How to Quit Smoking Without Gaining Weight

woman smokingIt’s hard to believe, but 45 million American adults smoke. While many want to quit, they’re afraid of piling on pounds. Here’s how to quit smoking without gaining weight. 

Many smokers who want to quit don’t because they fear gaining weight. A new review study reveals how much weight smokers gain, on average, when they quit. While quitters to gain weight, the good news is that a few diet and lifestyle changes can help smokers kick the habit without gaining unwanted weight.

About 20% of US adults (45 million Americans) smoke and many say that they don’t want to quit because they fear gaining weight.  In fact, 50% of female smokers and 26% of male smokers say that they’d rather smoke than pile on pounds. In addition, many who try to quit start smoking again after a few months when they notice they’ve gained weight.

How Smoking Helps You Stay Slim

Smoking does boost your metabolism and nicotine suppresses appetite, which is why when smokers stop, they often gain weight. But continuing to smoke for fear of weight gain is absurd due to the much harmful health risks associated with smoking.

The recent review study of  weight gain associated with smoking cessation revealed interesting findings. The authors concluded that the vast majority of those who quit smoking will gain 2.5 pounds the first month; 5 pounds more at 2 months and about 10 pounds a year later. Just 16% of smokers lost weight when they quit and 13% gained more than 22 pounds.

The study found no significant differences between FDA-approved drugs to help smoking cessation and the use of therapy and other methods to help the smokers kick the habit.

 Six Strategies to Avoid Weight Gain When Quitting Smokingno smoking sign

  • When you’re craving a cigarette or the hand-to-mouth satisfaction, reach for sugar-free gum, mints or candy; or try raw veggie sticks like carrots, bell peppers and jicama.
  • Some ex-smokers report having more cravings for sweets, so enjoying foods that are naturally sweet like dried fruit and using cinnamon to enhance the sweetness of foods may help. Using sugar substitutes and giving in to your cravings for sweets will probably only make your cravings worse.
  • Brush your teeth often and whenever the urge hits. A mouth that feels fresh and clean helps curb your cravings.
  • Exercise. Improving your fitness helps improve your mood and outlook, and will help you burn extra calories. When the urge to smoke hits, take an exercise break. Even if it’s just a 10-minute walk, it all adds up.
  • Avoid alcohol. Drinking reduces your resolve and increases your appetite and desire for unhealthy foods, so better off to not drinking for several months when you quit smoking.
  • Boost Your Metabolism Naturally. Use these diet and exercise tips to do everything possible to give your metabolism a lift.


Farley AC, Hajek P, Lycett D, Aveyard P. Interventions for preventing weight gain after smoking cessation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Jan 18;1:CD006219. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006219.pub3.



  1. says

    I agree that the logic is twisted when people continue to smoke in order to avoid weight gain. At the same time I think fear of gaining weight is a reflection of our society’s absurd values–and it’s not really so absurd when you consider the amount of bias, judgment and harrassment people of size endure.

    The health care community needs to come clean and stop perpetuating myths that reinforce overblown fears regarding body fat and body weight. Metabolic health is the issue no matter how intensely an ideal body image is celebrated, how often people are shamed for their body size, and how frequently people are besieged to lose weight.. How does Appetite for Health embrace health at every size? @HAES

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