Many people take up vaping as a viable alternative to smoking. One big fear many prospective quitters face is the possibility of gaining weight when they kick cigarettes. Can vaping help you to lose weight? Today we are going to take a look at the science behind nicotine and weight loss. We’ll also look at whether CBD vapes and THC vapes can work to prevent weight gain. Let’s jump right in.
Can Vaping Help You Lose Weight? The Quick Answer
Vapes can contain nicotine, and studies have indicated that nicotine may cause a decrease in food intake. Nicotine also speeds up metabolism, meaning that more calories are expended by the body. There are other factors to consider when discussing vaping, such as an increased ability to exercise.
However, vaping is not a ‘magic bullet’ that will cause weight loss all on its own. Vaping acts as a more viable and healthier alternative to smoking, which, it has been suggested, shares these nicotine-related benefits. It is important to understand what causes weight gain or loss and how vaping can help tip the scale in the right direction.
Here’s what you need to know.
Understanding The Real Reason for Weight Loss: It’s All About the Calories
Most of us would love to go down a notch (or a few notches) on our belt size. Everyone is looking for the ‘secret’ to increased and sustained weight loss.
Want proof? The US health and fitness industry is currently valued at around 36.6 billion dollars.
That’s a lot of people looking to lose a lot of weight.
However, presuming normal health, there is one thing, and one thing only, that controls how much weight the average individual loses or gains. Two words; caloric expenditure.
If you burn more calories than you use, eventually, you will lose weight. The reverse is also true. If you have a caloric surplus, or in simple terms, you eat more than you burn, you’ll gain weight.
How many calories you need depends on a variety of factors. Such as:
- Your gender
- Your age
- Your existing weight
- The makeup of your body
- Your level of activity
These all combine to create something called “Total Daily Energy Expenditure” or “TDEE”. This is measured in calories, and, as the name suggests, is the number of calories you’ll burn on average each day.
Eat more than your TDEE over an extended period and your weight increases. Regularly eat below your TDEE, and your weight goes down. Simple, right?
But how does vaping come into play regarding weight loss? Well, armed with the above knowledge, there are a few areas where vaping may be beneficial in ‘the battle of the bulge’. Here’s why…
6 Reasons Vaping Can Help to Shed Pounds
We’ve already stated that there are no ‘unicorns’ regarding weight loss. However, vaping can help to keep the pounds off as part of a healthy lifestyle. Here are 6 good reasons why vaping can be an effective way to prevent weight gain.
Nicotine is an Appetite Suppressant
Remember how we just discussed the cause of weight gain and loss? Calories in, calories out. Simple.
It stands to reason that decreasing your caloric intake reduces the possibility of going over your TDEE.
The simple version? By eating less, you increase the possibility of burning more calories than you are taking in. This leads to weight loss. Studies have shown that nicotine is an appetite suppressant. Meaning that you are more likely to reach for the vape and less likely to reach for the cookie jar or other snacks.
Other studies have further demonstrated that nicotine acts as an appetite suppressant, with nicotine users reporting greater feelings of satiety (a fancy word for ‘fullness) following nicotine intake.
Want to amplify that effect further? How about a nice cup of coffee? Research papers have demonstrated that combining nicotine intake with caffeine can amplify appetite-suppressing effects.
Nicotine Speeds Up Metabolism
Aside from the appetite-squashing effects of nicotine, another benefit can aid in weight loss.
Remember, fewer calories in, more calories out equal weight loss?
Nicotine, while reducing food cravings and feelings of hunger, can also lead to the body burning more calories. It achieves this through an increase in the body’s metabolic rate.
A study published by the National Institute of Health suggests that nicotine increases thermogenesis. By how much? Well, data from the study says that over 24 hours, nicotine users regularly burn 10% more calories.
How significant is this? Pretty significant, we’d say.
The study reports that although 10% may not seem much, over a year, an increased ‘burn’ of 200 calories could lead to a 10kg (22 pounds) loss over a year. And there’s more.
In clinical trials, it was discovered that nicotine users’ energy expended during light exercise was enhanced. The study concluded that nicotine users had an increased metabolic effect when exercising. Burning more calories? That’s a good thing!
Vaping Takes the Edge off Sweet Cravings
We’ve all been there. It is ‘movie night’, we are on a fitness regime, and the bar of chocolate in the fridge calls out. Or maybe you are the kind of person who can’t do without dessert.
Tempting, right? Foods laden with sugar and fats are high in calories. Not good for weight loss.
And here’s the thing. Our brains are against us. No, really, hear us out.
When we consume sugar, our brains release serotonin, a hormone that gives feelings of happiness and well-being. It’s called the ‘feel good’ chemical. No wonder it’s so hard to kick that sweet craving. However, there is good news.
