How long can you survive without food?


| 10 Comments
Throughout history there have been several documented events of people not eating for weeks and still stay alive. Now you may ask yourself, how long can I survive without food? There are several factors that you need to take into the equation. Obviously your weight is a major part of how long you can last. If you are skinnier, you rely less on food than a heavier person. One of the most famous people that went days without eating was Gandhi. He actually survived 21 days without a single morsel of food. Only taking sips of water, the frail man was tough mentally and believed in himself that he can survive.

Gandhi.jpg
Imagine that. 21 days without eating. I can't even see myself lasting a day without food and I bet most of you reading this doubt that you can last a day, maybe two without food. But you can. After you stop eating for an unusual amount of time, your body begins to break down stored energy as in fat, carbohydrates, and protein. These molecules that are already in your body are the keys to your survival if you are ever in this situation. The one thing that your body cannot last without is water. So remember, if you are ever stranded alone...Find water before food.

10 Comments

Basic survival dictates water before food, but this is incredible to have survied that long! It's interesting to see how the human body handles phsyical adversity.
Check out this story (which was also made into a movie) http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2005/2/24/plane-crash-survivor-stuns-crowd-with/

Its about a rugby team that survived for 72 days with little to no food. Amazing stuff

I found this article to be very interesting, but I think that your point on skinnier people relying less on food isn't true. I think it all matters on the persons lifestyle. Some larger people don't eat a lot and are big based on their genetics where as some smaller people can't go an hour without food. I know many very skinny people that eat a lot more than some bigger people.

I did find this interesting article that talks about a canadian woman who survived inside of a car for 48 days only eating trailmix and candy.
http://blogs.plos.org/obesitypanacea/2011/05/13/the-science-of-starvation-how-long-can-humans-survive-without-food-or-water/
Its really cool how our bodies can survive such harsh conditions and then fully recover.

Thanks for the post, Dan! It is crazy thinking about 21 days without any food at all and living through it. The basic necessities in life include food, water, shelter and clothing. Without food, one will feel weak but that does not mean they will not survive. I believe in your last sentence, which is look for water before you look for food. Like you said, the body breaks down stored energy and that is why water is more important.

Sometimes when I'm sick for a long period of time and unable to eat, whenever I'm better and try to eat, I no longer feel hungry. It typically takes a few days for my usual appetite to return. I wonder whether this is what happens to those who don't eat, as well. However, while researching, I found people who deal with anorexia, the eating disorder, also deal with hunger pains. This made me think that even with the body living off its own surplus, people who go hungry also deal with the pains from the hunger.

It;s incredible that Gandhi, who was a very frail man to begin with, was able to survive three weeks during his hunger strike. This article (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-long-can-a-person-sur) seems to suggest that it's not about the number of days you go without food but the amount of body weight you lose. It states that most people with anorexia begin to experience organ failure when they reach 60-80 pounds and cancer patients wind up dying when they lose 35-45 percent of their body weight.

Hey, I found your blog really cool, I would have never thought someone could survive 21 days without food. I was reading I wondered if the type of food one consumed before they went an extended period of time without food had any effect on how long one could go without food. For instance, if I consume fruits and vegetables all week will I be able to survive longer without food than if I consumed cookies and chips? Found this Interesting article take a look - http://dsc.discovery.com/adventure/food-supply-guidelines-for-survival-preparedness.html

While it's useful to know that, if in a survival situation, you should seek out water before food, voluntarily fasting isn't recommended. According to this WebMD article*, fasting for even a day can be harmful if you aren't "already eating a healthy diet, or if you've got liver or kidney problems, any kind of compromised immune system functioning, or are on medication." It's also worth noting that fasting will cause your metabolic rate to slow down, making it more difficult to maintain a healthy weight after the fast.

* http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/is_fasting_healthy

While it's useful to know that, if in a survival situation, you should seek out water before food, voluntarily fasting isn't recommended. According to this WebMD article*, fasting for even a day can be harmful if you aren't "already eating a healthy diet, or if you've got liver or kidney problems, any kind of compromised immune system functioning, or are on medication." It's also worth noting that fasting will cause your metabolic rate to slow down, making it more difficult to maintain a healthy weight after the fast.

* http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/is_fasting_healthy

It's amazing what the body does naturally in order to survive for the longest possible amount of time. Without food or water your body also shuts down "unnecessary" functions such as growing hair or finger nails. Do you think this survival is simply natural for all living organisms by default or is it through adaptation that this survival trait has been aquired or possibly none of the above?

The thing that confuses me about all of this, is the difference between a skinny person fasting an overweight person fasting. As you stated, once someone decides not to eat for an extended period of time, their body begins to break down from the inside. If this is true, why wouldn't a large person be able to last longer without eating than a skinny person? If a large person holds more fat cells, doesn't the body have more energy to draw on than it would a skinny person?

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