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What can cause weight gain after quitting smoking?

Jill A. Grimes, MD
Family Medicine
One reason you gain weight when you quit smoking is because nicotine is an appetite suppressant. So obviously, when you initially take it away, your appetite is up.

Also, smoking kills taste buds, so just about the time the extra appetite from quitting is going away (around a week), suddenly food begins to taste better, because now you've actually got healthy taste buds.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
There are a few reasons why people gain weight when they stop smoking. One relates to the effect smoking has on your metabolism. When you smoke, you are getting a dose of nicotine and that revs up the body's metabolic engine. You end up burning more calories. When you stop smoking, your metabolism slows down. Many people gain between 4 and 10 pounds in the months after they quit. People also end up replacing the oral gratification they got with cigarettes with snack food -- oftentimes high-calorie sweets. Food can also become a comfort when the cravings rear their ugly heads. And since smoking dampens your taste buds and sense of smell, when you stop smoking, you may discover you enjoy eating more.

Try to mitigate these effects by exercising more to rev up your metabolism and eating fruit to satisfy your craving for sweets.
Ximena Jimenez
Nutrition & Dietetics
Weight gain after quitting smoking may happen for different reasons. Some ex-smokers get urges to have something in their mouth. They substitute cigarette for food which is usually sweets and salty foods. For those people that smoke to relax, they may turn to munching. Others may overeat when they are dealing with a difficult or triggering situation. Keep in mind that you can prevent or reduce weight gain after quitting smoking by visiting a registered dietitian. To find one go to www.eatright.org.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.