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Smoking and Your Weight

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Why Stopping Smoking Can be Hazardous to Your Weight.

I’m sure you are convinced, correctly, that stopping smoking is a good thing to do. I’m certainly not advocating people smoke, but if you’re trying to lose weight, you may find that it is very hard to lose weight while quitting smoking! Over the last 20 years, working with tens of thousands of overweight individuals, I made an interesting observation that most people gain weight after they stop smoking.

How Can Smoking Affect Your Figure?

Let me explain.

When people smoke, they ingest about 1 milligram of a chemical called “nicotine”, and nicotine acts on your adrenal gland, the stress gland of your body. If you ever have asked a smoker what it feels like to light up, they will tell you they feel relief – stress relief. They can actually breathe better. They calm down. This is weird since their lungs are being filled with smoke.

However, nicotine triggers two hormone-like substances. One is called “dopamine”. Dopamine is a pleasure hormone and mood elevator. The other is “adrenaline”, which interestingly stimulates (and constricts) the whole body except two parts — the lungs and the heart. In these two organs, nicotine does the reverse, and relaxes the arteries allowing more blood flow into the lungs and heart. This is part of a natural built-in stress mechanism — because as you are being chased by the lion, the body needs more lung and heart oxygen.

Smokers experience both a calming effect as well as a stimulating effect, which increases cognitive function and improved blood sugars. But over time, the adrenals become dependent on these sensations. This means, the adrenal glands do not have to produce as much triggering hormone, as they are being triggered by an external source – nicotine.

Once the person stops smoking, the adrenals go into a state of “Hey, I’m missing my fix!”

Cutting of this adrenal triggering mechanism puts the adrenal into a state of “overwhelm” and “depression”, triggering another hormone called “cortisol”. This is the hormone that directs fat into your belly. So, it is the over compensation reaction from the adrenals that causes weight gain.

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