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Dutchess_III's avatar

How long could you go without eating before you'd be too weak to even hunt or forage?

Asked by Dutchess_III (43578points) April 10th, 2016

I was wandering around on the internets and found this article, called, “11 survival tips which could kill you.” I thought the following was interesting:

Myth – You must find a food source immediately.

So the television screen comes to life and we see our adventure hero land in the middle of a tropical jungle. He’s sweaty already, dirty, and ready to leap into action to show off his survival skills to the camera. If he tells you that finding food first is a priority, you know he is full of it. While having a food source available is immensely important in the long run, it is far from your most pressing need. Humans can live up to six weeks without eating any food and that will give you plenty of time to work out more pressing issues like warmth, water, and shelter. Before you grab a cheap ticket to your survival destination, understand that food isn’t your largest priority.

I’ve always felt that hunger pains were more of a suggestion than a demand, and that’s why I often ignore them for hours at a time, sometimes. But six weeks is a long time! I would think you’d be getting pretty weak after just a couple of weeks without food. At what point would you be too weak to hunt or forage?

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9 Answers

flutherother's avatar

I seem to remember hearing that humans can go 3 minutes without air, three days without water and three weeks without food.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Haven’t a couple of famous protesters, along the lines of Ghandi, gone on hunger strikes for more than a month?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Hm. Why would people even react to a hunger strike?

Seek's avatar

I’ve personally done an 18 day fast with the only caloric intake coming from a small glass of orange juice around day 7, that made me feel sick. Otherwise, I only drank water and unsweetened hot tea.

I did it in my own home, for religious reasons.

I will say that by day 12, I was hallucinating regularly. It was not fun. I broke the fast over two days by easing back in to solid foods, starting with chocolate milk and applesauce.

While I do remember feeling tired, I was not unable to function. I continued working (I was a daycare teacher at the time) and was normally active.

Assuming I was in an unfamiliar environment, increased stress, etc. I’d say two weeks at the outside with absolutely nothing to eat would be the limit before I’d start losing sensibility. I have some natural fat stores, being an adult female, but not enough to sustain me over a long period of time.

jca's avatar

I remember with the hunger strikers in Ireland in the 1970’s, hearing that at some point they go blind.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah, that was my feeling too, @Seek. Two weeks and you’d be pretty worthless. 6 weeks I think you’d be dead.
I did 7 days once. It didn’t really bother me much. It was hard to get back into eating much.

But, next time you’re lost in the wilderness, take heart in the fact that you won’t starve to death in just a few days.

Coloma's avatar

Would depend on how much body fat one has. The more fat burned from reserves would stave off wasting muscle, for awhile anyway. However, one would still feel fatigued even if they had fat to burn prior to the body starting to absorb muscle and organs.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Something I find a bit funny, that’s been going around lately is, “OMG! If you go too long with out eating your body starts feeding on itself OMG!”
Sounds pretty hideous when you put it that. I’m sure it’s put a lot of people off of trying to consume less food.
Well, yeah. It’s called “losing weight.” It starts metabolizing the fat you have stored up. But people can put whatever spin on it they want to.

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