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How to Deal with Weight Gain after Quitting Smoking

You quit smoking but now you're noticing your clothes fitting tighter than before, you weren't expecting this. A tobacco smoke free life seems to be presenting you with a new problem. 

What's gives?

Unfortunately, excess weight gain after quitting smoking is incredibly common. The good news is, it’s easier to tackle weight gain than any other health issue smoking could have caused. 

So don't go back to smoking to keep the weight off, here's how to deal with weight gain after quitting smoking.

But first, a quick reminder of why you're on this smoking cessation journey...

The benefits of quitting smoking

Extra weight you’ve put on could have you feeling discouraged, insecure, and frustrated. All those feelings are valid.

What they are not is a reason to go back to smoking. People gain weight, non-smokers included. But they lose it, too.

In case you’re second guessing your decision to stop smoking, here are some ways quitting smoking can benefit you, or already has:

  • Improved relationships

  • Reduced risk of premature disease

  • Healthier lungs

  • Reduced risk of heart attacks

  • Improved breath and taste buds

  • More time and money available for other things

  • Increased energy

These are just some of the positive sides of deciding to stop smoking.

Look at them more closely - don't they outweigh (pun intended) issues you may be experiencing with weight gain?

Dealing with the fixable issue of weight gain is infinitely better than treating a terminal condition like cancer.

Plus, as you move further into a smoke free life, you'll experience many more positive reasons to stay smoke free, so try not to let the weight gain get you down.

It can be remedied.

Smoking and your metabolism

For years cigarettes have been portrayed as a way to help mitigate weight gain. Sure, cigarettes can help with your weight...at a hefty cost to the rest of your health.

How do cigarettes control weight gain?

Well, when you ingest the nicotine in cigarettes, your metabolism speeds up. These increased speeds can be as much as 15% higher than a normal metabolic rate. A faster metabolism induced by chemicals means your heart is beating faster than it normally would.

Increased heart rate leads to more calories burned and thus, the weight loss that is experienced with cigarettes. This may sound beneficial, especially if you’re looking to shed some extra kilos. Unfortunately, any positives surrounding a nicotine boosted metabolism are actually false.

The quickened heart rate that leads to weight loss from cigarettes is all smoke and mirrors (again, pun intended).

Since this is isn’t a naturally induced state, a faster heartbeat puts stress on your heart. Cardiac stress is the leading cause of heart disease, heart attacks and heart failure. Heart problems are the leading cause of smoking-related deaths.

Cigarettes aren’t a safe method of metabolic increase or weight loss. The weight loss they cause isn't sustainable, and gaining weight once you've stopped smoking supports that.

Which means that while cigarettes may push the limits of your metabolism, they’re simultaneously shortening your lifespan.

Consistently boosting your metabolism with nicotine can also trick your body into thinking it is supposed to only work harder when you’ve had a cigarette. If your metabolism is accustomed to kicking into overdrive a few times a day when you’ve had a smoke, once you stop smoking it will crash.

Does quitting smoking cause weight gain?

Weight control is hard whether you're already a smoker or not. This is one of those questions that has a pesky yes and no answer.

In short, the way smoking will affect your metabolism just depends. Factors like genetics, eating habits and daily activity levels are things that can influence whether or not the decision to quit smoking will equate to weight gain.

Quitting smoking could cause weight gain if your metabolism is slow and unable to regulate itself, or your eating and exercising habits don’t weigh out evenly. How much weight you could gain will vary as well. Tons of factors make up weight changes.

For example, someone with a naturally fast metabolism that is fairly active and eats healthily may not gain weight when they stop smoking. Their metabolism already moves quickly, so even when it slows down from a lack of nicotine, it isn’t crashing completely. Cutting out smoking but keeping the same daily habits can create balance between their calorie intake and output. Having a similar energy intake and output helps stabilise body weight.

Conversely, someone with a very slow metabolism that isn’t very active and has a poor diet will likely experience different results. In this case, smoking supplemented their slow metabolic rate, helping them to lose weight or maintain it. Removing smoking puts their metabolism back to a consistent rate that is in line with their normal rate. Without putting in extra effort to create a calorie deficit, this person would gain weight once they stop smoking

Reasons behind post-smoking weight gain

After quitting smoking your body goes through many changes. For some people, anxiety, withdrawal symptoms and metabolic fluctuations are the perfect breeding ground for weight gain. If you’re noticing undesired changes in your weight, it could help to narrow down what is causing your weight gain so you’re able to fix it.

Metabolic crash

As mentioned above, without the nicotine in cigarettes, your metabolism will stay at its normal working speed or sometimes crash even lower. Depending on how your body normally metabolises, those extra calories aren’t burned off and instead stick. Packing on calories that are more than what you output will cause you to gain weight.

This can be especially frustrating because there isn’t always much to be done about it. Some people just naturally have a very slowly operating metabolism. Once you’ve cut out smoking, it’s possible your metabolism will have a hard time regulating itself back to a sustainable weight. Even if your metabolism was okay prior to being a smoker, it’s possible to have a hard time finding your normal metabolic rate again once you’ve stopped smoking.

Withdrawal cravings

Another—and more controllable—factor in post-cigarette weight gain is overeating.

