Top 3 Reasons for Weight Gain after Stopping Smoking

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in quit smoking

Dr. Howell

Many smokers do not quit because they fear that they are going to gain weight. Although there’s insufficient scientific evidence that provides explanation for this link, it is believed that smokers gain weight after quitting due to the effect of nicotine in the body and the inclination to eat to satisfy their cigarette craving. It is estimated that 80 percent of smokers who quit gain weight but most of them only gain only a few pounds. Research has shown that in the long run, the weight of smokers who quit is similar to those who never smoked.


Reasons for gain weight after quitting smoking

Cigarette suppresses appetite.

Some smokers overcome their hunger by lighting up. Nicotine, the addictive substance in tobacco, triggers negative changes in the body. It is a stimulant which may interfere with the release of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. When this process is hampered, a person becomes moderately hyperglycemic. This condition, which is characterized by a sudden increase in the blood sugar levels, informs the brain to slow down the release of hormones and other signals that leads to feelings of hunger. Once nicotine is withdrawn from the body, the person’s appetite will be restored to its normal levels.


Smoking speeds up metabolism.

Research shows that nicotine also speeds up metabolism, allowing it to burn extra calories. When the smoker stops, his or her metabolic rate immediately goes back to normal. While the increase in metabolism sounds like a ‘health benefit’, it isn’t really a good thing. When a person smokes, his or her heart rate increases by 10 to 20 beats per minute. Over time, this causes heart disease.

Binge eating resists cigarette craving.

Smoking and eating both produces similar effects in the brain – they trigger the production of dopamine or the feel-good chemical that produces pleasurable feelings. Some smokers who quit turn their nicotine craving to food, particularly those that are high in sugar and salt. Food gives smokers an emotional comfort that boosts a person’s mood.


Managing Weight after Quitting Smoking

If you’re faced with weight gain issue after quitting smoking, you don’t have to worry. With the following tips, you can effectively shed some pounds and look like your old, sexy self again.

Drink lots of water. An important aspect of weight loss is proper hydration. Sometimes, we associate thirst with hunger. So if you feel the urge to eat, drink a glass of cold water first. Drinking plenty of water also helps fight cigarette cravings.

Nibble on fresh fruits and vegetables. Instead of eating sweets, munch on carrots, pineapple, apple and some berries. These foods are high in dietary fiber and other nutrients that will help you shed excess pounds.

Work out. Exercising is the fastest way to lose weight. Combine cardio with weight and strength training to burn more calories and at the same time, develop leaner muscles that will help you burn fats faster.

Weight gain should not be an issue or an excuse to continue with this unhealthy habit.  Just follow these tips so you can stay fit even after you quit smoking.


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