Hey Angels and Alphas,
Every smoker, whether they’re interested in weight loss or not, knows that quitting smoking is the right step for their long-term health. But in the short term, it surely doesn’t feel like it is. You’ll experience quitter’s flu, withdrawal headaches, fatigue, and not to mention, you might begin to gain weight quickly.
And as it turns out, you’re not going to be the first. Post-smoking weight gain is a real thing, and today, we’re here to talk about why it happens and what you can do about it.
Let’s get started.
FIRST… THE METABOLISM SHIFT.
When you smoke, you’ll experience a slight increase in your metabolic rate. When you quit, that rate naturally goes back down. If your calories go up with it, you know what the result is – weight gain.
Even though your metabolism might technically be better for weight control when you’re smoking, this doesn’t mean you still have good metabolic health overall.
There are several factors vital to metabolic health, including blood glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Smoking will negatively affect all of them… and impair your respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
You probably know that your heart rate increases when you’re smoking – one of the reasons why heart disease is the most common cause of deaths related to smoking. To compensate for this, you have to stay on top of your calorie tracking. Among other tactics such as strength training, aerobic workouts, meeting your protein goals, and more.
SECOND… THE HUNGER SPIKES.
A lot of smokers, when they stop, notice that they start getting hungry in a way they never did. They start craving carbs, starchy foods, sugar, and they end up chugging down snacks and pastas… salads and fruits simply don’t make the cut.
This happens because nicotine essentially binds to receptors in your brain that control your appetite. They then create a signal that communicates that you’re satiated even if you haven’t really eaten anything. Nicotine basically hijacks your hunger response… which is why countless smokers have less appetite after they vape, chew, or smoke.
Furthermore, some smokers are reluctant to quit only because they’re afraid they’ll gain weight if they do. But when it’s all said and done, we know the health benefits of quitting cigs make regulating your appetite and weight worth it.
You don’t have to just settle for being hungry all the time. There are countless strategies you can use and implement to tame that appetite spike, such as adding more fiber to your diet, eating meals on a regular schedule, eating more healthy fats, focusing on protein, and managing your relationship with food.
This brings us to our next point.
THIRD… REGULATING YOUR EMOTIONS.
Nicotine doesn’t just give you a buzz… it gives you comfort. Sometimes, this can be the result of habit – if you’re one of those people that reach for a sig when they’re stressed and turn it into a self-soothing behavior. But more often than not, it’s the nicotine itself and its mood-altering characteristics.
Recognizing this effect and then properly addressing it goes a long way toward quitting for good.
A good place to start when addressing these emotional challenges is to actually adopt some mindfulness practices into your daily routine. Deep breathing exercises, mantras, meditation, all of these could be ways to emotionally empower yourself and overpower the emotional urge to smoke.
And don’t forget – there are strategies you can use to prevent post-smoking weight gain.
Whether you’re trying to quit smoking or not, preventing weight gain begins with being aware of what you’re eating and how much you’re eating. For this reason, food logging could be a great tool. Exercise is also a great helper because not only does it help you with that calories-in, calories-out fiasco, but it also helps you boost your mood.
The first step is always to start eating strategically, not just trying to eat less. Spend some time preparing food, buying food that’s local, and focus on nourishing and fuel rather than taste and enjoyment.
The empowering feeling you get from the self-care you practice through eating healthy is not just going to help you manage weight – it’s also going to keep you mindful and allow you to quit smoking easier because you’re paying attention to your emotional health.
For a lot of people, smoking is a source of stress relief and comfort. It helps keep their mood balanced. Without smoking, high-sugar foods and high-carb meals become similarly unhealthy substitutes.
That’s why you have to be mindful of the role tobacco plays in your life and use it to adequately combat this habit and end it once and for all.