Weight gain is a common concern for cigarette smokers looking to quit. And while it’s true that nicotine is an appetite suppressant, so is exercise.
Research suggests that physical activity can result in to changes in appetite and hunger. Moderate- to high-intensity exercise can lower levels of ghrelin, a hormone that temporarily stimulates appetite, while raising levels of peptide YY, a hormone that suppresses appetite. Studies also show that a consistent exercise routine can restore sensitivity to the brain neurons that control satiety.
The idea of “exercise” can be daunting, but remember that exercise comes in many forms that don’t include a treadmill or steamy gymnasium. A game of pick-up basketball, a hike, or a leisurely bike ride can all help reduce your hunger pangs and improve your overall physical wellbeing and mental outlook.
After a good workout, it’s natural for your body to crave calories, but by sticking to snacks that are largely unprocessed and low in added sugars — hummus, carrots, peanuts, fresh fruit, avocado, dark chocolate — you’ll have an easier time managing your post-workout diet. Exercise often encourages the adoption of additional healthy behaviors, which will make it easier to replace that craving for junk food with a better-for-you alternative.