Is It Possible to Quit Smoking and Lose Weight?

Medically Reviewed on 1/24/2023

Man breaking a cigarette in half to quit smoking
While people often gain weight after quitting smoking, smoking cessation helps lower the risk of major health issues, including heart disease, frequent lung infections, and certain types of cancer.

Although it is common to gain weight (about two pounds) during the first couple of weeks after quitting, studies have reported that most people have lost some of the weight that they gained six months post-quitting. 

The most common side effect of quitting smoking is weight gain; however, smoking cessation helps lower the risk of major and lasting health issues such as heart disease, frequent lung or bronchial infections, and certain types of cancer dramatically. 

What causes weight gain after quitting smoking?

On average, most people gain between 5 and 10 pounds (2.25 to 4.5 kg) after quitting. Most weight gain occurs in the first year after quitting smoking, particularly in the initial three months.

The nicotine in cigarettes suppresses appetite, increases metabolism, and contributes to weight gain.

Causes of weight gain after quitting smoking (nicotine withdrawal) may include

  • Slower metabolism
  • Increased hunger (as a withdrawal symptom)
  • Being inactive (doing little or no exercise)
  • Food tastes better
  • Hand-to-mouth replacement (smokers often replace their urge to pick up a cigarette by picking up a snack)

What are the benefits of quitting smoking?

Physical benefits

  • The lungs, heart, and arteries will repair themselves
  • Clear and smooth skin
  • The fingernails stop looking yellow
  • Improved breath
  • Better breathing
  • Heart rate becomes normal
  • Teeth become bright again
  • Improved quality of sleep
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Improved lung function and circulation
  • Reduced cough

Mental benefits

Can you quit smoking without gaining weight?

It is difficult to quit cigarettes and manage weight at the same time because both activities require effort and commitment.

The American Heart Association recommended a few tips to minimize cigarette cravings and prevent weight gain:

  • Perform regular physical activity (walking or jogging)
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Control your appetite through portion management, meal planning, and dietary restrictions
  • Take adequate amounts of vitamins B and C
  • Stay hydrated
  • Get enough sleep
  • Eliminate or reduce processed, fatty, or sugary foods and drinks
  • Avoid substituting food for cigarettes
  • Choose healthy snacking
  • Make realistic goals
  • Stay dedicated
  • Do not become frustrated with the changes in the body
  • Keep yourself occupied
  • Identify and avoid triggers
  • Get help from family and friends
  • Try nicotine replacement therapy in the form of a patch, gum, nasal spray, or inhaler 
  • To relieve stress, try deep breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation

Can smoking relapse?

A relapse is when an individual resumes smoking after weeks, months, or years of abstinence.

It is most often the result of a massive trigger or an unexpected life event.

A smoking relapse may result in increased

  • Health problems
  • Negative feelings
  • Depression
  • Self-condemnation
  • Feelings of hopelessness and frustration


How to Quit Smoking: 13 Tips to End Addiction See Slideshow

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Medically Reviewed on 1/24/2023
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