How Long Can You Survive Without Food or Water?

Photo: Jon Bower at Apexphotos/Getty Images

More than two weeks after a dozen boys and their soccer coach went missing in Thailand, rescue efforts finally brought them safely out of the flooded cave they were found in on July 2. The group had gone to explore the Tham Luang caves in Chiang Rai on June 23 and were trapped after monsoon flooding caused the water levels in the cave to rise too high. Rescuers finally extracted the last team members, all of whom are alive, a feat in and of itself after surviving nearly nine days underground without food and fresh water.

It’s a dramatic, terrifying tale that makes you wonder: Exactly how long can you go without food and water? Unfortunately, there’s no exact answer. “Survival time would depend on various factors such as initial hydration state, body size, lean body mass, fat mass, metabolic rate, and any physical activity,” explains Whitney Linsenmeyer, Ph.D., R.D., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and an instructor in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at Saint Louis University.

“In general, adults can go a few days (possibly up to a week) without fluids and a few weeks to about two months without food,” says Liz Weinandy, a registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Because scientific studies on this topic would be unethical (this is starvation we’re talking about), the information that’s available comes from instances where humans are caught in natural disasters or situations like the one the Thai soccer team found themselves in, she says.

What’s More Important: Food or Water?

Humans can generally last longer without food than without fluid. One study based on anecdotal reports and published in the journal Archiv Fur Kriminologie stated that humans can go without food or drink for eight to 21 days, but if someone is only deprived of food, they may survive for up to two months. And research published in the British Medical Journal used information from hunger strikes to determine that people can last 21 to 40 days without food before experiencing life-threatening symptoms.

But because your body is about 60 percent water, it’s absolutely essential to your short-term survival to prioritize fluids. “Many organs in your body need enough fluid for proper hydration in order to function,” says Weinandy. “Your brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, and muscles especially need enough water to work well. Once you start to get dehydrated, you’re not able to think straight. That’s not only due to fluid losses but also to the loss of important electrolytes like potassium and sodium, which are needed for proper muscle function-especially when it comes to your heart.”

What Happens to Your Body When You’re Not Getting Enough Food or Water?

Without the crucial nutrients from food and water, your body will start to move through metabolic changes known as the ‘fed-fast cycle,’ says Linsenmeyer. “The fed state typically lasts up to three hours following a meal; the postabsorptive state can last anywhere from three to 18 hours following a meal; the fasting state lasts from about 18 to 48 hours without additional food intake; the starvation state lasts from two days following a meal up to several weeks,” she explains.

What that means is that when your body recognizes that it’s not getting additional nourishment, it will start to adapt to your situation and use different sources as fuel. Most of the time, your body uses glucose for energy, but when those levels are depleted, “during the fasting state, the body’s protein stores serve as a major energy source; during the starvation state, we see a metabolic fuel shift to using primarily fat stores in an effort to preserve lean body mass,” says Linsenmeyer. (Interestingly, the keto diet is also known for shifting the go-to energy source from carbs to fat via ketosis. Does that mean the insanely popular keto diet is bad for you?)

Muscle actually stores more water than fat, explains Weinandy, which makes preserving that lean body mass important for someone entering starvation mode. But when you start to burn primarily fat for energy-a state called ketosis-that’s when malnourishment becomes a major issue, because “there’s no intake of vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes,” she says. Your body can’t store significant amounts of important nutrients like the B vitamins and vitamin C for more than a few days, and becoming deficient in them will affect your energy levels and overall health.”

How Do You Know If You’re Starving?

Of course, you’ll be hungry-one of the first things the Thai boys said to their rescuers was “Eat, eat, eat, tell them we are hungry.” But it’s not just hunger pangs that can clue you into how dire your situation really is. “A lack of fluid will have the biggest effect on your body,” says Weinandy. “You’ll start to get dehydrated, and your blood pressure will drop due to a loss in blood volume as your body naturally tries to conserve water,” which can eventually lead to strokes, heart attacks, and kidney failure. (Learn more about how dehydration affects your mind and body.)

“When the human body is in starvation mode and/or prolonged dehydration, symptoms also include a slowed metabolic rate, breakdown of the body’s protein stores, hormonal imbalances, fatigue, severe headaches, dizziness, seizures, confusion, and difficulty concentrating, says Linsenmeyer.

That study from BMJ also reported that the main disabling symptom during starvation mode is feeling faint and dizzy, and, in almost all cases, they also found people to have abnormally low heart rates, thyroid issues, abdominal pain, and depression.

How to Survive Without Food or Water

While most things are out of your control if you find yourself trapped in, say, a flooded cave, there are a few things that could help you survive longer.

Most importantly, you want to minimize physical activity. “An individual’s basal metabolism is the energy required to maintain normal body functioning, i.e. brain function and respiration,” says Linsenmeyer. “Any physical activity requires additional energy beyond one’s basal metabolism, so, in theory, minimizing physical activity would reduce one’s total energy needs,” which would help your body conserve energy when it’s not receiving any additional energy from food or water.

