It’s really no surprise when you hear somebody say that smoking is bad for your health. But does smoking stop muscle growth?
I was in the gym the other day and there was a really skinny guy in there who reeked of cigarettes. He looked like he was probably a beginner to the gym, which is great. But it sparked some curiosity in my mind.
I wanted to know if smoking really stopped muscle growth or possibly slowed it down.
As a former skinny guy myself, I could empathize with my fellow gym goer struggling to put on the pounds. Is smoking the main reason that he isn’t gaining muscle, or is there something else at play?
In this article, we will be discussing the impact that smoking has on muscle growth, and what you can do about it.
Smoking suppresses your appetite
Just to be clear, this whole article is centered around the smoking of nicotine, not marijuana. We all know that marijuana is a known appetite stimulant. According to this article, even Arnold Schwarzenegger used to smoke weed to help him eat more to build muscle.
Nicotine is a proven appetite suppressant. This would make sense considering how many skinny cigarette smokers that you see.
According to this study, nicotine activates a portion of your brain that suppresses your appetite.
This is great for people who are trying to lose weight, but what about people who are trying to build muscle?
You need calories to build muscle
We know that nicotine suppresses appetite, so what can we do to counteract that affect?
Well, you are going to need to time your meals around your smoking times. Only you know when you are going to be the most hungry, so we will start there.
But before we even think about when to eat, we need to discuss the amount that we eat. It is no secret that building muscle is not an easy task. In my opinion, the easiest part of muscle building is going to the gym.
The hardest part of muscle building is making sure that you are eating enough. Now, for some people, eating enough calories might not be that difficult. Why? Because their maintenance calorie threshold might be lower than others.
Every single person has a different maintenance calorie threshold. And eating above or below that threshold is going to determine whether you lose weight or gain weight.
You can learn how to calculate your maintenance calorie number here.
In order to build muscle, you need to be eating at a caloric surplus. Which just means that you are eating more calories than your maintenance.
Of course, you have to understand that smoking suppresses your appetite, and if we have a high maintenance threshold number, we might physically not be able to eat enough calories to build muscle.
So in this context, we have to ask the same question again. Does smoking stop muscle growth? In this context, yes it absolutely can. If your smoking is stopping you from eating enough calories to be in a surplus, then you will not be building any muscle.
If you are struggling, and you can’t quit smoking, try adding a 1000 calorie protein shake to your diet. This should help you get more calories in without having to eat a ton.
It isn’t the actual smoking that stops muscle growth
I don’t want you to find this section misleading, because yes, smoking suppresses your appetite. But the real culprit is the amount of calories that we eat and the type of workouts that we do.
In the previous section, we discussed the fact that you cannot build muscle in a caloric deficit. That is just a simple fact that nobody can argue with. So this tells us that in order to build muscle, we need to be eating enough calories.
And obviously, you can still eat enough calories while being a smoker, you just have to consciously do it. But we also have to consider our workout plan.
Don’t be distracted by the fancy new workout plan endorsed by some popular celebrity. You need to do what is best for your situation. And if you are skinny already, you don’t need to be doing high intensity interval training.
The key here is to make sure that you are eating at a caloric surplus AND working out regularly. How often should you workout to make sure that you gain muscle? 3-5 times per week is just fine.
If you are overweight and want to lose weight, you can pretty much ignore everything that I just said. You should be eating at a caloric deficit and doing high intensity interval training. You can check out our list of hiit workouts that burn the most calories.
At the end of the day, if you can’t stop smoking, you still need to do what is best for your body. I assume you want to build muscle, which is why you clicked on this article. So remember that eating at a caloric surplus is a requirement for muscle growth.
Main Point: Does smoking stop muscle growth?
It’s no secret that smoking is not good for your health. But does it stop muscle growth? In an indirect way, it absolutely can stop muscle growth if you let it.
The thing that you need to understand is that smoking is going to be independent of your fitness journey. My number one recommendation would be to quit smoking. But if you absolutely cannot do that, there are ways around it.
We learned that smoking suppresses your appetite, and you need your appetite to eat the amount of calories necessary to build muscle. Make sure that you have learned to calculate your maintenance calorie number.
Once you have that number, you can get an idea of how much you should be eating in order to build muscle while also being a smoker.
Most smokers don’t realize that they actually might not be eating enough calories in general. Some even welcome the slimming effect that comes with smoking because it means they won’t be overweight anymore.
Whatever you choose to do, just know that it is going to take time and effort no matter which path you choose.
If it was up to me, I would quit smoking, eat at a caloric surplus, do strength training 4 days per week, and stick to it for a year. Chances are, if you went this route, your friends would barely recognize you in a year.
So after reading all of this, what are your thoughts on the whole situation? Does smoking stop muscle growth?