What happens if you don’t eat for a week?

In this brief guide, we will discuss the following question, “what happens if you don’t eat for a week?”, and other queries related to this topic.

What happens if you don’t eat for a week? 

You will not die from fasting for one week but your body will enter starvation mode and will start using your fat stores and muscle protein to make the energy to support its basic metabolisms like respiration, heart and brain activities, and other muscles functioning.

Your body stores of fat can be enough to maintain the minimal body functioning for about one week without eating or taking any caloric food or beverage. However, the fasting state can be maintained for more than one week and up to three weeks in case the patient is drinking water. 

After about 24 hours of fasting, the glycogen in the liver, which is the stored form of glucose in the body, will be depleted and the body will start using its fat stores to produce energy for its minor functioning and to keep you alive.  Generally, the body cells use glucose as a main source of energy.

When the glycogen is depleted the fat will be converted into ketone bodies and the body shifts its energy from glucose into ketone bodies. This state is known as ketosis. The more your fat stores are the longer your body relies on these stores. 

When fat stores are depleted the body will use the muscle protein and its organs as an energy source. In the long term, starvation leads to organ failure. The resting metabolic rate or also known as the basal metabolic rate will be reduced.

The reduction in the basal metabolic rate is due to the scarcity of food and energy provided to the body. Also, hormonal changes will take place to adapt to the new situation. For example, cortisol levels will increase in the blood to increase glycogen and fat release into glucose and fatty acids.

During the fasting state, you will feel some weakness, fatigue, dizziness, and headache due to different causes such as the drop in blood glucose caused by the absence of glucose is the main reason why the fasting person feels weak. 

After this one week of fasting you, of course, will have lost several kilograms. But, this is not the right way to lose weight because you are more likely to gain weight than the one that you have already lost. Also, not all the lost weight is from fat but can be water if you do not drink enough fluids.

The ability of a person to fast and the duration of fasting depends on several factors such as age, activity level, and health status of the person. For example, children and older adults are more prone to die from starvation than adults.

Healthy people can fast for a longer time compared to people with chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease and more than people suffering from malnutrition due to their low immunity which will make them more vulnerable to severe infections.

During the starvation state, the body can use its stores to support its minimal functioning but it does not have water storage. So, water shortage will lead to irreversible damage in several organs within a few days of fasting and the most affected organ is the kidneys. 

The body is composed of about 60 percent of water. Also, the blood which is the main vehicle of nutrient distribution to the different cells of the body has 90 percent water. The more the dehydration is severe the more the symptoms will get worse. 

Symptoms of dehydration can go from thirst, loss of appetite, nausea, and dizziness to delirium, renal failure, loss of consciousness, and death. Also, high weather temperatures will accelerate the water loss through the skin and the breath thus accelerating the symptoms’ appearance. 

What are the benefits of fasting?

Along with helping in weight loss, fasting has many different benefits such as detoxifying your body from toxins. However, the liver is the organ involved in the detoxification process of all chemicals that enter our body through food, skin, or the respiratory system.

Fasting can also be beneficial to stop the growth and the proliferation of cancer cells in the body. However, further research is needed in this field. Additionally, fasting can help in improving cognitive performance through the boosting of brain function.

Generally, all healthy people have some type of inflammation in their body, and it’s a normal process in the body, but when this inflammation becomes chronic, it will have several drawbacks to health like arthritis, heart disease, and cancer. So, fasting can decrease the level of inflammation in the body.


In this brief guide, we discussed the following question, “ what happens if you don’t eat for a week?” and other queries related to this topic.


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