How long can you go without food?

In this brief article, we will answer the question “How long can you go without food?” and will present some examples of individuals who have survived without food.

How long can you go without food?

There is no set time. We can go without meals for around a month, according to specialists, but it depends on a number of factors, including how much fat we have stored.

Some people have gone up to 200 days without eating, however, the duration always varies with height. However, without water, resistance is drastically decreased, and after around 36 hours, the health situation becomes quite severe.

Most of the time, difficulties that could hurt a person won’t arise from going without food for one to two days. This situation typically just causes headaches and lightheadedness.

Fasting is not intended to be used regularly from a medical standpoint, although it has long been a religious obligation for the purification of the spirit. But embarking on a fast without a doctor’s supervision involves serious health risks, even the risk of dying.

The body begins to burn its reserves of energy, principally lipids, even when no food is consumed. The tissues’ protein constituents are then consumed.

Long durations of fasting also bring about a number of metabolic and hormonal changes, vitamin and mineral losses, blood pressure modifications, lightheadedness, and psychological problems. The lack of water, though, is a much more serious issue.

The body of a man of average size contains roughly 40 litres of water, which is essential for cooling. 

Water also transports poisons that are left in the body after eating so that the kidneys and intestines can eliminate them.

In a healthy person, the amount of fluids that are ingested and passed out is in balance. If this balance is lost even for a few days, it is enough to kill.

Without eating for several hours, the stomach usually begins to feel uncomfortable. Imagine going up to a month without eating. Although there is no established time limit, scientists assert that this is the maximum amount of time the human body can go without food.

There are several tales of people who have kept their fasts going for a long time and survived, either on purpose or due to a horrific accident.

What factors influence a person’s ability to go without food for how long?

A human’s capacity to endure without food is determined by a number of factors. Depending on their degree of nutrition, different people have varying chances of surviving without food. Four days of total fasting is necessary for a person of average weight to begin to decline.

Each person’s energy reserve and fat reserve are essential for survival in these circumstances.

Because they will initially only require water to survive, a slender person will run out of energy for their cellular processes far more quickly and, even with water, will pass away before a person with more body fat.

An important factor that can help a person survive without food is the surroundings. In cold weather, the body uses its stored energy to stay warm, while in hot weather, it dehydrates more quickly. 

As a result, it has a higher chance of surviving in cooler temperatures.

The tale of a Swede who was stranded in his car for two months owing to snow eloquently illustrates this problem. Unknown to the public, the 45-year-old man withstood temperatures of roughly -30°C.

When they were originally discovered, the survivor stated that they had only eaten melted snow. Doctors claim that he is now in an energy-efficient condition of hibernation. 

The ability to consume fluids is crucial for extending the period of survival. Life is made possible by water, an all-purpose solvent that carries all nutrients to the cells. Water is essential for cooling the body and regulating body temperature.

People who have managed to live without food include:

When someone doesn’t eat, they are on a hunger strike.

The hunger strike is one of the main forms of peaceful resistance used by political prisoners, religious authorities, and activists around the world. One of the most well-known cases is that of Mahatma Gandhi, a well-known political figure.

In May 1933, he began a hunger strike as a way of protest against British rule in India. Gandhi, therefore, managed to get by for 21 days with little more than sips of water and no meals.

Animal rights were defended in this manner as well. An activist named Barry Horne began his third hunger strike in 1998 while incarcerated for 18 years for placing explosive devices in stores that sold fur jackets.

Having gone 49 days without eating, he needed to be sent to the hospital to be monitored.

As a result of the demonstration, Barry developed kidney disease and had vision problems. On his fourth hunger strike in 2001, the activist passed away from liver failure.

After going without food for a long period, the body begins to show indicators of malnutrition, such as weight loss, hypotension, and electrolyte loss, which can cause cardiac arrhythmias, low protein levels, smaller organs, such as the brain, torpor, and finally death.

The progression of organ failure, dehydration, kidney failure, a reduction in blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias, and death is noticeably quicker if a person does not consume at least liquids.

When there is no option to eat

Refusing food is not always a successful form of protest, though. Australian medical student James Scott, 22, took a flight to Nepal in late 1991 to go hiking in the Himalayas.

After a snowfall, he veered off the trail, and for the next 43 days, all he consumed was melted snowballs and a caterpillar.

Scott was able to write the book Lost in the Himalayas because of a set schedule and positive attitude, and his story became one of the greatest survival feats ever documented. He asserted that he had lost his appetite after 20 days.

Even if I was dreaming about eating, the person loses their appetite because they enter a situation of excessive ketones production through fat metabolism.


In this brief article, we answered the question “How long can you go without food?” and presented some examples of individuals who have survived without food.


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