Quitting smoking has numerous benefits, the most important of which is that it helps prevent the development of life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, or strokes. However, amidst these advantages, your cessation attempt can come with unexpected weight gain as well. In fact, a Wiley Online Library study on smoking cessation states that weight gain has even discouraged smokers from quitting their cigarette use in the past.
Now, what is the cause of this weight gain? The study explains that smokers who quit tend to experience an increased appetite and reduced physical activity, thus leading them to put on more weight. Of course, if you’re a smoker who wants to quit, weight gain shouldn’t deter you from pursuing your cessation journey.
Below are a few tips that can help you prevent weight gain as you quit smoking:
1. Eating Healthily
Eating healthily is essential in any smoking cessation attempt to combat weight gain. However, findings from a Drug Alcohol Depend report on tobacco withdrawal shows that smokers can increasingly rely on junk food to abet their cigarette cravings. Even more worrisome is that foods that are high in sugar can exacerbate cravings in smokers. Likewise, a 2021 Journal of Psychopharmacology article on the impacts of caffeine states that coffee may also trigger a strong cigarette craving, especially since several smokers pair drinking coffee with smoking. These foods, while detrimental to your quit attempt, can also result in weight gain. As such, it’s important to swap them for healthier alternatives. For one, if you have a sweet tooth, then opt for fruit or granola over candies. Similarly, if you’re looking for a salty snack, go for nuts and seaweeds over chips. It’s also recommended that you load up on foods that are rich in fiber—like vegetables or whole grains—to not only make you feel fuller, but also to promote better adherence to your quit attempt since you’re less likely to be demotivated by weight gain.
2. Incorporating Daily Physical Activity
Although physical activity helps with weight management as you quit smoking, long-term cigarette use can negatively impact your exercise capacity. This is because, as stated by a 2021 PLoS One analysis on the effects of cigarette smoke exposure, individuals who smoke frequently can incur lower expiratory flow rates. This means that physically demanding workouts can be tiring on your lungs. Thankfully, aerobic exercises like cycling or jogging are easy enough to do in moderation. If you prefer the structure that a fitness trainer provides, then you can likewise head to the gym to burn calories. Our post ‘How To Burn Calories In Your Body? Different Ways To Burn Calories’ mentions that, depending on your weight, weight lifting for 30 minutes can burn around 90 to 126 calories. Just remember to listen to your body and rest in between sessions. Incorporating exercise into your everyday routine means that sudden weight gain won’t become a problem in your cessation journey
3. Using NRT Products
Quitting smoking causes you to experience a host of withdrawal symptoms, including irritability, restlessness, and increased appetite or hunger. A 2022 NIDA report on tobacco dependence discusses how, fortunately, NRT products like nicotine pouches and nicotine patches are effective at relieving withdrawal symptoms (while also impeding weight gain). Generally, nicotine pouches are taken orally and can mimic the tactile sensation of using tobacco products. As the VELO nicotine pouches sold on Prilla demonstrate, they come in a wide range of flavors like black cherry and peppermint, which ensures a more satisfying experience as you progress in your quit attempt. Similarly, nicotine patches are also beneficial in that they can lighten cravings by offering a steady dose of nicotine. As seen in Habitrol nicotine patches, these NRTs are applied on the skin and don’t need to be reapplied for up to 24 hours. By using NRTs, you can alleviate withdrawal symptoms and avoid unnecessary weight gain during your smoking cessation.
4. Seeking Out Professional Help
Although the previous tips can be beneficial in your cessation attempt, you may still require expert motivation and added support to adopt healthier practices and prevent weight gain. In such cases, don’t be ashamed to seek out professional help. Therapists, for instance, consider your smoking history to develop personalized cessation plans. They may also loop in your intimate concerns, such as a fear of weight gain, before recommending strategies that can help you quit smoking. Interestingly, a 2021 Nutrients article on ‘Post-Cessation Weight-Control Coaching’ shows that therapists can work alongside dietitians and personal trainers to design a cessation program that focuses on enhancing a smoker’s diet and physical activity. By reaching out to professionals, you can simultaneously adhere to your quit attempt while deftly managing your weight.