Should you expect to gain weight if you quit smoking?
Many smokers associate quitting smoking with gaining weight. Convinced that weight gain is inevitable, they don’t quit. It is true that a lot of quitsmokers packed on the pounds. But some of them don’t gain any weight at all. Does it have to do directly with quitting smoking or are there outside reasons?
Does quitting cause weight gain?
Not every smoker who quits gains weight. On average, people who quit smoking gain only up to 10 pounds. Studies have shown that long time or heavy smokers have a higher tendency to gain weight than short time smokers and those who smoked less than one pack a day. Is it inevitable though?
How does nicotine and its cessation affect your body weight?
Nicotine, one of the chemicals found in cigarettes, keeps the body weight down. To a small degree. When you quit and the nicotine leaves your body, you may see a marginal amount of short term weight gain, but usually no more than a few pounds, mostly due to water retention.
It is true that smoking acts as an appetite suppressant and may slightly increase your metabolism as well. When a smoker quits, his appetite and metabolism return to normal, with the risk of eating more and burning few calories.
The real reason behind gaining weight: replacing addiction
There are higher chances of gaining weight if smokers replace their smoking habit with excessive eating habits. They turn to food to satisfy this need for “oral gratification”. It can be sucking on hard candies all day instead of smoking, snacking when there is a relapse to feel better, taking a snack break instead of a cigarette break at work,… Sometimes, these new eating habits are done unconsciously.
How to limit weight gain while kicking the habit?
Be careful of what you eat, when you eat and try to balance with as much physical activity as possible. For instance, try to have healthy snacks: sugar-free gum, sugar-free hard candies, celery or carrot sticks,… Brush your teeth frequently throughout the day because once your mouth is fresh and clean, you will feel less likely to eat or smoke.
With a little effort to keep eating habits in check and incorporate some exercise into the daily routine, weight gain can be avoided or at least kept down to a minimum.
What is healthier and why?
Putting on a few pounds is actually healthy because smoking can make some people unhealthily thin.
Even tough some smokers may gain some weight in the weeks following the cessation, they are in much better health. They took the right decision. The risks of gaining a few pounds from quitting smoking are far lower than the risks of smoking cigarettes. Indeed, smoking causes the death of more than 400,000 people every year in the United States. It would take a weight gain of over 100 pounds to equal the health risks of smoking cigarettes.
Once they are smoke free, they can work on losing any weight you’ve gained. They have plenty of time to achieve a healthy weight.