Quitting Smoking and Weight Gain
Smoking is known to have a number of unpleasant side effects. It causes lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and many other serious health conditions, not too mention stained teeth, poor skin and respiratory issues. Quitting seems like a no brainer for those serious about their wellbeing, but some smokers admit they fear kicking their habit due to the prospect of the dreaded weight gain. No-one wants to carry extra pounds but, understanding the science behind smoking and weight management means you can be better prepared to ward off those unwanted pounds before they take root.
Quitting and Weight Gain
Let’s be clear; huge volumes of anecdotal evidence exist that suggests that smokers who quit can experience unexpected weight gain. There is scientific validity to this claim. Nicotine binds to many different receptors in the brain including those in the reward regions which is why it is so addictive. Scientists have found that it also affects appetite regulating neurons. This means that nicotine acts as an appetite suppressant, so smokers attempting to ditch their cigs may well find that they suddenly develop a much bigger craving for food.
By suppressing appetite, nicotine helps smokers feel fuller for longer. It explains why smokers tend not to eat when they are around cigarettes and why they tend to be thinner than their natural physique when not smoking. By quitting, the body is deprived of nicotine, meaning appetite increases because of the lack of suppression acting on neuron receptors. But that’s not all. Not only does nicotine limit those hunger pangs, it also increases the body’s metabolic rate. Smokers therefore will burn more calories with less exercise than would otherwise be the case. When a smoker quits, the ability to process food quickly slows down. This is why those going cold turkey usually eat more than their tobacco-influenced habits and gain weight as a result.
If you quit smoking but still get a regular supply of nicotine, some of the weight management effects of nicotine persist. Therefore, swapping traditional cigarettes or an e-cigarette can help to stem the weight gain phenomenon that other quitters struggle with.
A research team from Italy recently examined what happens to weight and body shape over the course of a year. Their study involved monitoring smokers quitting traditional tobacco but using E-cigarettes. They found that those who used high, medium or low nicotine e-liquids experienced no significant change in body weight whilst the control group who quit with no aids reported weight gain.
Smokers who gain weight whilst quitting are very likely to restart smoking because of fears over their shape and body image.
In a perfect world, the fear of the consequences of quitting wouldn’t matter because the consequences of continuing to smoke are far worse but going cold turkey can be hard to stomach when faced with the dreaded weighing scales.
Would the fear of gaining weight make you hesitant to quit smoking? Share your thoughts and weight management tips in the comments and on our social media pages.
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