You’ll also want to keep as cool as possible, whether that means literally finding a cool spot to wait for rescue or just keeping yourself from sweating. “We lose water through urine, sweat, and breathing, so it is impossible to conserve it all-but our bodies will try to lessen the amount that leaves,” says Weinandy, and anything you can do to help your body do that will help your survival.

  • By Ashley Mateo @ashleymateo

Who, What, Why: How long can someone survive without food?

A Swedish man, found in a car buried under snow, says he survived for two months without food by eating handfuls of snow. But how long can people go without food?

The circumstances surrounding Peter Skyllberg’s survival are still being investigated. However, photographs taken of the inside of the car show empty food and drink wrappers, which could mean the 44-year-old had some sustenance.

The car was found on Friday at the end of a forest track more than 1km (0.6 miles) from a main road in northern Sweden. Police say the temperature in the area had recently dropped to -30C (-22F).

Skyllberg says he had been inside the car since 19 December 2011.

Experts believe it is possible for the human body to survive without food for up to two months.

It’s not the first example of humans subsisting on next to nothing for long periods of time.

Japanese hiker Mitsutaka Uchikoshi survived 24 days in 2006 without food and water after he went missing during a climbing trip in western Japan. He was found with a body temperature of 22C (71F) – nearly 15C below normal. After being treated for severe hypothermia and other health complications Uchikoshi returned home, leaving some doctors puzzling over his miraculous recovery.

Last year, a 56-year-old woman from British Columbia survived nearly 50 days in the Nevada wilderness on trail mix, sweets and stream water after being stranded in the mountains while her husband went in search of help. Hunters found Rita Chretien conscious and able to speak, although she had lost 20-30lb as a result of the ordeal.

The American illusionist David Blaine spent 44 days in 2003 suspended in a glass box by the River Thames in London without food. In the 1940s, Mahatma Gandhi survived 21 days on sips of water during a display of civil disobedience.

But even in the chronicles of food and water deprivation, Skyllberg’s recent 60-day stint is an extreme case.

“It is at the bounds of possibility but not completely untenable,” said Dr Mike Stroud, senior lecturer of Medicine and Nutrition at Southampton University.

Stroud, who accompanied veteran British adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes across the Antarctic, said it was possible to survive 60 days without food.

“That is about the time hunger strikers in prisons tend to die,” said Stroud. “But they are normally in warmer conditions.” In 1981, Republican prisoner Bobby Sands died in Northern Ireland’s Maze prison after a hunger strike lasting 66 days.

There are a number of factors that can influence a person’s ability to survive, says Stroud, such as the way in which the body’s metabolism slows down to conserve energy.

“The average resting human body, doing absolutely nothing, produces about 100 watts of body heat, which could function a light bulb,” he says. “But under these circumstances the body will begin to make less and less heat to keep you warm. That’s where a heavier body would have more of an advantage.”

Stroud also says the amount of body fat a person has at the beginning of the ordeal may not count as much as one might imagine.

“The body needs more than just calories – it will start to shut down its organs one by one. But it could still take up to 60 days for that to happen.”

Catherine Collins, spokeswoman for the British Dietetics Association explains that “the body can remodel during starvation to minimise the amount of calories it needs”.

When the body stops getting food, it has to live on the stored sugars. The liver and muscles store glucose – the primary fuel source – as glycogen. This glycogen can then be converted into glucose.

When this runs out, fat is then converted into a secondary energy supply called ketone bodies. After the fat runs out, she says, the body must take recycled protein from the system and eventually from the muscles to convert to energy. But this, she says, is “very expensive” fuel for the body because “it’s wasting important tissue reserves”.

“It’s like being in a cold house and burning Chippendale furniture instead of firewood,” she says.

However, the resulting muscle loss slows the body’s furnace, causing it to burn calories at a slower rate. “So whatever calorie supply you have will last you longer,” she says.

“In a way you’re trying to eke out what you’ve got left to help you survive.”

Being confined to a small space would have helped Skyllberg conserve precious calories, says Collins, and the isolation of being stuck in the snow alone also would have protected his weakened immune system from potentially deadly infections.

The car was covered in snow, creating what some experts have described as an “igloo effect” on the vehicle.

Dr Ulf Segerberg, chief medical officer at Norrlands University Hospital in Sweden, was quoted in newspaper reports as saying that the insulating properties of the snow may have helped with the man’s survival.

A person’s mental state can play a critical role in how long they survive, according to Stephen Joseph, a professor of psychology, health and social care at the University of Nottingham.

“People can go into flight or fight mode, and will have adrenalin coursing through them. Those adrenalin surges are important because they will determine how people survive,” he says.

And not everyone responds to life-threatening scenarios in the same way.

“In disastrous situations, survival depends on personalities. Some might catastrophise and lose hope, while others are more hopeful and more resourceful,” says Joseph.

“Hope is probably a big key to this.”

