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How do you lose weight after smoking?

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Quitting smoking is not easy, but it’s one of the most rewarding things you can do for your body. It can lead to an improvement in energy, breathing, taste, skin, financial security, self-esteem and many other things.

One thing you can expect when you put down your last cigarette is your weight to potentially increase. Putting on a few extra pounds after you’ve given up smoking is nothing to be ashamed of and it's surprisingly common. You’ve just given up smoking which is fantastic but, it’s totally okay to worry about how your body may change too.

Below we explore the possible causes of weight gain after you’ve quit smoking and offer advice on how you can accept any changes.

Why do some people put on weight when they quit smoking?

According to the NHS, there are 5 main reasons why a person might put on weight after they stop smoking.

These reasons include:

  • Smoking speeds up metabolism – your body burns more calories when you smoke and you may return to your normal metabolic state when you quit.
  • Smoking curbs appetite – the reason for this is not fully understood.
  • Food tastes better – your sense of taste and smell improves after quitting smoking, so you may be more inclined to eat more, or you may crave sugary foods.
  • Hand-to-mouth replacement – often, smokers replace their urge to pick up a cigarette by picking up a snack instead as it replaces the hand-to-mouth movement of smoking.
  • Mistaken cravings – some confuse their urge to smoke with being hungry or recognise the urge to smoke but distract themselves by eating instead.

If you’re not sure if any of these apply to you, take a look at the NHS hidden causes of weight gain. We know it can be a difficult topic sometimes, but if your weight is causing you any concern, its important you speak to your GP so you can receive the support you need.

Are there changes in body weight after using smoking cessation?

Stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health, but as we’ve mentioned above when you give up smoking your body may change in ways you’re not prepared for. As we go through life our bodies naturally change and our weight fluctuates. There are ways you can support your health even more when you quit smoking such as eating a varied, balanced diet and regularly exercising.

How do you lose weight after smoking?

Whilst it’s very common to put on a bit of weight after quitting smoking, there are several ways to slow down or completely avoid this from happening.

These include:

  • Exercise regularly – now that smoking is no longer keeping your metabolism up, you need to find a way to replace it if you expect to keep off the pounds. Take a look at our weight loss exercise guide.
  • Portion control – food may taste better now, but you may still need to stick to recommended portion guidelines. Make sure to eat your 5-a-day and enjoy a variety of foods from all the main food groups.
  • Healthy snacks – hunger pangs are totally normal! Keep some healthy snacks nearby like fruit and nuts. You can also plan your snacks ahead of time if you know you’ll be busy with work or out and about.
  • Use stop smoking products – products designed to stop smoking will help settle your nicotine cravings. Explore our own stop smoking range here.

We also have a Medicated Weight Loss Service available in your local LloydsPharmacy, that can help you maintain a healthy weight. 

Weight loss service

Does smoking cause belly fat?

There are some studies that state smoking may impact fat distribution around the body, leading to a higher amount in the waist and hip region than elsewhere. Whilst interesting, evidence of smoking causing belly fat is not conclusive.

What exercises are recommended for an ex-smoker?

The advice for how to exercise as an ex-smoker is like how you should exercise as a non-smoker. Firstly, start with exercises you enjoy. These can be gentle exercises like walking, yoga, or perhaps hiking or cycling. Start off easy and gradually build up endurance. Find yourself pushed for time? Here’s a list of 10 exercises you can easily fit into your day!

Any weight management aids to prevent weight gain?

Stopping smoking is a great way to improve your health, see our stop smoking timeline and find out how long it takes for your body to recover. If you think you’re gaining weight while stopping smoking, then we can offer a little extra help. We have a range of diet and slimming aids or meal replacement shakes or snacks to help you.

Remember, weight loss products shouldn’t replace a balanced diet and exercise.

How do I quit smoking?

Here at LloydsPharmacy we know that everyone is different and that stop smoking products that work well for one person may not work as well for another. That’s why we’ve created our stop smoking tool to help you find the best solution so you can quit for good.

We also have an in store Stop Smoking Service which can help with nicotine replacement therapy and support. Want to know more? Read all about the different stop smoking treatments here.

Stop smoking tool

References

www.nhs.uk/live-well/quit-smoking/stop-smoking-without-putting-on-weight/
https://smokefree.gov/challenges-when-quitting/cravings-triggers/fight-cravings-exercise
www.bmj.com/content/331/7517/596.5
https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/8/e008808
https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-019-7807-9