One of the biggest concerns that people have when they decide to quit smoking is that they will gain weight. It is crucial to understand that even though it is common to experience weight gain after quitting smoking for the first time, the vast majority of people can effectively lose weight over time. This is something that you should take into consideration.
Even if you anticipate just a modest improvement, the fact that you have seen any improvement may make it challenging and complex to keep the motivation you need to quit smoking. If you can find strategies to deal with weight gain, it will be much easier for you to keep your goals in mind over the long term.
In the following paragraphs, we will discuss a few of the things that you may do to keep a healthy weight while you are recovering from cigarette smoking or nicotine addiction. It also addresses steps you may take to avoid letting your body mass index increase derail your enthusiasm and dedication to quitting smoking. You can find these steps in the article.
The Reasons Behind Your Weight Gain After Quitting Cigarette Smoking
You may notice a change in your weight shortly after you quit cigarette smoking due to one of many distinct factors. To begin, there is some evidence to suggest that smoking has a somewhat negative impact on one's metabolic rate. A person who smokes heavily can burn up to 200 additional calories each day, which equates to a modest improvement in their metabolism overall.
According to another body of study, breaking the habit of cigarette smoking causes the brain to search for alternative ways to sate its demand for nicotine. To be more specific, it causes an increase in the desire to eat meals that are high in the number of carbohydrates and sugar that they contain.
This compensatory behavior, together with the simultaneous gain in weight, is said to play a role in people reverting to smoking cigarettes, as was found in specific research findings. When a person quits smoking, it is customary to gain between 5 and 10 pounds during the first few months after they have stopped smoking. This weight increase typically occurs in the abdominal region.
Why You Feel the Need to Consume More Food
When we finally kick the smoking habit, our bodies go through a period of shock because of the sudden change. The majority of people who successfully kick the habit of smoking note an increase in their appetite as one of the uncomfortable side effects of the procedure, and the following is a list of reasons why you could realize that once you give up smoking, you have a higher desire to eat more food than you had before you quit smoking.
1. Cigarettes Are an Appetite Suppressant
Compared to non-smokers, smokers are more likely to go without a snack during the three hours pass between meals. Nicotine is a stimulant, and there is some evidence to suggest that it may also impede the production of the hormone insulin. Cigarette smoking is linked to an increased risk of diabetes. Insulin is the hormone that controls how much glucose is found in the pancreas and produces insulin. When this function is prevented from occurring, a person will notice a slight increase in the amount of glucose present in their blood. As a direct result of this, the body and the brain may start to produce fewer hormones and other signals involved in the experience of hunger, so lessening the intensity of the feeling.
2. Consuming Food Can Be Considered a Substitute for Smoking
When a person first begins quitting smoking, they want to smoke is extremely strong and can make the individual feel rather uncomfortable. Weight gain occurs because the intense longing that many people have for the hand-to-mouth activity that comes with smoking makes it common for them to believe that eating is an acceptable alternative to cigarette smoking. However, given that this might result in excessive eating and weight gain, it is in your best interest to look for a healthier alternative to smoking rather than carrying on with the habit of smoking.
3. Dopamine Influences the Desire to Snack
Both nicotine and food cause the same chemical reaction in our brains, releasing the neurotransmitter dopamine. This reaction is triggered when we take in dopamine. Dopamine is often referred to as the "feel-good" hormone because it maintains an overall sense of well-being and happiness. When people cannot satisfy their craving for nicotine, they frequently turn to food as a source of stimulation as an alternative.
Because particular meals trigger a specific chemical reaction in the brain, consuming them can provide us with a sense of emotional comfort. Dopamine is released when you exercise, which can boost your mood and lessen the strength of your cravings. Because of this, you may want to think about getting more active to combat this. It's a win-win situation no matter how you look at it because doing so will help you rev up a sluggish metabolism and prevent weight gain simultaneously, so it's a good idea regardless of which way you look at it.
When a person quits smoking, they frequently notice an increase in appetite, which can occur for various reasons. One of these reasons could be that their body is adjusting to not having nicotine in its system. Less nicotine can stimulate hunger, and since many people smoke as a form of solace, they may discover that they are turning to food rather than cigarettes as an alternative.
Is There a Connection Between Weight Gain and Health Risks?
One of the most common and annoying side effects is weight gain when trying to quit smoking. This may make it harder for you to kick the habit of smoking. Because gaining weight may increase your risk of various health problems, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, you may be concerned that you only exchange one health condition for another.
According to research, even though it is usual for former smokers to experience weight increase after giving up the habit, the health benefits of giving up smoking outweigh the health hazards connected with weight gain. A study conducted in 2021 and published in JAMA Network Open discovered that the weight increase commonly associated with quitting smoking poses a negligible health risk when weighed against the myriad of positive effects that quitting smoking has on one's body.
The research also discovered that former smokers, despite having a higher body mass index, had a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) than those who had not quit smoking. This was the case even though the former smokers had gained weight.
Suppose you are worried about the health risks of gaining weight when you quit smoking. In that case, it is essential to realize that the health benefits of giving up cigarettes outweigh the risks associated with gaining weight. You should keep this in mind if you are concerned about the health risks associated with gaining weight.
Tips to Avoid Gaining Weight Gain After You Quit Smoking
Learning what happens to your body when you stop smoking and what you can do to reduce discomfort in positive ways will help you remain on track and minimize the amount of weight gain that you experience due to quitting smoking. You can reduce the amount of weight gain associated with quitting smoking in several different ways.
