Many people smoke to lose weight. But how true is this? What does smoking have to do with metabolism? Let’s find out.
Metabolism is the process by which the body produces energy. The speed by which the body breaks down food and converts it into energy is called “metabolic rate”. About 70 percent of the calories burned through this process are used to keep the internal organs working properly.
Smoking and Metabolism
Smoking causes the metabolic rate to increase in part by forcing the heart to beat faster. When cigarette smoke is inhaled, the heart beats 10-20 times more per minute. But over time, this causes an extra strain on the heart, contributing to the risk of heart disease – the number one killer in the world. According to research, smoking 20 cigarettes a day puts nearly the same amount of stress to the heart as 90 pounds of additional weight would. When a person stops smoking, the heart rate slows down back to its normal level. This also results to the slowing down of metabolism.
Most smokers gain weight after smoking not because cigarettes help them shed excess fats, but because smoking causes havoc on their metabolism.
The good news is – it is possible to restore one’s metabolism after quitting smoking and prevent weight gain, with the help of the following tips:
1) Make physical activity a regular habit. Exercise is one of the best ways to increase metabolism. It helps a smoker achieve this effect by making the body a more efficient calorie-burning engine. Experts recommend spending 150 minutes (or 2 ½ hours) per week of mild-to-moderate exercises. There are however, newer forms of exercise that speed up metabolism in a much shorter time. They are called High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Exercise also increases the chance of quitting smoking for good by helping reduce the withdrawal symptoms, especially nicotine cravings.
2) Fuel up with water. Water has an important role in keeping one’s metabolic rate in check. Basically, the body needs water to process calories – even mild dehydration can cause one’s metabolism to slow down.
3) Snack wisely. Eating more can really help a person lose weight. Skipping meals can cause hunger, which results to poor metabolism. Eating a light snack every 4-5 hours keeps metabolism in check, helping the person burn more calories.
4) Add some ‘spice’. Spicy foods contain a special compound that can greatly increase the metabolism. While the effect is temporary, eating spicy foods more often can bring long-term benefits.
5) Power up with protein. Smokers trying to quit should limit the intake of fatty foods because they don’t just slow down metabolism, they also intensify cigarette cravings. Protein-rich foods are much smarter choice because the body consumes more calories burning them. Healthy sources of protein include tofu, nuts, lean meat, eggs, beans, and low-fat dairy products.
6) Forget about “crash diet”. Engaging in crash diets (or those involving fewer than 1,200 cal for women and 1,800 for men) after quitting smoking is not a good idea. While these diets can help a person shed extra pounds, their benefits are only temporary but they have long-term health risks.
Quitting smoking today is one of the best ways to boost one’s metabolism and achieve a healthy, normal weight.