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Smoking and Weight Loss

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Smoking and Weight Loss

Why Do People Start Smoking?

People start smoking for two main reasons:
1) Peer Pressure
2) To Lose Weight

This has been true for several decades now. You never hear someone say that they started smoking because they admired the way that it robs people of wind. You never hear people say they smoke because they the admire the cool sounds that chronic smokers make when they are hacking their guts out all the time.

The two most often stated reasons are:
1) I started smoking because most of my friends were doing it and I wanted to fit in.
2) I started smoking because it helps you to lose weight.

This article will explore the truths and myths about smoking and weight loss.

Does Smoking Help You Lose Weight?

Actually it does! The effects of smoking on your body with respect to weight loss are as follows:
1) The tars and other chemicals inhaled during smoking deposit on the tongue and suppress your sense of taste. If food does not taste as good, you are less inclined to eat it.
2) Nicotine suppresses your appetite so you are feel less hungry and are less inclined to eat
3) Smoking increases your heart rate and metabolism slightly. This can burn up to 200 calories per day. (That is the equivalent of about 15 minutes of walking on a treadmill at 4 miles per hour).
4) It gives you something to put in your mouth besides food.

So How Much Will Smoking Help You Prevent Weight Gain?

The best way to figure this out is to get an idea of how much people tend to gain when they quit. Studies have shown that on average people giving up smoking will put on about 4 to 10 pounds, and about one person in 10 may put on about 25 to 30 pounds. These numbers may not be all that accurate because longer-term studies now suggest that this rebound of weight immediately after smoking cessation is only temporary. Longer-term studies show that the weight gain will reverse in 6 months to a year after smoking cessation as the smoker's body adjusts to being an ex-smoker.

Lets try to figure out the deferred weight gain in a different way: Suppose you are eating 500 calories more than you are burning every day. There are 3500 calories in a pound of body fat, so that would mean that every week you will put on one pound. So that is about 52 pounds a year. Theoretically this would increase forever, but as you add more weight to your body, you burn more energy hauling it around, so eventually you come to a new equilibrium point and stop putting on weight.

If you are smoking, then 200 calories of that weight gain will be deferred, but that still leaves you with 300 surplus calories per day that will go towards weight gain. This means that you will put on a pound of weight every 12 days or so. But take note that you are still putting on weight. With nothing else in the equation, your weight will continue to rise until your body reaches it's new weight to calories burned equilibrium point. The advantage here is that the equilibrium point is reached sooner because the extra weight will stop adding on when the smoker consumes only 300 calories more of energy hauling around that extra weight as compared to the non-smoker having to consume 500 extra calories. This means that the non-smoker would tend to put on more weight in our experiment above.

Is It Inevitable That You Will Gain Weight If You Stop Smoking?

1) Studies of heart patients showed that patients who were told to make diet and lifestyle changes while quitting smoking did not gain as much weight as those who did not get this advice.
2) Air Force recruits in basic training have to give up smoking and drinking. In this environment, they do not put on excess weight because they are much more physically active, and their diet is more controlled. 500 calories is less than you get by eating a standard Starbucks muffin a day. Since smoking only increases your metabolism by 200 calories a day, if you can give up the equivalent of half of a Starbucks muffin a day from your diet, you will not gain weight after stopping smoking.

So the secret to not gaining weight after stopping smoking is:
1) Keep track of what you eat while you are smoking.
2) After you stop smoking, eat exactly the same diet, but cut out the equivalent of half a Starbucks muffin.
If you do the above, 9 out of 10 people will not put on weight if they stop smoking.

What Can I Do Instead Of Smoking To Keep From Gaining Weight?

That one is easy; just pick one of the choices below:
1) Look at what you eat while smoking, and after you stop smoking reduce your food intake by the equivalent of half a Starbucks muffin.
2) Walk for 15 minutes on a treadmill at 4 miles an hour every day after you stop smoking.
3) Just walk faster as you do your day-to-day routine after you stop smoking. (Walk like you are late for an appointment.)

So Do You Need To Smoke To Help Lose Weight?

If you can reduce your food intake by the equivalent of half a Starbucks muffin every day, the answer is No!!

Does Smoking Make You Lose Weight In Any Meaningful Way?

The answer is staring you in the face every day:
1) Do you know overweight people who smoke?
2) Have they lost any appreciable weight since you have known them?

The answer is No!!


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