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What is the longest someone has fasted?

Fasting is a practice that has been around for centuries and is still popular among many people today. It involves abstaining from food and sometimes drink, for a set period of time. While fasting is commonly used as a spiritual or religious practice, it is also becoming more popular as a way to lose weight or improve health. However, some individuals have taken fasting to the extreme and have gone weeks or even months without food. In this article, we will explore the record for the longest time someone has ever fasted and the potential risks and benefits of extreme fasting.

The Remarkable Feats Achieved Through Fasting

Fasting is the disciplined act of depriving oneself of food or drinks for a spiritual, therapeutic, or health reason. While it is commonly practiced in many cultures for religious reasons, fasting has been a way of life for some people beyond religious reasons.

Here, we will look at the notable individuals who have set remarkable fasting records that have astonished people across the world.

The 1,000-Day Fasting Experience

In 1973, a Scottish man, Angus Barbieri, made the headlines when he accomplished a fasting feat that people thought was impossible. Angus lasted for an incredible 1,000 days without eating any food. He lived solely on water and electrolyte supplements during this period, and at the end of it, he lost an incredible 276 pounds. His story left doctors dumbfounded.

Mahatma Gandhi’s 21-Day Fast

Mahatma Gandhi is known for his nonviolent activism; he fought for India’s independence from Britain. He also practiced fasting as a political tool for his movement. In 1924, Gandhi completed a 21-day fast to protest the British oppression of Indian textile workers.

The 55-Day Fast of Dr. Yuri Nikolayev

In 1963, Soviet surgeon, Yuri Nikolayev, fasted for 55 days to measure the effects of fasting on his body. He anticipated losing 14-17 kilograms during his fast, but in the end, he lost 25 kilograms. After his experiment, he found that the body could survive without food for an extended period, provided the person drank enough water.

Therapeutic Fasting with Arnold Ehret

Arnold Ehret, a German physician, believed that fasting could cure all common ailments and prevent diseases. He practiced fasting and recommended it to his patients. He set a record when he fasted for 90 days to treat his tuberculosis.

The 72-Hour Fasting Limit

The human body can survive for days without food or water, but the duration of this fast varies. Doctors recommend that people should not fast for more than 72 hours. After this, the body will begin to break down muscle tissue, leading to severe health problems.

Fasting Beyond Religious Reasons

Aside from religious reasons, people fast for several reasons, including weight loss, improved metabolic function, and detoxification. Longer fasts exceeding three days must be done with the supervision of a healthcare professional.

The Health Benefits of Fasting

Research shows that fasting has several benefits, including lower blood sugar levels, improved heart health, mental clarity, and reducing inflammation.


Fasting is a remarkable phenomenon that holds incredible health benefits. It’s a great way to give the digestive system a break and lose weight. In extreme cases, as we have seen here, some people have achieved incredible feats of fasting that defy medical scrutiny. However, if fasting is done for an extended period, it’s essential to monitor the body to avoid adverse health effects.

The Longest Recorded Fasts in History

  • 1. The Case of Angus Barbieri
  • 2. The Fasting Monk Prahlad Jani
  • 3. The Unbreakable Record of Mahatma Gandhi
  • 4. The Story of Terence MacSwiney
  • 5. The Fasting for Religious Purposes
  • 6. Fasting for Political Purposes
  • 7. Fasting for Health Purposes
  • 8. The Rise of Intermittent Fasting
  • 9. Risks and Dangers of Long-Term Fasting
  • 10. When to Break a Fast

Angus Barbieri

The Case of Angus Barbieri

Angus Barbieri holds the record for the longest known fast ever recorded. In 1965, he began a fast that lasted for 382 days. During this time, he consumed only water, tea, and coffee. His motivation behind this fast was to lose weight, as he weighed over 450 pounds at the start of his fast. Angus had regular check-ups, and it was reported that he suffered no ill effects from his extended fast. After breaking his fast, he lost a total of 276 pounds. Angus Barbieri’s fast has been documented and studied, and has become a landmark in the history of fasting.

Prahlad Jani

The Fasting Monk Prahlad Jani

Prahlad Jani is a yogi who claimed to have not consumed any food or drink for 70 years. In 2003, Jani was subjected to a 10-day observation in a hospital in Ahmedabad, India. During the entire 10-day period, he was under constant surveillance, and doctors witnessed no sign of food or drink in his system. This observation supposedly proved his claim of living for 70 years without eating or drinking. However, some remain skeptical and suggest that he may have consumed liquid in the form of pouring it over his head or self-generated from his own body.

Mahatma Gandhi

The Unbreakable Record of Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of the Indian independence movement, often went on hunger strikes to protest against the British government. The longest of these strikes was in 1943, when he went on a 21-day fast. However, unlike others on this list, Gandhi’s fasts were not intended for personal reasons. He used it as an act of political protest and nonviolent resistance, often calling for his followers to join him in fasting for their cause. He executed this non-violent strategy to the extent that it became an interdependent part of his ideology.

