In this brief guide, we will address the query, “What happens if you don’t eat?”. We will also discuss how long you can survive without eating food, how your body reacts to restricted eating and the potential risks and side effects if you don’t eat.
What happens if you don’t eat?
If you don’t eat food for a significant period of time, you will be subjected to starvation and your body will reduce its energy consumption and adjust your metabolism to survive and hang on with minimum damage.
According to scientists, the human body is resilient, so even if you do not eat food your body systems will function properly but only for a certain period of time.
However, the exact time frame of survival without food is still obscure and can not be specified by researchers on human subjects because it is unethical to deprive participants intentionally of eating.
How long can you survive without eating?
Food and water are essential components of a healthy life where they supply your body with all the essential nutrients needed to produce energy and your systems to function properly.
Even though there is no scientific research on how long your body can survive and live without eating, observations of modern real-world starvation samples such as hunger strikes and religious fasts provide some information in this context.
The exact time of survival depends on your body weight, composition and genetics and whether you drink water during starvation or not.
In principle, the normal human body can survive between 8 – 21 days without eating food and drinking water and up to 2 months when there is access to adequate water intake.
But if your body is deprived of both water and food you will not be able to survive more than 4 days since your body will suffer from severe dehydration and life-threatening symptoms according to a study published in the British Medical Journal.
How does your body react to restricted eating?
Your body mass index (BMI) affects your ability to survive if you do not eat according to your gender according to the journal Nutrition. It is found that women whose BMI is less than 11 and men whose BMI is less than 13 are unable to survive without eating.
Besides, it was found women can withstand starvation more than men and live for days and even weeks without eating due to their body composition as published in the Nutrition journal.
If you do not eat, your body will function regularly for the first 8 hours then it will start to adjust itself to protect you from irreparable damage. This feature allows you to follow intermittent fasting diets and be engaged in religious fasts.
In normal conditions, the digestive system breaks down the food you eat into glucose to provide your body with energy.
So when you stop eating for 8 – 12 hours, your blood glucose level will suddenly drop thus your body will search for alternative sources of energy.
Thus your body will start at first by converting your liver and muscle’s glycogen into glucose before using muscle protein and amino acids as an energy source before it shifts to break down its own tissue.
What are the potential risks of restricted eating?
Despite your body’s ability to survive for days or even weeks without eating as we have shown throughout this article, not eating for a long period of time will have detrimental effects on your body and cause disruption of your body systems.
So, here are the major consequences and potential risks your body will face when you do not eat food:
- Lack of concentration
- Insomnia and Sleep disorders
- Abnormal heart function
- Heart attack
- Hypotension or low blood pressure
- low pulse
- organ failure
- Low metabolic rate
- Irregular menstruation
- Hypothermia and body temperature fluctuation
- post-traumatic depression
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In this brief guide, we have addressed the query, “What happens if you don’t eat?” We have also discussed how long you can survive without eating food, how your body reacts to restricted eating and the potential risks and side effects if you don’t eat.
Hope you found this blog useful. If you have any questions, please let us know.