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One of the reasons a lot of people cite for not wanting to quit smoking is because they don't want to gain weight. It's true that some people gain weight after quitting. Most people gain weight because of the absence of nicotine in their bodies. This is because nicotine is a stimulant and superficially raises your metabolism - with regular use, nicotine makes your metabolism consistently higher than it should be. Other people gain weight because of the urge to replace smoking with snacking. This isn't a bad thing, so long as you use healthy snacks as opposed to unhealthy, processed or sugary foods.
You can combat both causes of post-smoker weight gain by incorporating healthy foods and exercise into your life. Both healthy habits work to increase your metabolism naturally.
Eating many small meals a day, as opposed to only two or three large meals, is a great way to increase your metabolism. When you eat many small meals a day, you are constantly feeding your body the energy it needs, so your body feels free to burn food rapidly. Compare this to someone who only eats two meals a day. By forcing their body to wait for nourishment, they are sending it signals that it should store fat and calories rather than burning them off, thus slowing their metabolism.
You can supercharge your metabolism naturally by incorporating the following tips into your daily life:
Eat a healthy breakfast every day.
Carry healthy snacks with you to eat every three or so hours or whenever you feel hungry. (Note: once your metabolism is in high-gear you will be hungry more often, as your body will quickly burn the calories that you feed it.)
Never skip meals.
Vary the types of foods you eat.
Rotate "negative calorie" foods into your diet. These are foods that the body must work hard to burn, thus making the calories consumed neutral or negative when compared with the calories spent to digest the food. These foods stimulate the metabolism naturally. They are: corn, carrots, lettuce, broccoli, pineapple, celery, peas, cabbage, apples and grapefruit. Rotate the above foods into your diet one at a time, slowly replacing any bad foods that are currently in your diet. Some of the foods, such as carrots and celery, are perfect for snacking on during the day at work, and are particularly good to have on hand to eat when cravings hit.
Exercise! You don't have to exercise strenuously in order the get the benefits of exercise. All you have to do is exercise consistently. Taking a good 1/2 hour walk every evening is enough to stimulate your metabolism. Constant activity is the key, so taking a few short walks several times a day is better than taking one hour-long walk. Remember that the key is to get your body working the way it was intended to work.
Of course, exercise is good for other reasons than boosting your metabolism. It raises endorphins, burns calories and can be an excellent way to get out of the house and forget about smoking. And because your entire body benefits from exercise, you will be doing more than keeping you weight down - you will be helping your body undo all of the damage inflicted upon it from smoking.
The best part is that continued use of the above diet and exercise regimens will have you looking and feeling better than you have in years.