Monday 3 February 2014

Smoking And Weight Gain

Wine, tea and coffee, is giving up smoking really so bad?

Most people assume that smoking is bad for the health. And on balance it probably is. However, smoking does possess some health benefits. For example, smoking is associated with being lean. When people quit smoking they often gain body fat. This can increase the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. To gain the maximum health benefits from being smoke free it is therefore necessary to prevent the gains in fat associated with quitting.

Nicotine Burns Fat

Quitting smoking is problematic because many experience weight gain. One reason that smoking might keep people leaner is because the nicotine in tobacco is a central nervous system stimulant. Nicotine causes the release of adrenaline which increases metabolic rate and therefore has fat burning properties. However, smoking might keep people lean because smokers have other habits that cause fat loss. In particular, perhaps they also drink more?

Alcohol Causes Fat Loss?

Regular consumers of alcohol have lower body weights than teetotallers. The reason for this is not clear but may relate to the ability of alcohol to increase an alternative energy production system in liver cells. Alternatively, those that drink alcohol may consume fewer carbohydrates including sugar and this may decrease the risk of weight gain. Because smokers are also more likely to be drinkers, this might explain their lower body weights compared to non-smokers.

Caffeine Causes Fat Loss

Smokers are also more likely to drink coffee. Coffee contains caffeine and this, like nicotine, also causes the release of adrenaline. Therefore coffee has fat burning effects that can keep regular coffee drinkers lean. The combination of nicotine and caffeine over time may be enough to keep smokers leaner than their non-smoking counterparts. This may give us some clues as to how to stay lean following the cessation of smoking.

Quit Smoking And Take Up Drinking

If you quit smoking and want to avoid weight gain, it might therefore be beneficial to drink more alcohol and coffee. Because both of these drinks potentially increase fat burning in different ways they may act synergistically. Tea also has fat burning effects because of the caffeine, catechins and L-theanine it contains. Green tea contains more catechins and L-theanine than black tea and so might be particularly beneficial at causing fat burning.

Quit Smoking Keep ‘Smoking’?

Smoking is bad because the smoke from the tobacco depletes the body of antioxidants. When the antioxidant defences are depleted, damage to tissues occurs, and this leads to disease. People like smoking because nicotine is addictive. However, nicotine is not responsible for the damaging effects of smoking. Maintaining a source of nicotine with gum or electronic cigarettes might therefore be beneficial because it could prevent the weight gain associated with quitting.

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