Hi, Ted Bradley here. Today’s blog is all about why you gain weight when you quit smoking and the science behind it. We need to understand the science or we don’t know what to do about it and how do we deal with it. How do we make sure we don’t gain weight when we quit smoking? In fact, how do we lose weight through quitting smoking? That’s what we really want to know. That’s today’s subject.
So for those of you not familiar with my content, I’m Ted Bradley, master hypnotist. I’ve dedicated in my life to helping people quit smoking. It’s all I do. I don’t do anything else. It’s how I make a living. I lost both my grandmother’s to smoking and dedicated my life to helping others quit ever since.
Okay, so back to the subject: Why do we gain weight when we quit smoking, what’s the science behind it, and how do we beat it? That’s what we’re going to deal with today. The first thing is in order to understand why we gain weight we have to understand the science. If you don’t understand the science then how do you know which action is going to actually help you not gain the weight or lose weight through quitting smoking. It’s so important especially with anything like smoking which has a chemical and physical reaction in our bodies. How we interact with that chemical reaction reveals a lot, but if we don’t understand the science we don’t know how to beat it. We’ve got to go into the science!
For those of you that follow my content, if you remember my video about smoking and stress and please go back and watch it. There’s tons of great information in there about smoking and stress. There’s a piece in there that really accurately describes the scientific relationship between smoking and weight gain, and why when we quit we gained weight. I’m just going to quickly recap, not the whole video, just to two really important points to understand about our physiology, smoking, and what happens when we smoke.
The first thing that happens when we smoke is that our body creates additional stomach acid. So, guess what happens when we smoke and we’re smoking 20 times 25 times per day (depending how much you smoke a day). Your body 20 times per days is generating additional stomach acid, and there’s nothing in there for you to digest. What happens is that stomach acid starts to digest fat stores. It actually aids in weight loss! I know this is not saying what people want to hear, but the thing is with beating smoking and beating not gaining weight, it’s just about the truth. We just need to understand what the reality is so we know how to deal with it.
So, when you smoke you increase the amount of stomach acid in your body that stomach acid helps you digest whatever might be there and the excess actually does help in weight loss. We also know that smoking is a heart stimulant. Our heart when we smoke a cigarette will increase on average 10 times per 60 seconds. Your heart’s not just increasing ten times the amount of times it beats, it’s increasing the number of beats per 60 seconds. This means if your average heart rate is 78, when you smoke it’s 88. So what’s happening when we smoke, is not only are we increasing the amount of stomach acid in our stomach, which helps with digestion and weight-loss, we are also increasing our heart rate on average 10 beats per minute. You’re raising your heart rate and stomach acid levels every time you smoke! You’re constantly, every cigarette, increasing the number of times your heart beats. So what happens? What do we know from science? When our heart rate increases what effect does that have on our metabolism? It increases the efficiency of our metabolism by 5% to 7%. When we smoke and our heart rate increases because we’re smoking, what’s happening to our metabolism is it’s increasing. That affects our ability to metabolize food and helps us with weight, but here’s the thing. Just think about this. It does NOT help if you’re smoking for 20 years. It’s not actually causing you to lose any weight, because your body hits equilibrium and it stabilizes. So when you are a smoker you’re not actually losing weight really because your body has gotten used to how many times your heart beats. It’s gotten used to the additional stomach acids. You’ve stabilized at a weight,
so it’s not actually helping you lose weight anymore. It probably did when you started, but what it’s doing now is it’s helping you not gain any additional weight.
If you keep maintaining the same lifestyle what happens is your body hits what they call it homeostasis, a stable weight. You hit a stable weight, and you just keep smoking. Your weight doesn’t go up or down, but now, what happens when you remove the smoking?
So what happens? Your weight goes up. That’s just one thing. I’ve got three other points that we need to understand to know how to beat gaining weight. We need to understand the science to beat the weight gain.
There are a few things not everyone knows about nicotine. Nicotine is an appetite suppressant. We really need to understand how nicotine works because it’s one thing to just say, “Well, nicotine’s an appetite suppressant so when you smoke it suppresses your appetite so you don’t need as much food.”
