Exercising Until You Vomit?

As 14 million Australians are overweight or obese, people are always looking for the quick fix with regards to weight loss. We are looking to shed kilos of fat in weeks and are willing to try anything to do so. And it is this desperation that makes the overweight population vulnerable to what they see in the media regarding weight loss.


This leads me to the latest series of The Biggest Loser. Millions of Australians are currently tuning into their TV’s most nights of the week to watch obese contestants starve themselves and exercising until they vomit. I was recently concerning after watching an episode myself last week when a morbidly obese lady was yelled and screamed at to run up and down stairs, and again, and again…..and again. This might be all well and good if you are Rocky Balboa, but we are talking about severely overweight people with complex physical and mental conditions. To push them to the point of extreme exhaustion or until they vomit is not only unnecessary but also very, very dangerous.


When these contestants are working at a maximal intensity for a prolonged period of time, the demand for energy is very high. As the body breaks down glucose, lactic acid is produced as a bi product at a quicker rate than the tissues can remove it, therefore resulting in a higher concentration of lactic acid. In extreme cases, this can result in lactic acidosis which can result in nausea, vomiting and in extreme cases, death. When these contestants are working too hard they also put themselves at risk of developing a condition called rhabdomyolosis, which essentially breaks down muscle fibres into the blood stream and is often referred to as “muscle meltdown”. Again, this can be a life threatening condition.


You may think I’m being over dramatic, as the message “no pain, no gain” is often reinforced through the media (especially in The Biggest Loser). This idea is nonsense, especially in the obese population and it’s important to remember that they are not elite athletes and they cannot be asked to work at the intensity of a West Coast Eagles pre season training session.

Recently, a spokesperson from ESSA (Exercise and Sports Science Australia) said that the show was “sending the wrong message”. I totally agree with this, as we should be encouraging people to loose weight and improve their health, but in a safe manner.


As an Exercise Physiologist we are qualified to prescribe safe and correct exercise programs based on your individual needs. So if you looking to start a weight loss journey, start it by seeking the professional advice of your local Exercise Physiologist.


Don’t forget to visit our website at www.aer.net.au and like us on Facebook and Instagram.


Ben Davis

Accredited Exercise Physiologist

About Clinton Joynes

I am a motivated person who is interested in all things relating to exercise. I have worked with elite athletes to people with chronic illnesses. I love motivating others to achieve their goals. I believe in a personal and fun approach to life and work.

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