You said that vomiting does not work for weight control then why do I gain weight during recovery?

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Hi, I’m a 22 year old bulimic. I appreciate your site and have read a lot of the info on eating disorders. I’ve alternated between anorexia and bulimia (mostly bulimia) for 6 years.

My questions are regarding recovery. You said that vomiting does not work for weight control, then why do I always gain weight during “recovery”, even on the prescribed diets?

Also, I had some successes with the new high protein diet but became exhausted, unable to exercise, and lost control of eating again. It seemed effective in reducing sugar cravings and keeping water retention down. What’s the deal?

You also answered one of the bulimics by saying that her metabolism probably was not destroyed after years of abuse. Why then do we all gain weight so quickly, eating normally and what can be done to prevent this?

It is very much like a tornado that just drags you around in circles. Just when you think you’ve found a way out, it whirls you faster than ever. Please help! I know you must have to answer an endless number of emails, and I really appreciate your time. Please email me at your convenience Thank you so much!

If you experience weight gain during bulimia recovery, it may be due to changes in how your stomach empties (your body gets to keep food to nourish your body) and changes to the mucus barrier in your intestines where food is absorbed. A dietitian can help you with learning how to balance your food intake with normal amounts of exercise to achieve a healthy weight for your height without binging and purging.

High protein diets may not be effective at helping to control binges because they may not provide you with the energy you need for your daily activities. When you don’t eat enough carbohydrate, your body may develop ketosis which is a state where there isn’t enough carbohydrate refueling your blood sugar which in turn provides energy for your brain and muscles during physical exercise. Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is achieved by balancing food intake with physical activity.

The second effect to high protein diets is the loss of water from muscle.  When food carbohydrates not available to fuel your blood sugar, your body uses glycogen stored in your liver which can be depleted in a couple days. Muscle glycogen is used to fuel physical activities and exercise. In a high protein diet, muscle glycogen is depleted during exercise and with it 3 times the water that glycogen held in muscle.  This is why people lose weight quickly on high protein diets – water weight. However when people return to eating a normal amount of carbohydrates and muscle glycogen is restored, so is the water in the muscle restored.

Protein is a large molecule in your blood and effects fluid balance in your body, but high protein eating plans do not prevent water retention. Not eating enough protein like in anorexia can cause a fluid imbalance in the body.

When you restrict food intake by not letting your body keep the food you eat by purging, your metabolic rate may go down because your body is trying to conserve energy. When you start to eat normally again, your body should readjust your metabolic rate back to normal. Be patient through your recovery and follow the nutrition therapy prescribed for you in terms of calories and number of meals.