Weight Gain after Smoking Cessation: Myth or Reality?

The opinion that people gain weight when they quit smoking is not just a common misconception of smokers. The data that a certain percentage of people get fat after smoking cessation is indeed confirmed by research. This phenomenon has a completely logical explanation – certain processes occur in the body when people stop smoking. Why do people gain weight when they give up smoking and how can you bring your body back to normal? 

Why Do You Gain Weight After Quitting Smoking? 

The weight gain in the process of quitting smoking usually does not exceed 4–5 kg. This is not critical, so you should not be afraid of quitting this harmful habit. This increase in weight happens for several reasons in people who quit smoking: 

  • With the withdrawal of cigarettes, there are changes in metabolism. When a person starts smoking, nicotine becomes a part of the metabolism and accelerates it by stimulating the nervous system. If a person tries to quit smoking, the body is stressed by the fact that the concentration of the habitual (though poisonous) substance is reduced. In addition to this stress, there may be disruptions in the operation of various systems, including the digestive system. In particular, the production of hormones involved in fat and carbohydrate metabolism can be disrupted. When the body adapts to the absence of nicotine, all metabolic processes go back to normal. 
  • Refusal of nicotine increases appetite. When a person smokes, tobacco smoke, getting into the stomach, irritates the mucous and triggers the production of digestive juices. It is very harmful since it can cause the development of gastritis or ulcers. However, the brain receives a signal that something is being digested in the stomach and the feeling of hunger is declining. Over time, the secretory function of the stomach decreases, so smokers are less hungry, and the food that gets into the stomach is digested worse. If a person quits smoking, the stomach starts to return to normal, the appetite increases, and the former smoker wants to eat more, and the food itself is digested better – hence the extra pounds. 
  • After people quit smoking, they restore taste and sense of smell. They begin to taste dishes better, which also increases appetite and leads to the fact that a person begins to eat more. 
  • Smoking is replaced by snacks. This reason is associated not with a physiological, but with a psychological dependence. Firstly, people who smoke get used to keeping something in their mouths all the time, so cigarettes are often replaced with nuts, sweets, and crackers. In order not to smoke, people want to eat something constantly. Secondly, when giving up smoking, you have more time to eat. That’s why when people quit smoking, they generally start eating more and get overweight. 

How to Return Weight to Normal? 

Once the body is cleaned of nicotine, all metabolic processes are restored, and the weight gained during the period of struggle with addiction goes away by itself. This process can take several months, but it can be slightly speeded up if you correct your diet. 

  • To cleanse the intestines and liver, you need to eat foods rich in fiber. During the nicotine withdrawal, you need to eat porridge, fresh vegetables, and fruits. 
  • To adjust the work of the intestines, sour-milk products such as yogurt and cottage cheese will help. 
  • To fill the deficiency of vitamin C, which is not digested with nicotine, you need to include currants, gooseberries, lemons, bell peppers, and citrus fruits in your diet. 
  • Snacks that replace smoking should be light and beneficial. Apples are great because they contain oxalic acid, which improves metabolism and reduces cravings for nicotine. 
  • Spicy foods should be excluded from the diet. They irritate taste buds and only increase cravings for cigarettes. 

Weight gain after the refusal of smoking is not something terrible. There are reasons explaining why a person is gaining extra weight if he quits smoking. After the body is restored, there will be a weight loss and your body will go back to normal. This process can be speeded up by including special foods in your diet and being physically active. Some rules about what you can and should eat when you quit smoking will help cleanse the body faster and improve metabolism.