The worlds of bodybuilding and weight loss are not shy when it comes to using supplements and formulas to gain an advantage. Whether real or perceived benefits exist, the fitness industry spends billions of dollars on nutritional supplements and vitamins to sell so it can be challenging to weed out truly effective supplements from false claims. Can CBD tinctures help you with your fitness goals? Let’s investigate.
How Do We Build Muscle?
Building muscle mass is an important part of keeping healthy. As we age, our muscle naturally begins to atrophy (shrink). Whether you are looking to gain muscle mass as part of keeping fit and healthy, or building muscle mass to compete in weight lifting sports, the process is the same. When we place our muscles under regular resistance or weight, we create tiny tears in the fiber of the muscles which need to be repaired. During this repair process, our body fuses the tears together which increases the size of the muscle. This process is called muscle hypertrophy and it involves hormones such as testosterone, human growth hormone, and insulin.
The Endocannabinoid System and Muscle Growth
Although scientists are still exploring the endocannabinoid system as it’s a relatively new discovery, we do know it’s linked to processes such as appetite, digestion, muscle growth, as well as other mood and emotional processes. Since the endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating hormones and assisting our bodies with maintaining or returning to homeostasis (a balanced state), it makes sense that there is a link between CBD and muscle growth. CBD is an anti-catabolic, meaning it protects the muscle mass from being broken down by the body’s natural metabolic processes. CBD also inhibits cortisol levels, the stress hormone, which allows for better muscle regeneration as cortisol is responsible for breaking down muscle tissue. These properties of CBD could enhance the body’s natural ability to not only maintain muscle, but to also build it.
CBD and Increasing Endurance and Stamina
It’s hard work building muscle. Regular exercise and challenging yourself to a new personal record means dedication to sweat and tears. In order to push through barriers and plateaus, increased endurance and stamina is required. CBD can help with increasing your stamina in a couple of different ways. The first way in which adding a CBD tincture to your workout routine is by increasing energy. Low doses of CBD reduces your cortisol levels and increases your serotonin which allows you to focus and feel a rush of energy. To be clear, this is not the same sensation as being high from THC. For an in-depth look at the difference between CBD and THC, check out Can I Buy CBD Legally? and Everything You Want to Know About CBD Gummies. This rush of energy can help you get through a tough workout before feeling the fatigue that inevitably sets in. The second way in which CBD can help you build muscle is by reducing your sensitivity thanks to CBD’s ability to reduce pain and inflammation. With less pain and sensitivity, you can withstand a high-intensity workout or train longer or harder than usual. This does not mean you will suddenly become a Marvel hero, however it could give you enough of an edge to boost your performance and take you into the next level of training.
How do CBD Tinctures Help With Muscle Recovery?
Muscle Recovery is an essential part of weightlifting as it’s impossible to keep gaining muscle without allowing time for the body to heal. If you overtrain you run the risk of injury as well as fatigue. Thankfully, CBD can help with this process as well to really round-out your training routine.
Muscle Recovery Through Sleep to Impact Gains
Like we mentioned in How Do CBD Tinctures Help with Boxing and other Combat and Grappling Sports?, our bodies need restful sleep in order to recover from workouts. When we have a restful sleep, it allows our body to synthesize protein into muscle as it repairs the microtears of the muscle fiber. Not enough sleep means our body can’t properly heal itself and not only will we not build the muscle we want as easily, we’ll also be too sore and fatigued to train efficiently. Taking a CBD tincture after a hard workout or before bed can help relieve your muscle pain, lower your cortisol levels, and allow you to fall into a deep sleep that will help you recover from your training.
Muscle Recovery Through Anti-Inflammation
We’ve discussed at length how CBD is a natural anti-inflammatory. With this effect, it’s no wonder weight lifters and gym enthusiasts are flocking to CBD tinctures. Adding CBD to your workout regimen can help your muscles feel better after working out, allowing for a faster recovery time and more time to hit the weights.
CBD and Cytokines
You might be hearing the term cytokines a lot now, especially with research into COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 ramps up. Researchers are currently looking at how CBD may be used to treat some of COVID-19’s worst symptoms such as lung damage. The reason for this link is cytokines. Cytokines are protein signals that act as messengers between cells within the immune system. They are responsible for binding to targeted cells in the immune system to regulate disease, infection, and so on. There are several types of cytokines depending on which area is producing them and what their effect is. Bodybuilders and weight trainers, however, are most interested in the balance between proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines that are secreted from the immune cells. As mentioned, CBD is a natural anti-inflammatory. In effect, CBD reduces the proinflammatory cytokines, meaning your body is less inflamed and you can recover faster. There is little difference, from a process perspective, between inflammation caused by microtears or injury, and inflammation caused by a pathogen or disease. Either way, the body’s immune response activates and begins a healing process, beginning with the attempt to reduce inflammation. Adding a CBD tincture to your exercise routine can help your body’s overall health and keep you at the bench press longer.
