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Stop smoking weight gain: Understanding and overcoming the challenge

Why do you gain weight when you stop smoking?

It’s true that some people gain weight when they first quit smoking. That’s because nicotine withdrawal can increase your appetite, making you feel hungrier. On top of that, you will find that your sense of taste improves, making everything taste better. You might also have replaced smoking with snacking.

This means you might eat more than you did while you were smoking.

If you’re worried about putting on extra pounds when you stop smoking, making a plan before your quit date will help.

Quit smoking weight gain timeline

According to research, most weight gain happens within the first three months of stopping smoking. On average, former smokers put on around 10 pounds (4-5kg) in weight in the first year after stopping smoking.

Even small changes, like having healthy food options to hand and taking some gentle exercise, are good for preventing unwanted pounds.

How long does weight gain last after quitting smoking?

If you have put on a bit of weight please don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s important to not give yourself too many challenges or to make too many changes all at once.

The main thing is to focus on quitting smoking and feeling confident as a non-smoker first. This is by far the single most important change you can make for your health.

Quit first. Then focus on losing any excess weight. You’ll also find you can breathe better and have more energy to get active.

Don’t let fears about weight gain get in your way of stopping smoking. The best thing you can do for your health at this time is to quit as soon as possible. The benefits will be immediate.

How to not gain weight when quitting smoking

To help you kick the habit and avoid putting on too much weight, we’ve put together the following tips.



1: Use Nicotine Replacement Therapies

Nicotine increases your metabolism, this means you burn calories at a slightly faster rate than non-smokers. If you’re wondering how to boost your metabolism after quitting smoking, the good news is that once your body adjusts to being a non-smoker, your metabolic rate will stabilise.

Stop smoking aids like nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or e-cigarettes can help you to successfully stop smoking. The evidence shows that using NRT or vaping will not only help you quit smoking, it will also reduce your chance of putting on extra weight.

Find out more about the different types of nicotine replacement products, medications and quit smoking tools and resources.

2: Keep Your Hands Busy

You might be tempted to replace the ‘hand to mouth’ action of smoking with snacking. Think ahead about what you can do instead, and make sure you have your healthy snacks prepared.

If you’ll miss holding a cigarette there are handheld quit smoking aids that you may want to try like e-cigarettes (remember to use an e-liquid containing nicotine). E-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than smoking and are proven to help you quit. Learn more about e-cigarettes.

3: Exercise Regularly

Being more active, even by taking just a short, brisk walk will boost your mood, reduce stress and help you sleep better. It will also help reduce your urge to smoke!

Once you have quit smoking, you may want to begin a new exercise routine, like the popular Couch to 5K app. There are also lots of activities and how to exercise videos for all abilities on the NHS website.

4: Sleep Well

Struggling to sleep can be a nicotine withdrawal symptom. This usually gets better within a week of quitting.

When you are tired, the hormone Grehlin, the ‘hunger hormone’, is released. Leptin, another hormone which helps to control food intake and energy levels, goes down. This means we are more likely to eat more and do less when we feel tired.

For advice on how to get a good night’s sleep as you quit smoking, visit the Good Thinking website.

5: Ask For Help

You’re much more likely to succeed at quitting with support. If you’d like help at any stage of your stop smoking journey, search for your local help to stop smoking. You can also get free telephone appointments with a Stop Smoking London adviser 0300 123 1044.