You Can Control Your Weight as You Quit Smoking
Many people gain weight when they quit smoking. Even so, the best action you
can take to improve your health is to quit smoking. Focus on stopping smoking
first. Then you can continue to improve your health in other ways. These may
include reaching and staying at a healthy weight for life.
Will I gain weight if I stop smoking?
Not everyone gains weight when they
stop smoking. Among people who do, the average weight gain is between 6 and 8
pounds. Roughly 10 percent of people who stop smoking gain a large amount of
weight-30 pounds or more.
What causes weight gain after quitting?
When smokers quit, they may gain
weight for a number of reasons. These include:
- Feeling hungry. Quitting smoking may make a person
feel hungrier than usual. This feeling usually goes away after several weeks.
- Having more snacks and alcoholic drinks. Some people
eat more high-fat, high-sugar snacks and drink more alcoholic beverages after
they quit smoking.
- Burning calories at normal rate again. Smoking cigarettes makes the body burn
calories faster. After quitting smoking, the body's normal rate of burning
calories returns. When calories are burned more slowly again, weight gain may
Can I avoid weight gain?
To help yourself gain only a small amount or no
weight when you stop smoking, try to:
- Accept yourself
- Get regular moderate-intensity physical activity
- Limit snacking and alcohol
- Consider using medication to help you quit.
Do not worry about gaining a few pounds. Instead, feel proud
that you are helping your health by quitting smoking. Stopping smoking may make
you feel better about yourself in many ways.
Stopping smoking may help you have:
- more energy
- whiter teeth
- fresher breath and fresher smelling clothes and hair
- fewer wrinkles and
- a clearer voice.
Get regular moderate-intensity physical activity
Regular physical activity
may help you avoid large weight gains when you quit smoking. It may help you
look and feel good, and fit into your clothes better. You will likely find that
you can breathe easier during physical activity after you quit smoking.
Try to get 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most
days of the week, preferably every day. The ideas below may help you to be
active every day.
Ideas for being active every day
- Take a walk after dinner.
- Sign-up for a class such as dance or yoga. Ask a
friend to join you.
- Get off the bus one stop early if you are in an area
safe for walking.
- Park the car farther away from entrances to stores,
movie theatres, or your home.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Make sure the stairs are well lit.
Limit snacking and alcohol
high-fat, high-sugar snacks and alcoholic drinks may lead to large weight gains
when you quit smoking. The ideas below may help you make healthy eating
and drinking choices as you quit smoking.
Healthy eating and drinking choices as you quit smoking
- Do not go too long without eating. Being very hungry
can lead to less healthy food choices.
- Eat enough at meal times to satisfy you.
- Choose healthy snacks, such as fresh fruit or canned
fruit packed in juice (not syrup), air-popped popcorn, or fat-free yogurt,
when you are hungry between meals.
- Do not deny yourself an occasional "treat." If you
crave ice cream, enjoy a small cone.
- Choose an herbal tea, hot cocoa made with nonfat milk, or sparkling water
instead of an alcoholic beverage.
Consider using medication to help you quit
Talk to your health care provider
about medications that may help you quit smoking. Some people gain less weight
when they use a medication to help them stop smoking.
Medications that may help you quit smoking
- Nicotine replacement therapy
- nasal spray
- Antidepressant medication
The patch and gum are available without a prescription from your health care
Will weight gain hurt my health?
A small-or even large-weight gain will not
hurt your health as much as continuing to smoke will. The health risks of
smoking are dramatic.
Health risks of smoking
- Death-tobacco use is the
leading cause of preventable death in the United States. It kills more than
400,000 people in the U.S. each year.
- Cancer-smoking greatly increases the risk for lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. Smoking is also
linked to cancer of the
esophagus, larynx, kidney, pancreas, and cervix.
- Other health problems-smoking increases the risk for lung disease and heart disease. In pregnant
women, smoking is linked to premature birth and low birth