Why Am I Bloated After I Quit Smoking?

Smoking is an unhealthy habit that can ultimately shorten your lifespan. Although the consequences of smoking are well-known, some people hesitate to quit out of fear of bloating and weight gain. According to the Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute (MCCRI), the average person typically gains four to ten pounds after he quits smoking. However, the Weight-control Information Network (WIN) reports that 10 percent of ex-smokers can gain up to 30 pounds. There are steps you can take to help prevent weight gain after quitting such a life-threatening habit.

Nicotine and Weight

Some smokers appear thinner than those who do not smoke. The Mayo Clinic explains that the nicotine content in cigarettes is part of the reason why some smokers stay thin. Nicotine suppresses your appetite, increases your heart rate and speeds up your metabolism. In fact, the MCCRI reports that if you are a smoker, your heart beats up to 20 more times a minute after each cigarette. Regular smokers tend to burn more calories than non-smokers. Quitting smoking reduces your metabolism and heart rate.

Eating Habits

Once you quit smoking, your appetite may increase, causing you to eat more. However, WIN explains that the increase in appetite disappears after a few weeks. Still, if you start eating larger portions, this habit may stick well after you wean yourself off of cigarettes. The cessation of smoking also causes you to crave starchy, salty and high-fat foods. Such foods increase your blood sugar and can make you retain salt. This results in water retention and fat accumulation in your mid-section. Instead, the Mayo Clinic recommends that you eat small portions of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains.

Alcohol Consumption

Smoking is a habit and an addiction. Therefore, you may find that you pick up other unhealthy habits such as drinking alcohol. The MCCRI explains that an increase in alcohol consumption is common among people who quit smoking. Alcohol is metabolized in your body as sugar, leading to abdominal fat and bloating.

Role of Exercise

Regular exercise is not just a healthy habit; it can help prevent bloating and weight gain associated with the cessation of smoking. According to the MCCRI, exercise decreases your appetite, burns calories, reduces your urge to smoke and decreases stress. Stress is another contributor to water retention and bloating. The Mayo Clinic suggests that you opt for 30 minutes of activity per day.


Bloating is a common side effect from quitting smoking, but the Mayo Clinic reports that permanent weight gain is not inevitable. If changes in your lifestyle do not make an impact on bloating and weight gain, ask your doctor if water pills or weight loss drugs are appropriate for you. Keep in mind, however, that such supplements are intended for people who are obese and not for those who simply want to lose a few pounds.

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