the receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Then, it takes the same path as with smoking; heads to the heart and is pumped through the body.

Intermittent fasting is designed to promote weight loss, pushing the body to use the stored fat for energy and glucose. THC is fat soluble, leading it to be absorbed rapidly by the fat tissue after entering the bloodstream. Users with more fat on their body will store more THC. While the speed of the metabolism determines how quickly THC may exit the body, intermittent fasting on a regular basis can increase the speed of the metabolism.

Based on the correlation between a higher metabolism and how quickly THC is flushed from the body, intermittent fasting theoretically could help the body to flush out THC sooner, albeit indirectly. However, a study in 2014 tested out this theory with the following results:

“Neither exercise at moderate intensity for 45 min. nor 24-hr. food deprivation caused significant elevations in blood or urine cannabinoid levels in our six human subjects. […] We conclude that exercise and fasting in regular cannabis users are unlikely to cause sufficient concentration changes to hamper interpretation in drug testing programmes.”

Final Thoughts on Using Cannabis While Fasting

When it comes to smoking marijuana and using cannabis-infused products during an intermittent fasting diet, the question shouldn’t be of whether it helps a diet, because there are too many compounds to offer a single answer. Most simply, the answer is that cannabis use may help, depending on the compounds and when they are used. Successful dieters may choose CBD use during the fasting hours and THC during the eating hours, but there is not enough testing on this type of application to say with certainty.

While the safe bet is to answer the question of whether or not cannabis and intermittent fasting work together in 2020 and beyond is that it depends on the user (as with anything), but the truth is it will always come down to tolerance, discipline and personal goals. Whether you smoke marijuana or use CBD oil-infused supplements and adhere to the intermittent fasting diet plan, both of these in-demand trends are serving up a much-needed fresh perspective on what it takes to be healthy in the new decade.

Melissa Meyer
Melissa is a Georgetown Law grad with a background startups, advocacy, and health. Melissa spent much of 2010 – 2013 in the Lombardi Cancer center where she was being treated for a life-threatening blood disease. In that same period, she experienced the loss of her two closest girl friends to cancer. Her life goals include destroying cancer and helping patients improve their quality of life through alternative medicine. She does everything for HealthMJ that she can’t find someone else to do better.

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