Reporting by Lauren Everitt and Chi Chi Izundu.

How long can you go without food and water?

The question of how long you can go without food depends on a lot of factors. Will and determination definitely play a part. Political prisoners on hunger strikes and fasting religious leaders have been known to go for weeks at a time without any food. Gandhi fasted for 21 days while in his 70s. People lost in the wild have also survived for long periods of time without eating.

Medically speaking, most doctors agree that healthy humans can go up to eight weeks without food as long as they have water. People have gone longer and been fine, and people have starved to death in less time. Being strong and in good physical shape can help you survive longer, but so does having extra body fat. The body stores energy needed to live in the form of fat, carbohydrates and proteins. The carbs are the first thing to be used up without more food coming in. The fat goes next, which explains why people with more of it can survive longer. Then the proteins go. If you get to the point that your body is using up proteins, basically the body itself, then you’re in bad shape.


Your metabolism also plays a role. Metabolism is what converts food into energy. If you have a slow metabolism, you’ll burn your food intake slower and be able to go longer without replacing the food energy. If you go without food, your metabolism will adjust accordingly and slow down on its own — basically doing what it can to pitch in for survival’s sake.

Climate is a major factor too. The bad news is that both cold and hot weather are no good if you have no food. The good news is that extreme heat and cold will kill you in other ways before you have a chance at starvation. But in terms of living without food, heat means faster dehydration — cold means more energy is burned to keep the body’s temperature at a cozy 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius). If you’re lucky enough to be in mild temperatures, you’ll be able to live a little longer without food.

Some symptoms you may see if you go more than a couple of days without food are:

  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Irritability
  • Bad decision making
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Immune deficiency

Advanced starvation will cause your organs to shut down one by one. People in the throes of severe starvation might experience the following:

  • Hallucinations
  • Convulsions
  • Muscle spasms
  • Irregular heartbeat

In the next section, we’ll look at how important water is and what happens to your body without it.

Here’s The Longest People Have Survived Without Air, Food, Water, Sunshine, or Sleep

Humans can scale the highest mountains and live in the harshest deserts. But we all live precarious lives: ones not far from death if we lose access to simple things like water, food, or even sleep.

How long can we survive without the basics?

Every person and situation is different, though the ‘rule of threes’ gets at the desperate nature of what our bodies need: 3 minutes without oxygen, three days without water, three weeks without food.

But some extraordinary members of our species have broken and redefined these and other limits of human survival.

Here are some of the records for how long people have lived without staples like air, water, food, sunlight, and sleep.

Warning: Do not attempt to break any of these records yourself. You could die.

The rule of 3 minutes without air is a good guideline. Hold your breath for longer, and you run the risk of brain damage.

But some people humans can hold their breath for much longer, as is the case of trained free diving.

The current world record for static apnea, or holding your breath in water without moving (often face down, unlike this training session), is 11 minutes and 35 seconds, and was set by Stéphane Mifsud in 2009.


Allow a breath of pure oxygen before the attempt? The record nearly doubles to 22 minutes and 22 seconds. Tom Sietas set it in 2012.

We can hold our breath longer underwater than in air because of a mysterious function known as the mammalian diving response. It allows us to more easily subdue the reflex that forces us to breathe – and to drown.

And what about water? How long can we go without the vital fluid that comprises two-thirds of our bodies?

Find a source within three days or you’re in trouble.

But the actual time a human can go without water varies wildly, mainly because our bodies must maintain water balance, and our fluid stores must be replenished as we sweat, urinate, and exhale.

Under extreme conditions, like strenuous exercise under the hot sun, we can sweat out 1.5 litres of water in an hour. Fail to replenish this, and blood volume drops, sweating stops, and we become even hotter and more dehydrated, leading to death in mere hours.

In a comfortable environment, however, an adult can last without water for a week or more.

Andreas Mihavecz, an 18-year-old Austrian man, may have survived the longest without drinking water: Police accidentally left him in a holding cell for 18 days in 1979. It’s a fuzzy record, though, since he allegedly licked condensation off the walls of the prison.

Survival without food is even harder to define a limit. Humans evolved endurance for hunting, so it makes us pretty good at dealing with starvation.

Food deprivation is also a difficult thing to test ethically, though voluntary hunger strikes give us clues. Mahatma Gandhi’s longest of many fasts lasted 21 days.

James A. Mills/AP

But the longest-lasting hunger strike in recorded history was undertaken by an Irish political prisoner, Terence MacSwiney, whose 74-day strike ended with his death in 1920.

During starvation, the body starts using up glycogen in the liver and muscles to produce a sugar called glucose, followed by some amino acids. Then, your body will start processing fat stores and then its own protein.

If the starvation period ends, and the patient’s food intake is not carefully monitored, they can retain too much sodium, causing a dangerous accumulation of fluid that can lead to heart failure.

And what about sunlight? Can humans live in total darkness?

Unfortunately, we know the answer to this from a group of children kept in dark catacombs by a Russian cult in Kazan, Tartarstan until 2012. Many of them, including a 19-year-old, had never seen the sun.

