Hypermetabolism and Anorexia Nervosa Recovery: A Common Condition During Refeeding

When a person begins recovery treatment for anorexia nervosa, they may need to initiate a process known as refeeding. The refeeding process is a controlled period during which an individual with anorexia nervosa can slowly and safely reintroduce more calories and higher nutrient levels to their body.

Hypermetabolism is a relatively common condition that can affect people during the refeeding and recovering phases of anorexia nervosa. In this article, we’re going to dive deeper into the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for hypermetabolism in people with anorexia nervosa.

What is Hypermetabolism?

As the name suggests, hypermetabolism is a state that causes the body to experience an abnormal increase in its basal metabolic rate. Put simply, hypermetabolism makes people expend a higher rate of energy while at rest.

What Causes Hypermetabolism?

For the purpose of this article, you don’t need to have a comprehensive understanding of the biological reactions and chemical processes underpinning a hypermetabolic state.

However, if you’re still curious about what causes hypermetabolism, here is a simplified step-by-step guide to the process:

  • People recovering from anorexia are usually coming off a period of severe food restriction.
  • Prolonged food restriction can disrupt the efficiency of the body’s natural metabolic responses.
  • After sustained caloric and nutrient deprivation, the body may enter starvation mode by dramatically reducing resting calorie expenditure.
  • When the body is in starvation mode, the reintroduction of food can lead to irregular basal metabolic rate responses.
  • When a person recovering from anorexia nervosa begins refeeding, the uptick in their basal metabolic rate is often high enough to classify as hypermetabolism.

Symptoms of Hypermetabolism

Remember, hypermetabolism is itself a symptom of the body’s underlying response to refeeding. Unfortunately, if someone recovering from anorexia doesn’t know what to look for, they may not even realize they are suffering from hypermetabolism.

To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, we’ve listed some of the most common external signs of hypermetabolism:

  • Inability to gain weight when eating in a caloric surplus.
  • Sudden weight loss.
  • Anemia and blood problems.
  • Tiredness and fatigue.
  • Irregular heartbeat.
  • Episodes of insomnia.
  • Shallow or strained breathing.
  • Excessive sweating.

Treatment Options for Hypermetabolism

Fortunately, treating hypermetabolism in people recovering from anorexia is remarkably simple. As long as the patient maintains a regular recovery diet, hypermetabolism will usually cease towards the end of the refeeding period. If hypermetabolism persists past refeeding, we strongly recommend reaching out to a dietician or doctor.

Sources: Science of Eating Disorders, Body And Soul Heals, Not Your Average Nutritionist, National Eating Disorders

Photo: Pexels

More Articles

Anorexia nervosa is a dangerous type of eating disorder characterized by an intense fear of weight gain, extremely restrictive eating habits, and...

The first rule of eating disorders is not to talk about eating disorders—at least, that's what your eating disorder will tell you.

Many...

It may sound unbelievable, but people can suffer from a severe eating disorder and not even know it. You would think just looking in a mirror...

As the discussion around eating disorders becomes less and less taboo, a growing number of high-profile celebrities have begun to talk about their...

It is hard for someone without an eating disorder to understand why someone suffering from anorexia nervosa would go without food. Most people...

More Articles

More Articles

Anorexia nervosa is a dangerous type of eating disorder characterized by an intense fear of weight gain, extremely restrictive eating habits, and...

The first rule of eating disorders is not to talk about eating disorders—at least, that's what your eating disorder will tell you.

Many...

It may sound unbelievable, but people can suffer from a severe eating disorder and not even know it. You would think just looking in a mirror...

As the discussion around eating disorders becomes less and less taboo, a growing number of high-profile celebrities have begun to talk about their...

It is hard for someone without an eating disorder to understand why someone suffering from anorexia nervosa would go without food. Most people...

What causes someone to develop an eating disorder? Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to answer this question. Stress, emotional trauma, cultural...

Bulimia nervosa is a type of eating disorder characterized by recurrent binging and purging, a destructive cycle that often leaves bulimic...

Laxative abuse is a common practice among people struggling with eating disorders that involve purging, such as bulimia nervosa or anorexia...

Most people find holidays stressful, but the thought of facing holidays can be overwhelming for a person with an eating disorder. If a special day...

Even though most people have some awareness of bulimia, it’s important to remember that the signs and symptoms will often manifest themselves...

Susan Dey first rose to fame in her role as a charming, innocent looking girl named Laurie Partridge on ‘The Partridge Family’, a television...

Eating disorders often do more than just affect a person’s body weight. In extreme cases, disordered eating habits can cause severe malnutrition,...

Your metabolism is the many different chemical reactions that your body undergoes to sustain your life. One of the main functions of the...

When you start treatment for an eating disorder, one of the essential goals is to learn how to make good food choices. There are two common...

Eating disorders are the most deadly of all psychological disorders. Ginging, purging, and starving oneself can have multiple effects on the body...