How bulimia leads to weight gain

Catherine Liberty's picture

I remember when I first joined Bulimia Help back in 2009 one of the first forum topics I read through was a discussion called “did bulimia make you gain weight?”

To be completely honest, at that stage I didn't understand why people would be talking about bulimia and weight gain in the same sentence.

When I first saw the title I felt a little shaken...

Bulimia makes you fat? Surely not!

Like so many other people with bulimia I had convinced myself that while it didn’t always help me to lose weight, bulimia must have at least helped me to maintain my weight. When I saw people asking questions like "can bulimia make you gain weight?" I was so confused!

I used to think about how much weight I would gain if I didn’t purge because of how addicted I was to bingeing - but I never even contemplated the fact that if I stopped purging then I would be able to stop bingeing because it seemed like such an impossible concept back then.

Luckily as I progressed through my own recovery I began to realise how ridiculous my “bulimic logic” had been for all of those years, it was like my eyes had been opened for the very first time.

So why do bulimics gain weight?

Top 4 reasons why bulimia can make you gain weight:

  1. The number of calories absorbed from a binge, even after purging is greater than the number that would have been absorbed on a binge-free day.
  2. Numerous studies have proven that even when you believe you have purged all of the food you have eaten, many calories still remain in the body.
  3. When you have bulimia you tend to have a slower metabolism so the calories your body does absorb tend to be stored rather than used as energy.
  4. Recent scientific studies suggest that calorie absorption may begin much earlier in your body when you have bulimia.  


Here are some of my favourite comments and insights from other members that were posted in the “did bulimia make you gain weight” discussion:

When the b/p cycle first started... I did lose weight. However, the binges over time became larger, and now I find that I've begun to gain back what I lost. (Bulimia Help Member, 2009)


I don’t know why this horrible disease has a hold on me, making me think that I will GAIN if I DONT purge. I used to be naturally skinny and I don’t know why that wasn’t enough... now I’m heavier. (Bulimia Help Member, 2009 )


No one knew i had an eating disorder for 14 years as i was a bit chubby, as soon as i recovered fully in Jan i lost sooooo much weight from eating healthy meals people suddenly started asking if i had an eating disorder! (Bulimia Help Member, 2010)


It sucks, it makes you fat, when you want to be thin. It is the stupidest disease there is.
(Bulimia Help Member, 2011)

It really makes you start looking at bulimia and it’s effects on weight in a whole new light doesn’t it? It's a lot to take in at first though, especially if you've been using your "bulimic logic" for over a decade like I had.

As much as we hate to admit it, sometimes bulimia has a lot to do with weight…

Although bulimia can entrap us because we feel it is a coping mechanism, or because it gives us precious moments of numbness that we feel we just couldn’t function in this world without - it’s undeniable that bulimia also gives us this false impression that it without it our weight would simply balloon out of control.

I know it requires a massive stretch of the imagination at the start, believe me it was the same for me, but the honest reality for most people is that bulimia does NOT help you to maintain your weight and more so, recovery will NOT make you fat!

Ready to kick bulimia out of your life once and for all?

The Bulimia Recovery System can help you to further understand the true relationship between bulimia and weight gain. If you’re not quite ready to become a full member of Bulimia Help but want to learn more then you can always try out your free 7 Days to Kickstart Recovery eCourse.

You can also check out the truth about bulimia recovery weight.


Shannyn8877's picture
This article is very true.

This article is very true. Ever since I have started the binging/purging cycle I have gained weight, not lost any. Now I am struggling to stop the cycle and lose the weight I have gained. I know the only way to do this is through recovery.


Kates Story
Kates Story's picture
I eat three meals and 2

I eat three meals and 2 snacks every day and the weight is falling off. I never in my wildest dreams believed this would happen. It took a huge leap of faith but i am so glad i did it :)

NSW Australia's picture
:-) this is reassuring! It

:-) this is reassuring! It is day 5 of my recovery. SE seems to be working. This is the first time in 23 years I have not BP in 3 days. I know I will have setbacks but this is huge! I am feeling really bloated today.MY WHOLE BODY! Is this normal? I am a little overweight as it is so the bulimia was making me gain weight. What can I expect for the remainder of the month? I am a little freaked out by the way I feel and look right now. :-(


Anonymous's picture
I have silently suffered with

I have silently suffered with this for eighteen years......I hate it, it rules my life....I desperately want it to stop....

Anonymous's picture
Me too! 18 years….

Me too! 18 years….

Anonymous's picture
Im 20 years old and have had

Im 20 years old and have had an eating disorder for my whole teenage years. Its a wasteof time and has damaged my body and relationships with family and friends. Im recovering now and hope that any person who wants to develop an eating disorder thinks again because you would be an absolute fool. You would basically be throwing your life away. Please think. I wish I did.

Anonymous's picture
I have been doing it for 18

I have been doing it for 18 years and during my recovery I have gained 35 pounds and disgusted with it, I lost 120 pounds when I was purging, so I guess back to the drawing board for me!!!

Anonymous's picture
I recently developed

I recently developed bulimia...and I'm struggling with it. I really want this too stop. This article was a Real Eye opener.

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The information provided in this website is for information purposes only. The information on this website is NOT a substitute for proper diagnosis, treatment or the provision of advice by an appropriate health professional. Please refer to the full disclaimer and copyright. If you do think you might suffer from an eating disorder, it is important that you talk to your General Practitioner, as there are many physical complications that can arise from being at an unhealthily low weight or from losing weight very quickly, or from purging. We advise you to seek professional help with working on an eating disorder.


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