Everyone knows you gain a bunch of weight after you quit smoking, but common knowledge has always insisted that these pounds pack on because a new non-smoker starts eating everything in sight. Turns out, weight gain after quitting smoking might have nothing to do with what you eat.
Researchers at the Zurich University Hospital suggest that the real reason new non-smokers can pack on up to 15 pounds is actually due to a change in intestinal bacteria. By examining poop (yes) from five smokers and five non-smokers, Gerhard Rogler and his colleagues determined that the “biggest shift in the composition of the microbial inhabitants of the intestines” occurs after one quits smoking.
In layman’s, the bacteria in your intestines becomes more energy efficient and actually breaks down more of what you eat. This sounds great, but it results in less waste and more fat cells packed on.
The problem is compounded by the fact that most new non-smokers actually don’t change their eating habits all that much. Most say that they consume about the same number of calories before, while the rest admit they eat even less than before. The only significant difference among subjects of this particular study was that they tended to consume a bit more alcohol after quitting smoking.
Some tips to avoid weight gain when you quit smoking:
Turn to low-calorie or zero-calorie foods to get your “oral gratification.” These include sugar-free gums or candies, carrots or celery sticks. Crash diets or fad diets are also discouraged by most medical professionals, though exercise is encouraged.
But it’s likely you’ll gain some weight after quitting smoking. About 80 percent do. Just remember that packing on a few pounds is a lot healthier than continuing to smoke.