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Will I put on weight if I quit smoking?

Posted by Be Well

Will I put on weight if I quit smoking?
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The majority of ex-smokers only gain a few pounds and lose them in a matter of months.

Not everyone who gives up smoking puts on weight. You are more likely to gain extra pounds if you have smoked for over 10 years, or if you smoke more than one packet of cigarettes a day.

Why can ex-smokers put on weight?

The three main reasons why giving up smoking can lead to moderate weight gain are described below.

  • Nicotine speeds up the metabolism - this means that when you smoke you burn calories at a faster rate.
  • Nicotine suppresses your appetite - nicotine can affect the part of the brain that is responsible for making you feel hungry.
  • Food can act as a substitute for cigarettes - eating comfort food can act as a substitute for the 'high' that you felt after smoking a cigarette.

Eating also gives you something to do with your hands; many ex-smokers find that they miss the physical 'hand-to-mouth' action of lighting and smoking a cigarette.

How can I lose the extra weight?

Most experts recommend that you first focus on giving up smoking for good before worrying about your weight. Trying to give up smoking and lose weight at the same time could be too much of a challenge.

Once your cravings are under control, try replacing unhealthy snacks with portions of fruit. Many ex-smokers find that keeping a supply of sugar-free lollipops, or chewing gum, can act as a good substitute for the physical sensation of drawing on a cigarette.

Take advantage of your smoke-free body by taking part in exercise. Walking and swimming are both good ways of getting fit after a long period of inactivity. Also, for short journeys, you could cycle rather than taking the car.

If you are worried about putting on weight after you stop smoking, it is important to remember that smoking carries a far greater risk to your health than temporary weight gain. You would need to gain about 100-150 pounds after giving up smoking in order to make your health risks as high as they were when you smoked.

Further information:

How can I lose weight safely?

How can walking help me lose weight and get fit?

Take the 5-a-day fruit and veg test

Find out how much you'll save by kicking the habit

What is the best type of exercise?

NOTICE: The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on Wellsphere. If you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
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