Does Vaping Make You Lose Weight?
If quitting smoking was easy, the majority of smokers would do it. There are a few reasons to continue smoking, between the health risks and the cost of smoking. Using traditional methods isn’t easy, which is why so many continue. We examine why quitting smoking is so hard, the main issues, and what can be done to make becoming smoke-free much easier.
Why Quit Smoking?
We say the reasons for quitting smoking are commonly known, but are they? We’d like to think so. However, just in case, we are going to look at the reasons why continuing to smoke is, quite simply, a bad idea and why vaping e-liquids can be a much better alternative.
Public Health England, the government group responsible for all matters concerning public health, including harm reduction, works tirelessly to spread awareness of the risks associated with smoking. There are billboards, posters, radio advertisements, online information, information in schools and more, all advertising the harm smoking causes and, on the flip side, the benefits of quitting smoking.
In addition, the World Health Organisation has also classified many of the ingredients (chemicals) found within tobacco cigarettes and tobacco smoke as being both toxic and carcinogenic. This means that tobacco cigarettes have the potential to cause cancer.
The cost to your health when you smoke, is significant. When you give up, your health improves within 20 minutes, with your heartbeat/pulse returning to normal levels and your blood pressure improving. Within 12 hours, your blood oxygen level will return to your “normal” level, and the amount of CO2 will revert to your norm. The benefits of giving up smoking are numerous and ongoing.
Cost of Living
When it comes to smoking tobacco cigarettes, the monetary cost has become higher than anyone could have foreseen. The average twenty-pack of cigarettes now costs around £10. That’s £70 a week for a 20-a-day tobacco cigarette smoker. That’s £3640 a year. When you consider the fact that the cost of living in the UK, from house prices to food, has risen significantly faster than earnings have, having such a costly habit has become prohibitive for many, even causing debt, as giving up smoking isn’t easy, whether you can afford it or not.
Tobacco cigarettes will not get any cheaper, as annual rises have been set out in the government budget every year for quite some time, and these increases don’t seem likely to stop.
Smoking now has a negative social stigma attached to it. This is all thanks to the Go Smoke-Free smoking ban 2007, spearheaded by Public Health England, which sees smoking illegal on public transport, in public buildings, train stations, cafes, bars, workplaces and more.
In addition, it is widely recognised that passive smoking, i.e., breathing in the smoke from a smoker’s cigarette, can be just as harmful to a non-smoker as smoking can be to a smoker. If social opinion matters to you, this adds another option to your list of reasons why quitting smoking is a good idea.
Other Costs of Smoking
It is important to look at the other costs associated with smoking. If your health isn’t valuable enough, perhaps the environment is. The amount of smoking-related litter that Keep Britain Tidy and other environmental groups report is staggering. Aside from the tobacco cigarette boxes themselves, there are cigarette buds to deal with, which can take over a decade even to degrade. Even then, the impact on the environment is significant.
In addition to the cost to the environment and local councils, who are often responsible for keeping the streets clean and declogging the drains filled with litter, you have to look at the overall cost of smoking to the NHS.
Smoking-related illnesses and diseases cost the NHS billions yearly between prescriptions, GP appointments, Stop Smoking Services, outpatient appointments, diagnosis-led appointments and inpatient care. Smoking significantly impacts your health, contributing to or causing several illnesses, from asthma and COPD to health issues and cancer. The cost of smoking, in this instance, is very high as it can contribute to premature death.
What are Cravings?
One of the hardest things about giving up smoking is the fact that you have to deal with the cravings that come with stopping your tobacco smoking habit. Cravings are not as cut and dried as you might think, as there are three different cravings you might find yourself dealing with.
Many people struggle with letting go of the physical aspects of smoking, particularly the hand-to-mouth action, the simple act of having something in your hand and the relaxing inhale/exhale action.
Nicotine is well-known for being addictive. This means that giving up cigarettes, particularly if you go “cold turkey”, is hard as your body craves the nicotine it is used to. There are other elements of chemical cravings, as tobacco cigarettes are crammed with chemicals, and the body gets used to these too.
It is not uncommon for people to simply miss smoking. A habit is something you are used to, something you have built into your daily routines, and something you feel you need.
Why Do We Gain Weight When Quitting Smoking
There are several reasons why people gain weight when they quit smoking. Some of that is attributed to not having something in their hand, boredom and increased appetite (nicotine can act as an appetite suppressant).
