5 Facts about smoking and weight gain and 5 tips to combat it

By Marc Gatford, Stop Smoking Advisor

“Will I put on weight if I give up smoking?” is a common question raised by clients entering Kick-It’s stop smoking service. If, like many of our clients, you’re concerned about adding to your waistline after you’ve given up smoking, continue reading for some tips.

Firstly, we understand that putting on weight can negatively affect a person’s confidence and mood, so we do appreciate the apprehension. That said, the number one takeaway from this post is that the benefits of giving up smoking significantly outweigh some manageable weight gain. On average, ex-smokers can gain up to 11lbs in the year after they stop smoking1 – a very small price to pay to reduce the chances of heart and lung complications.2 

The good news is: It’s more than possible to quit smoking and maintain a healthy weight. Let’s start by striking a ‘MATCH’ to shed some light on why an ex-smoker’s appetite increases.  

Reasons your appetite increases after quitting smoking

Metabolism: Smoking speeds up metabolism, causing the body to require fewer calories.1 

Appetite: Nicotine can suppress the appetite.1 

Taste: Quitting smoking reinvigorates the taste buds and sense of smell. Rediscovering how wonderful everything tastes can lead to overeating.1 

Cravings: Quitter’s often mistake nicotine cravings for being hungry.1 

Hand to Mouth: Reaching for snacks can replace the smoking action.1 

So now we know why we may want to raid the fridge more often than before, let’s have a look at how to combat weight gain (without bolting a lock onto the fridge). 

How to combat weight gain after quitting smoking

Move more: Exercising speeds up metabolism, so the body burns calories faster.1 When a smoker quits, the body also has more oxygen and less carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas that slows you down.3   

Reduce portions: The NHS Eatwell portion plate is a great tool to help people create balanced, delicious meals while keeping an eye on much food they’re consuming.  

Be mindful of your diet: Reaching for refined sugars with a renewed sense of taste can be tempting. Be aware of what types of foods you are eating (the portion plate can help with this too). 

Be prepared: If your hand-to-mouth habit has you reaching for a sugary replacement, prepare some healthy snacks (link to healthy hearts recipes?) or buy some nuts or fruits. 

Try stop smoking medications: Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and prescription tablets like Champix, can increase your chances of quitting successfully.  They also seem to help limit weight gain in the first few months.1 

For further information on No Smoking Day 2021 visit the Today is the Day website. To learn more about the benefits of quitting, speak to one of our friendly advisors on 020 3434 2500 or email [email protected] Visit kick-it.org.uk to self refer to our services or to refer a friend or loved one.

1: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/quit-smoking/stop-smoking-without-putting-on-weight/

2: https://www.nhs.uk/better-health/quit-smoking/ 

3: https://yorkshiresmokefree.nhs.uk/pages/carbon-monoxide


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