Ask any woman who’s ever lost a significant amount of weight and she’ll likely tell you that it was definitely not the nicotine-laced cigarettes or the high-calorie ice cream that made the difference: It was the fact that she didn’t make an effort to stop smoking. Ask any man who’s trying to lose a few pounds and he’ll tell you the same thing: It wasn’t exercising and watching his diet that made the difference: It was the fact that he chose not to make an effort to give up smoking. The fact is that smoking causes weight loss differently for different people.
For smokers, weight loss is a simple matter of the more efficient body use of their lungs compared to non-smokers. If they’ve been smoking for many years, their body has trained itself to function as though it were in an active state – and the lung capacity to do so far outweighs the calories burned. This means that smokers tend to eat less when not smoking and that they burn off calories at a much higher rate. This explains why smokers are generally heavier than non-smokers; they’ve used up more calories in their effort to fight off the nicotine addiction than they have spent burning those calories off with their lungs.
But this explanation about the physiology of smoking is only part of the puzzle. What about the psychology? There are many who argue that the constant urge to smoke can actually be a strong incentive to keep smoking. In fact, studies have shown that many smokers find it difficult to give up. There are also those who claim that because smoking provides such a great sense of reward, even when it’s not having any physical effect, many smokers find it hard to resist.
While both arguments have some merit to them, the answer to the question does smoking cause weight loss in the most practical terms is a little more complicated. The physiology is certainly part of the equation, as is the idea that smoking makes you feel like you’re not getting enough exercise. But there are also a lot of psychological factors as well.
In other words, you can think of smoking as being a sort of mild addiction. A lot of addictions exist in the world, from drugs to gambling to work, but few involving the body as a result of consuming certain substances. Addictions, in general, take time to develop. Many smokers simply don’t become heavy smokers overnight. It usually takes a period of adjustment for a smoker to start seeing positive results from his or her smoking.
This is why the best way to think of how does smoking cause weight loss is to view it in terms of the psychological effects. The connection between smoking and weight loss is likely to be most profound among former smokers. Smokers who quit after losing a significant amount of weight usually do so without serious health problems or long term complications.
But there are many smokers, particularly young ones, who lose weight without changing their habits at all. It’s hard to blame them: we’ve all heard plenty about the dangers of smoking, and many smokers don’t believe that they’ll ever get addicted to the nicotine that cigarettes have. But it’s often hard to know whether or not a given food or substance is addictive. It’s also not clear whether the psychological aspects of smoking are important. As the saying goes, “You’ll never know what’s in a cigarette by just looking at it.”
But the more recent studies certainly suggest that some of the psychological aspects of smoking are important. It’s probably true that if you want to stop smoking, you should try to give up cigarettes. But the extent of the psychological impact of smoking may be much more important than the physical. If you understand that your relationship with smoking is more than just the nicotine addiction, and that it has an impact on your life, and then you can fight successfully against your weight loss.