But as long as you take in Vitamin D to stave off rickets, you can live without sunlight. Your body’s serotonin levels may be disrupted, though, which can affect your sleep and mood.

And sleep is essential – go without it for too long, and your brain basically starts to fall apart. Randy Gardner, a 17-year-old high school student who stayed awake for 264 hours (11 days) in 1965 for a science fair, is often cited as the record holder.

Others have gone longer than Gardner’s 11 days, though they may fall into sleep-like restful states. Others suffer from Fatal Familial Insomnia, which – after months without sleep – leads to brain deterioration and death.

Scientists still aren’t clear why exactly we need sleep. It may flush toxins from the brain, or allow us to organize our thoughts into memories and knowledge. But one thing’s for sure about sleep: Not getting it is bad news.

This article was originally published by Tech Insider.

More from TechInsider:

Alan D. Lieberson, a medical doctor, lawyer, and the author of Treatment of Pain and Suffering in the Terminally Ill and Advance Medical Directives, explains.

The duration of survival without food is greatly influenced by factors such as body weight, genetic variation, other health considerations and, most importantly, the presence or absence of dehydration.

For total starvation in healthy individuals receiving adequate hydration, reliable data on survival are hard to obtain. At the age of 74 and already slight of build, Mahatma Gandhi, the famous nonviolent campaigner for India’s independence, survived 21 days of total starvation while only allowing himself sips of water. In a 1997 article in the British Medical Journal, Michael Peel, senior medical examiner at the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, cites well-documented studies reporting survivals of other hunger strikers for 28, 36, 38 and 40 days. Most other reports of long-term survival of total starvation, however, have been poorly substantiated.

Unlike total starvation, near-total starvation with continued hydration has occurred frequently, both in history and in patients under medical supervision. Survival for many months to years is common in concentration camps and during famines, but the unknown caloric intake during these times makes it impossible to predict survival. What is evident is that the body can moderate metabolism to conserve energy and that individual survival varies markedly. The body’s ability to alter its metabolism is poorly understood, but it occurs at least in part through changes in thyroid function. This may help explain the evolutionary persistence of genes causing diabetes, which in the past could have allowed individuals to survive periods of starvation by enabling more economical use of energy.

Medical practitioners encounter cases of near-total starvation in patients suffering from, among other conditions, anorexia nervosa and end-stage malignancies, as well as in those following so-called starvation diets. In anorexia, death from organ failure or myocardial infarction is fairly common (up to 20 percent of cases end this way) and tends to happen when body weight has fallen to between 60 and 80 pounds (although it can occur at any time). This weight typically corresponds to a body mass index (BMI) approximately half of normal, or about 12 to 12.5. (Normal BMI is 18.5-24.9, and most fashion models have a BMI of around 17.) Unless other causes intervene, a patient with end-stage cancer often dies after losing 35 to 45 percent of his body weight. Markedly obese patients on near-starvation diets, such as those employing nutritional supplements and consuming less than 400 calories a day, may lose much more weight than that–but they start with great excesses of body fat, which can sustain metabolism. The medical community has generally rejected these diets, which were popular in the 1960s and 1970s, because participants were reportedly prone to acute myocardial infarctions.

I recall one particularly relevant experience that illustrates the inherent variability in people’s ability to survive on very little food. Called in an emergency to see an out-of-town visitor with a throat abscess one Saturday afternoon, I noted his marked thinness, along with a belt showing twelve extra holes at about one-inch intervals, each showing evidence of use. I asked him about his weight and he told me he was five feet, seven inches tall and normally weighed about 145 pounds, but he thought he had noted ¿some¿ recent loss, ¿maybe¿ down to about 100 pounds over the prior year. He ¿wasn’t trying¿ to lose weight, but it didn’t bother him because he thought thinner was better. He just ¿didn’t feel like eating much.¿ With clothes on, he weighed just 77 pounds. After he left town for further treatment, I never heard from him again, but he had seemingly lost close to half his body weight without noticing any ill effects.

In contrast to starvation with access to liquids, much more is known about survival without any sustenance (neither food nor hydration), which is a far more important practical consideration in medicine and ethics. This situation comes up frequently in two distinct medical groups–the incompetent terminally ill patients for whom artificial maintenance of life is no longer desired, and the individuals who, although not necessarily terminally ill, no longer want to live and decide to refuse food and hydration to end their lives.

A well-known example of the former is Nancy Cruzan, the subject of the famous 1990 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Cruzan versus Director, Missouri Department of Health. Cruzan was in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) for many years until she died 12 days after artificial sustenance was discontinued. Since that time, many other incidences of discontinuing sustenance in patients in a PVS have been reported and death typically occurs after 10 to 14 days. (If the individual is dehydrated or over-hydrated, the time may range from approximately one to three weeks.) In situations of voluntary refusal of food and hydration, death typically ensues on a similar time frame, although the early use of ice chips or sips of water to reduce thirst may delay this slightly.