Smoking cessation is infamous for causing food cravings throughout the withdrawal process. Nicotine is an appetite suppressant and a dopamine inhibitor. Not only does it make you feel good, it also helps you not think about food.

Without those doses of nicotine, your brain will look for something to help generate dopamine the way cigarettes used to. The catch is, not all sources of dopamine provide appetite suppressing qualities.

Nicotine withdrawal includes losing those appetite suppressant qualities of nicotine. You might be tempted to eat larger portions or even eat more frequently. The issue with this is; excessive eating causes weight gain. Food can deliver the dopamine smoking normally would... but it won’t suppress your appetite.

Cravings are usually more mental and less based on physical hunger or need for food. Depending on how bad your withdrawal is, cravings can be consistent and severe. Should you give into the cravings, your daily caloric intake will increase. Again, if your caloric intake increases but your activity doesn’t, weight gain is inevitable.

Decreased energy

In the very beginning of smoking cessation energy levels plummet. They will go back up once your body has adjusted to your nicotine-free days. But in the meantime, feeling tired and drab is common.

That lack of energy can easily lead to days spent being stationary, choosing to skip your normal workout or anything else.  Combine low energy with other withdrawal symptoms like cravings or a metabolic crash and you’re almost guaranteed to see the scales move higher.

Hearing that your natural metabolism will be in charge of itself again could sound discouraging. But don’t lose hope! Even when your metabolism’s functionality is left up to genetics, there are ways to minimise weight gain that can come from swearing off cigarettes.  

9 ways of preventing weight gain after quitting smoking

1. Get active!

Increasing your physical activity will not only help with weight fluctuations, but also aide increasing energy levels as you transition to becoming a non-smoker.

2. Get enough sleep

An adequate amount of rest will help your body reset and power through the metabolic changes you’re experiencing.

3. Try nicotine replacement therapy

If you aren’t ready or interested in cutting out nicotine, NRT methods will help you. You’ll be able to still have doses of nicotine, but without the toxins in cigarettes. Vaping, nicotine patches and mouth sprays are common methods.

4. Keep your mouth busy!

If the oral fixation of smoking helps with focus, anxiety, etc. for you, chewing a sugar free gum can help provide oral stimulation without the drawbacks. If you’re considering NRT, nicotine replacements also come in gum, lozenge and mint forms.

5. Adopt a healthy diet

Since your metabolism will be undergoing some fluctuations, eating healthy food can help to even out your caloric intake. Healthy, nutrient dense foods will also serve as sources of energy if you’re feeling that post-smoking fatigue.

6. Never let yourself get too hungry

Just like anyone else trying to manage their weight, starving yourself isn’t the answer. You’re already managing fatigue, withdrawal and increased appetite. Being hangry doesn’t need to be added to that list. Eating when you’re hungry and not waiting hours will help reduce cravings and binge eating.

7. Limit your alcohol consumption

It doesn’t seem to be most people’s favourite fact, but alcohol is full of calories. If you’re drinking in excess instead of smoking, you’re consuming excess calories as well.

8. Eat slower

When you do eat, make sure to savour and enjoy your food. Experience the new taste buds that come with stopping smoking. This not only makes eating more fulfilling, but also gives your food time to digest as you eat it, helping your body realise that you’re full as you get full, not after you’ve already scarfed down your whole meal.

9. Don’t be too strict

Cutting out cigarettes is in many ways a test of willpower and personal endurance. Focusing on staying away from cigarettes is a big enough task. Combining that with forcing yourself to eat a strict diet that you don’t enjoy can impose too much stress and unpleasantry. Allowing yourself to still have foods you enjoy keeps things balanced and pleasant. If you’d like a cupcake, have one… but just one.

Can vaping help prevent weight gain after quitting smoking?

Depending on your personal preferences and habits, you might still want to consume nicotine or have some sort of inhale/exhale oral habit. This is totally fine and very common.

It's claimed that switching to vaping can help lessen weight gain post-smoking and even help to keep you away from cigarettes permanently.

Personal preference and goals will help you decide if you would benefit more from a nicotine based vape, or one without nicotine.

If you’re looking to keep nicotine around and continue to reap its metabolism boosting benefits, you can purchase pre-made e liquid with varying nicotine strengths, or you can make up your preferred strength with shortfill e liquids and nic shots.

All of these are available in a variety of flavours and strengths to support you throughout every part of your smoke-free journey. Vapes make it possible to still indulge, but without the chemicals and health hazards that cigarettes pose. Using a nicotine vape instead of cigarettes will eliminate the issue of weight gain since nicotine will still be around to hype up your metabolism.

Wanting to kick the nic habit too?

E liquids come in non-nicotine formulas too. These are also available in different flavours, just without the nicotine and its metabolism boosting effects.

If you’re prone to excessive snacking and want something to keep your mouth occupied, but not full of calories, a nicotine free vape will do just that. Combining a nicotine free vape with healthy eating and exercise can help to keep your scale right where you want it.

Quitting smoking doesn't automatically equal weight gain

Quitting smoking is a difficult process. Once you’re smoke free, it’s common to gain some weight. This can seem discouraging, but, you’re in control. You don’t have to sacrifice your health or your weight. Cigarettes aren’t the key to weight management. 

With the right resources and healthy habits, you can quit smoking without moving the scale. 88Vape is by your side as you take control of your new smoke free lifestyle.  

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