How to Survive 3 Weeks Without Food

Need: Food

Time: 3 Weeks 

Risk: Low Energy, Confusion, Dizziness, Death

You can survive longer than you think you can without food, but you should still do everything you can to make sure you have some food to eat every day. You will be alive after 3 or 4 weeks without food if you have water and shelter, but without food, your ability to work, think, or react will diminish rapidly. Below we will help you create a plan to make sure you know how to store enough food, learn to grow your own, and with the experience of growing food, you can learn how to forage for food. 

  As discussed in our survival fundamentals, the average person can survive three weeks to 30 days without food. The effects of malnutrition are essential to understand because it may become essential to know how to ration food in a group. Workers and thinkers need to eat enough to do their jobs. Just like a doctor performs triage, it is crucial to know who can safely eat less to provide more food for those who need it if things get that bad, even though we all hope we never have to make those choices. 

Survival Nutrition

 The two things that need the most fuel are our brains and our muscles. The brain requires a lot of energy in the form of glucose which our bodies get from carbohydrates. (We are not just talking about eating bread here, but carbohydrates from any food source). Carbs give us the energy to think and move better than protein or fats. If you have ever had to go a few days without carbs, you probably felt the effects, short temper, mood swings, and general irritability. 


  Our bodies run on carbohydrates, and when we don’t get them, our bodies have a way of letting us know it needs them. When our brain doesn’t get the fuel it needs, it doesn’t work as well, like your car running on an empty tank, except our brains can be forced to try and keep working. It will become harder to focus, think, or plan your next move or remember the plans you already made. Your reaction times will be slower, and you will start to feel lethargic. Like the kind we have in the Companion, many survival foods are heavy in calories; they are our daily fuel. 


  Without protein, our bodies can function pretty typically for a few days, but protein is the building block for our muscles. Protein helps build just about everything in our bodies, from our muscles to our skin and organs. If we don’t get enough protein in our diets, our body will convert its protein as needed. 

  This is why long-distance hikers can get the legs of Thor but have no muscle on their upper bodies if they don’t eat enough protein. And if we don’t eat enough carbs, our bodies can also break down our muscles and protein stores to create the glucose our bodies would generally get from carbs. You could get by with getting protein a few times a week for a few weeks, but it will be essential to get more after a month or two. 


  The last of the three food groups are fats. We don’t need to eat a lot of fats, but we do need some. Our bodies are made mostly of water, but next is fats and then protein. Our cells’ lining is fat, and our bodies also use fat to create energy and store energy away for a rainy day. The extra fat we carry around helps cushion our bones and nerves and is also our bodies’ “just in case” store of energy. 

  You can focus on carbs and protein in a survival situation, and any fat you do get in your food is a great bonus. In a pinch, a little fat from a handful of almonds can give you a boost of energy and make you feel less hungry. This is why the two main ingredients in survival food, like the kind we use, are mostly carbs with some fat. Survival food needs to give us the energy we need to think and move. 

Storage, Home Garden, and Foraging

Food Storage

  When considering how much and what kinds of food to store, it’s important to pick foods that both store well and be part of your regular diet. If you store food you aren’t used to eating; you may get an upset stomach or other stomach issues. That’s why it’s important to store foods that you regularly eat and replace them as part of your regular diet. 

  Keep your stored food simple and in an easily accessible place but out of the way of your primary pantry or kitchen if possible. These can be canned food and soup and dry goods like pasta, beans, and rice. Store your water in the same place and just like with your food, use it and replace it to keep it fresh. 

Survival Tip: When rationing food, start with less and add more as needed. Try and eat as little as you can and only eat more if required when you are about to do something that will take a lot of energy, eat a bit more. Trying to calculate calories isn’t something that rarely works out in the real world. Eat until you’re not hungry, and drink a lot of water. 

  There are different kinds of meal packets available. Freeze-dried camping food or MREs are good options, which are great options to consider for survival food. You don’t need to rotate these as much as other types of food, just once a month or when you go camping. Always be sure to replace what you use before you run out. 

Home Gardening

  Growing food at home for survival is a great idea and has many added benefits and some drawbacks. Some of the benefits are that it will help you if you want to learn how to forage for food, it will help supplement your food supplies with fresh food, and makes you feel more self-confident. 

  Some of the drawbacks are that it may require more space than you have, and what you do have may not get enough sunlight. It can also take months to grow food, and growing food doesn’t always work out as planned and can be affected by bad weather. And of course, the food may not be ready to eat when you need them. So growing your food is excellent for self-reliance in the long term. 

  A great way to overcome these is to get a raised growing bed that you can move inside and purchase growing lights. When growing food, there are three things you need to know before you can start, no matter what you decide to grow. What kind of soil it needs, how much you will need to water it, and how much sunlight it needs. Growing your food is a rich and rewarding experience but can take years of practice. 

Foraging for Food

  In most cases, foraging isn’t necessary and can cause more harm than energy. Except for those who were taught growing up how to forage and are in the area they grew up, you should try and eat anything in nature. You should not need to forage unless you have gone without food for a few weeks. As we’ve mentioned, you can survive up to 3 to 4 weeks without food. 

Survival Tip: Swallowing charcoal will absorb toxins. The charcoal from your campfire will work great for this, so it’s a good idea to carry some with you. To help you swallow it, get some of the burnt wood from your fire, grind it up, and put it in some water. 

  We go into foraging for food deeper in our article here. We go over the standard edibility test, which can take more than 8 hours to complete. We also go over eating insects and what to look out for when deciding what to eat. 

Survival Tip: Anything that is furry or fuzzy is usually not good to eat. Plants and insects that are furry, like some caterpillars or spiders, mean they are dangerous to eat. 

  With every method mentioned above, the best way to prepare is to practice and try new things with friends. It’s more fun, and it’s also safer to have someone else with you if you are trying new things, from eating bugs to cooking a can of soup from the can near a fire. Remember, survival doesn’t happen in a vacuum. 

This is the first from our survival fundamentals series.

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