How do CBD Tinctures Help with Weight Loss?
Not everyone hitting the gym is looking to bulk up and compete on stage. Luckily, CBD has some great potential when it comes to good ol’ fashioned weight loss too. The science is still under investigation, however there is promising research showing how CBD’s affect on CB1 receptors affecting metabolism and fat production, appetite suppression, and insulin resistance can aid with weight loss.
What Is The Metabolism
Although we’re often told that weight gain and weight loss is a matter of calories, in actuality, it’s a lot more complicated than that. The metabolism is a complex system with three main purposes: converting food to energy in order to run processes at a cellular level; converting food and fuel for proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, and carbohydrates; and eliminating nitrogenous wastes such as ammonia, urea, uric acid, and creatinine (usually through liver and kidney filtration in the form of urine). When we’re losing weight in a healthy way, the body has to balance and regulate the digestive system, immune system, and nervous system and it does this all through the endocannabinoid system. CBD interacts with two main receptors in our endocannabinoid system; the CB1 receptor and the CB2 receptor.
- CB1 receptors are primarily located in the brain and spinal cord, otherwise known as the central nervous system, however, they also exist in other areas like the liver and fat tissue. These receptors are responsible for regulating brain function and releasing neurotransmitters (or hormones) such as serotonin, dopamine, and glutamate.
- CB2 receptors are primarily located in the immune system, however, can also be found in areas such as the gastrointestinal tract, peripheral nervous system, fat tissue, and liver. These receptors are responsible for inflammation, and cell survival.
Why is CB1 important to weight loss?
A couple of reasons. First, the central nervous system is responsible for feeding processes such as assessing how much energy our body needs to function and having feelings of hunger. That feeling we get to signal we’re hungry is controlled by the hypothalamus, the small part of the brain located near the pituitary gland that’s responsible for releasing hormones and regulating body temperature. This trigger occurs when there is an imbalance within our hormones, as well as by the binding of the endocannabinoids 2-AG (known for being associated with pain relief, suppression of nausea and vomiting, and the stimulation of appetite) and anandamide (also called the “bliss molecule”) to the CB1 receptors in the hypothalamus. This means that when there are elevated 2-AG levels, it can lead to overeating and obesity. Secondly, there is a dopamine response related to food intake thanks to the CB1 receptor, which is why we love eating foods that are high in sugar or fat and can become addicted to fast food and candies, etc. CB1 antagonists like CBD might indirectly inhibit the dopamine effect of food which can lead to weight loss.
Brown Fat, White Fat, and CBD
You might remember from high school science that we have 2 different types of fats: white fat and brown fat. White fat stores energy in big singular droplets of oil throughout the body and in large quantities, leading to obesity or metabolic disorders like diabetes, for example. This is the type of fat we want to lose and maintain a healthy amount of. Brown fat, however, contains many small droplets of oil and also contains a high amount of iron-containing mitochondria, making this type of fat capable of generating heat. Brown fat is what turns fat into energy. As we age, we lose brown fat. Adults who have a healthy active lifestyle have more brown fat than those who do not exercise regularly. CBD has been shown to help boost the metabolism of fat, meaning the proteins responsible for breaking down fat are stimulated therefore aiding in fat loss. It can also increase the mitochondrial activity leading to more calories burned and reduces the process of lipogenesis, otherwise known as the creation of fat cells.
Insulin Resistance and CBD
When we eat, our metabolism is supposed to follow a pattern: We consume food which causes our blood sugar levels to rise. In response to this rise, our pancreas releases insulin which helps the glucose from food to enter our cells. Finally, our cells use the glucose as an energy source. When we overeat glucose (a high sugar diet, for example), our cells are unable to contain the glucose and, despite the signal from our pancreas, our body stops listening and becomes insulin resistant. This causes people to feel hungry then sluggish as their blood glucose levels aren’t steady. Instead of a healthy metabolism pattern, someone who is insulin resistant will have a pattern more like this: They will consume food which causes their blood sugar to rise. The pancreas releases insulin which helps the glucose from food to enter their cells. The insulin won’t work so their blood sugar levels continue rising. The liver converts sugar to fat in order to protect the body from the high levels of sugar, however your cells still need energy so they trigger the appetite response, causing them to eat again and repeat the process. Where does CBD come in? CBD has been shown to enhance our cells’ ability to absorb glucose, meaning we can convert less sugar to fat and as a result, suppress our appetite.
With the legalization of CBD in the US and most countries around the world, new research has opened up surrounding the possibilities for CBD as a treatment to disease, disorders, and ailments. In addition to this research, it is also providing a clearer picture of how CBD interacts with the body and what potential it might hold. CBD has a lot of applications, many of which we are likely still unaware of. One thing is clear, however, adding CBD tincture to your workout can improve results whether you want to gain muscle or lose weight.