The low-down on quit smoking and weight
What's fact, what's fiction, what's the real truth, and how you can prove it yourself
Would you quit smoking, knowing you could do it successfully, without gaining weight?
Yes? Great, let's play around and change a few words.
You CAN successfully quit smoking without gaining unnecessary weight. Quitting smoking and weight gain DO NOT go hand in hand.
Sound good? Sounds like your kind of party? Party's the word, because your aim will be to celebrate soon. As you'll see...
When you stop smoking, reliable research now proves approximately one third of quitters stay the same weight, one third lose weight and one third gain weight. (Source: American Cancer Society. (1999) Quitting Smoking. Atlanta, GA.)
Smoking and weight is a minefield. It's a crying shame that some smokers don't want to quit because of slimming worries.
Scaremongers, myths and mostly a vast army of current smokers, suffering ex-smokers or failed ex-smokers have convinced the world that to quit smoking is to gain weight
Well, as the song goes, "It ain't necessarily so."
These "other" smokers, ex or otherwise, have most likely tried to quit by denying themselves their fix, and instead have replaced their fix with a new addiction, with the same old arm muscles going to their mouth—food... aaghh!
But maybe you are one of the many smokers who use both smoking and eating as an emotional support and comforter?
Then your tendency to addiction has to be knocked on the head. Otherwise you'll just replace one vice with more of the other.
This is why it is so important to stop your smoking addiction the correct way, a way that covers the whole spectrum of your psychological and physical habit.
Your whole desire, craving, and emotional needs must be met and new behaviour patterns put in place to replace old harmful ones, so that you not only stop smoking, you banish the desire to smoke.
Do yourself a favour, see Quit for Good Program
Despite what you would believe, most smokers aren't thinner than non-smokers, just have a look around. (Also article: Overall smokers found to be fatter than non-smokers).
True, nicotine slightly curbs the appetite, so they often have fewer meals. But it's found that the more people smoke, the more bad habits they practice, and to a greater extent.
Smokers are more likely to gravitate toward foods that are high in calories and fat, exercise less, and consume more alcohol, which is notoriously high in calories.
Perhaps you are overweight. If so, once you've got your smoking under control, then it's an excellent time to look at your next step.
There are no magic fixes, you have a challenge here...
Look forward to it... treat it as an exciting step in your life...
It is 100% possible for you to do. Your party's waiting for you with all the bells and whistles, so start planning it!
To start with, are you obsessed with food, and what it's doing to you, how much you eat, what you eat, how you feel? Is eating fraught with guilt or even ignorance?
Don't feel bad, your habits and cravings are legitimate.
Most people crave certain foods sometimes. Perhaps they do this because their bodies aren't getting the necessary nutrients from their current diet, so they feel the need for sugar fixes.
Or perhaps their diet is OK, but their bodies need to absorb extra nutrients because of years of previous toxic build up, or past illness.
Or perhaps they have emotional problems with relationships, which can have a strong physiological effect.
So you see the point... it's not wrong to crave certain bad foods, but this is a sign of other things.
And adding to this is that nowadays society has managed to turn our feelings about making and eating food into packaged temptation and overwhelming choice, rather than one of basic nourishment with important and meaningful pleasurable experiences.
As you read further, you'll get help to make use of your very valuable common sense.
Think of eating this way... that is, as your natural medicine to sustain growth, health and a long happy and pain free life.
Let's look at a bit of boring biological/chemical/technical stuff first on the subject of quitting smoking and weight. But just the bare bones—promise.
When you smoke, you speed up the metabolic process in your body. Metabolism involves taking the food you eat and converting it into energy and whatever your body needs.
The faster or more efficient your metabolism is the more it churns through your food, burning up the calories, depositing less fat, and the less weight you are likely to put on.
A perfectly healthy person has a perfectly regulated metabolism and maintains the ideal weight for their size.
A smoker takes a puff. In less than 7 seconds the brain responds by releasing adrenaline — this is the panic hormone that sets up the 'fight or flight' response... what you'd get if you saw a ghost.
But a smoker doesn't scream and run! Just like in many other everyday situations of stress and anxiousness, the released adrenaline causes a bit of agitation, and the dumping of excess glucose into the bloodstream.
