Health Tips

Can Smoking Affect Your Weight Loss?

Can Smoking Affect Your Weight Loss?

Just like most fitness and health issues, the connection between smoking and weight loss varies dramatically from individual to individual. I’ve heard all types of stories from clients at Next Level Fitness in Irvine, CA, which included gaining weight when people quit smoking to people finding it easier to lose weight when they quit. The truth is every person has their own unique experience. Some studies show people who smoke heavily are more likely to be obese. Other studies show that when people quit smoking, they gain weight. What are the reasons for such diverse findings?

Obesity and smoking go hand-in-hand.

While the average smoker may weigh less on average than people who have never smoked, not every smoker is thin. People who smoke more cigarettes daily tend to weigh more than people who aren’t heavy smokers. If smoking made people thin, heavy smokers would weigh far less than others. Studies show obesity and smoking may be genetic predispositions. Smokers may have a bigger waistline. Some believe it’s a gene variant that causes the larger waist circumference and belly fat. Others believe it’s from smoking, which triggers the release of cortisol that may cause an increase in waist circumference.

Does quitting smoking cause weight gain?

If you quit smoking, you may gain weight, at least for a while. Studies show one of every four people who quit smoking never gains a pound, plus they can breathe easier, making it easier to exercise. Other studies compared people who quit to those who continued to smoke. During a five-year study, people who quit gained 5.7 pounds more than those who continued to smoke. It was the average and people who were heavier smokers gained the most. Most of the weight gain occurred in the first three months of quitting.

Does smoking speed up your metabolism?

Most people who smoke feel a little buzz when they first light up, especially if there is a significant time between cigarettes. It’s true that smoking boosts the metabolism, but not enough to make a big difference. What smoking does is keep your hands busy and gives you a boost of dopamine and other chemicals that reduce the desire to eat. Some smokers eat less and smoke instead of eating, which is why they’re thinner.

  • Quitting smoking doesn’t make it harder to lose weight if you make lifestyle changes and stick with them. Whether you’re a smoker, a former smoker, or never a smoker, it’s all about developing healthy habits.
  • The results of several studies showed approximately 16% of the people who quit didn’t gain weight, but lost weight. On the other end of the spectrum, 13% gained more than 22 pounds.
  • Smoking does affect your sense of smell, which then affects your sense of taste. When you quit smoking, food tastes better. It’s much like giving up sugar, which makes naturally sweet food taste sweeter.
  • Following a program of regular exercise and a healthy diet can help prevent any potential weight gain and make quitting smoking easier. Exercise can increase dopamine, which is similar to the boost experienced when smoking.

For more information, contact us today at Next Level Fitness

How Often Should You Workout As A Beginner?

How Often Should You Workout As A Beginner?

If you’ve never worked out or had a regular program of exercise, it’s difficult to judge how intense, how long and how often to workout as a beginner. It’s one reason working with a personal trainer is so popular, especially when you’re also trying to learn the proper form for each exercise, while building a workout that provides all types of fitness and works all parts of the body. One question is relatively simple to answer. How much time do you spend exercising?

The amount of time spent depends on intensity.

You need between 75 minutes and 150 minutes of intense exercise or 150 minutes to 300 minutes of moderate exercise. If you can only gasp out a few words while working out, and not talk, the exercise is probably intense. Most beginners should do moderate workouts initially, especially when learning new exercises. Setting the pace to moderate gives you time to focus more on form, which is necessary as a beginner.

Use off days for active recovery.

Since most beginners will be doing between 150 and 300 minutes, you can divide that time between the gym and active recovery, which includes cardio. The 150 to 300 minutes could be divided into three days at the gym, with walking, cycling, swimming or running between those days. You could also add dancing one day a week, or another type of active sport you enjoy. Even hula hooping with the kids is great exercise.

Get in all types of exercise.

Make sure you begin every workout with a warm-up and have balance, flexibility, cardio and strength training each week. Some people focus on strength training one day a week, while others include it twice a week. Whichever you do, make sure you have from 24 to 72 hours of rest between sessions to give your muscles a chance to heal. When you do strength training, you cause microtears and the healing process is what builds muscles. Doing strength training too often can actually cause muscle loss.

  • Clock your minutes doing extra walking if you have time constrictions. Park further from the store, take the stairs or walk to a location that’s closer, rather than drive. For family fun, don’t get out a video, but go to the park, zoo or woods for a picnic and a walk.
  • When you first start working out, don’t overdo it. Injuries and sore muscles can set you back. You’ll be better off sticking closer to the 150 minutes than reaching for the 300, then increase it as you get fitter.
  • Don’t get discouraged or try to force instant change. It took a while to get out of shape, so it will take just as long to see real change occurring. Focus on how you feel at each workout and how much easier it gets after a few weeks.
  • Get variety at every workout. Include flexibility and balance training at each session or add stretches to your morning routine. Include cardio three days a week and strength training once or twice a week.

For more information, contact us today at Next Level Fitness

Healthier Options to Satisfy the Sweet Tooth

Healthier Options to Satisfy the Sweet Tooth


5 Fruits that Make a Delicious Sweet Treat 

Today’s urban diet consists of significant portions of processed foods. These foods contain added sugar and saturated fat, which contribute to the skyrocketing levels of diabetes (2 out of every 5 Americans are predicted to develop type two diabetes) and other diet-related diseases. For people who want to adopt a healthier diet, low-fat, healthy fruits rich in natural sugars are a good option. Here are a few examples:

1. Pineapple

Arguably one of the more famous fruits, pineapple is a nutritionally abundant fruit that doubles as a natural sugar due to its sweetness. Not only is it a high-fiber fruit, but it also contains vitamin C and thiamin which boosts energy production. Grab a pineapple when you’re thirsty and need a naturally sweet treat.

2. Mango

Whenever you desire something sweet, this succulent, high-fiber fruit might just be the thing you need. It contains pectin and vitamin C which together with its high-fiber content help to reduce the amount of Low-Density Lipoprotein, lowering your cholesterol level and making it a go-to low-fat sweet treat full of natural sugar. The vitamin A that is present in it help’s combat night blindness and dry eyes as well.

3. Grapes

Grapes have long been considered a naturally sweet and succulent snack. They contain fiber, which promotes healthy bowel movement. Grapes also contain polyphenols and antioxidants, which help in combating inflammation. Grapes are also rich in potassium which assist your body to manage high blood pressure by helping it regulate excess sodium. Eat them on their own or include them in a salad. Even better try throwing some in the freezer & get a natural ice cold treat!

4. Dates

Dates are a sweet fruit derived from the date palm tree, and they have a comprehensive nutritional profile. They contain fiber which is useful for stool formation. Another benefit of the fiber content in dates is that it helps slow down your digestion rate, which in turn prevents your blood sugar level from shooting up sharply after eating them. Curiously enough, dates help pregnant women facing late-term labor to deliver without having to induce. You can eat them alone or make your oatmeal with them.

5. Bananas

One can’t talk about sweet fruits without including the prominent banana. Bananas are extremely rich in potassium, which helps the body regulate its sodium intake. As a result, a delicious banana snack can help you ward off high blood pressure. In addition to potassium, bananas contain vitamin C, which helps combat the formation of free radicals.

Bananas are rich in fiber to aid healthy bowel movement. You can eat them on their own for a shot of energy with no artificial sugar, include them in a shake or even have them in a pudding.


Healthy fruits present an alternative to processed foods rich in added fats and sugar which lead to adverse health outcomes. Eating sweet fruits when the craving strikes is an easy and affordable way to enjoy a snack while keeping healthy.