What’s the best way to quit smoking and still lose weight?

Smoking cessation is certainly associated with weight gain. Depending on which study you choose, the average weight gain in the first year after quitting is about 16 to 18 pounds.

Our first recommendation is quit and not return to smoking, despite the weight gain. Smoking is considered the most important preventable health hazard (of course, it’s always a matter of degree–being 300 pounds overweight is a more serious condition than smoking three cigarettes per day).

Second, many studies have indicated that people who use multiple strategies for quitting (e.g., medication like Zyban to help relieve the cravings, plus nicotine replacement, plus a class) are much more likely to quit than those that go it alone. Having said that, I must add that most people who have successfully (that is, permanently) quit smoking have done it “cold turkey,” without assistance.

Third, if you’re going to lose weight and quit smoking, you’re probably better off losing the weight first and then dealing with the smoking. In losing weight, most people become more active which helps make the transition easier. Also, knowing how to lose weight, were it start to bump up again, increases one’s confidence.

After you’ve quit, you should feel confident in knowing that you’ve made one of the wisest decisions of your entire life! Unfortunately, some recent habit-kickers begin to notice physical ailments, including fatigue, despite the rewards of a decreased risk of lung cancer and heart disease. For many, the fatigue leads to unwanted weight gain.

Some of the weight gain can be blamed on the “hand-to-mouth” habit. Instead of bringing a cigarette to the mouth, some ex-smokers resort to nibbling or snacking on sweets and treats. Also, because nicotine tends to increase metabolism, ex-smokers begin to notice tiredness as the metabolism slows down. A decreased metabolism and an increased intake of sweets leads to that dreaded weight gain.

If you’re a recent quitter and don’t want to battle unwanted weight gain, try these tips:

– Start walking. Whenever you feel the urge to puff, counteract your urge with a brisk ten-minute walk.

– Reduce your calorie intake by 100 calories per day.

– Substitute that candy dish of jellybeans for a glass of sparkling water with a twist of lemon.

– Take that extra money you’re saving by no longer buying cigarettes and buy a membership to a local health club.