What happens to your body if you avoid eating food for 72 hours? | Food-wine News


Fasting for 72 hours, also known as a three-day water fast, can have various effects on the body. Initially, your body will utilise stored glycogen for energy, leading to a decrease in blood sugar levels. As the fast continues, the body shifts into ketosis, burning fat for fuel. This metabolic state may promote weight loss, mentioned Dr Pankaj Verma, senior consultant, internal medicine, Narayana Hospital, Gurugram.

During the fast, there’s a potential decrease in insulin levels, improving insulin sensitivity. “Autophagy, a process where the body removes damaged cells, may also increase, possibly benefiting cellular health,” explained Dr Verma.

A 72-hour fasting cumulatively puts one at 7,000 calorie deficit equivalent to about two pounds of fat loss. “If done for longer periods the 72-hour fasting may adversely affect weight and cause weight gain because of adaptive thermogenesis. One should ensure there is enough water intake, electrolyte, vitamin, mineral replenishment during such fasts,” mentioned Dr Dilip Gude, senior consultant physician, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad.

However, extended fasting can have drawbacks. Nutrient deficiencies may occur, impacting overall health.

Muscle mass may be compromised as the body seeks alternative energy sources. Dehydration is a concern, so maintaining proper fluid intake is crucial, added Dr Verma.

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Terming it “dangerous”, Dr Gude said a 72-hour fast usually pushes the body’s metabolism to ketones and this reflects in the urine ketone bodies (starvation ketosis). “Such prolonged fasting methods are usually dangerous if done unsupervised. If coupled with dehydration, there can be irreversible kidney injury, hypotension, arrhythmias, and various morbid disorders such as hyperuricemia, low sodium, calcium, magnesium, cachexia/loss of lean muscle mass, and acidic urine,” said Dr Gude.

blood sugar Blood sugar levels can be affected when fasting is unregulated (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Individual experiences with fasting vary, and it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional before attempting prolonged fasting, especially for those with medical conditions. “People with diabetes should especially avoid such extreme fasts,” said Dr Gude.

According to Dr Verma, while intermittent fasting has shown potential health benefits, extended periods without food require careful consideration and supervision.

Agreed Dr Gude, controlled fasting, on the other hand, has shown benefits in the prevention of cancer, heart failure, Parkinson’s/Alzheimer’s, and other neurodegenerative disorders. “Favourable immune responses such as improved good and decreased bad bacteria are also seen. Liver enzymes also may improve from fasting for certain periods. There have been benefits in longevity, improved insulin sensitivity, and reversal of prediabetic states when done in controlled and supervised settings,” said Dr Gude.

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