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Mythbusting: “I’ll gain weight, which is just as unhealthy as smoking.”

Weight gain when you quit smoking is not a given, let's look into it...

Weight gain is common in the months after quitting for a number of reasons:

  • When you quit smoking you’re looking for rewards, treats and something to do on breaks so it’s easy to start over-snacking.

  • Smokers often miss the hand-to-mouth action of smoking. Eating often springs to mind to fill this desire.

  • Nicotine slightly speeds up metabolism. After quitting it may slow down to a healthier, more normal, rate which can cause some weight gain.

  • Nicotine can act as an appetite suppressant, so you may feel hungrier than normal in the first few weeks of quitting – though this will decrease over time.

Note: research shows that, in terms of health risks, it is better to quit smoking and gain weight than to continue to smoke. 

How to prevent weight gain or keep it low

  • Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time: stock the fridge and fruit bowl with healthy foods like fruit, vegetables and nuts. Don’t have too many processed snacks (e.g. chips, biscuits, lollies, soft drink) in the pantry or fridge. Try to keep most of your eating to meals, whenever possible.

  • Increase your exercise: to help keep your weight down and also as a distraction to beat cravings. Even an increase in regular walking can help lessen weight gain.

  • Chat to Quitline. Quitline counsellors have lots of tips for avoiding weight gain. Request a Quitline callback.

If weight gain is stopping you from quitting, talk to your doctor. They can help you make a healthy eating and exercise plan that suits your lifestyle. Your doctor can also refer you to a dietitian or other specialist.

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