How long can you go without food?

The human body is resilient, but when it comes to a lack of food, even it has its limits.

We of course need a steady supply of calories from the food we eat in order to function. And our bodies are self-regulating, if we listen to them. When we go long stretches of time without eating, our stomach alerts us with a grumble, and our brain signals that we are hungry.

But what happens when we ignore those signals? And how long can we go without food before causing serious damage?

You can suffer serious health issues if you go too long without eating (or if you consume a less-than-adequate amount of food over a long-enough period of time), up to and including death. The time frame for these health issues varies based on your age, sex, body mass, water intake, and your environment. It’s believed that average healthy people can survive three weeks without eating, with more or less time depending on the above factors.

When you don’t eat for long periods of time, your body is not getting the energy it needs to keep your organs functioning properly. Normally, your body converts the food you eat into glucose, which provides energy. Once you’ve gone without eating long enough, your body begins looking for other sources it can burn:

  • After eight hours or so without eating, your body will begin to break down the glucose stored in your liver and muscles (glycogen) to fuel organ function.
  • After your body has used up all of its glycogen – usually 24 hours after the process begins – it will begin to use the fat stored in your body for energy. This is when health issues can begin to get really serious, including significant and dangerous weight loss, decreased brain function, and dizziness and fatigue.
  • It may take days or weeks to burn through all of the fat stored in your body, depending on your body’s composition. But once your body has used up all of the fat, its only remaining source of fuel is muscle. This last stage of starvation sees muscles beginning to wither, causing grave and potentially irreversible damage to your heart (which is, of course, a muscle) and organs.

Starvation is a terrible ailment that destroys our bodies from within. Whether a person has gone days or weeks without eating, or whether they simply have a regular calorie deficit that adds up over months and years, there is no reason anyone on Earth should ever have to face this grim situation. 

In a world where we have more than enough food for every person on Earth, we all have a responsibility to ensure that our neighbors have enough to eat.

Donate today to help us feed thousands of people during Qurbani

That spirit, and that commitment to fighting hunger wherever it exists on the planet is one of the foundations of Embrace Relief’s work. To mark Qurbani and Eid, Embrace Relief’s International Hunger Relief: Qurbani 2022 campaign plans to provide food packages to tens of thousands of needy people in more than a dozen countries.

Embrace Relief’s Qurbani packages will contain sheep, cattle or goat meat, all of which has been 100% humanely and hygienically slaughtered. This meat is high in fat, protein, minerals and vitamins, which are vital in fighting malnutrition, particularly for growing children.

Each Qurbani meat package from Embrace Relief feeds eight families! And when you donate to provide a Qurbani package for those most in need, we will notify you once it has been sent and delivered.

The cost for each package in each area we serve depends on the local market price for the meat. Here’s how much it would cost for you to lessen the burden of hunger for eight families this Qurbani:

  • Where Most Needed: $110
  • Africa: $110
  • United States: $250
  • Greece: $265
  • Yemen: $265

With your help, we can combat food shortages and provide hope to people in need in places like sub-Saharan Africa, Yemen, Greece and the United States. Every contribution you make helps one more family go to bed on a full stomach, and brings us one small step closer to ending world hunger.