Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Avoiding Weight Gain When You Quit Smoking

If you want to stop smoking but are worried about gaining weight, this article may help you. Many ex-smokers do gain a few pounds, but only a few gain a lot of weight. The best action you can take to improve your health is to quit smoking. Smoking is much more harmful to your health than gaining a few pounds. Making some simple changes, like developing healthier eating and physical activity habits, should help you control your weight gain when you quit smoking.

Smoking increases metabolism slightly:

* Smoking burns up to 200 calories a day in a heavy smoker
* Because smoking burns calories, metabolism is boosted (increased) slightly
* Nicotine is an appetite suppressant

When you quit smoking, a gain of between 5 and 10 pounds during the first few months of cessation is normal. If your eating habits have remained the same as they were when you smoked, you can easily shed this small gain with a brisk, 30 minute walk daily.

The fact is that many, but not all, ex-smokers do gain some weight after they quit. One study found that 60 percent of men and 51 percent of women ex-smokers put on extra pounds. But the degree of weight gain is relatively small in most cases. The average long-term weight gain for quitters is about 5 pounds, and in one study, 23 percent of quitters actually lost weight.

Smokers weigh less because smoking depresses the appetite for certain foods, while quitters, whose appetites are not suppressed, gain weight because they take in more calories. Nicotine may also alter the smoker's metabolism so that smokers burn more calories and convert fewer calories into fat. In addition, smoking serves as a meal terminator (rather than taking a second or third helping or dessert, you are likely to stop eating and have a cigarette).

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