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Does vaping make you gain weight?

Here's what the research says.

Written by
Lucinda Starr
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
January 16, 2024
min read
Does vaping make you gain weight?
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There's been a lot of talk about whether vaping makes you lose weight or gain weight. Most of the research points to vaping and smoking as appetite suppressants due to the effects of nicotine.

But, many vapers and smokers who've quit will know that weight gain is a common effect after smoking cessation, which can be a deterrent for people when stopping smoking. But, that doesn't mean you shouldn't quit smoking.

After all, a small change in weight is nothing compared to the short and long-term negative effects of vaping and smoking.

If you're a current vaper or smoker looking to quit smoking but are worried about weight gain, we're covering all things vaping, weight gain and weight loss, what the research has to say and the alternatives to weight loss that won't harm your health.

What is vaping?

Vaping is the use of e-cigarettes which are often used as a replacement for tobacco smoking and are battery-operated devices that mimic traditional cigarettes.

Vaping differs from traditional cigarettes in that you get your nicotine through a vape device, which heats the liquid to produce vapour that is exhaled. The e-liquids (often flavoured e-liquids) contain chemicals and artificial flavours that vary in nicotine strength.

What does your body consume when vaping?

E-liquids that you put in your vaping device contain a mix of different ingredients including flavouring, nicotine and aromatic additives [1]. Depending on what e-liquids or juice you're vaping, they contain varying ingredients.

Other substances included in e-liquids include:

  • Acrolein: This chemical is often used as a weed killer which can cause damage to the lungs.
  • Diacetyl: This is a food additive used to enhance the flavours of e-liquids which can damage small passageways in the lungs.
  • Formaldehyde: This is a toxic chemical that can cause lung and heart disease [1].

More recently, there have been investigations into vitamin E, which has been added to e-liquids as a thickening agent. Vitamin E is safe when taken orally, however, it can cause severe vaping-related damage when smoked through a vaping device [1].

What are the impacts of vaping on your health?

Since vaping is relatively new, the long-term effects on your health are still unknown. However, based on research we do know that the chemicals in vape juice aren't great for your health.

Nicotine is a harmful and addictive chemical that causes withdrawal symptoms, and addictive behaviours and can increase, blood pressure, heart rate and the flow of blood to the heart [2].

Plus, research shows that chemicals included in e-liquids like propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine which are mainly used in e-liquids are toxic to the cells in the body and can cause lung and cardiovascular disease [3].

And, we can't forget about its links to hair loss and erectile dysfunction.

Does vaping increase your appetite?

Vaping, like smoking cigarettes, is actually a known appetite suppressant. Many smokers and vapers actually worry that if they quit smoking that they will gain weight which can oftentimes be a deterrent for people to stop smoking.

Vaping or smoking helps control weight in a few different ways but the main one being the chemical nicotine, which is an appetite suppressant.

Another way vaping decreases your appetite is through the behavioural effects where the act of vaping replaces the rewarding effects of food [4].

When smokers quit vaping or smoking, there is a possibility that they may experience an increased appetite because food and eating become a substitute for vaping. The idea is that when you're vaping, you're performing a physical movement with your hands, so when you quit vaping, food replaces the hand movements that you performed with vaping [5].

Does vaping cause weight gain?

If you've struggled with your weight for quite some time you might be thinking does vaping make you fat? The short answer is no.

Nicotine acts as an appetite suppressant by speeding up your metabolic rate which means your body is burning calories at a fast rate in your resting phase and during exercise [6][7].

Research has shown that smokers weigh less than non-smokers by 4-5kg and smokers are also less likely to be overweight or obese [4].

Plus, nicotine releases chemicals in the brain, including serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which have appetite-suppressing effects that can make you lose weight, not make you gain weight.

But, here's where things get a little complicated. For those quitting smoking or vaping, eating may become a way to deal with stressors and negative emotions, which were once relieved by smoking cigarettes or vaping [5].

This is where people can start to experience weight gain and on average those who have quit smoking gain around 2-5 kilograms in the months after they've stopped smoking [6].

However, if you've struggled with your body weight and body image and you're worried about gaining weight once you quit smoking, smoking cessation is still better for your overall health.