While individuals might gain anywhere from no weight to up to ten pounds over a year after giving up, that certainly isn’t true of everyone. Some people don’t gain weight at all. It all comes down to the individual and how they plan or manage their post-smoking habits. It is worth noting, of course, that while gaining some weight isn’t at the top of the list of healthy things to do, the benefits of quitting smoking are many and long-term.
It’s also important to remember that gaining weight after quitting smoking is not something that will happen and can be avoided.
Understanding the Relationship Between Smoking Cravings and Weight Gain
When people decide to quit smoking, they often face many challenges, including the potential for weight gain. It is well-known that smoking cessation can lead to weight gain, but understanding the relationship between smoking cravings and weight gain is crucial to effectively manage this aspect of quitting.
Nicotine, the addictive substance in cigarettes, has several effects on the body. One of its properties is its ability to suppress appetite and increase metabolic rate. Smokers often experience reduced food cravings and a slight increase in calorie expenditure, which can contribute to weight control. Therefore, when someone quits smoking, the removal of nicotine disrupts this equilibrium, leading to changes in appetite and metabolism.
Multiple factors contribute to weight gain after quitting smoking:
- Former smokers may experience an increase in appetite as their taste and smell senses improve, making food more enjoyable.
- Some individuals may turn to food as a substitute for smoking, using it as a coping mechanism to deal with cravings or stress.
- Nicotine withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability and anxiety, can trigger emotional eating or overeating.
Furthermore, it is important to consider the psychological aspect of weight gain during smoking cessation. Many smokers fear weight gain and may be reluctant to quit due to this concern. The fear of weight gain can create a psychological barrier, making it more challenging for individuals to quit smoking. Understanding and addressing this fear through proper education and support can significantly increase the chances of successful smoking cessation.
It is essential to adopt healthy lifestyle habits to manage weight gain during the quitting process. Regular physical activity in daily routines can help regulate metabolism and prevent weight gain. Choosing nutritious, low-calorie foods and practising portion control can also assist in maintaining a healthy weight. Additionally, seeking support from healthcare professionals, counsellors, or support groups can provide guidance and motivation throughout the quitting journey.
The Link Between Nicotine Withdrawal and Increased Appetite
Nicotine acts on various neurotransmitters in the brain, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, which are crucial in regulating appetite and mood. It suppresses the release of these neurotransmitters, leading to decreased appetite and satisfaction after eating. However, once nicotine is eliminated from the body, the balance of these neurotransmitters is disrupted, causing an upsurge in appetite and cravings for food.
Moreover, nicotine withdrawal symptoms can intensify the desire for food. As the body adjusts to the absence of nicotine, individuals may experience increased irritability, anxiety, and restlessness. Food, particularly those high in sugar and fat, can temporarily relieve these uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. This can lead to emotional eating or reliance on food to cope with the challenges of quitting smoking.
The timing of increased appetite during smoking cessation is also noteworthy. It peaks around one to two weeks after quitting and gradually subsides. Understanding this pattern can help individuals anticipate and manage their cravings more effectively. Engaging in distractions or finding healthier alternatives, such as chewing sugar-free gum or snacking fruits and vegetables, can help alleviate the urge to overeat.
It is important to note that not all individuals who quit smoking experience significant weight gain. The extent of weight gain varies from person to person, influenced by factors such as genetics, pre-existing metabolic rate, lifestyle habits, and level of physical activity. By adopting a proactive approach and making healthy lifestyle choices, individuals can minimise the risk of weight gain during smoking cessation.
Lifestyle Changes to Minimise Weight Gain After Quitting Smoking
Quitting smoking is a significant achievement that brings numerous health benefits. However, one common concern for many individuals who quit smoking is the potential for weight gain. The transition from smoking to a smoke-free lifestyle can lead to changes in metabolism and eating habits, often resulting in unwanted weight gain. This section will discuss effective lifestyle changes and helpful tips and advice to minimise weight gain while supporting overall health and wellness.
Adopt a Balanced and Nutritious Diet:
Focus on consuming a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. This approach provides essential nutrients while keeping calorie intake in check. Avoid highly processed foods, sugary snacks, and excessive alcohol consumption, as these can lead to weight gain.
