When you quit smoking you immediately gain weight back. Why? You are trying to be healthy and instead of being rewarded, you are punished with a few extra kilos. In today’s blog I will talk about this interesting, yet annoying phenomenon and pass on some tips on how to prevent it from happening as much as possible.
Why I am gaining weight after quitting smoking?
Why do you often gain weight in the months after you just quit smoking? This question is easier to answer than you might think. I’m guessing that you know that cigarettes contain nicotine and nicotine is an addictive drug which makes you want to keep smoking. But nicotine also has another effect on your body, namely, it increases your metabolism. Briefly, your metabolism is the conversion of food into energy. If your metabolism is increased, you burn more calories and if it is slowed down you burn less calories. So, for nicotine speeding up your metabolism is actually a good thing and is also a reason why some people lose a little bit of weight when they start smoking. Research has shown that nicotine can increase your metabolism by 7% to 15%!
Unfortunately, the opposite happens when you quit smoking. Your body will slow down its metabolism and therefore you burn less calories which could lead into a slight weight gain. On average people gain 5 to 10 pounds in the following months after quitting smoking.
Besides nicotine affecting your metabolism, cigarettes influence your appetite. When usually you feel full after a sandwich and a cigarette, you now might not feel full after just the sandwich. To compensate for the cigarette, you might eat an extra sandwich. Furthermore, not just with your meals will you increase the portions but also throughout the whole day because usually you smoke throughout the day which cuts back on that hungry feeling. You will start snacking more and the calories will soon increase together with that number on the weighing scale.
And lastly, you could gain weight after quitting smoking due to missing the habit of smoking, you will feel like you need to do something. Often this results in to eating high-calorie foods out of boredom or to simply replace the cigarettes.
How can you stop this from happening you may ask?!
Here are the top
5 tips for preventing weight gain after quitting smoking.
- Get moving!
Physical activity is THE way of increasing your metabolism. It burns calories and at the same time stops cravings for snacks or cigarettes. I recommend some High Intensity Interval Training, this just takes less than 30 minutes, you will have a high calorie burn and it increases your metabolism for the next 24 to 48 hours!
- Sugar free chewing gum
Yes, this is just a simple tip. Get some sugar free gum and chew it to keep your mouth busy and those calories away!
- Healthy Shopping
This is a tip for any healthy lifestyle and does not restrict it-self to quitters from smoking.
Make most of your foods at home with fresh and healthy ingredients. Try different fruits, vegetables and low-fat yoghurts to keep the calories low. Also, do not buy cookies or chips/crisps because we all know you will not stick to just 1 cookie or bowl of crisps, but you will finish the whole pack the same day you bought it. It is much easier to resist buying bad foods once in the supermarket instead of having to resist them every time you open the cupboard at home.
And if you really need snacks, try instead of unhealthy snacks, to buy healthy functional foods such as carrots, cherry tomatoes, unsalted nuts, etc.
- Do not starve yourself!
When on a diet, people think they have to starve themselves to prevent gaining weight, but the times you cheat on your healthy diet are mostly when you are absolutely starving and need food right away. 9 times out of 10 in this situation, it will not be a healthy food which you put in your mouth the next minute.
This is why planning your daily food and even preparing it in advance can make a huge difference. You will know when you are going to have your next meal and its probably going to be a healthier one because you prepared it yourself!
Really useful on busy days are protein shakes and/or protein bars. They are easy to bring with you and protein is great for feeling full.
Last but not least, sleep! Often a forgotten and underestimated part of losing weight and living healthily is sleep. During your sleep, you might be dreaming about the most beautiful things but in the mean time your body is working hard on repairing and preparing it-self for the next day. Read more about that in this blog-> Bedtime and sleep duration impact on your health
Make sure you get 8 hours of sleep each night and not only will your body feel better, you will feel mentally great too!
Well there you have it, 5 ways to beat after-smoking weight gains.
It may be tough to quit smoking, but it is well worth it! Quitting smoking will be beneficial for your lungs, heart, skin, teeth, breath and even money! What are you going to spend your cigarette money on now? And what are your thoughts on this top 5? What works best for you?
Let us know, we would love to hear your story!
Written by Sven Nicholson | Online Personal Trainer @ www.healthychanges-pt.com