Does vaping cause face and belly fat?

Vaping does not cause face and belly fat specifically. As we've mentioned, vaping has appetite-suppressing effects due to the chemical nicotine.

If you're noticing more fat on your face or belly, it's not down to flavoured e-liquids but probably down to your eating or lifestyle habits.

Is it common to gain weight after quitting smoking?

Although smoking cessation is great for your overall health, some people do report weight gain after quitting smoking and vaping, however, this is generally temporary.

This is because nicotine acts as an appetite suppressant which increases your metabolic rate and causes your body to use energy at a quicker rate [8]. When you do quit smoking or vaping, this process slows down again and causes weight gain.

On top of that, your sense of taste, smell and appetite start to increase again following smoking cessation which can make food taste better, in turn, making you hungrier and increase your eating habits [8].

What's the safest way to approach weight loss?

Although vaping and smoking are known to act as appetite suppressants, in turn, helping people with weight loss and weight management doesn't mean it's a great way to lose weight.

There are plenty of other ways to approach weight loss that are far better for your overall health. Let's take a closer look at approaches to long-term sustainable and healthy weight loss.

Lifestyle changes

Healthy weight loss starts with making small and incremental lifestyle changes like exercising more frequently, consuming less sugary foods and eating a healthier balanced diet.

Making small, incremental changes to your lifestyle supports your weight loss journey and helps you live a healthier lifestyle through achievable goals that you'll actually stick to.

Some simple and easy ways to incorporate lifestyle changes are:

  • Eating regular meals
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Consuming foods from all 5 food groups including dairy, meats, grains, vegetables and legumes and fruits
  • Try to cook your favourite foods from restaurants at home, giving you greater control over what ingredients are in your meals
  • Eating lean proteins and fibre-rich foods helps you stay fuller for longer
  • Not labelling foods as good or bad, but rather eating your favourite foods in moderation.

Regular exercise

Regular exercise is important in weight loss and the Australian Department of Health recommends being active in one way or another on most days [9]. It's recommended that adults should set these physical activity goals for the week:

  • 2.5-5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise; this can include swimming, walking, golf and more
  • 1.25-2.5 hours of intense exercise; this can include jogging, running, cycling, soccer and other team sports.

To ensure you're exercising consistently, the best thing you can do is to find an exercise you actually enjoy doing.

There's nothing worse than having to force yourself to get in the car and head to the gym if you hate doing it. If you're someone that enjoys going for walks instead of hitting the gym then start incorporating a daily walk before or after work.

And, don't forget that incidental exercise counts too.

Holistic weight loss programs

Weight loss is best approached through a holistic lens, where lifestyle changes have to be made to achieve long-term results, instead of viewing weight loss as a diet.

Pilot's Metabolic Reset Program takes a holistic approach to weight loss with a combination of targeted weight loss and medical science.

Our program uses breakthrough medication that introduces hormones that are naturally produced in your gut to decrease your appetite. Plus, we provide community support from our medical team, Aussie practitioners, coaches and even a supportive community of like-minded men on the journey with you.

We also offer personal goal-setting and health coaching to help you make healthy lifestyle changes, lose weight and keep it off.

Science-backed weight loss shakes

Weight loss shakes are liquid meal replacement drinks that can be another helpful tool, allowing you to replace one or more meals out of your day with a high-protein shake.

They are used as part of a weight loss program, however, some weight loss shakes are lacking in all the vitamins and nutrients you need from food.

Pilot's Weight Reset Shakes are meal replacement shakes that are formulated to support your health. Each shake is jam-packed with 20 vitamins and minerals, high-quality protein, and pre and probiotics and comes loaded with fibre to keep you feeling fuller for longer. And, you can add other ingredients to make these shakes even tastier.

Ultimately, weight loss is difficult and quitting smoking or vaping can make you gain weight because nicotine suppresses appetite. Once smokers and vapers stop smoking, they tend to experience an increased appetite and use food as an emotional outlet.

Luckily, there are plenty of safe, holistic weight loss options out there that can help you approach weight loss sustainably.

Image credit: Getty Images

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