That’s true, but how do we know that and what is the science behind that? Because those two answers will give us the secret to beat it.
This is what happens when you smoke. When you smoke the nicotine it really triggers two things in your brain. One thing is it triggers your pleasure sensor. We’ll talk about that in a minute. The second thing it does is it triggers your nervous system. Because you’re injecting a poison into your system, and we now know that there’s a type of nerve cell in our body. Nicotine triggers the nerve cell that deals with eating behaviors, but more particular, it deals with fight or flight in our nervous system. Let’s dig into this. What does that mean? Why it’s an appetite suppressant is because your fight or flight system says, I might be in danger! I’m ingesting poison I might need to flee or fight! I need to be more efficient. I shouldn’t eat because it will slow me down. It will get in the way. Now is not the time to eat, or I might get eaten by a lion.
What happens is when we smoke one of the things that it does is it triggers our nervous system to fight-or-flight, and so it specifically targets our eating behavior to not want to eat. So we don’t tend to eat as much when we smoke. We eat less because of what’s happening in our neurology.
There’s two more pieces to this puzzle. Here’s the next piece. The other thing that happens when we smoke is the heat from the cigarette as it crosses our tongue actually impacts our ability to taste. All smokers know this intuitively. Back in the day I used to smoke cigars and, I mean you can’t taste anything after you’ve had a big cigar. Nothing.
So, here’s what happens. You quit smoking. Your taste buds come back right, which means food starts to taste better. Boom! Food starts to taste better. So guess what happens? We’ve quit smoking. A week goes by. We haven’t had a cigarette, and all of a sudden it’s like our taste buds like, “Wow! This salt is really salty. The sugar is really sugary. These foods taste really great.”
We eat more and we eat more, because food just tastes better. Because now we’re starting to pick up on nuances in the food that we couldn’t pick up on before. Food tastes better when we quit smoking, so people just eat more food.
It’s time for the final piece. Nicotine stimulates the pleasure sensor inner brain. That’s the fifth thing nicotine does. So here we are smoking. Smoke = feel good. Right? That’s basically it. If you look at why anyone smokes whatever reason they tell you: it’s because everyone else did, they wanted to fit in, they wanted to be cool, to rebel. At some level its: smoke = feel good. When we smoke it stimulates in our pleasure center in our brain, so guess what happens we quit smoking and we get a trigger. It could be anything. It could be you get in a fight with somebody or whatever, but you have a desire to feel good. We all have them. It’s natural, but we were used to satisfying that with a cigarette. Now what do we do? The cigarettes are gone, right. We don’t have that crutch anymore. Guess what the best way to stimulate your pleasure center in your brain? Sugar.
Sugar will activate the pleasure center in your brain, no problem. So here you are you were smoking, now you quit, right, and you let yourself get triggered. You want to feel good! Guess what your initial internal reaction is to wanting to stimulate your pleasure sensor? Sugar. So guess what smokers who quit do? They eat sugar. This is why we gain weight.
So let’s just quickly go over these pieces. They’ll give you some really great tips and tricks how to hack the system and beat the science based on science. Okay, so let’s just cover this again. When we quit smoking.
This is why we gain weight when we quit smoking! We have a whole bunch of things working against us! This is why when we quit people on average gain 10 pounds when they quit smoking. This is why we get hungry when we quit smoking. We have all of this working against us. This is the science behind why we gain weight when we quit. 33% of people will gain an average of 10 pounds when they quit smoking. This is the science behind it. If you don’t want to gain weight you have to understand this, because if we understand this we can hack the system and beat it. Lucky for us, we’ve got tons of good information here!
I’m going to give you about a dozen hacks that you can do to not gain weight when you quit smoking. You don’t have to do them all. You can do what works best for you, but my recommendation is the more of them you do the better.
The first thing that you should that you should do is set the stage for your mind. What I like to recommend to my clients is to put up a note in their mirror in their bedroom and on their fridge to remind their conscious mind of something every day. You want to look at the mirror every day and see, “I am in total control of what I eat, when I eat, and how much I eat. I am in control”.
