The Power of Nicotine for Getting Lean

When you think of people who are addicted to smoking cigarettes, what type of person do you envision? I personally think of someone thin, drawn, and hyper-active.

When you hear about people trying to quit their smoking habits you typically hear about weight gain and increased hunger. This has to account for something right? I am sure most of you are thinking “smoking obviously suppresses appetite and that is why people stay leaner.” While that may be true – there is more to this fat shedding drug in regard to directly influencing lipolysis.  

You see, nicotine actually plays a vital role as a stimulant in the sympathetic nervous system. Nicotine increases catecholamine release (Epinephrine, Norepinephrine & Dopamine) in the adrenal glands. Remember in health class the “Fight or Flight” hormone? That is exactly what catecholamines are.

Speaking of catecholamines, dopamine is a great appetite suppressant as it aids in satiety due to increased dopaminergic activity in the brain. Also, when adrenaline is increased from elevated Epinephrine and Norepinephrine your basal metabolic rate increases as well as fatty acid oxidation via UCP-1 (uncoupling proteins) which then get activated in Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT) and also White Adipose Tissue (WAT).

Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT) is highly thermogenic and can be broken down readily opposed to White Adipose Tissue (WAT). Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT) is loaded with an abundance of blood-filled capillaries and variable size of lipid droplets.  The reasoning for BAT’s thermogenic properties are due to the expression of mitochondrial uncoupling proteins (UCP1) which initiates the cells mitochondria to uncouple fatty acids into the blood stream for use as an energy substrate opposed to ATP/Glucose. 

What about White Adipose Tissue (WAT)? This ugly adipose tissue is located directly beneath your skin and is called subcutaneous fat. WAT supplies cushion, support, and insulation as a defense mechanism for human survival. Too much of it can get ugly and not to mention – UNHEALTHY.

          Nicotine incinerates BOTH types of fat 

Scientists in Japan performed a study on mice that demonstrated fat-loss from nicotine usage in Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT) but also White Adipose Tissue (WAT). They treated obese mice with nicotine for 6 months and obese mice with a placebo saline solution for the same duration.  The mice receiving the nicotine consumed less food than those injected with saline, however, the mRNA and protein of UCP1 was detected in not only BAT but White Adipose Tissue as well. This indicates that nicotine can help mitigate the effects of obesity from various mechanisms.

Even more exciting, is the fact that when you add caffeine into the equation (100 mgs) + 1 mg of nicotine you can increase the thermogenic effect by 100%! Increasing the nicotine dose to 2 mgs did NOT increase the thermogenic effect more than 1 mg. It just increased unwanted side effects.  Caffeine stacked with nicotine speeds the rate of energy substrate usage in fatty acids and glucose metabolism. This is thought to have a “nutrient partitioning” effect and therefore help facilitate the storage of nutrients into muscle cells opposed to fat cells.

The "not so optimistic" part of the article  

As you know by now, nicotine is a stimulant and like most stimulants, an increase in blood pressure is accompanied with nicotine usage as well as vaso-constriction upon endothelial cells. This is caused by the catecholamine release which initiates epinephrine stimulation. This is not a desirable effect and should raise concern if thinking about incorporating nicotine into your weight loss regimen. Keep in mind that cigarettes have toxic tar in them and the smoke is polluted with carbon monoxide, which works in concert with nicotine to further narrow blood vessels for impaired  blood flow to the heart. Lung cancer is induced from excessive exposure to the cigarette smoke which is a carcinogen. Nicotine itself, is not cancerous however.       

         Benefits of Nicotine   

  • Increased focus and memory from presynaptic nerve terminals of dopamine, acetylcholine & glutamine secreting neurons.
  • Increased lipolysis from catecholamine release.
  • Anti-Depressant effects from dopamine stimulation.
  • Nutrient Partitioning Effect from increased blood flow to skeletal muscle.
  • Decreased Hunger.

          Negative Side Effects of Nicotine 

  • Addictive 
  • Raises Blood Pressure
  • Constricts Blood Vessels
  • Adrenal fatigue

So how would you put this information to use?

The cleanest way to get the benefits of nicotine without ingesting, inhaling or snorting tobacco would be to acquire nicotine chewing gum or a nicotine dermal patch. Remember that you only need 1 mg of nicotine combined with 100 mg of caffeine for enhanced fat loss. So, 1 mg of nicotine + 100 mg of caffeine 3 times per day spaced 4 hours apart would be most effective. The nicotine based gum comes typically in 2 mg and 4 mg dosages. So you can tear them in halfs or quarters to meet the 1 mg needed. The patch is tricky and I would not recommend it as it takes around 3 hours to finally "kick in" and will continuously supply your blood stream with nicotine whether you like it or not…

The patches come in extra strength,  (21 mg) medium strength,  (14 mg) and lower strength at (7 mg) — Which is the dosage you would need (7 mg). 

If you do try such an experiment in your quest for ultimate leanness – PLEASE take precautionary measures. The herb hawthorn berry in liquid extract form dosed at 900-1200 mg alleviates elevated blood pressure, dilates blood vessels, and assists in proper blood flow to the heart. A quality omega-3 fish oil supplement will also help aid in healthy blood pressure management and help regulate optimal blood flow to the heart. 



1.) Andersson K, Arner P.Systemic nicotine stimulates human adipose tissue lipolysis through local cholinergic and catecholaminergic receptors. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2001 Aug;25(8):1225-32.

2.) Keiko Arai,Kyongsong Kim, Katsumi Kaneko, Mitsue Iketani, Asuka Otagiri, Naoko Yamauchi, and Tamotsu Shibasaki.Nicotine infusion alters leptin and uncoupling protein 1 mRNA expression in adipose tissues of rats.Submitted 6 September 2000. accepted in final form 7 February 2001.

3.) Asuka Mano-Otagiri, Azusa Iwasaki-Sekino, Hisayuki Ohata, Keiko Arai, Tamotsu Shibasaki.Nicotine suppresses energy storage through activation of sympathetic outflow to brown adipose tissue via corticotropin-releasing factor type 1 receptor. Neuroscience Letters (2009) Volume: 455, Issue: 1, Pages: 26-29

4.) Jessen AB, Toubro S, Astrup A.Effect of chewing gum containing nicotine and caffeine on energy expenditure and substrate utilization in men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Jun;77(6):1442-7.

5.) T Yoshida, N Sakane, T Umekawa, A Kogure, M Kondo, K Kumamoto, T Kawada, I Nagase, M Saito.  Nicotine induces uncoupling protein 1 in white adipose tissue of obese mice. 06/1999; 23(6):570-5.
6.) William T. ChanceCorresponding Author Contact Information, a, Teri Foley-Nelsona, Jeffrey L. Nelsona and Josef E. Fischera. Neurotransmitter alterations associated with feeding and satiety. Volume 416, Issue 2, 28 July 1987, Pages 228-234 

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