Maintaining your weight when you quit smoking

Immediately after quitting smoking, some people find that their metabolism changes and they gain weight. Here's what you need to know.

Although people worry about gaining weight, most people gain less than 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms). Most of the weight gain happens in the first 1 to 2 months of quitting. There are many reasons for this:

  • Nicotine (the addictive drug in tobacco) can stop us to feeling hungry.
  • Nicotine is a stimulant. It makes the heart and other body systems work faster.
  • When people stop using tobacco, taste buds recover and food starts to taste better.
  • Eating may replace the habits around using tobacco (e.g., having a break at work, the hand-to-mouth action of smoking).
  • As people stop using tobacco, their brains may crave foods with lots of sugar or fat.

However, the health benefits of quitting smoking are great, even if some extra weight is gained. Stopping your use of tobacco is an important part of getting healthy.

Tips for maintaining a healthy weight

Eat bigger meals in the morning
Smoking increases how fast you burn calories, so some smokers find that they put on weight after quitting. One way to balance this is to eat more of your daily calories in the morning.
Move a little (even just a little) more
Adding moderate exercise a few times a week to your routine adds up quickly will help boost your metabolism naturally. Get moving!
Fight your cravings with crunch
It's common to have an increased appetite or crave high calorie foods after quitting. Low-calorie foods with a big crunch can help combat these cravings.
Eat smaller meals more frequently
It may be tempting to reach for sugary snacks to give you a boost. Instead, eat smaller amounts of food more often throughout the day.
Keep healthy snacks on hand
If you miss holding and having a cigarette in your mouth, you may be tempted to reach for food instead of a cigarette. Have plenty of healthy snacks on hand, chew sugarless gum or sip cold water with lemon.