We do this because the truth is our willpower exists in our conscious mind. We can make conscious decisions! When we quit smoking we can engage our will for the short time it takes to get beyond the physical weight gain triggers. We need to remind ourselves that the truth is our conscious mind can overrule our unconscious mind and we really are in control of what we eat. We really can decide we can decide – I’m going to have Mexican instead of Italian tonight. We can decide that we are in charge. We can use our will, but sometimes it really helps to remind ourselves that we really are in control. So it’s nice to put that up, because even if you don’t read it all the time having it in your vision, even in your peripheral vision, it gets into your unconscious mind. Your unconscious mind if it sees it enough it will start to accept it. Okay, you are in control of what you eat. You are a control of what you put in your mouth. Okay, you really are.
That’s the first tip. I call these my eight golden rules of what to do to make sure that you don’t gain weight when you quit smoking. Number two if you’re going to quit smoking buy something new – a piece of clothing, anything. It can be a shirt, a dress, or a pair of pants just anything that is the same size you are now but preferably one size shorter. You take it and you hang it up in your room.
The brain if it sees something continuously will adopt. We’ll adopt it just having it there in your space. Our mind is affected by our environment so much. This is what every marketer knows. This is what Walmart knows better than anyone. This is why when we get dolls and plastic packaging they’re in there so well now. I can’t get my kids Christmas presents that aren’t in plastic packaging. It’s impossible because marketers know that anything not in plastic packages shifts or moves and people are less likely to buy it off the shelf. We’re more likely to buy if it’s in there perfectly, because we are so influenced by our surroundings and our environment. It’s why when you are going to a Vegas casino they inject particular types of smells. It’s why things are on certain shelves in grocery stores and why cereal companies compete and pay for certain shelf space in a grocery store.
Put something in your environment that you see every day that is the current size you are or one size less. It will start to affect your brain. It’s the same reason why I want you to put that note telling you that you’re in control up. You want to start to control your environment. Control your environment to get what you want.
Quit smoking tip number two – learn to become a conscious eater, at least while you’re quitting smoking. So what does that mean? It means slow down. Do not eat in front of the TV. When we eat in front of the TV or we eat in front of a screen like our phone it’s a hypnotic trance. That’s what it is. Look at your five year old or your four year old watching television and you say to them it’s dinnertime or it’s this or it’s that and it’s like they don’t even hear you. I mean they are basically zombies.
It’s a hypnotic trance. They hear you. You know they hear you. You know they’re conscious of hearing you, but it’s not enough to shake them out of their trance. When you eat and watch TV or look at your phone you’re not going to be able to eat consciously. You’re going to be zoned out into whatever it is you’re watching. Do not eat there when you’re quitting smoking. Stop eating in front of the TV. Don’t do it. You need to become a conscious eater. What does that mean – becoming a conscious eater? It means be aware of how much you’re putting in your mouth, how frequently you’re eating, how quickly, and whether or not you feel full yet. So when you eat, you’ve probably all heard this a million times, put your fork and knife down slow down. You want to enjoy it. You don’t need to eat it in five minutes. Take smaller bites. Chew it longer. Start to become a conscious eater. You’ll enjoy your food more. You’ll like your food better if you slow down. You don’t need to walk down the burger. This isn’t a diet if you eat a burger. Eat a burger. Just eat it slowly. Eat more consciously. Chew it more.
The other thing you need to do to eat consciously is really important. Be aware when you’re satisfied, because here’s the thing, when your stomach is actually full it takes a full seven minutes on average to tell your brain that you’re full. So the truth is you’re actually full before you even know you’re full. It’s why we eat turkey dinner on Thanksgiving and the next thing we know we’re undoing the top button and falling back on the couch to sleep. We over eat because we keep eating. It tastes good! It’s pleasurable but we eat beyond when we’re full because it takes a long time for a stomach to tell your brain, “We’re full.” If you slow you’re eating down, though you’ll get that message sooner, and you won’t eat as much. So eat consciously. This isn’t about not emotionally eating all that that’s a whole other ball of wax. You don’t need to know that to eat less, you just need to eat consciously. Just slow down. Put your fork and knife down. Don’t trance in front of a television or watching YouTube on your phone. Eat consciously. Be aware of when you’re actually satisfied, and when your mind says, “I’m full.” don’t eat beyond that. You don’t need to finish your plate. Put it in the fridge. Put saran wrap on it. You can eat it later. The food’s not going anywhere! Your stomach isn’t a garbage can. When you over eat and you eat more than your body needs you’re treating it like a garbage can. You don’t need to do that. Stop eating when you’re full.
