Have you ever wondered why smokers seem to be skinnier than non-smokers? Have you heard that someone quit smoking and gained weight or maybe you have experienced this yourself? Would you like to know if and how smoking affects appetite?
Smoking is an addiction, just like drug or alcohol addictions. Your body becomes addicted to nicotine, a substance which triggers certain reactions in your brain, making you need more and more of it. How people start smoking is not really relevant. The issue here is why people smoke.
For some of them it is the power of habit, while some smoke for the short term and long term benefits. People smoke when they are stressed, anxious, depressed, they have trouble sleeping, are jumpy or irritable.
Thus, the short term benefits are an induced feeling of relaxation, improved memory and decreased depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, these effects will fade away quite fast, and the body will ask for another cigarette and a higher nicotine intake.
Believe it or not, smoking also has some long term benefits. It lowers the risk of joint replacement surgery, Parkinson’s disease, death after a heart attack and obesity.
Smoking lowers the risk of obesity by reducing appetite
Again, the nicotine does all the work, suppressing appetite and decreasing the sense of taste and smell. Not feeling hungry and not enjoying the taste and smell of food is for sure a good way to avoid obesity. Obviously, cravings will be out of the question as well, and one will find it easier to avoid sweets or saturated fats.
Some people actually start smoking to lose some pounds, although smoking two packs of cigarettes a day is more dangerous than being 60 pounds overweight. So, yes, smoking does affect appetite and helps people stay fit or lose weight, and, yes, those who quit smoking are predisposed to weight gain?
How and why do ex-smokers gain weight?
- Nicotine not only suppresses the appetite, but it also speeds up the metabolism. That is why smokers burn calories much faster.
- After you quit smoking, your sense of taste and appetite will get back to normal, so food will taste good again. That is why you will be tempted to snack and eat more often.
- Coping with withdrawal symptoms is quite hard. That is why many people find relief and comfort in food, compensating the pleasure of smoking.
- Eating is also a replacement for the hand-to-mouth activity. Smokers have the habit of taking their hand to their mouth, and if they cannot do it with a cigarette, they will do it with cookies, chips, peanuts or whatever they like.
But, as long as you are aware of all these, you can take measures to avoid weight gain after you quit smoking. Try not to eat more than you did before and, if you feel the need to replace cigarettes with food, try sugar-free gum, carrot or celery sticks, slices of sweet potatoes or sugar-free hard candies.
Quitting smoking is not easy, but, if you are ready to do it, you should do a little extra effort and pay attention to what you eat and when you eat. After all, the benefits of nicotine for weight management are not worth taking risks like lung cancer to give just one example.
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