It is known that smoking cigarettes can control your appetite, helping you lose and maintain weight. If some studies are to be believed, then nicotine can increase energy expenditure and reduce appetite, which is why smokers tend to have lower body weight. 

But if it is the only reason you are still holding on to smoking, you’re in here for a surprise. Turns out, smoking can make you gain abdominal fat. Yes, this is what the recent studies reveal, establishing a close link between smoking and abdominal fat. 

Let’s know more about it. 

Understanding the claims, does the cessation of smoking make you gain weight? 

It has been well observed that our bodies start burning calories slowly when we stop smoking. The metabolism decreases, making people more susceptible to weight gain after quitting smoking. Consequently, it has given rise to the belief that smoking can keep them slim. 

However, this study is now contradicted by another one, wherein it is proved that smoking can lead to abdominal fat. To be precise, visceral fat. Visceral fat is found deep within your abdominal cavity. This fat surrounds vital organs such as your stomach, liver and intestines. It is also responsible for heart disease, diabetes, dementia and stroke. 

Nicotine, present in cigarettes increases belly fat by facilitating the increased levels of stress hormones in the body. When stress hormones kick in, the body starts accumulating fat, specifically in the abdomen. In addition, it can also reduce insulin sensitivity, which can speed up visceral fat accumulation. 

It is crucial to note that quitting smoking does have numerous health benefits which go beyond changes in body fat distribution. It increases the risk factors for several diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic conditions.

Tips to get rid of belly fat 

Quitting smoking surely helps. But if you want to get rid of belly fat, then it alone won’t work. You need to create a calorie deficit, I.e., burning more calories than you consume. Practising strength training, increasing your overall activity and limiting processed food will help you create that deficit. Remember, losing belly fat is difficult, as it may be the last part that loses fat. In other words, you may lose fat from the belly in the end. It completely depends on your body composition and genetics. There is no such thing as spot reduction. You cannot work a particular muscle group and expect to lose fat from the region. You cannot decide where you lose fat from. 

Tips to quit smoking 

Quitting smoking is a challenging but rewarding journey. Here are several tips to help you successfully quit smoking:

Set a quit date: 

Choose a specific date to quit smoking. This helps you prepare mentally and physically. Mark it on your calendar and inform friends and family to build accountability.

Identify triggers:

 Understand the situations, emotions, or activities that trigger your urge to smoke. Common triggers include stress, drinking coffee, or social gatherings. Once you know your triggers, you can develop strategies to avoid or cope with them.

Use Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT): 

NRT products like patches, gums, lozenges, nasal sprays, and inhalers can help manage withdrawal symptoms by providing a low dose of nicotine without harmful chemicals found in cigarettes. Consult your healthcare provider to choose the right option for you.

Consider prescription medications

Medications like bupropion (Zyban) and varenicline (Chantix) can reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. These should be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Seek behavioural support: 

Counseling or support groups can provide the emotional and psychological support needed to quit smoking. Options include one-on-one counselling, group therapy, or online forums.

Stay active: 

Physical activity can reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Exercise releases endorphins, which improve mood and reduce stress. Even short walks or simple stretching can be beneficial.

Practice stress management: 

Stress is a common trigger for smoking. Techniques like deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, and mindfulness can help manage stress levels and reduce the urge to smoke.

Avoid alcohol and other triggers: 

Alcohol can weaken your resolve and increase the temptation to smoke. Consider reducing alcohol intake or avoiding it altogether in the initial stages of quitting.

Reward yourself: 

Celebrate milestones in your journey to quit smoking. Use the money you save from not buying cigarettes to treat yourself to something special. This reinforces the positive aspects of quitting.

Stay persistent: 

Quitting smoking is often not a linear process. If you slip up, don’t be discouraged. Learn from the experience and recommit to your goal. Each attempt brings you closer to success.

Closing thoughts 

Understanding how smoking contributes to abdominal fat is key to a healthier future. Smoking doesn’t just harm your lungs; it messes with your metabolism, leading to more belly fat. This extra fat around your midsection increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other health issues. Quitting smoking can help you reduce this dangerous fat and improve your overall health. By giving up cigarettes and adopting healthier habits like eating well and exercising, you’ll set yourself up for a better, healthier life. Taking steps to quit today can make a big difference in how you feel and live tomorrow.

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