The Effect of Disordered Eating On Metabolism


Did you know that disorders eating behaviours actually reduce metabolic rate? Our

metabolic rate is the energy we use to keep our body functioning. So the faster your

metabolism, the more calories you burn whilst at rest. Here’s how some disordered eating behaviours impact on your metabolism:


Strict dieting - Irregular eating patterns can reduce your metabolism by 10%. This can even be as much as 30% while reducing body weight quickly. This is because our bodies are clever in detecting when they need more energy and so dieting forces the body into starvation mode. This means your metabolism slows down.


Purging - using laxatives or self-induced vomiting actually increase the likelihood of weight gain. The body is so fast to absorb sugars from food as you eat, that when you purge your body is shocked into releasing potassium which creates a potassium deficiency. This stops your body from burning energy from the food which is instead stored as fat, and over time this reduces your metabolic rate.


Binges - Binging causes the body to produce insulin to soak up the sugar it’s expecting to get. These high insulin levels cause blood sugars to fall which send signals to your brain that you need to be fed. Hence the strong binge-purge cycle!


Bulimia - There’s a reason why many people with bulimia gain weight. This is because it has been found that about 1200 calories are retained after self-induced vomiting, regardless of the calorie intake of the binge! Think about this, many people decide to eat more because they have already decided to purge after. However if 1200 calories (the size of two normal size meals) is retained anyway, perhaps it’s better to avoid the purging and stick to one normal size meal.


Laxatives - Taking laxatives may lose about 10% of calories you have eaten, but the diarrhoea flushes essential nutrients from your body and like self-induced vomiting, over time will lead to weight gain. Although it may feel good at first to have the empty feeling, your body is put back into that chemical deprivation state and cravings will grow stronger again.


The short term effect of these behaviours may be tempting, but it’s the longer term effects that will impact on your metabolic rate, slowing down your body’s natural ability to use energy effectively. Look after your metabolic rate by eating enough calories and by eating regularly.

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