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Smoking and Weight Loss

Each week we’ll be pulling out one of your emails from our mail bag and featuring them here. Feel free to submit as many questions as you would like. For example: What are some lower body weight loss tips for people in their 40s? All questions having to do with Nutrition, Weight Loss and Obesity-related health conditions are fair game. 

“Dr. Kim,

“Three months ago my husband and I stopped smoking. Since then I have gained 10 pounds. My eating habits are no different and I exercise the same amount. I'll be 49 in two weeks and not looking forward to being a size 14. My husband has also gained 15 pounds. Question is... why?”



- Marsha

First off, let me congratulate you on stopping smoking. That is fantastic. I know how hard it can be and I wish you and your husband the best of luck. Aside from losing weight, stopping smoking is the best thing that you can do to improve your health.

The question you ask is a very common question. I’d like to consider your specific situation in two parts. The first part has to do with the fact that you stopped smoking. Virtually everybody who stops smoking gains weight. There are two parts to why this happens. The first part (and probably the greatest contributor) is that food replaces the satisfaction one receives from smoking. Whether it’s oral fixation or stress relief, food oftentimes takes over the role of a cigarette. This leads to weight gain. The second is that nicotine, a stimulant, may speed up your metabolism a little bit. As a result, when you stop smoking, this can slow your metabolism down and lead to some weight gain. As I said before, the metabolic effect of smoking cessation is only a minor contributor to weight gain.

Next we’ll consider age as a risk factor for weight gain. Two processes of aging lead to weight gain. The first is the loss of muscle; the second is changes in hormones. As we all get older, our bodies naturally lose muscle mass. Your muscles are what drive 85% of your daily metabolism. So as the amount of muscle you have in your body declines with age, so does your metabolism. This is why it’s important to do some weight bearing exercise as you get older. Next, the change in hormones levels (unfortunately, more for women than men) can lead to changes in your metabolism and changes in your body’s ability to burn fat. This is evident for women in the peri-menopausal period and most evident in the post-menopausal period. This is why its best to address your weight issues as early as you can, because it unfortunately doesn’t get any easier. That being said, any time is a good time to lose weight. Hope that helps and best of luck to you.

What’s great about working with a medical weight loss center is that not only do you have access to diet plans, a FDA approved weight loss program, safe appetite suppressants and a medical weight loss clinic, you have a place to ask questions, get tips and discover creative weight management programs that allow you to get long-lasting results. It’s the best way to truly change your lifestyle and create a healthier you.

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