How to control your weight after quitting smoking
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Many current smokers presume that when they kick the habit, their body weight will start growing rapidly. The fact is that although some people can gain as much as around 19 pounds in the first year after they stop smoking, other studies have found that weight gain peaks in the first 6 months after quitting and that many quitters will return to their original weight over the following 12 months.

Still, if you’re considering quitting but are still concerned with the risk of weight gain, you can calm down – research shows that ex-smokers who keep themselves physically active and exercise regularly have a bigger chance of efficiently controlling their weight compared to those with a sedentary life style.

Several surveys have been carried out with the aim of finding a relationship between weight gain and physical activity. The findings very clearly show that staying physically active is the key factor for successful weight control.

A study aimed at a sample group of 9,000 American women showed that in case of mild smokers (who smoked 24 cigarettes a day or less), who did an intensive workout or were involved in other similar physical activities for at least 1-2 hours a week, the women gained on average only 4.9lb (2.2 kg) during the survey period of 2 years, while heavier smokers (smoking more than 25 cigarettes a day), gained almost double – 9.7lb (4.4kg) on average. Further findings showed that if the women exercised for more than 2 hours a week, their body gain increase would be reduced to 3.3lb (1.5 kg) in lighter smokers and 3 kg in heavier smokers respectively.

Increased body fat storage is attributed to the metabolic slowdown that follows the non-presence of nicotine, since nicotine, similarly to caffeine, has the ability to mildly boost the body’s metabolic activity. Nicotine and hence smoking also influence other mechanisms related to the sense of taste, and these changes can increase feelings of hunger and appetite after people quit smoking.

These mechanisms haven’t been completely clarified yet, but the research results demonstrated that 70% of body weight gain can be attributed to the increase in energy intake. One study showed that the calorie intake in women who stopped smoking increased by 227 kcal per day on average (both in drinks and meals).

So, very simply – if you are trying to quit smoking, but want to avoid weight gain, the key to success is to balance your energy intake and output with sufficient physical activity.


A 5-point plan

  1. Adopt a habit of doing regular physical exercise for at least 2 hours a week. This can include anything from walking, jogging, riding your bike or just going upstairs on foot instead of taking the elevator at your office every day.
  2. If you decide to go the gym, try to include at least three 25 min strength-training exercises into your workout routine. This in turn will also help to prevent the slowdown of your metabolism.
  3. Keep a log of your daily food intake, as well as the time when you take your meals during the period of at least 5 days before the day when you actually stop smoking.
  4. Continue to keep these records. Compare your current data with past records and try to define the periods when you tend to overeat and also what kind of food you were eating.
  5. Learn how to control the hard moments of sudden hunger attacks by having something small and healthy to bite into – a piece of fruit, sunflower seeds or some other low-calorie, low-fat snacks. This doesn’t mean you need to starve or do excessive dieting. You already made a critical decision – you want to quit smoking because you want to do something good for your health. Being healthy means you should eat healthy.

One Response

  1. Roman
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    Thank you for the wonderful article

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