Quitting Smoking & Losing Weight

Woman stretching for exercise

Despite the fears of many smokers relating to smoking cessation and weight gain, there is evidence to suggest that quitting smoking can help you actually lose weight over the long term. In fact, the many benefits of quitting will impact your life for good in a variety of ways, and not only may you find it easier to lose weight, but you’ll have a much better chance of remaining healthy in the years to come.

In particular, the myths surrounding smoking cessation often put people off quitting, and gaining weight is a leading cause of smokers prolonging this life changing step. However, the evidence is clear, and quitting today is the best thing you can do for your body, while being prepared for your stop smoking journey is the best way to quit for good and do it in the healthiest way possible.

Here then, we look at how quitting smoking may help with weight loss and how you can take control of withdrawal symptoms and quit smoking for good. Read on to discover the benefits of putting out that last cigarette and how quitting smoking and weight loss can be achieved together.

Can Quitting Smoking Cause Weight Loss?

It is generally thought that most smokers who quit will gain some weight in the first few months, however, this is balanced out by the fact that 16% to 21% of smokers actually lost weight after 12 months of quitting.1 In truth, everyone’s metabolism is different, and returning yours to a more natural cycle without the stimulating effect of nicotine will provide a healthier lifestyle that may help you to maintain a healthier weight throughout your life.

Additionally, there is evidence to suggest that any weight gain caused by quitting is more “natural”, and as your body adapts to life without the thousands of harmful chemicals found in cigarette smoke, it is able to regulate itself more efficiently. This is positive for anyone who wants to quit smoking and lose weight at the same time, dispelling the myth that smoking cessation causes unhealthy weight gain.

One study checked volunteers 24 weeks after quitting, with individuals showing improved glucose outputs thanks to a reduction in nicotine and carbon monoxide in the body.2 This allowed better regulation of metabolic rates, with the liver producing more glucose and breaking down fats naturally, while also allowing more efficient management of blood sugar levels in diabetics.

Quit Smoking and Lose Weight Today

There are other factors to consider when quitting that may affect your weight, and your new healthier lifestyle may allow you to lose weight more quickly than if you were still smoking. For example, when you quit, your lung capacity will increase and circulation will improve, allowing you to exercise more easily and burn those excess calories.

Smoking’s effect on your metabolism can also be dramatic, with some individuals showing a 10% increase in metabolic rate.3 This can lead to 10kg of body weight gain over the course of a year, and this, combined with an increase in appetite and cravings for sugary or fatty foods means that it is very important to remain mindful when quitting smoking to ensure that you don’t gain unnecessary weight.

With this in mind, the following steps can help you lose weight and quit smoking if you implement them consistently and over the long term.

  • Control Your Appetite through portion management and meal planning
  • Exercise regularly. As an added bonus, this may also help you control nicotine cravings
  • Avoid sugary or fatty foods and opt for a healthy snack instead
  • Get plenty of sleep as this can help you control your weight
  • Drink plenty of water to help regulate your body
  • Avoid alcohol and sugary drinks that may lead to weight gain
  • Chew gum to help relieve hunger pangs. Try NRT gum to help with cravings.

Quitting smoking doesn’t have to mean weight gain, and through healthy eating, exercise, and a long-term perspective, you can be confident that your body will regulate itself more efficiently once the nicotine and harmful chemicals have left your body. Additionally, it is worth remembering that even if you do gain a little weight to begin with, you will be much healthier because of quitting, and the benefits of stopping smoking today far outweigh those of any weight gain.

For more information about stopping smoking and weight loss, weight gain, or any other withdrawal symptoms associated with smoking cessation, speak to your doctor or pharmacist. Alternatively, contact the NHS stop smoking services in your area.

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