This Is What Happens to Your Body if You Don’t Eat For Three Days

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. At least that’s what many of us were brought up to believe. But a growing body of research is seriously undermining that idea. Fasting, in one form or another, is all the rage as evidenced by the volume of ripped bros on YouTube who are itching to share the fasting secrets that have finally gotten them over that thing that happened in high school.

For most people, a fast amounts to missing breakfast. They break their fast later in the day. Others chose to skip dinner instead. Either tactic will will result in a 16/8 fast. This means that in every 24-hour period, you fast for 16 hours and do all of your eating in an eight-hour window. Another popular variant is alternate day fasting, in which adherents typically eat no calories one day and whatever they want the next.

Some of the reported benefits of fasting regimens include a reduction in inflammation, decreased blood sugar levels and even a prolonged life span—although that last one has only been proven in rats so far. It wasn’t long before people started wondering if longer fasts would yield more pronounced results. I should remind you, if you’re considering doing this, to examine your intentions since any extended period of voluntarily skipping meals can be a sign of disordered eating.

I’ve tried to reconcile all the anecdotal fasting with conversations I’ve had with with doctors and dieticians to figure out what might happen to my body if I commit to this increasingly popular fad-within-a-fad and eat nothing for 72-hours straight. Oddly, I haven’t tried this personally, but based on the below, I just might.

You’ll be ravenous. Then, not so much.

For many of us, skipping breakfast is NBD, particularly when you’re sufficiently distracted and quaffing black coffee all morning. Skip lunch, however, and by mid-afternoon your brain is screaming at you to refuel. It’s not literally screaming, of course. It just makes you behave like an irritable and petulant toddler until someone else recognizes the tell-tale signs of hanger and shoves a donut in your face.

A recent study looked into why hanger is a thing and concluded that a disruption in homeostasis of the brain can provoke complicated emotional response involving an interplay of biology, personality, and environmental cues. This, perfect shitstorm along with flagging energy levels, and a talkative abdomen can and do make getting through the first part of a 72-hour fast extremely challenging.

But if you can ride it out, things tend to greatly improve at day two or three. “The gradual decrease in hunger is well documented in physiological studies showing gradual decrease in ghrelin over multiple days of fasting,” says Jason Fung, Toronto-based nephrologist and co-author of The Complete Guide to Fasting. Ghrelin, he explains, is a hormone that makes you feel hungry. It’s secreted in greater amounts when your stomach is in a non-stretched state. Fung goes on to explain that an abatement of hunger happens more often than not during an extended fast.

More from Tonic:

I should probably mention here that 72 hours is a much shorter duration than it would take a healthy person to starve to death. In an editorial published in the British Medical Journal, a review of the pertinent literature on the subject found that humans can survive without any food for 30-40 days provided they are adequately hydrated.

As Alan D. Lieberson told Scientific American, how long a person survives without food really depends on “factors such as body weight, genetic variation, other health considerations and, most importantly, the presence or absence of dehydration.” Dying of thirst, however, can happen within mere hours. In another Scientific American article, professor of biology at George Washington University Randall K. Packer, said that an adult in comfortable surroundings could potentially last a week sans-liquid.

Your breath may smell

When Fung talks about your body using your fat for fuel, he’s talking about ketosis. To get into ketosis, you don’t give your body any of its preferred grab‘n go fuel—glucose—and force it to look for alternatives. When there’s nothing coming into your piehole, the body will start shaking down fat cells for energy. That’s why all those ripped bros are so into fasting and the ketogenic state it puts them in. They’ll tell you that fasting and ketosis is what’s gotten their body fat percentage down into the single digits and studies have shown that they may be right about that. What they don’t talk too much about is that those abs may have come at a high price.

A byproduct of that conversion of paunch into available energy are ketone bodies. “One way the body releases ketone bodies is through exhalation therefore making the breath sweet and fruity,” says New York-based dietician Amy Shapiro, putting somewhat of a positive spin on the odor. Research has shown that breath acetone is reliable indication that you have gone into fat burning mode. You release ketone bodies through your breath—and the smell is often unpleasant enough that the people you hangrily scared away by threatening to flay the next person you find pilfering your yogurt will stay away in fear of having their faces melted by your hellacious mouth farts.

You’ll lose weight

Keep in mind, Shapiro doesn’t consider the 72-hour fast as a way to achieve meaningful weight loss. “You will likely lose more water weight than actually fat as your body uses its glycogen stores for fuel before dipping into actual fat,” she says. “As you release glycogen, you lose water and that is usually the reason for the rapid weight loss. Losing fat takes more time.” Fasting proponent Fung, however, disagrees and maintains that you could lose 1.5 pounds of fat over a 72-hour period. For that reason, he recommends that people with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 20 could put themselves at risk of malnutrition. “Most people have much more fat than that,” he says.

