What If You Stopped Eating?
We all know that food is essential to our survival (and it also happens to taste great). But what actually happens to your body if you just stop eating? The latest episode of AsapSCIENCE explains the day-by-day process of starvation, including why you get so damned hangry, what really happens in ‘starvation mode’, and most importantly, all the ways you can die from hunger.
Don’t worry if it’s been a while between meals, because for the first 6 hours after eating, everything is pretty much status quo, and your body is busy breaking down glycogen – which stores energy – into glucose to be used as fuel by your cells. Around 25 percent of this glucose is used to power your brain alone, and the rest goes to powering muscle tissue and red blood cells.
But after around 6 hours, that glycogen beings to run out, and this is when the dreaded hanger kicks in. As most people know too well, being hangry is combination of being hungry and irrational angry, and it can result in you lashing out at the people you love the most. And it’s all caused by your brain running out of the energy it needs to make good decisions.
After about six hours, you could start feeling “hangry” — that’s hungry and angry. Keep going for about 72 hours (or three days) and not only will your mood and energy suffer, but also your body.
“Your brain will start to break down your body’s own protein,” Mitchell Moffit, co-creator of the YouTube series ASAPScience, says in a new video (above). “The proteins release amino acids, which can be converted into glucose, which is great news for your brain but bad news for your body. Basically, your body is cannabilizing itself by destroying your muscle mass.”
Yikes. Within a few weeks, the body’s immune system is weakened and susceptible to disease. Starvation could result in death in as quickly as three weeks.
The science of starvation may shed light on global hunger — around 795 million people worldwide suffer from hunger. But there’s hope, as the world has seen a reduction in hunger and undernourishment in the past quarter-century, the Associated Press reported.
Skipping a meal might not seem like a big deal – our ever-increasingly busy lives mean it’s a common occurrence for many of us.
But what actually happens to your body when you do?
Thanks to a new video from asapSCIENCE, we can now understand exactly what happens to the body if a person stops eating food – and it affects us more than you might think.
So what exactly does happen? From turning you ‘hangry’ to your body starting to ‘eat’ itself, asapSCIENCE has identified the key stages. Frightening…
The first 6 hours
Everything is pretty normal. Your body begins to break down glycogen – which stores energy in your body – into glucose, which your cells use as fuel.
Around 25% of energy generated is used just for your brain, and the rest goes to muscle and red blood cells.
After 6 hours
This method of energy production stops as the glycogen stores to start to run out. This can lead to you being ‘hangry’ (angry and hungry).
Your body enters a state called ketosis as it begins to fast or starve. Because there is now very little glucose in your blood, your body must begin to break down fat for energy – which is broken down into fatty acids.
However, your brain can’t function off this and it impairs normal brain function.
Beyond 72 hours, your body is basically cannibalising itself. Without any stores of sugar and fat, your body looks to get energy from other sources and starts to use protein reserves.
Without any vitamins or minerals, the body’s immune system starts to shut down along with any ‘unnecessary’ bodily functions like menstruation and libido.
3 weeks – 70 days
Starvation can lead to death in as short a time as three weeks, or up to 70 days.