advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Is Weight Gain Inevitable When You Quit Smoking?

I've never talked with an ex-smoker who didn't gain weight after quitting despite following strict diet and exercise programs. Is weight gain inevitable after quitting and what can I do to prevent it?

A
Answer (Published 1/15/2002)

Most people do gain some weight when they quit smoking, principally because the nicotine in tobacco acts as an appetite suppressant and increases your metabolic rate. However, the weight gain isn't as great as you may think. It's usually less than 10 pounds, and most people gradually lose this weight within two to five years. Even so, smoking is much more harmful to your health than gaining a few pounds.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Balance - Too much of anything can be harmful - including vitamins. Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor takes into account your age, gender and health history to determine the optimal dosage. Learn more, and get your free, personalized Vitamin & Supplement Recommendation today.

I disagree with your belief that you're bound to gain weight when you quit smoking even when you follow strict diet and exercise programs. First of all, surveys have shown that smokers tend to have pretty bad eating habits. They're less likely than nonsmokers to eat fruits and vegetables and, as a result, have a lower intake of fiber and antioxidants. Smokers also typically have higher intakes of total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol than nonsmokers. Clearly, adopting a healthier diet and increasing your physical activity can help you minimize or even avoid the weight gain that typically occurs when you stop smoking.

If you haven't been exercising, start out by walking. You don't have to carve out a big block of time - just try to fit 30 minutes of walking into your daily schedule at least five times a week. You can do this all at once or in three 10-minute intervals. If you already exercise regularly, add an extra half-hour to your weekly total. Exercise not only burns calories to minimize weight gain, but it will also help reduce any stress you're feeling as a result of not smoking.

As far as diet is concerned, emphasize fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains and healthy protein sources. Avoid foods made with flour and added sugar as much as possible. Make sure you have cut-up vegetables or fruits available for snacks. You'll probably find that your sense of taste and smell will improve once you stop smoking. This change should make fresh, healthy foods more appealing. You can also combat weight gain and the urge to smoke by drinking at least eight glasses of water a day and by regularly practicing a relaxation technique such as deep breathing, yoga, or visualization.

Andrew Weil, M.D. 

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here