Quitting Smoking Is Always the Healthy Choice, Even With Weight Gain

8 minute read

One of the fears people who smoke express is that they don’t want to gain weight. And there’s some legitimacy to this concern. Not all people gain weight when they quit smoking but there are some connections.

Of course, it should come as no surprise that you’re always better off quitting smoking. As new research shows, though, even if you do gain weight and other health problems, they don’t outweigh the damage done by cigarettes.

Quitting Smoking and Weight Gain

Appetite suppressant: Nicotine suppresses your appetite. This means that quitting can leave you feeling a little hungrier than usual.

Metabolism boost: In addition to nicotine making you less hungry, it also boosts your metabolism, so you burn calories faster.

Physiological effects: Your body and brain will go through some withdrawal symptoms, which leave many people craving carbohydrates or bored and filling their time with food.

Cravings: While your body and brain are craving that cigarette, your sense of smell and taste improve. This makes replacing your nicotine craving with food seem like a good solution.

The good news is the average weight gain when quitting smoking is six to nine pounds. It’s not fun to gain that weight, but it’s typically not as much weight as smokers fear they’ll gain.

In addition to that, the benefits of quitting smoking far outweigh the downside of gaining a few pounds.

Benefits of Quitting Smoking

You’ve probably heard about the hazards of smoking, and with that you’ve heard how quitting can help you live a better life. The following are a few of the ways the American Lung Association says you can you can reap the benefits of quitting smoking.

20 minutes: About 20 minutes after your last cigarette your heart rates drops to a normal rate.

12 hours: Before the first day is over the carbon monoxide levels in your blood return to normal rates.

2 weeks to 3 months: This will be the most difficult period and when you’re most likely to feel the ill-effects of withdrawal. But the rewards are worth it. During this time period your lungs and heart are working hard to recover, and it shows, as your risk of having a heart attack decreases and your lung function improves.

1 to 9 months: During this period, you should begin to really notice your lung improvement with a decrease in coughing and shortness of breath becoming less of a concern.

1 year: After you’ve been cigarette-free for a year your added risk of coronary disease is half that of a smoker’s.

5 to 15 years: Tallying up the years, you’ve learned to live as a non-smoker and you now have the same risk of stroke as a non-smoker. Your risk of getting mouth, throat, and esophagus cancer is now half that of a smoker.

10 years: When you’ve got a decade under your belt, your risk of dying from lung cancer or getting bladder cancer drops to half that of a smoker. You’ll also have a decrease in getting cancer of the cervix, larynx, kidney, and pancreas.

15 years: At this point your risk of coronary heart disease is the same as that of a nonsmoker.

Health Risks of Being Overweight

There are noted health risks to being overweight and the greater the weight, the more significant the health risks. Some of the health problems linked to being overweight or obese are listed below.

♦ Type 2 diabetes

♦ High blood pressure

♦ Heart disease

♦ Stroke

♦ Certain types of cancer

♦ Sleep apnea

♦ Osteoarthritis

♦ Fatty liver disease

♦ Kidney disease

♦ Certain risks during pregnancy

While gaining weight when trying to kick the smoking habit is a fear, the weight gain tends to be less than 10 pounds for most. Ten pounds is definitely frustrating and can add some health problems, but it’s not the massive weight gain that’s typically feared.

The best way to determine if you’re overweight is to calculate your body mass index (BMI) score. The score is a calculation of your height and weight. Once you’ve determined your BMI, you can use the following as a guideline.

BMI 18.5 to 24.9 = Normal Weight

BMI 25 to 29.9 = Overweight

BMI 30 or higher = Obese

Another way to determine if your weight puts your health at risk is to measure your waist size. The goal for men is to have a waist size of 40 inches or less and for women the number is 35 inches or less.  

How to Quit Smoking and Not Gain Weight

If the idea of gaining even 10 pounds is enough to keep you addicted to cigarettes you should know that you can quit smoking and maintain your weight, or even lose weight.

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It all depends on your lifestyle and willingness to change. The key is starting to develop and foster other healthy habits before you even begin to quit smoking.

Review your lifestyle: What other unhealthy habits do you have. You know what types of foods you should eat and what you should avoid, that you should exercise regularly, and that sleep is important. Take note of your bad lifestyle habits and begin making the changes you need to be healthy and manage your weight.

Watch your foods: When you do quit smoking, your sense of smell and taste will improve and foods will become much more attractive. If you’ve established healthy eating habits, it will be easier to avoid binging. Probiotics have also been shown to help lose weight, particularly belly fat.

What do you drink: Often, alcohol and coffee go hand in hand with smoking. Learning to disassociate coffee and alcohol from cigarettes or avoid these triggers altogether can help you quit and stay healthy.

Exercise: Start exercising now and when you quit, and your lung capacity increases, you’ll be amazed at what you can do. You’ll also find that exercise and fun physical activities help with some of the frustrations and boredom you feel when you quit smoking.

Set a schedule: Make sleep a priority and enjoy a restful night. This will help you combat any anxiety and restless energy you feel when quitting smoking. It will also discourage you from binge-eating late at night.

The Bottom Line

With the right motivation you can not only quit smoking and improve your health, but you can also maintain or lose weight. Healthy habits across the board will leave you feeling better all-around and give you the strength you need to break the smoking habit for good.

If you are interested in quitting smoking, your healthcare provider can help. The price of cigarettes is only going up, both in terms of your wallet and your health.

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