Next, when you quit smoking, this is going to seem kind of counterintuitive, only eat three meals a day. You can snack, but just stay with me for a second, only three meals a day. Here’s why, what happens is when you quit smoking and the appetite suppressant is gone lots of people will tell you and it’s very true, “I’m always hungry. I always feel hungry.”
That’s the natural physiological response to quitting smoking. It’s really easy to beat. Only eat three meals a day. Don’t eat more. You only need three meals a day. You will survive and you can snack. Here’s the catch. Just snack on fruits and vegetables. Do not snack on anything else, otherwise if you’re snacking on potato chips and pop and stuff like that you are going to gain weight. You will every time.
So here you are. You’re trying to quit smoking. You’re eating more consciously. You’re paying attention to when you are full. You’re stopping when you’re full. You’re only going to eat three meals a day. There’s a whole theory on weight loss like this called intermittent fasting. Your body needs that 4 hours between meals to start to digest. When we snack our bodies are always digesting. When our bodies always digesting there’s no space for you not to gain weight. You need space that next the hour that you’re a little bit hungry before your next meal. It’s not going to kill you. You can survive.
If you remember back to when you were a kid. All those times you were outside playing thinking, “I’m on the swing set where I’m having such a great time. I’m kind of hungry but dinner is not ready.” and you just kept playing. It’s the same thing. You don’t have to get that bread and butter an hour before your next meal, even if you’re a little bit hungry. Drink water. It will help for that next hour. You can snack just make them healthy snacks okay.
Next, buy good quality vitamins. Here’s why. When the nicotine goes through our system it takes 72 hours. We’re quitting smoking. We’re literally changing the internal system of our body and one of the things that we know now that, and if you really want to understand this you’ve got to look at your gut as a biome, all the new research out there in the nutritional medical field is telling us that our health is so tied to our gut and the bacteria in our gut. The connection is undeniable. It’s becoming the secret to better health going forward. This is not about gut bacteria. My point is that essentially that we need to make sure that we stay healthy and when we’re changing our gut when we start smoking, taking the nicotine, and our habits change our internal system is changing. It’s going through stress.
Take a good multivitamin. It will help with the cravings and the hunger because a lot of what know about cravings is cravings are biological. They’re Darwinian evolutionary signals for food, for fuel. Our bodies are actually designed by Darwinian evolution to fast because we’d kill our food and would have a total abundance and then we’d have no food for days and would have to hunt for it. We did that for tens and tens and hundreds of thousands of years so our body has evolved that way. Our body is actually used to being hungry and then having an abundance. We’ve created a society in the last couple hundred years that we just have abundance all the time.
If you have to eat because it’s killing you just eat fruits or vegetables. I would still eat fruit because that sugar will stimulate the pleasure part of your brain and help with the cravings.
Next, drink lots of water. If you love water, great, drink more. If you don’t like water there is a pre-workout supplement that’s natural you can add to your water. Find things that you can add to water that aren’t sugar, and drink lots of fluids. It will help with the whole quitting smoking process. The more water you consume the faster the nicotine goes through your system and gets out. So, drink lots water. If you are a person who drinks coke or diet coke when you quit smoking just stop. Just don’t do it. If you want to GAIN weight drink pop. It’s the easiest way to gain weight. So, if you’re quitting smoking and you don’t want to be gaining the weight don’t drink sugary beverages. Don’t drink orange juice. Don’t drink apple juice. Don’t even drink fruit drinks. In fact if you take all of my advice when you quit smoking you’ll actually lose weight. I love coke. One of the things I did years and years and years ago when I is I drank sparkling carbonated water. That’s a good way to go if you like that kind of thing.
