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Quitting Smoking and Gaining Weight

Four out of every five people who stop smoking gain some weight. Obviously the health benefits of quitting greatly exceed the problems from gaining weight, yet many people find the idea of gaining a few pounds unacceptable, and often return to smoking in order to lose weight again.

It is important to realise that it is possible to quit smoking AND control your weight. It may take some time and effort, but it can be done, and by working with a Personal Trainer, you greatly increase your chances of success.

The more cigarettes per day that someone has smoked, the more weight they are likely to gain when they quit. According to statistics, the average weight gain when a person quits smoking is between 4 and 10 pounds, and most weight gain occurs in the first 6 months. The best way to be below average, or gain no weight at all, is to work with a Personal Trainer, who can advise you and your diet and physical activity.

You may often hear people blaming their weight on a low metabolism. Your metabolism is the energy your body needs to perform its functions, such as the functions performed by the heart, the brain and the liver. The nicotine in cigarettes raises a smoker’s metabolic rate, which in turn increases the amount of calories used. This a very harmful way of burning calories however, and the metabolism increase after smoking a cigarette also results in the heart beating up to 20 times per minute faster, which is one of the reasons for the high rate of heart disease in smokers. When a smoker quits, their metabolic rate, their metabolic rate slows down to a healthier rate, and often drops to below normal. It can take months for an ex smoker’s metabolic rate to return to normal, and during this time they will burn fewer calories than they usually do. Thankfully, there are much healthier, safer ways than smoking to increase metabolism, exercise being the most obvious!

It is normal for appetite to increase after quitting smoking. This is the most common withdrawal symptom, and tends to stick around longer than the other symptoms. Nicotine withdrawal can often increase the desire for sugar too, and sugary, fatty foods are high in calories. Finally, studies have also shown that alcohol intake often increases in people that have quit smoking, which results in weight gain, as alcohol is low in nutrients and high in calories.

A further reason for weight gain after quitting is due to a phenomenon known as “oral gratification”. Smokers frequently miss the sensation of having something to do with their mouth and hands. This need disappears over time, but until the urges disappear, stocking up on items such as carrot sticks, chewing gum, straws or tooth picks can be very useful.

The best way to lose the weight gained by 80% of people who quit smoking – or not gain any weight at all – is to work with a personal trainer, who will create an action plan for you and be with you every step of the way. Armed with the knowledge and support of a good personal trainer, the odds of quitting smoking forever, without gaining weight, are excellent.