Your body starts running on emergency power

Traditionally, not eating for three days would be seen by most as a not smart move. In fact, in times and places of food scarcity, it would likely be viewed at the last word in stupidity. Provided you can get something to eat on Thursday however, padlocking your pantry on Monday may actually improve brain function—according to rodent studies, at least.

Researchers at Yale started injecting ghrelin into mice and found that their performance in learning and memory tests was increased by 30 percent. Another study at Swansea University in Wales added the hormone to mouse brain cells grown in a dish. The infusion it switched on a gene known to trigger neurogenesis, a process in which brain cells divide and multiply.

As mentioned, ghrelin production tapers off after a few days of not eating. In the interim, the stomach is secreting plenty of it. Shapiro says that this could be an adaptation from a time when food was often scarce and getting at it had as much to do with your cognitive ability as it did with how well you could throw a spear. “During times of starvation, the body preserves two organs and then shrinks the rest,” she explains—the preserved organs are the brain and, in men, the testicles. “Biologically, this is likely linked to the necessity of mental clarity to get out of starvation times or to survive long periods without food and to continue to grow the species.”

You might get an opportunity to practice mindfulness

“Fasting is said to be a mental, physical, and spiritual reset,” says Virginia Beach-based dietitian Jim White. He explains that people who have fasted for three days often report that it causes them to face their bottled-up emotions so that they are more mentally stable after fasting is completed. “Additionally, those who fast learn to appreciate the little things that they may take for granted in everyday life, such as having a cold glass of water to drink or a bed to sleep in at night. By focusing on spiritual and mental connections during fasting instead of food and life inconveniences, mental clarity can be achieved.”

Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of Tonic delivered to your inbox.

Important note: Don’t follow the advice below if you are under 18.

People always ask: “How much weight can you lose in a week?” Well… to answer your question I have good news, awesome news, and bad news.

First onto the good news: YOU CAN LOSE A TON OF WEIGHT IN ONE WEEK

That’s right, you don’t have to be bound to the conventional wisdom of only losing 1 or 2 pounds a week. Extreme weight loss diets can definitely work, but only for a short period of time.

In fact, you can lose up to 15 pounds in one week if you do it correctly.


Yup, you read that correctly, if you follow the methods at the end of this post, all the weight you lose during the week will be pure body fat. The conventional statement that losing more than 2 pounds per week leads to muscle, organ, and hair loss is absolute unicorn shit.

How do I know this? Because some awesome scientists from the American College Of Nutrition back in 1999, conducted a study, which tested 2 groups of people for 12 weeks.

One group only did traditional cardio, while the other group only did weight training. Both groups ate 800 calories a day. At the end of the study, both groups lost large amounts of weight, but the one that only did cardio lost large amounts of lean muscle mass, and the one that only did weight training didn’t lose any muscle mass at all.

So there you go, some hard hitting scientific facts that prove that you will not lose muscle during extreme dieting as long as you lift weights.

Note: And if you don’t have a gym membership or if you don’t have access to any weights, then doing a well-designed bodyweight program like Bodyweight Burn is your next best option.

And lastly, the bad news: YOU HAVE TO EAT VERY VERY LOW CALORIES

So yeah…. you have to eat a ridiculously low amount of calories to lose a lot of weight in a week. I’m talking along the lines of 800 calories a day. The amount that would make any nutritionist hang themselves.

And now, onto the plan, but first, a picture of steaks:

I didn’t want to put a boring picture of a scale, so here’s some delicious steaks. I’m guessing this isn’t the best article to put this picture in

The 2 step plan to lose the maximum amount of weight in a week

Please note that the following plan can be used by both men and woman.

And don’t do this plan if you’re under 18, you’re way too young to be eating such low calories.

I guarantee that if you follow the plan below, you will lose 10-15 pounds(water and fat) in one week:

1) For one week only, eat 800 calories per day.

2) Workout 2-3 times per week with weights. Make sure the weights are heavy and be sure to hit all body parts.

That’s all.

Some notes/tips about the above 2 steps:

  • 800 calories is very little food, for any man, woman, or baby walrus. Because of this, I suggest that you only eat 1 meal per day a la Brad Pilon’s Eat Stop Eat. If you eat one 800 calorie meal per day, then you’ll at least feel somewhat satisfied, but if you split that up into 3 or even worse, 6 meals per day, then you’re not going to fare so well on this one week venture. Yes, this means that you will be fasting 24 hours every day for a whole week. Just remember, you will be burning fat, not muscle.
  • Whenever possible, eat higher protein and eat foods with high water content such as fruits and soups. Also, drink lots of coffee and green tea, since they both tend to blunt hunger quite well.
  • Stick with heavy compound exercises when in the gym. That means no curling and crunching, and if you even step foot on a treadmill, my dumbass radar will go off and I may have to kill you.
  • Above all, keep yourself distracted and out of the kitchen. If you’re constantly prancing around the kitchen and thinking about food, you’re going to fail. So keep yourself busy. Read a book, play some video games, take a nap, work on your tan, or shave your pubes. I don’t care. Just do something that doesn’t involve food.
  • I should also add that your protein intake needs to be HIGH. Like really high. In fact, the majority of your calories should probably come from protein, fruits, and veggies if you want this diet to be effective. The protein will help keep you full but more importantly also help maintain muscle.