At the same time, some of the oxygen in the bloodstream is replaced with carbon monoxide.
The overall result is more rapid and shallower breathing, and narrowing of arteries and blood vessels, making the smoker's poor old ticker having to pump harder.
With the excess glucose circulating and a decrease in insulin production caused by the adrenaline, it creates a situation of higher than normal blood sugar (mild hyperglycemia), and thus the smoker's appetite is suppressed.
Even the fact that smokers put cigarettes in their mouths instead of eating... sometimes, but mostly only for smokers who don't have many other bad habits, results in a slightly, but horribly less healthy way to keep their weight down.
There are some smokers then who are underweight. There's nothing attractive or healthy about being either too thin or too fat — your aim is to be the natural ideal weight that is correct for you.
So if you stop smoking and gain a bit, it could be that your body is balancing out to your perfect weight.
Of course when you quit smoking, weight gain will be an issue if you eat too much, or the wrong food, and don't get enough exercise, so the stores of fat build up regardless.
Smoking also adversely affects the endocrinal system — the glands that secrete hormones — with the potential for increasing the waist to hip ratio.
So for smokers who do weigh less than non-smokers, their weight is distributed unevenly, which is why some smokers have pot bellies and spindly legs.
And another thing; after the big triumph of throwing out your last cigarette, you may feel a bit unusual for a while.
In fact you may feel highly excited, on a cloud, or occasionally down in the dumps, as it's now all over, and the everyday pieces of your daily life continue.
In other words, you might suffer from mild shock syndrome.
Ask anyone who's been in shock — good shock, that is. Ask anyone who's just had a baby; been on stage; landed that new job etc, and that jolt to the senses can trigger various physical symptoms, and unfortunately one of the likely culprits is constipation.
If this is so, then your digestion is a bit out of whack, and you are a bit heavier than normal.
Nicotine being a stimulant also would have had a mild laxative effect, and now you've tossed it, this is another reason for temporary constipation.
Chalk up another good reason to grab healthy high fibre foods. Lots of fruits, vegetables and plenty of water, with a natural laxative if necessary, will help to avoid disagreeable symptoms and weight gain when quitting smoking.
Obviously exercise comes into play here, and the good news is that because you have more energy and less constriction in your breathing, exercise is more enjoyable.
Another little point about smoking and weight: Nature is there to help.
I see," your body notes, "there's a clean-up on. Let's get these tars and nicotine out, darn it, out of the blood, out of the saturated tissues."
Now unfortunately we can't send in a broom, so they have to be flushed out by normal elimination methods.
Thus your body retains more water to dilute these toxic acids and get them out.
This "toxic release" creates swelling, often along with headaches, mucus coughing, general yukiness etc... all a necessary part of the recovery process, depending how long and how often you've smoked.
(If you take a nicotine replacement, the nicotine stays around in your system longer and your fluid weight gain will be more prolonged.)
As you can see, it's not a black and white picture of "you stop smoking — you gain weight — or you don't." Depending on who you are, there are a host of other factors to consider.
With smoking and weight, there is a fairly good generalization:
3 months after quitting nicotine your body weight stabilizes to normal levels. So if you gain a bit, it will be gone after 3 months, and vice versa.
The average temporary weight gain for that one third of ex-smokers is 4–7kgs (8-15lb). Don't forget also that suddenly food tastes better... your taste buds are no longer numbed by hot smoke, so eating is now more enjoyable... whoa!
Not only that, smokers use the end of a meal as a signal to light up. Once that cue is broken, it's important not to carry on eating with another helping or dessert, instead of the old habit of smoking to finish up with.
Again understanding and quickly changing this programmed habit is dealt with cleverly using the correct approach in the Quit for Good Stop Smoking Program
If it seems obvious to you, that smoking and weight needs to be addressed, then there are lots of things you can do to speed up the process of steadily and surely stabilizing your weight to the right level, gaining more energy, and clearing up any health issues you may have:
Don't miss the information in the following links, to make you more confident on the whole subject of smoking and weight:
Stop Smoking and Lose Weight HOW to Eat — 9 essential rules
Avoid Quit Smoking Weight Gain WHAT to eat — 5 no-brainers make it so easy
Snack Attack Snack food — Grab these instead of a smoke