Practice mindful eating techniques to become more aware of your hunger and fullness cues. Slow down and savour each bite, paying attention to the flavours and textures of the food. Avoid distractions such as television or smartphones while eating to prevent overeating.
Regular Physical Activity:
Engage in regular physical activity to boost your metabolism and burn calories. Choose activities you enjoy, such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, or dancing. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week and strength training exercises twice weekly to build muscle and increase overall calorie expenditure.
Be mindful of portion sizes to avoid overeating. Use smaller plates and bowls to create an illusion of a fuller plate. Consider measuring portions initially to develop a better understanding of appropriate serving sizes.
Choose nutritious snacks that provide satiety without adding excess calories. Opt for fresh fruits, raw vegetables, yoghurt, nuts, or seeds. Planning and preparing snacks in advance can help prevent impulsive choices contributing to weight gain.
Celebrating Victories: Overcoming Cravings and Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight can be challenging, but one of the most significant hurdles individuals face is managing cravings. These intense desires for specific foods can derail even the most determined individuals. However, overcoming cravings and maintaining a healthy weight is possible with the right strategies.
Understanding the Triggers:
The first step in managing cravings is identifying the triggers that set them off. Cravings can be triggered by emotional states, such as stress or boredom, as well as external cues, like the sight or smell of certain foods. By becoming aware of these triggers, individuals can develop strategies to counteract them and reduce the intensity of cravings.
Building a Balanced Diet:
Maintaining a healthy weight requires a balanced diet that satisfies the body's nutritional needs. Including various nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help minimise cravings. These foods provide essential nutrients, promote satiety, and stabilise blood sugar levels, reducing the likelihood of experiencing intense cravings.
When cravings strike, finding smart substitutions for unhealthy foods can be helpful. For example, swapping sugary snacks for fresh fruits or opting for air-popped popcorn instead of chips can satisfy cravings while providing more nutritious options. Experimenting with flavorful herbs and spices can also enhance the taste of healthier meals, making them more satisfying.
Planning and Preparation:
Being prepared is essential when it comes to managing cravings. Planning meals and snacks, keeping healthy options readily available, and having a structured eating schedule can help reduce impulsive food choices. Additionally, having alternative activities to engage in when cravings arise, such as taking a walk or practising a hobby, can distract the mind and diminish the intensity of cravings.
The Role of Vapes in Managing Smoking Cravings and Weight Gain
Quitting smoking is a commendable achievement that brings numerous health benefits. However, many ex-smokers face the challenge of weight gain during the cessation process. Fortunately, emerging evidence suggests that vaping could help prevent weight gain while managing smoking cravings.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT):
Nicotine, the addictive component in cigarettes, is also found in e-cigarettes, making vaping an effective form of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). By delivering nicotine in a less harmful manner than traditional cigarettes, vapes can help mitigate the psychological and physiological withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting smoking. Vaping simulates the hand-to-mouth smoking habit, providing a satisfying alternative for those struggling with cravings.
Appetite and Metabolism:
One of the primary concerns for ex-smokers is the potential for weight gain after quitting. Smoking has been known to suppress appetite and increase metabolism, and when cigarettes are replaced by vaping, ex-smokers can continue to experience these effects. Vaping allows individuals to retain nicotine-induced appetite suppression and a slight metabolic boost, thereby reducing the likelihood of overeating and weight gain during the cessation process.
Controlled Nicotine Intake:
Vapes offer customisable nicotine levels, allowing ex-smokers to reduce their nicotine consumption gradually. This controlled approach allows individuals to wean off nicotine while satisfying their cravings. By gradually reducing nicotine levels, ex-smokers can better manage their appetite and minimise the risk of excessive snacking or overeating that often accompanies sudden nicotine withdrawal.
Alternative Sensory Experience:
Beyond nicotine replacement, vapes offer ex-smokers a sensory experience similar to smoking, which can help alleviate the psychological aspects of cravings. The inhalation and exhalation of vapour and hand-to-mouth motion mimic familiar smoking-related actions. This sensory satisfaction can be a helpful distraction and reduce the desire to seek comfort in food.
Top Tips For Combating Smoking Cravings
To maximise your chances of giving up smoking, it is important to have a plan in place to combat your smoking cravings.
