Will I Put on Weight When I Quit Smoking?
Many smokers have concerns about weight gain when they quit smoking.
You’ll be pleased to know that although weight gain is possible, it’s not typical to gain excessive weight (i.e. over 10kg). In fact, some people don’t put on weight at all and the typical weight gain is about 4kg.
On average, around 60% of this gain occurs in the first year after quitting – but in the longer term, the average weight of an ex-smoker is not higher than someone who’s never smoked.
Check out all the positive changes waiting for you when you quit smoking
What causes weight gain after quitting?
Reasons for weight gain when quitting smoking may include:
- Changes in metabolism affecting the way your body stores and uses fat
- A slowing down of your metabolism
- Reversal of the appetite-reducing effects of nicotine, causing increased hunger
- Smoking having been a substitute for food, which may have helped you avoid over-eating
- Replacing the ‘high’ of smoking with the enjoyable effects of food, especially foods high in fat and sugar, which can activate the brain’s ‘reward’ centre in a similar way to smoking
If you’re concerned about weight gain during your quit smoking journey, talk to your doctor or call the NSW Quitline for advice.
How can I minimise weight gain when I quit smoking?
Here are some ideas you can try to reduce weight gain while you quit smoking:
- Use Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) or a prescribed quit smoking medication (Bupropion or Varenicline) – these seem to have a small but noticeable effect on minimising weight gain while using them.
- Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables; avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar
- Try not to snack as a way of managing nicotine cravings
- Drink water or low-calorie drinks instead of snacking
- Do regular physical activity*
*While any form of physical activity is recommended, there is some evidence that taking part in a supervised exercise program may reduce weight gain, with more noticeable effects in the longer term rather than straight away.
Quitting smoking is the ideal time to improve your health and fitness. Click here to learn more about the fitness benefits of quitting.