The history of people, especially women, attempting to use cigarettes as a weight loss aid is a long one. Some brands, most famously Virginia Slims, have even been marketed to women specifically for that purpose.

There is a method to this madness. Nicotine, the addictive chemical in cigarettes, is a stimulant, meaning that it can raise your metabolism and suppress your appetite. It's also true that smokers weigh less, on average, than people who have never smoked.

Yet not all smokers are skinny, and, contrary to what one would expect if smoking were a weight-loss panacea, people who smoke the most tend to be larger than people who smoke more moderately. Researchers have hypothesized that this is because people who smoke heavily also have trouble regulating their intake of other rewarding substances—substances like fattening food.

This data is not an invitation to become a skinny light smoker; but what it does suggest is that if you have addictive tendencies with food, you may well have them with cigarettes as well, so a brief experimentation with nicotine could easily spiral into a full-blown addiction. If you already have trouble saying no to an afternoon cupcake break, think how much more trouble you're going to have turning down an even more addictive cigarette!

Nicotine also isn't going to do your waistline any favors. Despite having a lower BMI than non-smokers, smokers had a larger relative waist circumference than a non-smoking group and more dangerous and unsightly abdominal fat. This is likely due to the fact that nicotine can cause harmful cortisol spikes.

Smoking also carries many of the same health risks as obesity, increasing smokers' likelihood of developing heart disease, stroke, cancer, infertility, diabetes, macular degeneration, cataracts, inflammation, and decreased immune function. Dealing with both bad habits will only amplify the awful effects of both.

Smoking also comes with plenty of its own health pitfalls, like increased risk of pneumonia and emphysema, so anyone who started the 123Diet hoping to lose weight for health reasons would clearly be headed in the wrong direction.

On the other hand, if your concerns about your weight are primarily related to your appearance, let me appeal to your vanity! First, the obvious: having a bikini body isn't going to do you much good if you're either dead or too sick to show it off.

I can also warn you about the leathery skin, yellow teeth, stained nails, hair loss, and psoriasis that can come with cigarette smoking. You will also have a greater risk of loose skin when you do lose weight, since smoking cigarettes damages your skin's collagen and elastin.

Some of these side effects are irreversible, and some can only be improved through painful and expensive procedures like plastic surgery, laser treatments and chemical peels. Plus, if you take up smoking to lose weight and then quit later on, your metabolism could be worse than ever when you do.

It is far easier not to start smoking than it is to quit. Every long-term smoker I know wishes they had never taken it up, and some have even made me promise I never would (a promise I broke briefly as a social smoker during my college years, but I'm totally off them for the time being.)

But what if you already are a smoker and want to kick the habit without packing on the pounds? The good news is that it isn't too late to lower your risk of smoking's devastating health consequences. If you quit before the age of 40, you can decrease your chances of dying from smoking-related illness by about 90 percent.

Your lungs will begin to heal even during your first week away from smoking, and your risk of developing heart disease drops by 50 percent just one year after you quit. After ten years, your risk of smoking-related illness is close to that of someone who never smoked.

While quitting smoking is certainly difficult, it definitely isn't impossible, and it also isn't impossible to do... without gaining weight. Trying to quit once and failing to do so also doesn't mean that you'll never be able to. On average, smokers will attempt to quit about 7 times before succeeding for good.

While many people do gain weight when they quit smoking, one in four quitters doesn't, and it all it takes is knowledge and determination to make sure you're in the lucky few. 16 percent of people who quit smoking actually lost weight, and some former smokers report that kicking their nicotine habit helped empower them to make other healthy lifestyle changes as well.

The two major causes of weight gain during smoking cessation are a decrease in metabolic rate due to nicotine withdrawal and overeating to combat cigarette cravings. So one way to avoid gaining weight while quitting is by finding healthier ways to satisfy the oral fixation you used to indulge with smoking. Good options are gum, tea, coffee, and raw veggies.

If those substitutes aren't doing the trick, you could try a stronger option like nicotine lozenges or nicotine gum. If you do, you may be able to avoid the dreaded drop in metabolism since you'll still be getting a nicotine fix.

Since nicotine is a stimulant, less dangerous methods of ingesting it still come with some risk of increased blood pressure and cardiac side effects, but those dangers are much less serious than those of smoking itself.

Nicotine replacement products may actually even offer you benefits like increased attention and athletic performance. You could always try it out to get through your initial period of withdrawal, and gradually cut back once you're used to your new cigarette-free lifestyle.

Studies have also shown that people who exercise while trying to quit smoking not only gain less weight but are more likely than non-exercisers to kick the habit successfully. You will probably be happily surprised by how much your fitness level increases once your body starts to recover from your tobacco abuse!

Strength training can also help speed up your metabolism after detoxing from nicotine, as can increasing your caffeine intake and eating plenty of metabolism-boosting foods. Other coping strategies you can use to avoid weight gain are trying to eat more mindfully and to focus on making clean and healthy food choices.

If you do find yourself gaining weight while quitting smoking, don't panic, and don't let it drive you back to the lighter. The average quitter only gains about 5 pounds (2 kg). That's a totally manageable amount to lose again once you've adapted to your new healthy habits, especially if you do it with the help of 123Diet's reliable and speedy plan!

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