Remember, this is only for one week

I just wanted remind you all, that this sort of extreme weight loss plan is only a temporary plan. The results don’t have to be temporary, but the plan is. Please do not try and do this weight loss plan for more than a week. Doing so is really going to mess with your head and you’ll most likely binge back to your original weight. After one week, transition to a more moderate weight loss plan for the long haul.

I hope you guys now know how much weight you could lose in a week if went balls to the walls.

Take it to the next level with the Xtreme Fat Loss Diet

Many people have been asking me, “Can I do this for more than 7 days?”

And the answer is no.

The way I laid out the diet above at 800 calories, you can’t do it for more than 7 days.

But there is a more strategic approach you can take where you can go and lose a ridiculous amount of fat in 25 days or less.

The program is called the Xtreme Fat Loss Diet, created by fat loss experts Dan Long and Shaun Hadsall. It’s essentially a much more fleshed out version of the plan I laid out above that will allow you to lose MASSIVE amounts of fat and get as lean as possible in just 25 days. Plus the program incorporates cheat meals so you still get to eat your favorite foods.

Questions? Like steak? Let me know down below.


Imagine that the taps switched off tomorrow, the rivers and streams ran dry, and the oceans turned into dry valleys. How would you react? And more importantly, how long would you survive?

There’s no reliable predictor of how fast dehydration would kill a person. Many survival blogs suggest that an average person can survive for somewhere from two days to a week without liquids, but that’s a rough estimate at best. A person’s health, the weather and the individual’s physical activity levels all help determine how long a person will last without water. Older people, children, individuals with chronic diseases, and people who work or exercise outside are at particular risk of dehydration, according to the Mayo Clinic.

In a very hot environment, “an adult can lose between 1 and 1.5 liters of sweat an hour, Randall Packer, a biologist at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., wrote for Scientific American. “A child left in a hot car or an athlete exercising hard in hot weather can dehydrate, overheat and die in a period of a few hours.”

Usually, when a person is dehydrated enough to get sick, they’re also suffering from overheating, meaning that the body’s internal temperature is too high.

But this isn’t always the case, especially among certain groups of people, said Dr. Kurt Dickson, an emergency-medicine doctor at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Arizona. Very young children and elderly people with dementia might not remember to drink water, or be able to get themselves water without help, he said.

So how much water does a person need to lose before severe dehydration sets in? According to 2009 National Health Service guidelines in the United Kingdom, severe dehydration sets in when a person loses about 10 percent of their total weight to water loss — though that measurement is too difficult to use in practice.

But at up to 1.5 liters of water loss per hour on a hot day, that kind of dehydration can happen a lot faster than conventional wisdom suggests.

Once a person’s water levels dip below a healthy amount, characteristic symptoms set in: thirst, dry skin, fatigue, light-headedness, dizziness, confusion, dry mouth, and speedy pulse and breathing, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. Dehydrated children cry without spilling tears. Their eyes, cheeks and tummies become sunken; they grow listless, and their skin doesn’t flatten when pinched and released.

Patients come in to the emergency room, “and they’re fatigued, tired, sometimes dizzy — more when they stand up — sometimes vomiting,” Dickson told Live Science. “If is really bad, they can be in shock, where they’re cold and clammy, not responsive. It can also be that they just don’t feel well, a generalized malaise.”

Dickson noted that other conditions can also cause these symptoms, so it’s not always clear that dehydration is the culprit. “You’ve got to rule other things out,” he said. “But if the guy’s a roofer and it’s July in Phoenix, you can cut a lot of things out.”

As water levels drop inside the body, the liquid gets diverted to fill vital organs with blood, causing cells throughout the body to shrink, Dr. Jeffrey Berns, then the president-elect of the National Kidney Foundation, told The Washington Post in 2014. As water leaches out of brain cells, Berns explained, the brain contracts and blood vessels within the cranium can burst.

Kidneys usually fail first among the organs and stop cleaning waste out of the shrinking blood supply, Berns said. At that point, the other organs fail in a toxic cascade. It’s a painful process, but one that’s usually easy to treat.

It all comes down to replenishing water and electrolytes, Dickson said. That’s what your body needs to stay stable.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2012.

Originally published on Live Science.

Feeding, Hydration, and Hospice Care

Does hospice withhold water from patients?

Patients have the right to refuse medical treatment, and under United States law this includes food and water, both delivered as normal meals and through artificial means like feeding tubes and intravenous fluids. Center for Hospice Care respects the right of patients to make this decision – in some cases feeding tubes and artificial fluid delivery systems are uncomfortable or patients feel that they make it harder to participate fully in the last days of their lives.

Artificial fluid delivery can also cause complications such as vomiting and diarrhea in patients near the end of life. IVs and other artificial hydration methods are not always beneficial.

