Does weed have calories? The answer is hazy

does weed have calories?

All foods contain calories, and now that cannabis is an ingredient on the rise–some might wonder: Does weed have calories? The answer is yes—with an asterisk.

In all honesty, the amount of calories in weed depends on how you use it. That doesn’t cover how weed might kick up an appetite, either. Those who are tracking their calorie count will want to take a second look at their chosen cannabis products, mind the munchies, and maybe look into specific strains.

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does weed have calories?

From what’s hiding in an edible package to the nutritional content of a nug, there’s much left to learn about cannabis in your diet. Before breaking down the basics of cannabis caloric content, let’s get granular about calories.

What are calories?

Calories are units that measure energy. A capitalized Calorie is the one seen on a food package; those with a lowercase are used in physics and chemistry. The calorie content of foods used to be measured by a bomb calorimeter. The machine eviscerates the food while submerged in order to gauge the calories within. Now, the less fantastical approach of counting up calories based on the ingredients is more common.

Getting enough calories helps keep people healthy and helps gym rats get those gains. However, too many calories can have the opposite effect, leading some stoners to wonder, does weed have calories?

Does weed have calories?

The amount of calories in cannabis varies; however, due to its leafy green nature, it’s probable that eating raw cannabis or cured flower might have healthy properties. These numbers aren’t proven, but the WebMD online calorie counter has three entries for dried cannabis.

One entry lists 100 grams of cannabis, equating to 428 calories; the others say 100 grams is approximately 390 calories. With an edible at around 0.1 gram of dry weight per 100-milligram edible, it’s safe to say weed is probably low calorie. However, cannabis users do have some things to consider when it comes to calorie intake and weed.

Cannabis edibles and calorie content

While the plant itself isn’t high-calorie, many cannabis-infused edibles are. In a world of novel edibles like macarons and garlic mashed potatoes alongside fridges lined with delectable sugary cannabis drinks–it can be easy to choose infused foods with higher calorie content.

Registered dietician nutritionist Claire Rifkin explained more on why edibles might have higher fat content with GreenState.

“Edible cannabis products can often be very calorie-dense due to the amount of fat used during processing,” Rifkin explained. “The active compounds in cannabis are fat soluble, so they are typically infused into a fatty base, like oils or butter, to enhance their psychoactive effect.”

Those counting calories might want to read the label on their edibles next time they hit the dispensary. Certain infused food brands are making an effort to lower sugar and use healthy ingredients.

For example, many drink companies have begun crafting beverages with erythritol and stevia, which don’t spike blood sugar and reduce calories. However, some people experience bloating, cramping, gas, and/or diarrhea after drinking erythritol.

Any food can be bad for the wrong stomach—test out what works and go for it. The most important lesson is to read the label because many dispensary edibles pack a caloric punch.

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Does weed have calories?

Some companies hope to craft edibles with healthy ingredients, but it’s possible the plant has its own benefits. Commercial hemp has long been cultivated, processed, and sold in health food stores. This is different from dispensary flower that is often bred to emphasize THC content.

Health food communities value hemp hearts and seeds for having high levels of omega-fatty acids, amino acids, and nitric oxide. Since these plants are so closely related, it’s possible that cannabis used in edibles might also contain some of these beneficial compounds. This would only be true with full spectrum extracts, not distillates.

Hopefully, those counting calories reach for something healthy like hemp hearts as the munchies kick in, another big threat to caloric intake for those who smoke weed.

Cannabis munchies

As for inhalation, you do not consume cannabis when you smoke weed. The same stands for vaping. There’s nothing going into the digestive tract and stomach; smoking cannabis flower delivers everything to the lungs. There are no calories if nothing is digested.

However, smoking weed can induce a state known to many as the munchies, sometimes leading to weight gain.

“Once THC is metabolized, it interacts with CB1 receptors in the brain, which can increase appetite by promoting the release of ghrelin, the body’s hunger hormone,” Rifkin explained. “Therefore, even without direct caloric intake from cannabis itself, its consumption may lead to increased calorie consumption indirectly through stimulated appetite.”

The scientifically proven phenomenon known as the cannabis munchies is that insatiable hunger that often emerges after a big bong rip. This ability to increase appetite is another pain point for stoner calorie counters, it can be hard to navigate munchie-inducing strains like Black Diamond.

Combat the munchies with portion control. Don’t deny the cravings, but be mindful of portion sizes and enjoy a teeny snack instead of a family-size bag of Doritos. The munchies are real, but that doesn’t mean that smoking weed has to lead to a binge. However, if it does, it’ll probably equate to a high caloric content.

Even so, recent research also suggested that cannabis consumers are healthier overall.

Cannabis consumption, health, and weight loss

Research shows that cannabis consumption leads to a lower body mass index (BMI). Turns out, the psychoactive compound THC collects in fat deposits, which ignites CB1 receptors, confounding researchers. See, this action triggers the body to develop fat. The study dissected the mechanisms at play between smoking weed and body mass indexes.

This intrigued scientists since cannabis consumers showed a lower BMI despite cannabis acting to increase fat tissue development. While they figure it out, many stoners are dining out on the fact that cannabis users might be healthier.

Another connection between weed and weight loss lies in the cannabinoid THCV. The reason this cannabinoid has captured attention is because it might suppress appetite rather than cause the munchies. Strains with high THCV content also tend to have an energizing effect.

Many strains contain small amounts of the minor compound. But there are THCV powerhouse strains like Durban Poison that tend to naturally contain higher concentrations of the coveted compound.

There are correlations between healthy body fat and people who consume cannabis flower, but that doesn’t mean every stoner has a low BMI. Health is about more than just getting high, it’s about eating a well-rounded diet, moving your body, and, for some, counting calories.

So, does weed have calories?

Those who focus on calorie intake should remember to check the edible labels to make sure that a brownie doesn’t contain enough calories for a full meal. Otherwise, cannabis fan leaves and flower probably won’t rack up the kcal tally.

However, until we get a nug into the bomb calorimeter, we may not know the exact calorie count of a weed nug. Until the caloric content of the plant is measured, anyone wondering, “Does weed have calories?” may have to settle for the undecided answer of: “Not a lot.”

Cara Wietstock is senior content producer of and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.