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Gaining Weight When Quitting Smoking

What About Weight Gain When Quitting Smoking?

Many people quit smoking, only to go back to it when they start gaining weight.

The average person gains about ten pounds1 but there are things you can do to cut that amount. In fact, many people gain no weight at all. It depends how you eat, how your body burns calories and how active you are.

Why people tend to gain weight when they quit What you can do to keep weight gain down: 
The body doesn’t burn calories as fast.
Nicotine is a stimulant, so it speeds up the body's metabolism. With nicotine out of the picture, the body's metabolism may slow down to a more normal rate. This means that the body may start to burn calories a little more slowly. 
Get active.
Walk, garden, play with your kids, take the stairs, park farther away from the store, clean the house, etc. All of these activities burn calories.


High-energy activities such as bicycling, swimming laps, or doing aerobics, are natural ways to increase your metabolism. Be sure to consult your doctor before starting a new activity like this. 
Eating more calories.
People who are quitting smoking may find they crave sweets more often, because blood sugar levels can change when quitting. They may also mistake the nicotine cravings for hunger pangs. Or, they may simply be using food as a way to avoid cigarettes. Whatever the case, they tend to up the number of calories they eat. 
Drink lots of water.
It cuts nicotine cravings and hunger pangs.

Eat healthy meals.

Cook at home, using low-fat ingredients like fish, skinless chicken, lean cuts of meat, and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid fatty fast foods.  Watch out for hidden calories in sodas, alcoholic drinks, salad dressings, and other items. Whenever possible, use low-calorie substitutes.

Keep healthy snacks on hand.
If snacking is one of your strategies for avoiding cigarettes, make sure you have low-fat, low-calorie snacks on hand: carrots and celery sticks, fruits, pretzels, etc. 

[1] Aubin , H., Farley, A., Lycett, D., Lahmek , P., & Ave yard, P. Weight gain in smokers after quitting cigarettes: Meta-analysis. BMJ 2012;345:e4439.

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