What Happens If You Don’t Eat For Three Days?

In today’s society, and especially with the prevalence of social media, triggers for body image are almost impossible to ignore.

Airbrushed models adorn the cover of magazines, actors with specialist diets and personal trainers take center stage on your TV screen, and highly edited photographs are littered throughout social networking sites such as Instagram.

What Happens If You Don’t Eat For Three Days?

All of these put pressure on both men and women, particularly our younger generations, to meet unrealistic expectations and unobtainable goals. 

And this can lead to some fairly radicalized opinions or actions. It is unsurprising that negative body image and eating disorders are rife in these current circumstances where we are all looking to media that simply isn’t real.

Many of us look at these images longingly thinking I wish I looked like that when in fact the person in those images doesn’t actually even look like that themselves. 

And the worrisome thing is that it can encourage us to think about starving ourselves in order to meet these expectations. And the effects that not eating can have on our health is so detrimental.

So with this in mind, I’d like to take the time to describe what can happen to your body when you do not eat for over 72 hours. 

The First 24 Hours

There are many fad diets and fasts that may encourage you to not eat for 24 hours. While you follow this diet, you may think that you are starting to drop the pounds and lose weight. But that is not actually the case. 

And you don’t have to take my word for it, the United Kindom’s National Centre For Eating Disorders has quite a lot to say about 24-hour fasting and its negative side effects.

So let’s take a look at what is actually happening to your body in those 24 hours. The following are all symptoms and potential side effects of not fueling your body for a day: 

Heart Issues

When you eat food, you provide your body, including all of your muscles, with the energy they need to work. Your heart is a muscle. When it doesn’t receive the energy it needs to work it will begin to weaken.

A weakened heart can lead to leg ulcers and an extreme feeling of cold as your heart can not circulate the blood flow correctly. 

Bone Health

The food you eat also feeds vital minerals and vitamins to your body, particularly your bones.

When it does not receive these nutrients it can negatively impact bone density which can make them much frailer which can then result in you fracturing your bones. 

Skin Health

Not eating can cause your skin to dry up and can also age your skin significantly. 

Low Blood Sugar

When you do not eat enough food, you can develop a condition known as hypoglycemia. This is when your body does not have enough glucose in your blood.

This can be a fatal condition as it can stop your heart from beating. It is also the main cause of death in those that suffer from anorexia. 

What Happens When You Don’t Eat For 3 Days?

When you continue not to eat for an extended period of time, such as 72 hours, all of the symptoms above are still in play, and they will continue to negatively develop the longer that your body is restricted from food.

In this time, further side effects will have started to develop too. 


Simply put, food is energy. If you are starving your body of energy, you are going to become very tired. This fatigue can become crippling the longer that your body has no access to food. 

Hair Loss

What Happens If You Don’t Eat For Three Days?

Minerals, vitamins, and nutrients that are found in food are vital for your body in many ways. They are all necessary to keep your hair healthy and growing. Without them, you are likely to suffer from hair loss as your hair begins to fall out. 

Frequent Illness

A lack of food will result in a much weaker immune system. When your immune system is weak you are much more vulnerable to illnesses. 

Individuals That Should Never Fast

I would never recommend extended periods of fasting to anyone. When fasting is done safely, it is usually between 8-12 hours.

Fasting in this manner can have some health benefits but it typically still involves eating food for at least one meal a day. 

For some individuals, fasting poses a much higher risk than it does for others. The following groups should never partake in fasts as the risk is far too high. 


Those with diabetes must be vigilant in maintaining the correct amount of sugar in their bodies. When you fast, you cannot maintain optimal sugar levels and this can have serious consequences. 

Individuals That Suffer From Eating Disorders

When you have an eating disorder the body is already under tremendous strain and stress. Fasting will add further strain to the body that could be fatal.

Those with eating disorders should be striving to increase balanced food intake and not restrict it. 

Individuals That Are Pregnant

When you are pregnant, not only do you need all those nutrients and energy to fuel yourself, but your baby too. Restricting food intake will not only harm yourself but your child too. 

Individuals Taking Medication Where Food Intake Is Necessary

Many medications require you to take them on a full stomach. You should never fast while taking these as some medications can dissolve your stomach lining, as well as many other serious side effects. 

Final Thoughts

Not eating for three days can have many serious health implications. And in most cases, you won’t actually lose much weight from doing so. If you are looking to fast, you should be aiming to do so for a maximum of 12 hours.

Food is fuel for your body and keeps you healthy and energized. It is essential and you should never restrict your body from food for cosmetic reasons.

If you have decided to go on a fast for medical or religious reasons, you should always consult a medical professional before doing so.  

Jenna Priestly
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