Another really good tip is when you set your quit date plan your food before you quit. Make a shopping list, because here’s why, if you want to make a bad food decision make it when you’re hungry. It is so easy to make a bad decision if you’re hungry because our nervous system and our biology is starting to kick in when we’re hungry and it gets harder to use willpower. Plan it out so when you go to quit you have a week to two weeks’ worth of food right and just make some good choices. Eat healthier foods – chicken, steak, meats, it doesn’t really matter. This isn’t a diet, but don’t eat potato chips and don’t go buying coke and putting it in your fridge. Get it out. It isn’t going to help you.
Let’s recap. Take a shopping list and get a week to two weeks’ worth of food so your meals are planned out, and so that you already know what you’re having for dinner. This way you’re not in that situation where your fridge is empty and you’re driving down the road thinking, “Oh, I’m tired. I’m kind of irritated because I’ve quit smoking. Okay, I could go to the grocery store it’s another mile, but you know what, there’s McDonald’s right there and I’m hungry now.”
It’s such an easy decision. Don’t put yourself in that situation. Do yourself a favor have the food already home in your fridge so that you can go, “I just have to go home and just make myself that chicken breast.”
Now last thing okay sleep okay we know from science that people that sleep better eat better. The better you sleep the more likely you are to make a good decision. So, do yourself a favor okay go to bed whatever time you go to bed go to bed an hour earlier go to bed an hour earlier. If you’ve got kids go to bed when your kids go to bed. Go to bed earlier it will make a huge difference in not gaining weight when you quit smoking.
Let’s summarize really quickly and then I have one last thing to tell you before we go.
One of the questions was what to do if you have a hard time sleeping. Great point. I’ll give you a couple tricks about how to sleep better. I could do a whole blog post that’s on problems sleeping, but for now I’ll give you a couple really good quick tips and tricks.
There are a lot of reasons why people have a hard time sleeping and they are almost as various as there are people as almost as unique, but there are a couple of things that really help they’re kind of universal no matter what your sleeping disorder is. That is if it’s even a disorder, maybe you’re just not a good sleeper. There’s a couple of things that are universal.
One is the way that we now deal with sleeping disorders is to not make the solution about the sleeping disorder. It’s counterproductive, because we become focused on the fact that we can’t sleep. We become preoccupied with it, and it causes more anxiety more stress. That actually makes it worse. The first thing is whatever we do to deal with our sleeping it’s not about the sleep. So, what is it about?
Often it is about the routine before bed. A really good thing to do is create a bedtime routine. It’s not a sleep routine. It’s a getting ready for bed routine. So do the same thing every night up until when you are in your bed. The only thing you should do in your bed is sleep. Do not do anything else. Do not read if you’re in bed and you can’t sleep. If you having problems sleeping get up out of bed. If you need to read to make yourself tired go do it a chair. Go do it somewhere else. If you only sleep in your bed eventually you’ll condition your brain to go, “Oh, I’m in bed. Bed that equals sleep.
The third thing you should always do when you go to sleep is do not think about reality. It emotionally engages us, and makes it harder to sleep. Don’t think of reality, just use your imagination. Here’s why you want to use your imagination. You may remember this from my other content if you’ve been following them all (if not go back and watch and read them) but when we sleep our brain goes through seven different wavelengths, sleep being the very last one.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven being sleep. So when we fall asleep we drive down through these layers and if you remember from my post about the mind map is the conscious mind and the unconscious mind. You guys remember what was in the unconscious mind? It’s where our fantasy exists. We keep our memories and our imaginations here in our unconscious mind. Our conscious mind is our waking state. As we go down through the layers of sleep we engage our fantasy and our imagination. This drives us down our brain waves into a lower state closer to sleep. It’s what triggers us to sleep by engaging our unconscious mind, because it’s our unconscious mind that sends the enzyme to our conscious mind to put it to sleep. So, don’t think about reality because when you think about reality those are conscious thought processes and you want to use your imagination instead to fantasize about a job you’ve always wanted, about being a professional sport athlete, being a cop, or being whatever. Engage your fantasy. That will help drive you into sleep faster and more accurately.
