If you're a smoker, the healthiest resolution you can make is to kick the
habit. But kicking butts often goes hand in hand with weight gain. Is it
possible to be both slimmer and smoke-free in the New Year?
It can be done, experts say -- if you go about it the right way.
Quitting smoking is never easy. But a growing number of smoking cessation aids make it easier than ever for smokers to break their addiction to nicotine.
Research suggests that medications and nicotine replacement therapies can double and sometimes even triple the chances that a smoker will successfully quit. Some of these treatments also help to minimize weight gain while quitting -- an important plus for many smokers who want to kick the habit.
With a growing number of options available, doctors...
First, consider this: Although you are likely to gain a little weight when
you stop smoking, it probably won't be as much as you fear.
"Cigarettes activate your metabolism," says Cynthia Purcell, MS, a
nutritionist and smoking cessation therapist in the smoking cessation program
at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. "You burn about 250
calories if you smoke a pack a day. So when you quit and your metabolism slows
down, your body has these extra calories it has to deal with, and many people
Most people gain about two pounds during the first couple of weeks after
quitting, Purcell says.
"People who quit tend to think, 'It's only been two weeks and I've
gained two pounds. What's it going to be like in two months?' And they go back
to smoking to avoid the weight gain," Purcell tells WebMD.
"If they'd just stick with it, they'd realize it's not going to be a
pound or two every week, and their metabolism will even out. On average, most
people only gain between 5-7 pounds in total after quitting."
And when you consider the benefits of a smoke-free lifestyle -- both inside
and out -- those few extra pounds may not mean as much.
"The lungs, heart, and the arteries will start repairing themselves
almost immediately after the last puff," says Purcell.
Not only that, but your skin clears up and starts to look smoother, your
fingernails stop looking yellow, your breath improves, and your teeth can be
bright again. All these less-obvious benefits of smoking will have you looking
great, even if you put on a few, says Purcell.
So you're ready to quit, and you want to minimize the weight gain. Is it
cold-turkey time, or is it time to strategize and plan?