Bigorexia in Bodybuilders
By: Marylin Salgado
July 9, 2020
You are probably familiar with Anorexia, or the obsession to lose weight and be thin. In
the medical community, anorexia can also be defined as loss of appetite or desire to eat food.
The former term is more common and is primarily seen in young, developing, teenage girls.
Little hint: I went through a stage of this condition but there were two huge setbacks.
Throwing up, well it’s gross and number two, I am a huge sucker for cheeseburgers. So, I figured
I would enjoy all that fatty goodness, love myself, and screw those people who decided I didn’t
look good enough to model my ass away.
But enough about me. It is time now to educate you on Bigorexia, or as it is sometimes
known, as reverse anorexia or muscle dysmorphia. Bigorexia, is the total apposite of anorexia.
Most common in men, it is the self-belief the individual is too skinny, too small, and just not
Psychologically, these individuals have a big fear of losing weight, and therefore, their
muscle mass. They are so obsessed with working out, they neglect family, relationships, work
and even their kids. The dieting is loaded with calories and unhealthy amounts of supplements.
The illegal use of steroids is very common, as well. These individuals are so self-absorbed in
being big, that much like anorexia, they fail to realize they have a real problem. A dangerous
Also considered an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, this condition is treated by mental
health workers as well as general practitioners for the complications that arise from being so
The disorder is actually more common then I even realized. During my research, I
discovered 1 in 10 male body lifters suffer from this disorder. Along with the massive body size,
the condition can lead to image insecurity, depression, abuse of supplements, especially
steroids, and suicide.
Can Bigorexia affect women?
The answer is yes, although not as common, there are a few known cases of women with this
Women with this condition, just like men, admit that training takes over their lives; family,
dating and socializing. Unlike men, women do not naturally produce the required levels of
testosterone to produce large mass of muscles, therefore, female body builders are at a higher
risk of the adverse effects produced by supplement overuse as they have to take twice the
amount of supplements men take to achieve large muscle mass.
How can bigorexia harm the body?
Since the individual is taking an unhealthy number of steroids and is very strictly
measuring their dietary and caloric intake to be and remain big and muscular, they are
not taking into consideration how all these unsafe practices are affecting their heart and
High blood pressure is actually very common with these individuals. I have noticed in
myself, since I began taking muscle builders and within the last two years, I have had an
increase in blood pressure. Now, my BP is normally 90/60, which is considered low, but
since that is my norm, jumping from 90/60 to 110/70, let’s say is considered a change,
but not an unhealthy one. These individuals not only have hypertension, they have
dangerous hypertension, probably higher than 140/90. Hypertension can lead to heart
disease and stroke.
Liver issues can arise from heavy steroid use. Bile, a digestive fluid in your liver can’t
travel its normal route and instead leaks out into your bloodstream.
The stressors of an unhealthy diet and large amounts of steroids can lead to heart
The lungs also suffer because they need to be able to properly originate such a massive
body size. Improper oxigination can lead to shortness of breath, fatigue and lethargy.
Such a massive body size places a large amount of stress on the muscular and skeletal
system. Your lower back, knees and other body joints have to carry the weight and the
extra stress that is placed on them from generating all that muscle.
How is it treated?
Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most effective way to treat the disorder. It helps the
individual both identify what triggered the obsession to begin with and then it helps the
individual find ways to cope with the condition and redirect the behaviors that lead to unsafe
practices into healthier, more productive ones.
The trick here is getting the individual to recognize they have a problem in the first
place. A lot of individuals with an eating disorder don’t even realize they have a disorder. Much
like alcohol and drug abuse, the first step to recovery is admitting there is a problem.
This platform is meant to educate Tokkyo Nutrition consumers with the information needed
to help you stay mentally and physically healthy.
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