How to NOT Gain Weight When You Quit Smoking: The Nicotine/Blood Sugar Connection
Mar 5, 2020 | By: Theadora Garcia
Our society is more educated on the dangers of smoking than ever before, and yet, many of us still won't even try to quit. One of the most common reasons for this is the fear of possible weight gain.
Understanding the physiological effects of smoking in the human body can go a long way to helping you understand how to overcome nicotine cravings and not gain weight. Many smokers believe that they enjoy smoking and that it relaxes them, but what they’re actually experiencing is a ride on the blood glucose roller coaster.
Within three to seven minutes from the time you light a cigarette, nicotine begins to enter your liver. The liver is your body’s glucose storage facility, and its job is to protect this glucose (fuel) for your body. When nicotine reaches your liver, the liver protects its precious cargo (fuel) by releasing the stored glucose into the bloodstream. This increase in blood sugar causes you to feel good, and have more energy because you're getting a “sugar rush.” However, any time your blood glucose levels rise quickly, your pancreas responds by sending insulin in to "control" the excess sugar. Insulin then does its job by presenting more glucose to the cells to be burned for fuel and converting glucose that isn't presently being burned into fat. This causes your blood glucose levels to drop quickly leaving you feeling tired, anxious, and often hungry.
Having a cigarette placates this feeling and starts this cycle all over again and is why most smokers smoke twenty to forty cigarettes daily. Candy, gum, mints, soda, or any form of sugar will also placate these feelings, but just like the cigarette itself, the behavior creates the same response from insulin causing yet another craving and the cycle continues in this fashion.
Blood sugar plummets in many people when first quitting smoking. Common side effects felt during the first three days such as headache, inability to concentrate, dizziness, time perception distortions, and sugar cravings, are often associated with this blood sugar drop. This is why many people start devouring food upon cessation. They start to experience a drop in blood sugar and instinctively reach for something sweet. However, about three days after quitting, your body will adapt and regulate blood sugar more efficiently without the excess food.
How to minimize these low blood sugar effects and not gain weight………
While you are doing this quit smoking coaching program, and for the first three weeks after quitting, it’s important to eat a diet consisting of protein and complex carbohydrates because this will help to maintain a "stable" blood sugar level. Stable blood sugar means fewer ups and downs that trigger the response.
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help to flush out all of the toxins smoking has left in your body. This will also help you to eat less.