Most people looking for ways to quit smoking worry about weight gain, and with good reason. Smokers who quit tend to pack on an average of 5 pounds after they stop smoking cigarettes. A new study, published by the journal Science, explains why this happens, paving the way for novel smoking cessation and obesity treatment options.
TIME magazine explains the relationship between nicotine and satiety in a piece about the new research, “Study: Why Quitting Smoking Makes You Fat.” It appears that nicotine binds to appetite-regulating neurons in the brain, besides the receptors that bring about addiction. Found in the hypothalamus, these neurons help regulate how much food gets consumed, but under the influence of nicotine, they lose their self-discipline. This is why when smokers quit, they tend to eat more and gain weight. Nicotine really does curb appetite.
The researchers believe that their discovery will lead to the development of drugs that target nicotine receptors on brain cells that control appetite. In the future, weight gain may no longer be a reason for smokers to delay the decision to kick the habit, but that’s no reason to wait. Nicotine-replacement therapies, while not for everyone, can help. Here are a few more ways to quit smoking and stay slim from everydayhealth.com:
- Drink water. Stay hydrated and satiated. To boost metabolic effects, make half of those glasses ice water. Juice can be too high in calories, something you’ll want to monitor on your journey toward being a slimmer non-smoker.
- Plan your snacks. Healthy snacks help keep your metabolism plugging along, so you continue to burn calories while nixing wild hunger pangs, or fake hunger.
- Keep moving. Exercise kills two birds with one stone. It helps you burn calories and distracts you from eating when you’re not truly hungry. It’s also a feel-good stress reliever. Focus on your fitness and how being healthy makes you feel. Make exercise a goal and think of quitting as your reward for being physically fit.
See also: 25 Ways to Stop Smoking Cigarettes