Quitting Smoking and the Effects on Your Weight
Whether you’re trying to quit smoking or thinking about it, certain factors might make the prospect seem more difficult. One factor that might concern you is the idea that you will have weight gain after quitting smoking. Maybe this concern is standing in the way of your progress toward smoking cessation. To ease your concern, take a deeper look at the information on the subject, including how you can strategize and counteract the problem.
Nicotine and Your Metabolism
Nicotine is a sympathomimetic which means through a series of reactions it can increase the body’s total expenditure of energy in a day1
After quitting, 49 percent of smokers’ experience weight gain, and a significant portion of those who relapse give the weight gain as an explanation for going back to smoking2.
Smoking has negative effects on the consumption of food in general. Some of the behaviors linked to smoking are an unhealthy diet with higher amounts of fat and calories, cravings for foods high in fat, increased feelings of fullness and reduced appetite2. Smoking can change taste bud shape, leading to reduced taste sensitivity3. On average, smokers have a weight gain of 4.5 kg within six to 12 months after they quit smoking1.
Overall, smoking affects the way you eat and your body's relationship with food. When you quit, you might experience some weight gain as your body adjusts to a new relationship with food and no longer experiences the effects of the nicotine.
The Health Benefits of Quitting Smoking
Stopping smoking brings immediate and long-term health benefits. In the long term, quitting improves lung function, the risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack greatly drop and the risk of various cancers drops significantly4. Research finds that gaining some weight after quitting comes with less risk to your health than the continued effects of smoking5.
Also, quitting smoking provides benefits to your health that may have a positive impact on your level of activity and mood, helping you control weight. For example, your body sees improvements in heart rate, lung function, circulation and breathing4, which could all help you exercise better. Further, quitting can increase energy levels6 and improve mood and mental health7, which can help you manage your health and weight.
Strategize and Plan
Quitting smoking and weight gain don’t have to go together. You can plan and find ways to be healthy and control weight gain after quitting smoking. People who smoke often carry out obesity-related behaviors like a poor diet2. Therefore, planning and focusing on a healthier lifestyle has the potential to prevent some of the habits that would lead to weight gain after quitting.
Create a plan to add healthier habits and reduce unhealthy habits in your life. For example, your goals could be to increase exercise, lose 10 pounds, cut your sugar intake and so on. Think about how the result would make you feel and benefit your life. For example, think about how losing 10 pounds could help you move better and fit into certain clothes. Then, turn your goals into SMART goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound8. For example, you could set a goal to lose five pounds in five weeks or a goal to add 20 minutes of exercise three times per week. Learn about healthy habits or consult a professional to help you create your health strategy.
Some strategies that can provide weight loss and maintenance are to:
- Reduce the number of calories you eat
- Burn more calories through exercise and other physical activity
- Perform more strength training to build muscle, which burns more calories
- Choose healthier foods such as vegetables, fruits, lean protein, healthy fats and whole grains
- Choose fewer unhealthy foods such as added sugar, saturated or trans-fat, and processed foods
- Create strategies to improve emotions to manage emotional eating
- Eat slowly and pay attention to your meals and snacks
- Find social support to help you with weight loss
- Get more sleep, which improves appetite regulation and motivation
These are just some of the many strategies to lose weight and keep it off9,10.
- In relation to stopping cigarettes and how to lose weight after quitting smoking, it’s better to come up with a plan than to try quitting smoking cold turkey. That’s because the cold turkey method has a low success rate11. Planning strategies can help you reach your goals. Some to try include:
- Use a quitting smoking journal
- Use a smoke free app like the Nicorette stop smoking app ( iPhone ) or Nicorette stop smoking app ( Android )
- Use nicotine replacement therapy like NicoDerm and Nicorette
- Track calories you eat and calories you burn through physical activity
- Allocate money you saved on cigarettes to put toward the gym or other healthy activities
- Find healthy ways to reduce stress such as guided meditation, exercise, talking to someone, laughing, taking a bath or listening to music
Overall, quitting smoking creates immense benefits for your short-term and long-term health. It can also improve parts of your body related to exercise and metabolism, such as heart and lung health, to help you manage weight. Lifestyle changes can help you with quitting smoking and weight loss.
If you’re wondering how to get rid of nicotine cravings, NicoDerm and Nicorette nicotine replacement products can help curb the cravings, so you gain control. Also, Nicoderm.ca is a resource you can turn to for advice on quitting smoking.