Triggers are things, places, times and habits that automatically make you want to reach for a cigarette. These might be at certain times, such as with your morning coffee, taking a takeaway, or even drinking alcohol. Step one is all about recognising when these dangerous times are likely to occur. Step two is all about avoiding these triggers by changing your routines, turning to an alternative such as an e-cigarette rather than a cigarette, and working around those things that make you want to restart smoking until these cravings pass. They will pass!
Vaping has been recognised as a valid and useful alternative to tobacco smoking, enabling many to give up smoking altogether successfully. Public Health England released a vaping review in 2018 which hailed vaping as being at least 95% less harmful than smoking. This evidence-based review has been supported by many scientists, healthcare professionals, NHS personnel, health experts, health charities and more.
Vaping is very different from smoking, i.e., with vaping, you heat e-liquid containing base liquids (VG and PG), flavourings and nicotine (or not, as there are nicotine-free e-liquids to choose from). With smoking, you breathe in the smoke from burnt tobacco and toxic chemicals (according to the World Health Organisation, which also classifies tobacco smoke as having the potential to cause cancer). It is clear why using an e-cigarette is the preferred option.
Not only is vaping a great alternative, but it has been proven as a useful cessation device. Suppose you remember the three smoking craving types, the physical, chemical, and psychological factors. Vaping mimics all. You may enjoy the hand-to-mouth, inhale, exhale, relaxation, social, and more.
E-liquids still contain nicotine, meaning this craving is essential to take care of as there is no nicotine withdrawal. However, you can alter the amount of nicotine you use by choosing a different strength, effectively stepping down your nicotine usage over time to zero if this is a post-smoking goal. It stands to reason that switching to vaping could also help with the weight gain risks.
Long-Term Strategies for Maintaining a Smoke-Free Lifestyle and Healthy Weight
Transitioning to a smoke-free lifestyle is a significant achievement, but it is equally important to focus on maintaining a healthy weight throughout this process. Adopting long-term strategies that address smoking cessation and weight management can greatly enhance your overall well-being. Here are some detailed guidelines on maintaining a healthy lifestyle as you stop smoking.
- Seek support: Surround yourself with a strong support system that understands your goals and provides encouragement. Joining a smoking cessation support group or seeking professional guidance from a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian can provide valuable assistance in managing smoking cessation and weight maintenance.
- Manage stress effectively: Quitting smoking can be stressful, and stress can contribute to weight gain. Adopt stress-management techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or engaging in hobbies and activities you enjoy. Finding healthy outlets for stress can help prevent emotional eating and promote overall well-being.
- Set realistic goals: Set realistic and achievable goals for both smoking cessation and weight management. Celebrate milestones and reward yourself with non-food treats to maintain motivation and a sense of accomplishment.
Does Vaping Make You Lose Weight?
Several studies have examined how vaping affects health since its dramatic rise in popularity in recent years. While some studies have shown negative effects, there is also evidence that vaping can aid in weight loss.
Nicotine, the addictive substance found in traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes, has been found to have appetite-suppressing effects. In other words, nicotine users may feel less hungry and eat less.
Thanks to the range of sweet and fruity flavours available in e-cigarettes, many people also report that vaping helps satisfy their sweet cravings - which can be particularly beneficial for those who struggle with emotional eating or those battling binge eating habits and unhealthy food cravings.
Vaping also provides a stress-relieving effect, which can be helpful for individuals who turn to food during times of stress. Due to reduced stress, those who vape may feel the urge to eat also subsides.
Moreover, some e-liquids contain caffeine, which has been shown to increase metabolism and aid in weight loss. This can be particularly helpful for individuals trying to lose weight through diet and exercise but struggling to see results.
It is important to note that while vaping may have weight loss benefits, it is not a recommended method for weight loss. To lose weight safely and effectively, it is important to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly - and you should always consult with your healthcare professional before making any major lifestyle changes.
Vaping and Potential Weight Gain
Cravings, triggers and the worry of weight gain are all things that make quitting smoking difficult. However, they need to be addressed because smoking can be deadly. Switching to vaping from tobacco cigarettes can positively affect smokers who have tried to quit before and have been unsuccessful.
Many, including health organisations and Public Health England, are calling for e-cigarettes to be officially recognised as a cessation device, making access easier for some groups and increasing the number of people who can quit smoking altogether. You can learn more about nicotine and how it works on the Science Museum website.
If you are looking to give up smoking and have found it difficult in the past, vaping might be the answer which will help you quit smoking successfully. Good luck!
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