Bigorexia, i.e. reversed anorexia. Symptoms and treatment

And it’s not just women. Men also suffer from anorexia or bulimia, but so-called bigorexia is more common for them than for women. In their desire to gain as much muscle mass as possible, they overdo it with exercise and the amount of protein in their diet. What is it about?

Symptoms: unhealthy relationship with food

Individual eating disorders are different, but they have one thing in common: a relationship with food and exercise that is so distorted that it can be life-threatening. Dissatisfaction with one’s own appearance does not always mean disgust with (non-existent) fat, as in anorexia. It also flourishes bigorexia, which is defined by an unhealthy desire to be bigger, more muscular, more developed. It mainly affects men – they feel “undersized” and try to correct this “lack” by spending hours in the gym and inappropriate a diet with an excess of protein.

Exercise despite health

Going to exercise regularly is fine. But the line between a healthy lifestyle and obsession is thin. “It’s a problem when training and the effort to increase muscle damage health. People with disabilities so often exercise, even when they are sick, they overuse various preparations to support muscles, they have no problem even reaching for prohibited substances,” comments Šárka Kučerová, psychologist and guarantor of the Dove Self-Confidence Project.

Addiction to sports is a real problem and a healthy lifestyle has absolutely nothing to do with overusing proteins and amino acids, or even using anabolic steroids. Inadequate strengthening can lead to exhaustion, injury and damage to the musculoskeletal system.

Photo: Hananeko_Studio,

Regular exercise is the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. But it must be proportionate!Photo: Hananeko_Studio,

What causes excess protein

Proteins serves as the main building block for muscles. But the body needs all nutrients and above all their balanced ratio. Protein should make up at least 10% of your daily caloric intake, and if you’re losing weight or exercising more, up to 30%. Bigorectics, however, significantly exceed this recommended amount and build their menu almost exclusively from foods that are supposed to help them build as large muscles as possible.

Not only do they lack other necessary components of the diet, but the excess of protein itself is a problem. “I consider the major risk of long-term protein diets to be an adverse effect on gut microbiomewhich turns into potentially pathogenic and pro-inflammatory,” warns nutritional specialist and founder of Healthy Eating Kateřina Šimková.

Kidneys in danger

But it does not end with problems in the digestive tract. The more protein you consume, the bigger it is burden on the kidneys. They have to process proteins and excrete part of them in the urine in the form of substances with a high nitrogen content. “And like any machine that is overworked, the kidney wears out more quickly with increased performance. This leads to the destruction of some nephrons (the basic building block of the kidney), the remaining nephrons then have to increase their performance and disappear even faster. Thus, a diet with a high protein content can damage the kidneys,” explains Petr Táborský, head of the Fresenius NephroCare dialysis center in Prague-Krč.

Photo: Ben Schonewille,

Diseased kidneys usually do not hurt, so people do not know that they may have weakened kidneys. And when he embarks on an unreasonable protein diet, he can seriously damage a vital organPhoto: Ben Schoeneville,

There is a lack of time and money and the soul suffers

Like other eating disorders, bigorexia is also a psychological disorder, so it arises “in the head” and is reflected not only in appearance, but above all in behavior and experience. People with disabilities have difficulty expressing feelings, have identity problems and anxieties, feel very lonely and have difficulty establishing relationships, constantly see themselves as “small”, and therefore it is impossible to achieve satisfaction.

Hours spent in the gym as well as inventing and preparing an elaborate menu are often the most important things in life for bigorectics. Their social ties and work responsibilities also pay for it, and they don’t hesitate to spend a lot of money for their lifestyle.


  • Other name – Reverse anorexia, Adonis complex
  • Description – Eating disorder, morbid desire to increase muscle mass
  • Symptoms – Dependence on strengthening and gaining muscle volume, a completely inappropriate diet with an excess of protein, disturbances in self-experience and behavior
  • Therapy – It is essential to admit that you have a distorted view of your own body, treatment takes place under the supervision of a psychiatrist, psychotherapist and nutritional therapist
  • Prevention – Do not limit self-worth to physical appearance only. Movement and food should not only be seen as a means to an end, but also as joy and relaxation

The article is in Czech

Tags: Bigorexia #i.e reversed anorexia Symptoms treatment

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