We all know that food is a necessity, but how much do we really need? If you’re trying to cut back on your spending or want to be prepared for emergencies, knowing how long you can go without food could be essential. Plus it gives you an idea of what other animals are capable of going without food and eating when they do have access to it. Here’s can you go without food for a long time?
Can You Go Without Food For A Long Time?
Fasting for longer than 24 hours can be dangerous and is not recommended. That said it is possible to go longer than 24 hours without food and still feel OK. According to one source, you could survive for 70 days without food. Another source says you could last 21 days.
This is because your body can tap into stored energy sources such as fat and protein for energy. To optimize your health, it’s best to eat small meals throughout each day if you do fast for more than 12 hours, break up your fast with a few snacks in between.
Should People Worry About Not Eating Enough?
The first step to surviving a long period without food is figuring out how long you can go without food. This depends on your body type, overall health, and other factors.
The biggest determinant of when you start feeling starvation pains is glycogen, which is a natural carbohydrate that’s stored in your muscles and liver. When these stores are depleted, your body will begin to break down muscle tissue into glucose for energy.
If you exercise regularly, it’ll take longer before these stores are depleted however, endurance athletes or others who have reduced their calorie intake may not have enough glycogen stores to last them very long during starvation.
The Body Fights Starvation
When we haven’t eaten for a long time, our body breaks down fatty tissue and starts producing ketones. The brain can only use two sources of fuel glucose or ketones so when blood glucose levels are low, it needs to rely on these alternative fuels for energy. In other words, if you don’t eat, your body is just as happy to burn fat as it is to burn glucose.
This survival mechanism helped us evolve; however, our bodies weren’t designed to support energy-burning processes for extended periods of time because food was scarce before we had access to refrigeration and mass production.
This can put us at risk for obesity and chronic health problems like diabetes over time.
In most cases, it’s possible to go without food for weeks or even months. There are three primary reasons for this:
- Your body is made to adapt to scarcity and often slows down its functions.
- There are a number of methods you can use to make sure you get all the nutrition you need from what little food you have
- While in many cases there will be other things that can sustain life when push comes to shove, there is no substitute for calories.
If you’re stranded on a desert island with only coconuts, as an example, and if you don’t eat enough of them over time (at least 1,000 per day), they won’t provide adequate nutrition and ultimately won’t keep you alive.