Weight gain is a very common side effect of quitting smoking. Most people do gain a few pounds after giving up. However, just because you stop smoking does not mean that you will gain weight. If you understand why this weight gain occurs then you can reduce the chances of it happening. In this article I outline the reasons behind why people gain weight after giving up smoking and what can be done to avoid this.
1) REPAIRED TASTE BUDS:- By smoking you dull and damage your taste buds. This damage is generally not permanent and the taste buds usually heal when you stop smoking. However, when your taste buds heal the food you eat starts to taste a lot better than it did when you smoked. Since it tastes better you are a lot more tempted to eat food than you were before.
2) INCREASED APPETITE:- Nicotine is an appetite suppressant. It is thought that nicotine stops your body releasing insulin. Insulin controls the amount of glucose in your blood stream. If adequate amounts of insulin are not released then your body does not trigger the hunger signals. This explains why a lot of the time you can often go without food and smoke a cigarette instead. However, this is not healthy as by blocking insulin your body is being prevented from operating normally. When you stop smoking you will feel hungry more often because your body is now functioning correctly.
3) REDUCED METABOLIC RATE:- Smoking increases your metabolic rate marginally. According to this article people who smoke heavily can burn an additional 200 calories per day. Therefore, when you stop smoking these additional calories often lead to weight gain.
4) INCREASED TEMPTATION TO SNACK:- After you quit smoking you often experience a “lacking” feeling. For example, when you go on your morning break and you do not have a cigarette it feels like something is missing. Many people turn to snacking to fill this void meaning that they eat more and gain weight.
So to summarise when you stop smoking:
– Your food will taste better.
– Your appetite will no longer be suppressed.
– Your metabolic rate will decline marginally.
– You will experience a “void” which you want to fill with food.
After reading the above information it is understandable why stopping smoking can lead to you gaining weight BUT you can now take action to prevent this weight gain. This will take a little planning and preparation and you will have to slightly modify your diet or do a little additional exercise.
For the exercise you could try taking a 30 minute walk each day, start swimming a few times a week or take up a team sport. You will not need to lots and lots of additional exercise. At most you need to be burning an additional 200 calories per day or 1400 calories per week.
For the food you will want to eat more so you need to control this. One way to make yourself feel fuller and avoid giving in to this temptation is to drink more water e.g. every time you crave a cigarette instead try drinking a large glass of water. This will make you feel fuller quicker. Another solution is to eat foods that are low in calories but rich in fiber e.g. whole grain breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables. These will make you feel full whilst keeping the level of calories you consume to a minimum. A third solution is to chew gum. The chewing motion will take your mind off food and send triggers from your mouth to your stomach, making your body think it is full.
Giving up smoking is on its own a difficult task and thinking about diet and exercise as well does not make it any easier. However, if you have made the decision to quit smoking then the possibility that you will gain weight is a factor that you will have to deal with. I hope reading this article makes it easier for you to keep off the weight if you make the decision to quit smoking. With a little planning and preparation you should be able to keep off the weight, keep off the cigarettes and if you’re lucky improve your overall health and appearance too.