1. Make Sure You Get Enough Exercise
Exercising, which triggers dopamine release, is an excellent strategy to stave off urges to smoke, as was just explained. Additionally, it can assist you in maintaining a healthy weight.
Aim to get at least thirty minutes of exercise on each of the five days of the week. Your body, mind, and spirit will benefit from a brisk stroll about your neighborhood for thirty minutes, and it doesn't even have to be an intense cardiovascular workout to have that effect.
2. Keep Some Healthy Snacks on Hand
When the want to snack strikes, you'll be glad you prepared some snacks in advance. Since then, you'll have a selection of healthy foods within easy reach. You might want to think about having options such as fresh fruit, frozen grapes, crunchy veggie sticks with hummus, seeds, and almonds, low-fat yogurt, or lean meat with a small helping of cheese. Also, stock up on hydrating drinks, such as water, seltzer, or herbal tea, and have them readily available.
Think about what you should not have in your cupboard in addition to the time-saving and healthful foods that you should always have on hand. For instance, if you have an intense craving for a decadent dessert, you might want to think about going out to enjoy a single serving rather than having an entire cake sitting on the counter and calling your name every time you walk through the kitchen. This will help you satisfy your craving while saving you time and effort.
3. Avoid Alcohol
Not only does alcohol include a high number of calories, but it is also a powerful trigger for many people to start smoking. Additionally, drinking alcohol tends to lower our inhibitions, which might be a recipe for disaster for a person who has quit smoking. Steer clear of alcohol's empty calories, but more significantly, don't drink in the early stages of your stop program, or you'll put yourself in danger of falling back into old habits.
Within a few months, you should be able to return to your pre-smoking weight if the only thing that has changed is that you have stopped smoking, but your eating habits have remained the same. Suppose you incorporate physical activity into your daily routine, such as going for a brisk walk for thirty minutes. In that case, you will either hasten the process of losing weight or possibly prevent it entirely.
4. Keeping Your Motivation to Quit
Research has shown that the weight gain after a person stops smoking can be detrimental to their efforts to quit and their chances of success. People who are already overweight, in particular, are more likely to gain weight as a result of stopping smoking and have more concerns regarding their importance as a result of quitting smoking.
There are some things you may do to assist you to stay inspired to quit smoking if you are having trouble staying motivated to finish due to the weight gain you have experienced. Remind yourself of some of the numerous positive outcomes that can result from stopping. Putting an end to one's smoking habit, as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), can:
- Enhances the overall quality of your life
- Reduces the likelihood of an untimely death occurring to you
- Reduces the possibility that you may get cardiovascular disease, cancer, or COPD.
- It helps to alleviate some of the financial strains caused by smoking
There is some evidence that smoking is suitable for physical and mental health. According to recent studies, quitting smoking is connected with a wide range of positive effects on mental health, including improvements in overall quality of life and reductions in stress, anxiety, and sadness.
Remind yourself of why you want to quit smoking and the positive effects stopping smoking will have on your health if you find that your weight gain is harming your motivation to stop smoking. It may also be beneficial to keep in mind that although gaining weight is challenging, it is something that can be controlled and conquered, just like nicotine addiction.
People who give up smoking frequently decide that it is time to clean up other aspects of their lives. That's fantastic, but you should exercise caution. If you attempt to work on too many different elements of your personal development all at once, you risk not devoting the time and energy that the essential aspects required.
There are things that you can do to assist keep your motivation up to stop smoking and deal with the effects of weight gain. The following are some of the steps you can take:
- Treat yourself with kindness. Giving up tobacco is a significant victory, and you should take the time to acknowledge and celebrate your achievements along the way. Be careful not to discount the significance of what you are accomplishing.
- Be patient. Putting an end to a habit like smoking is a process that requires patience. Although it does not happen overnight, recovery from nicotine addiction can be accomplished in a relatively short amount of time compared to the number of years that most people smoke before stopping. Allow yourself the time that you require to get better.
- Accept who you are. When it comes to overcoming the problems of quitting smoking, cultivating an attitude of self-acceptance can be a helpful strategy. Simply being who you right now do not change that you are a good person.
- Change your thinking. It may be beneficial to adopt a new mentality that sees difficulties as personal growth and development chances. You will eventually begin to consider giving up smoking to attain better health rather than as a sacrifice that represents the loss of something.
- Practice self-care. Check to see that you are not replacing smoking with other unhealthy behaviors when trying to quit. Work on establishing a "toolkit" for self-care instead, which will consist of activities that you may perform when you are coping with cravings for unhealthy foods. As a method for diverting your attention away from the problem at hand, you could take a stroll, have a conversation with a buddy, or experiment with a new activity.
- Find social support. Having individuals in your life who are encouraging and supportive might help you remain motivated as you work toward achieving your goals. Discuss your plans and challenges with a close friend you can count on, or think about joining a support group dedicated to helping people quit smoking. It may be beneficial to talk to other individuals going through the same thing, especially if you feel isolated.
The Bottom Line
Putting on a few extra pounds when you're trying to kick the smoking habit won't be the end of the world if you can get through the initial barrier you'll face. In fact, you can lose weight again eventually once you're already adjusted. Quitting smoking will improve your life and the lives of the people who care about you in more positive ways than you are now capable of imagining. If you want to make a difference in the lives of the people who care about you, you need to stop smoking.
It is possible to stop the habit of smoking without dealing with smoking gain weight. Do not let the fear of excessive weight gain after quitting smoking be the thing that prevents you from kicking this vice. Even if people gain weight because of some emotional eating after they've abandoned the habit of smoking, they are still more likely to benefit from the outcomes of smoking cessation.