How bulimia leads to weight gain

I remember when I first joining a bulimia forum back in 2009 and 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 favorite 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. 

Binge Code Member

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.

Binge Code Member

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!

Binge Code Member

It sucks, it makes you fat, when you want to be thin. It is the stupidest disease there is.


Binge Code Member

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!

Some feedback from our members…

“Hi girls! I have been in recovery for 6 months now. I have had some relapse weeks, but have gone 8 weeks without purging. I was very bloated probably for the first moth, especially when i overate a little. But yes it goes away!”

Binge Code Member

“Yep the first month is kinda hard, but if you can get past that first month, you will see your body will adjust! It kind of surprised me when that finally dawned on me, but it’s true. My body actually can handle food…wow:)”

Binge Code Member

“I am 6 weeks into recovery and it has been 12 days since I bp. I am very heavy on my feed, all my clothes dig into my skin. I know I haven’t been overeating that much, so it is frustrating. If it weren’t for this site I would probably go back to bp”

Binge Code Member