Don’t let the idea of a slower metabolism keep you from quitting smoking. Let’s look at ways to help your body adjust while it heals.

It’s common for people to gain weight after quitting smoking. In the month after giving up smoking, people gain an average of between 5–10 pounds. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including the physical effects of quitting nicotine.

But there are things you can do to counteract this, such as eating balanced and nutritious meals, exercising, and getting extra hydration as you quit.

There are several reasons people gain weight after giving up smoking. Nicotine affects your body in multiple ways. This means that when you quit smoking, it takes your body time to adjust to not having nicotine.

For instance, according to a 2011 study, nicotine speeds up your metabolism by an average of about 10% when you’re at rest. When you stop smoking, your body might burn calories at a slower rate than you’re used to, leading to weight gain. Smoking can also lower your appetite. Many people feel hungrier when they quit, something else that can lead to weight gain.

Additionally, smoking is a habit. Most people who smoke have multiple cigarettes throughout the day. It’s common for people who stop smoking to reach for a snack as a way to beat cigarette cravings and oral fixation. This is another factor that can lead to excess calories and weight gain.

The weight gain after smoking can be temporary. It can also be minimal. It depends on several factors, some of which you can control.

A study from 2011 indicates that most are hungrier when they first quit smoking, but this is largely a withdrawal symptom that fades after a few months. Tracking your eating habits, along with taking steps such as ensuring you’re getting enough physical activity, can help control weight gain. It can also help you reduce any weight you gain immediately after quitting.

If you’re new to meal planning and crafting balanced meals, check out our guide. It may also be helpful to work with a nutrition coach to get you started.

Some people experience constipation, gas, bloating, and other digestive symptoms when they quit smoking. This is typically a result of your body adjusting to not having nicotine. For most people, bloating lasts for a few weeks and then fades. If it lasts longer than a few weeks, it’s important to let a doctor know.

You’re not alone

Quitting smoking is one of the most important steps you can take for health. It can also feel like an overwhelming one. Fortunately, you don’t have to take the journey alone. When you’re ready, you can get support from these great resources:

  • Smokefree.gov: Smokefree.gov offers a wide range of support to anyone who wants to quit smoking. A program of the federal government, Smokefree offers both general guides that apply to all smokers and guides tailored to specific groups, such as veterans, teens, women, and adults over 60.
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency (SAMHSA) Hotline: SAMHSA offers this free helpline 24/7 to connect people with treatment programs, support groups, counseling, and more in their local areas. You can reach the hotline by calling 1-800-622-HELP (4357) or by using their online locator.
  • The National Texting Portal: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides this free texting service. You can get started at any time by texting QUITNOW to 333888 for support, quit-smoking tips, and more.
  • The quitSTART app: The QuitSTART app is a free app available in both the Apple and GooglePlay stores. The app aims to keep users motivated with goal tracking, tips, support chat, challenges, and more.
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You can’t replicate the effects of nicotine on your metabolism. But there are steps you can take to control weight gain and help your metabolism. For instance, you can:

  • Ask for help when you need it: A primary healthcare professional might have guides and tips that can assist you on your journey. They might also be able to connect you to professionals such as nutritionists or dietitians who can help you make the best choices to manage your weight.
  • Choose nutritious snacks: When quitting smoking, you may experience heightened cravings for snacks. Try to make sure to have smart choices on hand for when they hit. Here are 29 nutritious snack ideas to get you started.
  • Create balanced meals: Set yourself up for success by planning your meals for the week. Not sure where to start? Here’s an easy guide to meal planning for weight loss.
  • Eat frequent meals: It’s important to eat at least three full meals a day. Some people find that eating smaller meals more often is especially helpful when quitting smoking.
  • Stay hydrated: Staying hydrated can keep you from reaching for a snack when you’re actually thirsty. Being well-hydrated also helps keep your body and metabolism running smoothly.
  • Avoid alcohol: Alcoholic drinks tend to be high in calories, which can make managing weight more challenging. Drinking alcohol can also make it more difficult to manage cigarette cravings.
  • Keep straws, toothpicks, or other substitutes around: Many people find that having something to chew on when a craving strikes prevents the urge to smoke or snack.
  • Keep active: Keeping active is always one of the best things you can do to manage your weight. It also helps your body repair the cardiovascular damage done by smoking.

It’s common to experience some weight gain after quitting smoking. It can happen during withdrawal as your body adjusts. Some people also experience bloating and other gastrointestinal symptoms.

Taking steps such as tracking portions, avoiding alcohol, staying hydrated, and keeping active can help you manage weight as you quit. If you’re concerned about your weight after quitting, consider talking with a doctor for more help.