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Smoking and Weight Gain

So often is the case, weight gain is the reason why many smokers choose NOT to quit. Two of the main causes of weight gain when quitting smoking is thought to be:

Eating more food


  1. You may find your eating habits change when you quit, with some people experiencing increase hunger as a withdrawal symptom, meaning they eat more. This will pass as research suggests your eating patterns will eventually return to normal.

  2. The effect of nicotine on the body. Nicotine is the addictive substance in tobacco that keeps you going back for more. Nicotine speeds up your metabolism, the process in which your body burns fuel for energy. After quitting, your metabolism will initially slow down in the absence of nicotine. Consequently, you burn fewer kilojoules than when smoking.

This may explain why some people who quit smoking put on weight even if they eat less than they ordinarily need.


I'm not suggesting that if you're looking to lose weight, to take up smoking either.


Mixed Signals

Many recent quitters state that they're eating more food in the initial weeks after they have stopped.


This could be due to:

  • nicotine withdrawal is very similar to hunger pangs. Your body fooling you into thinking you are still hungry when you are not,

  • you miss the satisfaction of physically putting a cigarette in your mouth. So you substitute smoking for eating (or drinking),

  • smokers often skip meals such as breakfast by just having a cup of coffee and a cigarette. Once stopped, you may find that you don't feel like skipping meals anymore, so by default you eat more

Do not assume that taking up smoking or taking it back up means the weight will drop - sometimes it doesn't.


Don't focus on the weight

The positive health benefits you will have from quitting far outweigh any small weight gain that occurs after quitting, so don't focus on the scales, instead focus on your realistic health goals, such as eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise and having enough sleep.


The strategies that Discipline Fitness can help you, in turn, may reduce the chances of you gaining weight.


Some tips include:

  • eat a balanced diet with adequate portions of fruit, vegetables beans/legumes, lean protein, dairy and whole-grain foods.

  • exercise more often - being inactive can be a risk factor for weight gain, plus idle hands may seek out another cigarette. Aim anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes a day of moderate to high-intensity exercise and longer for lesser intensities.

  • find another way than eating to cope with the withdrawal cravings. Some people drink water, whilst others set up other methods - experiment to find your own method

If you need help in quitting smoking or need to build a strategy, book in a session today, with The Discipline Fitness Coach

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