Under some circumstances, doctors may make the decision to withdraw feeding and water from patients, but this only occurs when the patient no longer feels hunger or thirst and is very close to death. It may be felt that the feeding tube or IV is doing nothing more than causing pain or discomfort or producing negative effects. We believe that if the patient can’t be consulted, this step should be discussed with their loved ones if and when medical professionals feel it is appropriate.

Even when water has been withdrawn, ice chips or small sips of water may be given to ensure the patient remains comfortable.

Hospice never aims to end life or hasten the end of life, and water is never withdrawn for this reason or against a patient’s will. Our sole concern is that the patient is allowed a death that is as natural as possible and that every moment before that point is as comfortable, rich, and spiritually full.

When a Hospice Patient Stops Eating or Drinking

Few things are harder than watching a loved one slip away because of a life-limiting illness. The experience is even more challenging when family members and caregivers notice that their hospice patient stops eating and drinking at the end of life.

A dying patient’s needs for food and water are far different from those of a healthy, active person.

Families may worry:

  • Are we giving up on our loved one if we don’t try to feed them or offer water/fluids?
  • What is our loved one’s chance of survival without water or food in hospice care? How long can a hospice patient live without food and water?
  • Our family traditions revolve around food and drink as symbols of loving care. Are we taking away the love if we take away nutrition and hydration? Are we letting our loved one starve to death?
  • Will withholding food and water at the end of life cause pain for our loved one?
  • What can we do to make sure our loved one does not suffer?

Be Guided by the Body’s Gradual Decline

A dying patient’s needs for food and water are far different from those of a healthy, active person. As the end of life nears, the body gradually loses its ability to digest and process foods and liquids. As organs and bodily functions shut down, minimal amounts of nutrition or hydration/liquids might be needed, if at all.

Continuing to offer food and water, or opting for artificial nutrition or hydration (ANH)—such as nasal (NG) or stomach (PEG) feeding tubes or IV fluids for hydration—can actually complicate the dying process and lead to other health problems.

VITAS healthcare always works with patients and families to develop individualized care plans that support the patient’s wishes and values, and those plans include a discussion about the role of artificial nutrition and hydration.

How Family Members and Caregivers Can Help

A key factor that should guide decisions about nutrition and hydration at the end of life is patient choice. Patients who prefer quality of life at the end of life often want to be unencumbered by tubes and equipment in their final hours, allowing them to be physically close to their family members and able to receive the comfort care they desire.

Family members and caregivers play an important role by supporting a loved one through the dying process:

  • If the patient can still eat or drink, offer small sips of water/liquids, ice chips, hard candy or very small amounts of food via spoon. Take cues from the patient when to stop.
  • If the patient can no longer drink, keep the lips and mouth moist with swabs, a wet wash cloth, lip balm or moisturizers.
  • If the patient can no longer eat or refuses to eat, provide alternative forms of nourishment: conversation, loving touch, music, singing, poetry, humor, pet visits, gentle massage, reading, prayers or other acts of caring and love.

Acknowledge Potential ANH Complications

End-of-life patients who are fed through artificial means can suffer from gagging, tube complications (e.g., blockages or infections), discomfort, aspiration pneumonia, pressure sores, bloating and a sense of “drowning” or feeling “trapped.”

Moreover, studies have shown that artificial nutrition has very little impact on survival for hospice patients. For example, studies show that dementia patients who are tube-fed have no different life expectancy than those who are slow hand-fed.

Craft and Honor a Compassionate End-of-Life Care Plan

Ideally, decisions about care near the end of life are made while everyone is healthy and able to speak their minds. That’s when an advance directive should be written and shared with family and healthcare professionals.

The reality is that decisions are often put off until the patient is no longer able to communicate their wishes, leaving family members and a knowledgeable healthcare team to make decisions. Hospice professionals can offer specific types of care and support around nutrition and hydration for your loved one as death nears:

  • The hospice team will continue to relieve pain and manage symptoms
  • The family’s personal, cultural and religious beliefs and values around nutrition and hydration will be honored
  • Family members and caregivers will be taught how to manage thirst and hunger compassionately and without artificial means in a patient’s final days of life
  • In the final weeks, days and hours of life, families will be reassured that the patient’s decline and ultimate death is due to the progression of the underlying disease process and not the natural decreasing and ultimate cessation of eating and drinking.

The Challenge of Feeding Tubes

Hospice services will not be denied to a patient who already has a feeding tube in place. The hospice team will work closely with the patient, family and caregiver to decide whether to continue to use the tube. While a feeding tube technically can be removed, most often the decision is made to just stop using it.

Feeding tubes typically are not placed in a patient who is terminally ill. But all necessary steps are taken to ensure comfort and pain relief as the end of life nears. In rare circumstances, the VITAS team might administer IV fluids temporarily to prevent dehydration or provide comfort, but feeding and drinking will primarily be done by mouth.

How long without food

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *