Does vaping make you fat? When we think about how sweet some of those E-liquids are, how vividly they taste of cheesecake or the sweets of our childhood, it’s easy to conclude that vaping isn’t all that good for your weight. Many of us, aware of just how much sugar is in our everyday food, now have a deeply conditioned aversion to anything overly sweet.
But vaping is something different entirely. It’s easy to forget, but asking “Does vaping make you fat?” is a bit like asking “Does breathing in this apple and cinnamon scented candle count towards my sugar intake?” Vapes are, by their very nature, vapour. We don’t eat it, don’t exactly ingest it, and we certainly don’t make it from the same thing it’s flavoured for. Your Bakewell Tart E-liquid has about as much in common with an actual Bakewell Tart as your air freshener does with a real pine tree.
So, why do people even ask the question does vaping make you fat? Well there’s a long-held belief that quitting smoking, whatever form it takes, goes hand in hand with gaining weight. This is one of the main reasons many people refuse to quit smoking despite the mountains of evidence for its long-term detrimental health effects. For many people, gaining weight is a scarier concept than lung failure.
This old notion comes mainly from the fact that people tend to eat less when smoking. This trend has a few causes, many of them related to habit-forming and occupying your hands and mouth, but one of the most significant is the effect of nicotine. Nicotine has long been known to supress appetite, generally resulting in people eating less when they smoke regularly. Because of this the act of stopping smoking is almost synonymous with gaining weight. However, this idea falls apart under scrutiny.
Aside from the fact that a nicotine infused E-liquid would be just as effective at suppressing appetite as a cigarette, the question of appetite is only one factor in weight loss. Diet and exercise take precedent over any other concerns, with the exception of genetic conditions that limit metabolism. So, to give a real answer to the question of does vaping make you fat, we’ll need to look at what exactly is in E-liquids, how quitting smoking can affect a body, and how vaping can affect an individual’s ability to control their diet and exercise.
DOES VAPING MAKE YOU FAT: WHAT’S IN E-LIQUID?
To properly answer the question of does vaping make you fat, let’s explain what exactly is in E-liquids. Every UK marketable E-liquid will consist of a few clear components: vegetable glycerine, propylene glycol, various compounds for flavour and sometimes an active ingredient, namely nicotine or CBD. Despite the delicious tastes the flavourings can give you, particularly in the more dessert or ‘sweet’ flavoured E-liquids, no conventional E-liquid will contain any significant number of calories.
On average E-liquids will contain somewhere between 3 and 5 calories for every millilitre. This is an absolutely miniscule amount, somewhere in the range of 1-2 cups of black coffee, an amount most dieters wouldn’t even bother to measure. If you vaped an entire 5ml tank of the most calorific E-liquid every single day, you’d barely cover a quarter of the calorie value of an apple.
Even this small amount is reliant on one particular assumption; that calories inhaled have the same effect as calories ingested. This is still a point of contention in the medical community, with no current study giving any clear answer. The very question of whether or not calories vaped even enter the body in the same way as those we eat seems to be the final nail in the coffin for the idea that vaping can make you put on weight.
DOES VAPING MAKE YOU FAT: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU QUIT SMOKING?
So, why do some people still experience weight gain when they start vaping? It’s common to hear that when people quit smoking they start to put on a little weight. There are a few different reasons as to why this tends to happen, but by far the biggest factor is nicotine.
As we stated, nicotine works as an appetite suppressant, limiting the feeling of hunger in an individual. If a nicotine user suddenly cuts off their supply, or even begins to tone it down gradually, this returning appetite can be extremely hard to ignore. The very acts of reducing a nicotine habit can also prompt other habits, everything from nail biting to excessive technology use, but most common of all it encourages more eating and drinking. The increased insulin production that comes from a drop in nicotine can also result in a stronger desire for sugary foods in particular.
On top of this, an underlying feeling of being restless or unoccupied can encourage similar reactions. Not having anything to occupy the hands or mouth can push people towards the most straightforward option for both: eating. This can be all the more influential if the smoker in question used to spend a few minutes before each smoke-break rolling their own cigarettes.
Vaping is in an interesting position, providing both a supply of nicotine and something to occupy the mouth and hands. With the more classically designed E-cigarettes, this factor alone can be a big help in resisting the cravings for food and something to do if you’re trying to break a smoking habit.
DOES VAPING MAKE YOU FAT: VAPING AND DIETING
Driven by a similar fear of gaining weight, many people undertake strict diets to control their calorific intake and internal metabolism. An entire industry exists around supporting diets and finding the healthiest way of making them work, so we wouldn’t assume to recommend a diet specifically tailored to work with vaping. However, can vaping work alongside existing diets?
As we stated, the absolutely miniscule calorific properties of E-liquids make them a virtual non-factor in most diets. In particular their lack of any carbohydrates makes them perfectly matched to something like a Keto diet that explicitly encourages avoiding certain macronutrients.
One should also consider the effect of nicotine in limiting insulin production. This could be a double-edged sword; on the one hand, it would limit cravings for sugary products. On the other hand limited insulin production, aside from being a health concern for those susceptible to diabetes, could have an effect on metabolic rates. Once again we can’t make any clear claims, so if you have any concerns about how this might affect your diet we encourage you to confer with your dietician.
But diets don’t just occur from concerns around weight; many people go through periods of dieting or fasting as part of cultural or religious observations. In such cases, though you might find the appetite-suppressing qualities of nicotine useful, some faiths and cultures explicitly prohibit its use. Furthermore, the nature of nicotine means that some people will not feel these appetite suppression effects at all.
DOES VAPING MAKE YOU FAT: EXERCISING
The other primary element of losing weight is, of course, exercise. No matter how well-tuned your diet, matching it with an appropriate level of exercise will always be better for you in the long run.
Does vaping make you fat if you pair it with exercise? Well, when it comes to the vape itself it has no real benefit to exercise. Although some people have touted CBD infused E-liquids as an effective enhancer for physical exercises, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that this is true. Certainly, although more study into the long-term effects of vaping on the respiratory system is definitely needed, there appear to be no short-term drawbacks to vaping when it comes to respiratory health.
Used as a replacement for cigarettes however, there is a distinctive advantage to pairing a vape with regular exercise. Although the nicotine will have differing effects based on the individual, the simple lack of carbon monoxide and the many other toxins in combustible tobacco is already a distinct improvement. Just by cutting these out an individual would see a significant increase in their lung capacity, one that improves with time as their lungs recover.
DOES VAPING MAKE YOU FAT: SUMMARY
The fear of gaining weight is a powerful force in modern society, more often for the worse than for the better. This fear alone has caught many people in the trap of continual smoking, unwilling to change their habits or scale it back for fear of what it may do to their bodies. Meanwhile, the smoking itself carries serious harm to their personal health and shortens their life expectancy.
No reputable seller should ever claim that vaping is good for you: it isn’t. Vaping E-liquids, like any other recreational substance, carries a range of health detriments with it, many of which are not yet fully understood. However, when it comes to moving an individual away from a long-term smoking habit, vaping is in a uniquely useful position. As a tool that provides both the nicotine boost and physical habits of smoking, with a fraction of the carcinogenic properties of a cigarette, it has a lot of potential to those trying to move away from smoking.
Does vaping make you fat? No, nothing in a vape will make you gain weight. Does vaping make you thin? Also no. Ultimately weight loss is determined by diet and exercise. Certain products can help with this, making exercise easier or diet control more straightforward, but in the end it will always come down to individual effort.