Controlling Weight Gain After Quitting Smoking

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in quit smoking

Dr. Howell

Weight gain after quitting smoking can be due to different factors. One common reason is that smoking somehow affects a person’s metabolism resulting to a slight weight gain after quitting. Some smokers would gain 5 to 10 pounds over a few months because of metabolic alterations. However, weight gain exceeding 10 pounds can be attributed to some other factors like unhealthy lifestyle and wrong food choices.The Weight Gain Myth

Nicotine is an appetite suppressant. What it does is to trick your brain into thinking that you have eaten more than what you really had. That is why you feel fuller than you really are. Remove nicotine and you get an increased urge to eat. Taking snacks in between meals or eating more than the usual size of your meals, can contribute to extra daily calorie consumption. Adding 100 more calories in your daily meal (or the equivalent of one soft drink per day) would result in a 1lb weight gain in just a month, about 10lbs in a year, and an added 100lbs in 10 years. Though you may not be eating that much, a daily increase in your caloric consumption makes you accumulate extra pounds easily.

A former smoker, without the appetite suppressant, doesn’t necessarily mean has to increase his or her food intake. It is more of redistributing your meals to avoid in between snacks or over eating. For instance, a large meal can be distributed into smaller meals throughout the day. This in a sense allows “snacking” without the increase of calorie intake.


Another reason for overeating is the habit you adopt as a smoker. Some smokers would light up after having a meal. It serves as a cue to end a meal. Now, without this cue, former smokers have the tendency to consume more food. One way to address this problem is to develop a new habit to replace smoking. One effective alternative is to brush your teeth every after meal. Not only does it improve you hygiene, it can also serve as a cue to end a meal. Another effective way is to only prepare the exact amount of food you usually eat.


Aside from controlling calorie consumption, daily exercise is another effective way to help control weight gain after quitting. At least 20 to 30 minutes a day of exercise can compensate the metabolic alteration caused by quitting smoking. If you’re eating “a bit more,” then you may need to do more exercise to offset your extra calorie consumption. But stay realistic. Burning a small amount of calorie may take a lot of physical activities than you may think. Don’t eat with a shovel in one hand and just go for a short stroll in a park to offset the difference.


Controlling weight gain after quitting smoking comes with an extra effort and effective planning. If you’re experiencing weight gain while quitting, necessary steps should be taken as soon as possible to counter the process. And to keep a healthy lifestyle, you need to watch your diet, exercise daily, and above all – never light another cigarette!


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