Another message I received was a request for breathing exercises that can help you sleep and quit smoking. There’s tons of breathing exercises. One of the more popular exercises is called the box method. It’s not my favorite. Basically the reason why you want to do breathing before you go sleep is you’re really trying to drive your heart rate down. Your unconscious mind knows that as you are starting to fall off to sleep that your heart rate slows and your breathing slows. It’s just triggering your unconscious mind to fire the enzyme that puts you asleep.
I just am going to explain this one more time. Our conscious mind doesn’t cause us to fall asleep. We know what’s happening from science from the study of narcolepsy where people are just walking and then they fall asleep. It’s a misfiring in our brain and it’s fired from our unconscious mind.
The unconscious mind puts us to sleep and so in a normal person what happens is we lie down in bed, and we start to slow our heart rate down. When we slow our heart rate down it changes the wavelengths in our brain, and then we start to engage our imagination or fantasy, that brings us down to a different wavelength. When we go down these different wavelengths and we hit the right one our unconscious mind goes, “Oh the conscious mind has gotten to this wavelength.”
It then fires an enzyme to cause you to fall asleep. If that misfires for people with narcolepsy the fires are the wrong time, when they’re conscious. Have you noticed that you never remember falling asleep, and you never remember waking up? When you wake up it’s like you’re in a fog. Am I awake or am I not awake? Is this real? Is this not real? You’re coming back up through the wavelengths in your brain. Your brain wavelengths are rising and becoming more active is what’s happening. You’re rising back up through.
I’ll give you a great example exactly how this works. For those of you that sleep with a partner who sleeps differently than you, maybe they’re a good sleeper and you’re a bad sleeper or the opposite, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. When you are asleep your unconscious mind is still there it’s working and doing its job which is to basically take and reorganize all the information from the day and store it in deep memory, but it’s still there it’s still paying attention to sounds your unconscious mind it’s not gone it’s basically parked.
It doesn’t have the ability to pay attention. You’re mind isn’t aware enough for you to have a conscious thought. So what happens is you’re sleeping beside your partner. Your partner’s wide awake. They’re reading in bed. (Which they shouldn’t do. Do not read in bed if you want to have a good sleep.) They pick up a glass of water and put it down on the table and it makes a bang. You get startled and wake up. You’re like, “I heard the door close downstairs.” They’re saying, “No, no. I just put the glass down. No, no, no.” You’re still saying, “We have to go check! We’re going to go look downstairs. We’re going to check downstairs.”
Here’s what’s happening your conscious mind was asleep. It wasn’t there. Your unconscious mind heard the bang. Your unconscious mind does not have the ability to weigh things and understand them. That doesn’t happen. That’s a conscious mind process. Your unconscious mind just heard a bang it has no ability to make any judgment. There’s no willpower in your unconscious mind, so it just wakes you up thinking, “I have self-preservation. I have got to wake up the conscious mind.”
It wakes you up because it thinks danger and your conscious mind comes back in thinking there’s some kind of danger. Your partner says, “What are you talking about? What are you smoking? I just put my glass down.”
But you swear somebody opened the downstairs door but they know because they were wide awake reading. They know they just put their glass down on the table and it made a bang.
So this is the whole point I’m trying to make. Sleeping is it is a function of your unconscious mind not your conscious mind. So if you want to sleep better you have to basically hack that by doing the things that bring your unconscious mind forward using your imagination, using your fantasy, by not thinking about reality or about making decisions and weighing things. Engage the aspects of your unconscious mind that will trigger sleep. Use imagination.
Just to recap, we now understand why we gain weight when we quit smoking. It’s essentially because nicotine is an appetite suppressant. We understand also that nicotine generates more stomach acid and that helps with digestion. Once you’re a smoker you stabilize at a weight, but when you stop smoking your metabolism goes down because smoking increases your metabolism. We understand the science. So we have to hack that, and we now know how to do that.
Thank you everybody for reading. Hopefully this helps.