If you are the kind of person, who craves something sweet following your main meal. Vaping may be the answer. E-juice can taste exceptionally similar to your favorite dessert, soda, and everything in between. Want some examples of the flavors that are out there? How’s about: –
- Pineapple Upside Down Cake
- Mellow Apple Pie
- Peanut Butter and Banana Cream
- Hard Candy
- Lemon Tart
And many more… You could significantly reduce your caloric intake by vaping instead of reaching for a sweet treat.
Increased Ability to Exercise After Stopping Smoking
This one will resonate with the former smokers amongst you.
Ever felt short of breath, even when performing ‘normal’ activities? The thought of wheezing and breathlessness is enough to curtail any thoughts of going down to the gym, regardless of how motivated you are.
Cigarettes burn tobacco creating smoke, which is inhaled into the lungs. Smoke contains (among other things) carbon monoxide. This compound binds to your red blood cells, crowding out their capacity to carry oxygen, which your body needs. Especially when exercising.
Suppose you are looking to quit smoking for good, and increase your capacity to exercise. In that case, vaping could be a viable stepping stone to going smoke-free.
Burning those calories might just become a whole lot easier.
Vaping Works as Behavioral Replacement
Quitting smoking can be a perilous journey. It has been reported that, on average, those who quit smoking gain between 5 to 10 pounds! There are several reasons behind this, and it is often cited as the reason why people don’t quit.
Some smokers could be said to have an addictive personality. The danger comes when one habit is replaced with another. If you are fearful of weight gain and your ‘crutch’ while stopping smoking happens to be one food or another, then the scale is only going to go one way.
Vaping can provide a reliable (and healthier) alternative as a behavioral replacement when quitting smoking, making weight loss (or, more accurately, prevention of weight gain) more likely.
The motor action is similar to smoking, making the transition easy. You will also gain a ‘throat hit’ that feels remarkably similar to cigarettes, just without the tar and carcinogens.
While fresh air might be the best for your lungs, vaping represents a worthy behavioral replacement for smoking. This is certainly beneficial if the alternatives are things like high-calorie candy or other ‘treats’.
Lower Weight Gain When Quitting
Looking to go entirely nicotine free? Fair enough.
When discussing weight loss and vaping, you may be fearful that you are just delaying the inevitable. Quitting nicotine will have the same effect whether quitting smoking or vaping, right?
Not quite. There is some good news.
If you are using vaping as a stepping stone to giving up cigarettes, studies have shown that the weight gained from quitting vaping is much lower and comparable to those who have never used nicotine.
Does Vaping Suppress Your Appetite?
Vaping can work as an appetite suppressant. As a result, if you are inclined to eat less, your caloric intake will be reduced. Nicotine, which is found in vapes, and cigarettes, can work to reduce food cravings. The effects in studies were observed in tobacco smokers. However, nicotine is cited as the reason for appetite suppression.
While nicotine plays a principal role in reducing food cravings and increasing metabolism, other factors may also come into play when discussing appetite reduction and vaping. It can be a valid behavioral replacement for smoking in place of weight-gaining alternatives (such as snacking)
The truth is that while vaping may work as an appetite suppressant, it shouldn’t be used as a sole means to try and lose weight. It can provide a healthier alternative to cigarettes and ‘limit the damage’ when discussing the effects of quitting smoking regarding weight gain.
As we said, there are no “magic bullets”.
In the long term, losing weight requires a lifestyle change in several areas. Vaping alone will not lead to significant weight loss.
Does Vaping Have Calories?
Vaping has few, if any, calories. At least, not enough to make any considerable difference to a diet or nutrition regime. To understand this, it is important to know what goes into your average bottle of vape liquid. None of the ingredients are calorie dense.
Vape liquid contains the following in order of proportions:
- A carrying solution (either propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin)
- Nicotine (optional)
If we break each of the above down, it is easy to see how vapes lack any appreciable number of calories.
According to nutrition information found on Fitbit, 100 grams of Glycerin holds 570 calories. That works out at around 5 calories per ml. This broadly matches the information on the European Pharmacopoeia website, listing 4 calories per gram.
You’ll generally expect to find that most tanks hold a maximum of 5ml of vape juice. So, each full tank holds around 25 calories worth of Glycerin.
The flavoring in vape juice is normally food grade and identical to those used in creating pastries, cakes, and other commonly consumed goods. By way of example, we’ll use a commonly found ingredient in ‘biscuit’ based ejuice.
The listing suggests zero calories in the flavorings on studying the nutritional information. So, our tank of e-juice remains at 25 calories.
It has been suggested that sweetening agents in vapes cause an increase in calories. This is not true. Most sweetening additives in vapes are synthetic, containing zero or trace amounts of calories.
Nicotine, synthetic or natural, contains few calories in vape juice. It is normally suspended in a glycerin solution, which may lead to a slight increase (we are talking 1 or 2 calories).
So even assuming you had a high nicotine ejuice, you could assume that for each 5ml of vape juice used, you’d have around 26 calories.
And there’s something more to consider.
For your body to intake calories from e-juice, you’d need to eat or drink it! However, we don’t do that. We vaporize it and inhale it before exhaling the vapor.