Terence MacSwiney

The Story of Terence MacSwiney

Terence MacSwiney was an Irish writer and politician who went on a hunger strike in 1920 to protest against the British government’s occupation of Ireland. MacSwiney, who was also a member of the Irish Republican Army, was imprisoned and went on the hunger strike on day nine of his imprisonment. Despite his deteriorating health, MacSwiney continued his fast until his death on the 74th day. His death gained international attention, triggering debates on Irish freedom.

Fasting for Religious Purposes

Fasting has been a part of the religious practice among different cultures throughout history as a form of purification and discipline. Religious fasting serves to remind the faithful of the spiritual significance of their religion and to reinforce their commitment to their faith. Fasting is practiced among the different faiths such as Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, just to mention a few. Most forms of religious fasting may not be done for more than a few days, and total abstinence from fasting and eating is not mandatory.

Fasting for Political Purposes

Like in the case of Gandhi and MacSwiney, fasting has also been used for political reasons. Fasting as a political protest has been carried out by civil rights groups, political prisoners, and activists worldwide. It is often used to bring attention to political causes, demand political change, or express a refusal to accept a particular proposition. Political fasts are not always successful in gaining attention, but under certain circumstances, it can draw significant media and public interest.

Fasting for Health Purposes

Some people fast intermittently or for more extended periods for their perceived health benefits. Fasting is believed to help regulate the metabolism, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce inflammation, among other things. Intermittent fasting is becoming more popular, with people going a few hours between meals to whole days without eating. Although, there are scientific debates on the health benefit of fasting. Anybody considering this type of fasting for health purposes should consult with a medical practitioner first.

The Rise of Intermittent Fasting

One of the most popular forms of fasting for health purposes, particularly weight loss, is intermittent fasting. This type of fasting involves restricting food intake to a certain window of time, either daily or intermittently, and alternating between fasting periods and eating periods. Intermittent fasting is more flexible and has become increasingly popular in recent years, with people embracing it as a lifestyle choice.

Risks and Dangers of Long-Term Fasting

The risks of long-term fasting are dangerous, and it is not recommended to take up long-term fasting without medical supervision. Prolonged fasting can result in malnutrition, electrolyte imbalances, dehydration, and, in severe cases, organ damage, or even death. Before any long-term fasting, it is advised first to consult a medical practitioner to weigh the potential benefits of fasting against the health risks.

When to Break a Fast

When to break a fast depends on what type of fast it is and how long it has lasted. Gradual refeeding after a fast is standard practice that involves a transition period of slowly reintroducing foods and liquids to the system. Depending on the length of the fast and how the body has reacted to it, it is always wise to seek medical attention before starting a re-feeding program. In general, ending a fast with a nutritious, well-balanced meal that is easy to digest, can help avoid adverse reactions.

The Top 5 Longest Fasts of All Time

Mahatma Gandhi (21 days)

One of the most famous fasts in history was that of Mahatma Gandhi, who fasted for 21 days in 1943 to protest against British rule in India. During this fast, he consumed only water and sipped juice. He lost 8 pounds in weight and was close to death when he ended the fast. In total, Gandhi is said to have fasted for a total of 17 times throughout his life for various causes.

Mahatma Gandhi fasting

Angus Barbieri (382 days)

The longest recorded fast in history is that of Angus Barbieri, a man from Scotland who fasted for 382 days straight. He started his fast in 1965 at the age of 27 and consumed only water, salt, and vitamins throughout. He lost 276 pounds in weight during this time and was closely monitored by doctors throughout the process.

Angus Barbieri fasting

Prahlad Jani (77 years)

Prahlad Jani, also known as Mataji, is an Indian yogi, who claims to have lived without food and water for the last 77 years. He was tested by scientists in 2010 and stayed in a hospital room without food or water for two weeks. During this time, he was closely monitored and showed no signs of dehydration or starvation. However, many people doubt his claims, and his story is still shrouded in mystery.

Prahlad Jani fasting

Therese Neumann (40 years)

Therese Neumann was a German mystic who claimed to have lived without food or water for more than 40 years. She was known for her stigmata and miraculous healings but also her ability to go extended periods of time without sustenance. Many people doubted her claims, and some doctors even concluded she must have eaten at least some food and drink, but her followers believe in her miracles to this day.

Therese Neumann fasting

Moses (40 days and 40 nights)

According to the Bible, Moses went without food or water for 40 days and 40 nights while he was on Mount Sinai. This is one of the most well-known fasts in history and is seen as a test of faith and endurance. Some people have questioned whether Moses really went without food and water for such a long time, but his story has been an inspiration to many throughout history.

Moses fasting

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Say Goodbye to Hunger Pangs

Thanks for staying until the end of this article on the longest anyone has ever fasted. Our bodies are capable of some truly amazing things, and this extreme form of fasting proves it. However, it is important to remember that fasting for extended periods of time can lead to serious health risks, so it’s always best to consult with a medical professional before embarking on any type of fast. Keep visiting our website for more exciting, informative articles that bring science to your fingertips. Until next time!

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