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Does vaping make you lose weight?

Here's what the evidence says.

Written by
Lucinda Starr
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
January 16, 2024
min read
Does vaping make you lose weight?
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The effects of vaping and smoking cigarettes on weight loss have long been talked about and even glorified in popular media. After all, some of our favourite movies like The Godfather, Fight Club and Goodfellas make smoking look so cool.

But what the big screen flicks don't tell you is that smoking (and more recently, vaping) comes with a stack of health impacts all of us need to know about. Have you ever heard about a link between smoking and losing weight? If you're wondering 'does vaping make you lose weight?', you've come to the right place.

We're diving deep into all things vaping and weight loss, what the evidence says about it and the alternatives available that can help you lose weight the healthy way.

What is vaping?

Vaping is the use of e-cigarettes, which are battery-operated devices that generally have the same look and feel as traditional cigarettes or cigars and can often time looks similar to memory sticks or pens.

Unlike cigarettes (that burn tobacco to give you nicotine) vaping nicotine through e-cigarettes heats a liquid to produce vapour that's exhaled. The e-liquids, a.k.a vape juice, contain chemicals and artificial flavours that can have varying degrees of nicotine levels.

For those quitting cigarettes, vaping can be a way to ease out of this habit (without going cold turkey). But it's important to remember that vape juice does contain a range of chemicals, ingredients and substances that aren't great for your health, too.

What are the impacts of vaping on your health?

Although the long-term effects of vaping on your health are relatively unknown, there's no denying that the chemicals in vape juices plus the nicotine content aren't the best for your overall health and well-being.

Research from the University of North Carolina found that propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin (the 2 primary ingredients contained in e-liquids) are toxic to the body's cells and other harmful chemicals can cause lung disease and cardiovascular disease [1].

Nicotine is also a harmful and very addictive chemical that not only causes addictive behaviours and withdrawal symptoms but can increase blood pressure, heart rate and flow of blood to the heart [2].

Does vaping cause weight loss?

Many vape users worry that if they stopped smoking cigarettes or vaping nicotine they will gain weight. They might even be vaping to prevent weight gain or use it as an appetite suppressant. This can sometimes be a barrier to quitting smoking for people, particularly for people with high body image concerns.

So, how does vaping work to manage weight? It's all down to the effects of nicotine, which can act as an appetite suppressant. Plus, the ritual of smoking or vaping can lower your food intake and help to lower your body weight.

The behavioural effects of vaping may provide a possible reason for the link between vaping and weight loss. The rewarding effects of food are essentially replaced by the rewarding effects of vaping or cigarette smoking [3].

These potential but unproven effects basically mean that instead of getting a bite to eat (which rewards your brain), you have a vape or smoke a cigarette which also rewards your brain. In turn, this could help you lose weight.

Does nicotine make you lose weight?

Nicotine does have an impact on your metabolism. Here's how: it increases or speeds up your metabolic rate [4]. A faster metabolic rate means that your body burns calories faster when you're resting and during physical activity, which impacts weight loss [5].

Nicotine also releases neurochemicals in the brain (including serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine) which work to suppress appetite and aid in weight loss.

Research has shown that, on average, adult smokers weigh 4-5kg less than non-smokers and are less likely to be overweight or obese [3]. However, this isn't to encourage the uptake of vaping as a way to lose weight, as there are plenty of other harmful effects of vaping and smoking to consider.

Is there a difference between vapes with and without nicotine on weight loss?

Currently, vaping is an under-researched area in comparison to smoking so it's hard to exactly say if there's a difference between vape juices that contain nicotine and those that don't for weight loss.

The nicotine content contained in either vape juice or cigarettes is the main reason that can affect the appetite of people who smoke and vape.

It's well known that nicotine suppresses appetite but the reasons why haven't always been so clear. But, in 2011, the journal Science released an article documenting research that suggests nicotine activates a pathway in the brain that suppress appetite [6].

The researchers say that nicotine binds to certain receptors, which send signals throughout the rest of the brain to signal satiety (indicating satisfaction after food). This means that nicotine's effect on the brain is much the same as the signal the brain sends after eating a large meal.

But, if you take nicotine out of the equation, the behavioural effects of vaping or smoking could still be a potential reason why it can help people lose weight [6].

When you're going for a cigarette or using a vape, there are mechanisms that include taste perception from the vape juice flavours, physical mouth feels from the hand-to-mouth action and the time it takes to go for a cigarette or head outside to vape.

This essentially fills time and provides a distraction for people which can influence food consumption and in turn, could help vapers and smokers lose weight.

Is weight gain after quitting smoking common?

Since we know nicotine acts to suppress appetite, it is common for people quitting smoking to experience weight gain. Research shows that losing the metabolic boost and the appetite suppressant effects of smoking cigarettes or vaping can result in an increase in food intake [3].

Plus, when people quit smoking, there is generally no increase in their physical activity, meaning a low level of calories is burned.

Although vaping and smoking cigarettes can aid in weight management and weight control because nicotine suppresses appetite, the negative health impacts of smoking and vaping outweigh the potential benefits of weight management.

Vaping is not an ideal way to maintain a healthy weight and can actually replace addictive behaviours related to nicotine with something else like over-indulging in sugary snacks to compensate when you've quit smoking.

What's the safest way to approach weight loss?

Since vaping isn't a safe way to achieve weight loss and can cause harmful effects on your health, let's take a look at alternatives to achieving sustainable and healthy weight loss and weight management.

Lifestyle changes

To lose weight and keep it off in the long term, you need to implement small and achievable changes to your lifestyle. One of the best ways to do this is through SMART goals [7].

This approach incorporates simple ways to make your life healthier but achievable enough that you can actually stick to it. Some simple ways to make lifestyle changes are:

  • Eating all 5 food groups
  • Eating regular meals
  • Eating lean proteins which can help you stay fuller for longer
  • Drinking a lot of water throughout the day
  • Eating your favourite foods in moderation instead of banning them all
  • Cooking your favourite restaurant meals at home so you can control what you put in your meals.

Holistic weight loss programs

Approaching weight loss as a lifestyle change and through a holistic lens is the best way to achieve long-term weight loss.

Pilot's Metabolic Reset Program is designed to prevent long-term weight gain with a combination of targeted weight loss and medical science. Pilot's Metabolic Reset Program uses breakthrough medication that introduces hormones that are naturally produced in your gut to lower your appetite.

On top of the weight loss medication, we provide community support from our Aussie practitioners, medical team, health coaches and like-minded men to support you on the journey to healthy weight loss. We also use personal goal setting and health coaching to help you integrate lifestyle changes needed to lose weight, and keep it off.

Boosting your exercise

We all know that exercise is important when trying to lose weight by burning excess calories and other health and well-being benefits.

But, we also know that not everyone loves going to the gym and you don't have to. Instead, try to find other ways of boosting your exercise levels like going for a daily walk at the beach, going for a swim or trying an exercise class. Incidental exercise can also prove helpful in this respect.

Science-backed weight loss shakes

Weight loss shakes are essentially liquid replacement drinks that are intended to be used as a part of a weight loss program that replaces one or more meals out of your day. But, not all weight loss shakes are the same — some 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, when paired with a VLCD, can be incredibly effective for weight loss.

Although vaping can make you lose weight, it is by no means a great way to do it. The best way to achieve long-term weight loss and combat weight gain when you do quit smoking is to view weight loss as a lifelong commitment to making lifestyle changes and integrating physical activity into your routine.

Photo credit: Getty Images

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