Even though smoking is the number 1 preventable killer in the world, for some people the worry of what will happen after they quit is stopping them from putting down the cigarettes for good.
It's a common myth that when you stop smoking you gain weight, and by smoking you are keeping that weight off. And to a certain extent that is true as most smokers do gain weight after they stop smoking, but on average it is only about 5kg.
Although 5kg doesn't seem like enough to keep on smoking cigarettes (which have 4000+ chemicals and 50+ carcinogens in), for someone who isn't sure if they can quit this might be the deciding factor which makes them keep lighting up.
Today then we look at how smoking effects your weight, and how to quit without putting on the pounds.
Why do you gain weight when you quit smoking?
There are a couple of reasons why smokers who have recently quit start to put on a pound or two:
1) Replacing the "hand-to-mouth" action of smoking with snacking - When people talk about the difficulty of stopping smoking, people forget about the habits smokers built up over years. It can be extremely difficult to break the hand to mouth habit, as your body is used to doing this 20 times a day. A lot of smokers fill this void with food, which can lead to weight gain.
2) Nicotine can suppress your appetite - Like coffee or other stimulants nicotine stops your body feeling hungry, so when you stop smoking you suddenly get more hunger pangs than you are used to.
3) Smoking speeds up your metabolism, so your body burns calories at a faster rate - When you stop smoking, you actually need fewer calories than you did before. Add that to feeling hungry more from the above point and you have a recipe for weight gain.
4) Food tastes better after you stop smoking - Smoking dulls and kills your taste buds, and so after you quit smoking and your taste buds start to recover you start to taste things again which can lead to eating more. Ex-smokers often find the sugary foods taste much better than normal and many ex-smokers find themselves craving sugar.
5) Some ex-smokers mistake nicotine cravings for feeling hungry
Do all smokers gain weight after quitting?
It's actually a myth though that all smokers gain weight, in a study on thousands of smokers they found that 16% of smokers who quit lose weight.
The study actually found though that the amount of cigarettes you smoke affects your weight gain (or loss) when you quit. Heavier smokers seem to have more trouble with weight gain though the exact reason why this happens isn't known.
There are some theories though, as heavier smokers will have the biggest reaction to the lack of nicotine and a more ingrained hand-to-mouth habit than lighter smokers.
Avoiding putting on weight when quitting smoking
Though it can be easy to eat more food when you quit smoking, there are some way to avoid this.
1) Keep your metabolism high by taking regular exercise – To replace the affect of nicotine on your metabolism exercise can do the same thing and burn more calories in general. By building more muscle and getting fitter you get your body to burn more calories even when you are resting.
2) Snack on fresh fruit and veg sticks – As hunger pangs might be hitting more replace your snacks with healthy, low calorie options.
3) Eat smaller portions of food until your metabolism has stabilised - It take your body about 20 minutes for you to feel full after eating, so it can be easy to over-eat. For the first couple of months of quitting make sure to keep an eye on how much you are eating, and when you finish a normal size meal pause before going back for seconds.
4) Use a nicotine replacement to get the nicotine without the toxins and carcinogens of cigarettes – By replacing your cigarette with another method of nicotine you can stop not only the nicotine cravings, but the hunger pangs and the lower metabolism that comes with no nicotine.
E-Cigarettes and weight loss
Using any sort of nicotine replacement system can help a smoker regulate their bodies as they quit and avoid some of the reasons for weight gain. By letting the smoker keep the nicotine but avoid toxins and carcinogens of cigarettes smokers can keep the hunger pangs at bay.
E-cigarettes though can help in a unique way as they can replace the feel of a cigarette as well as the nicotine. Because e-cigarettes produce vapour you breathe in like a cigarette the hand to mouth feel is replicated, and so ex-smokers don’t have to replace that with food.
The flavours that e-cigarettes come in can also help, as they can help with the craving for flavours that many smokers get once their taste buds start to recover. In our starter kits we have tobacco flavours to choose from, but also have a wide range of flavours that can help with ex-smoker’s sudden sweet teeth.
So if you have been putting off trying to quit smoking because of weight gain, maybe e-cigarettes can be the answer. You can get the feel and taste of cigarettes (as well as the nicotine) but as e-cigarettes are at least 95% less harmful than cigarettes you can be sure that you aren’t getting the 50+ carcinogens that come with cigarettes.
Try a SMOKO E-Cigarette and see if e-cigarettes can help you finally make the switch away from cigarettes.