Why Does Quitting Smoking Cause Weight Gain and What Can You Do About It?

You want to quit smoking but dread having to deal with the extra five pounds you know will follow when you flush that last pack of cigarettes down the toilet. It’s unfortunate that smoking cessation and weight gain seem to go together. On average, a person who stops smoking will gain between five and twelve pounds in their first year as a non-smoker. Why does quitting smoking cause weight gain and what can you do about it?

There are a variety of reasons why smoking cessation and weight gain are so strongly correlated. For one, people who kick the smoking habit often feel the need to replace it with something else, and that “something” may be food in some cases. Unfortunately, the replacement food, as often as not, is an unhealthy cream filled doughnut rather than an apple. The solution? Keep healthy snacks with you at all times when you stop smoking. Package your snacks into one-hundred calorie snack packs and allow yourself a certain number each day. This will keep your hands occupied. Also, be sure to keep a pack of sugarless gum handy.

The second reason quitting smoking causes weight gain is that nicotine is an appetite suppressant. A study published in Diabetes Obesity and Metabolism in 2005 confirmed this and also showed that the addition of caffeine to nicotine suppressed appetite even more. One tactic you can use to offset your increased appetite is to drink green tea. The caffeine in green tea has a slight appetite suppressing effect and gives you something to keep your hands occupied. Keep a cup with you throughout your busy day and sip from it frequently. You’ll also get the benefits of the healthful catechins found in green tea.

Another reason why smoking cessation and weight gain are so strongly correlated is the fact that smokers burn more calories. The nicotine found in cigarettes speeds up the heart rate and gives the metabolism a boost, resulting in anywhere from one-hundred to two-hundred extra calories being burned on a daily basis. You can offset this by taking a brisk walk once a day. It will feel good to breathe in the clean air and know you’re doing something good for your lungs for a change. It may be the start of a new healthy lifestyle for you.

Does smoking cause weight gain? It certainly can, but there’s a lot you can do to prevent it. Don’t let the prospect of weight gain stop you from kicking the habit.

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