The only way to intake calories from vaporized ejuice is by swallowing the trace amounts that condense in and around your mouth when vaping.
We are talking fractions of fractions of calories. If you are worried about your vape upping your calorie intake, you don’t need to. The number of calories is so small as to be considered inconsequential when discussing weight loss.
Can You Vape While Fasting?
Whether you can vape while fasting depends entirely on the reason for your fast. For those who are fasting for religious reasons, vaping could be against the rules. Vaping won’t affect your fast for those who are fasting as part of a time-controlled diet.
Let’s look at some scenarios in a little more detail.
Fasting and Vaping: Religious Reasons
Vaping while fasting is a big no-no in the Muslim community. Smoking has been decreed as ‘haram’ (forbidden) in several Muslim states, and by extension, vaping could be considered an add-on to this rule.
According to recent reports provided by the World Health Organization, even during non-fasting periods, smoking isn’t frowned upon. When it comes to vaping, this is a relatively new phenomenon, and there is a lack of clarity as to whether this is the same thing in the eyes of Islam.
If you are a vaper and are concerned that you may be breaking religious guidelines by vaping during your fasting period, it is probably best to abstain. Just indulge during non-fasting hours.
Fasting and Vaping: Keto and Intermittent Fasting Regimes
From a purely dietary point of view, fasting and vaping are allowed. Vaping contains minimal trace numbers of calories and, as a result, has little to no impact on fasting benefits. Vaping with nicotine may actually work to subdue hunger pangs and work as an effective barrier to ‘snacking’.
Cannabis Vapes, CBD Vapes, And Weight Loss
Nicotine vapes are not the only option. It is also possible to vape either CBD or THC.
We’ve seen the benefits of nicotine, but what about CBD and/or THC? Will vaping either of these two substances help you to lose weight? Here’s what you need to know.
Can Vaping CBD Help You Lose Weight?
There are several areas where CBD may contribute to weight loss or inhibit the likelihood of weight gain. In studies conducted on rats, those given cannabidiol had a reduced food intake. This could contribute to weight loss.
But how could CBD work to reduce weight? Well, there are a few areas that are significant:
Appetite Suppression and CB1 Receptors
Cannabidiol or ‘CBD’ binds to certain receptors found in the body. These receptors are called CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors, found primarily in the brain, are responsible for the signals that encourage you to eat.
CBD binds to these CB1 receptors, which can work to inhibit the desire for food intake.
As we said before, fewer calories generally equal weight reduction.
According to the Sleep Foundation, CBD is becoming popular for reducing anxiety and encouraging better sleep. When you combine this with the fact that reduced sleep can lead to an increase in cortisol, this ‘stress’ hormone encourages weight retention. It is easy to see how better sleep could help to contribute to weight loss.
Brown Fat or White Fat?
You actually have two types of fat in your body. ‘Brown’ fat is ‘thermogenic’, meaning it uses up calories. ‘White’ fat is adipose tissue, which the body uses to store excess energy. White fat is the bad one. It is commonly associated with chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes.
But here’s the thing, some studies suggest that CBD actively works in converting ‘white’ fat into ‘brown fat’. To quote the conclusion of the study:
“CBD may be explored as a potentially promising therapeutic agent for the prevention of obesity.” Neat, right?
All of the above aside. On its own, CBD will not help you to lose significant amounts of weight. However, it can work as part of a healthy lifestyle with a calorie-controlled diet and exercise.
Can Vaping THC Help You Lose Weight?
While derived from the same plant as CBD, the effects on weight are quite different when it comes to THC. The short answer is that no, THC probably won’t help you lose weight. In fact, it is more likely to cause weight gain; here’s why.
If you are interested in vaping THC, you will undoubtedly already be familiar with the term “the munchies”, the colloquial term used to describe THC induced snacking behavior. In studies published by the NIH, they list ‘potential weight gain’ as one of the ‘benefits’ for people who are looking to put weight on.
When you consider ‘the munchies’ and the often irresistible craving for overly ‘junky’ style foods laden with sugar and fats, it is easy to see how this can occur.
As with CBD, THC binds to the CB1 receptors (remember, those neural ‘switches’ regulate feeding behavior). However, unlike CBD, which suppresses these receptors, THC can effectively ‘activate’ the hunger mechanism. This causes the receptors to increase your level of ghrelin. A hormone that pushes you to want to eat.
Remember, the more calories you ingest, the more likely you will gain weight!
The bottom line
So, can vaping help you lose weight? On its own, regardless of whether you are vaping nicotine or CBD, it won’t work in isolation. There are no panaceas to be had when shedding the pounds. A healthy diet and plenty of exercise will lead to a calorie deficit responsible for weight loss. However, both nicotine and CBD vaping can help as part of a broader strategy for a calorie deficit and increased metabolism. Both of these factors, when combined with other methods, may help to reduce weight.