Living Well in Survival Mode


Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, including my oldest son on his first Father’s Day! I remember how challenging the early days of family life were for me – and they are for many people. Oftentimes, both parents work, so having quality time together as well as with the kids is a challenge. For Father’s Day, let’s appreciate all those hard working dads!

An ideal dad is strong and capable. Kids wanting their dads to look like Superman are actually expressing their genetic code for survival. But it’s not only kids that like dad to look muscular, moms usually do, too! This isn’t surprising since our primitive instincts dealing with survival and protection come into play during courtship. Another reason why good muscle development is considered attractive is based on its correlation with good health.

Adequate muscle helps maintain one’s physique by burning approximately 100 calories per pound per day whereas fat only burns 3 calories per pound per day. Fat takes up 20% more space than muscle per pound. While excessive fat doesn’t make you look more attractive, the proper amount of fat can make you look more attractive. Most ideal is a proper balance between fat and muscle.

Most people lose several pounds of muscle every year after age thirty. When we first begin adding fat to the body we seldom notice as the fat deposits between layers of muscle. As metabolism slows, we may eat the same calories but instead of muscle, we start gaining fat. Our body weight may even stay the same for a time but we may look bigger.

The next evil form of fat that many people develop is called intra-abdominal or visceral fat. Found deep inside the body and surrounding the organs, this type of fat secretes harmful substances that raise blood sugar, contributes to arterial inflammation, and lowers life expectancy.

A lowered metabolism that causes the deposition of unhealthy fats often starts when people are in their twenties. The cause is not just based on diet but muscle loss and the loss of the fat burning mechanisms. This is why proper exercise is so important at all ages, including kids and the elderly.

Muscles do a number of things including protecting the body and holding bone structure in place. Alignment is a must for good heath to keep the over three trillion nerve signals flowing at the proper times to the right places. These nerves need good feedback lines to the brain to help make good decisions.

According to Special Report #103 by OHS, the major benefits to having strong healthy muscles include: Lowered risk of Diabetes, Lowered risk of Colon Cancer, Lowered risk of Osteoporosis, Less Back and Neck Pain, Increased Libido, Mood, and Energy Levels, Better Brain Function, Lowered Risk for Depression, Increased Posture and Movement, and Increased Longevity.

Strong muscle reduces the risk of diabetes by increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin. (Type 2 diabetes doesn’t need to be a lifelong diagnosis if the habits leading to the diagnosis are changed.) Regular exercise protects the gray matter of the brain, helping to offer protection from Alzheimer’s and other dementia related disorders. Risk for depression is lessened through exercise by improving the delivery of nutrients to the brain. Research shows exercise to be as effective as antidepressants in mild to moderate depression. As people age, they often have problems with simple movements, like getting out of a chair or bed. Don’t let the muscles slip away that are used to perform your daily activities. Overall, those who exercise tend to live longer, healthier lives.

Muscle is lost through illness, surgeries, low calorie diets of less than 1200 calories per day, and extended high protein diets. The silent stealer of muscle is a decrease in anabolic hormones that tend to decrease with age but increase with exercise.

There’s an interesting interplay between the various parts of the body in the process of building muscle. This interplay is a result of thousands or more years of developing successful survival techniques – often under harsh conditions. The body is the most energy efficient system there is. The old adage of “use it or lose it” aptly fits when it comes to the body.

The body builds muscle based on need. This means that muscle is built when we exercise beyond our normal activities of daily living. However, when we want to maximize muscle building, fitness experts such as Ori Hofmekler have some fascinating suggestions. In Maximum Muscle, Minimum Fat (2008), Hofmekler outlines specific steps to intentionally put the body into survival mode for the purpose of stimulating muscle development.

Survival mode means enduring hardships such as hunger, cold, and stress. Our ancestors dealt with these conditions as a way of life and survived well. Without refrigerators and other ways to store food, it was eaten when found. Periods of undereating were usually followed by periods of overeating. One of the adaptations is that muscle was built when they were in survival mode during times of hunger and stress. These adaptations are the basis for much of the science behind Hofmekler’s protocols.

To balance body chemistry and produce the essential hormones for health involves more than just exercise. Hofmekler recommends periodic cleansing of the body through fasting or undereating along with detoxifying foods and herbs to help remove toxins and eliminate the reason for fat to serve as their storage place. His recommendations for avoiding consumption of hormonal disrupting substances, crash diets, and chronic stress are based on science, not the hype of glossy magazines with quick fixes. There are no quick fixes – only hard work with great rewards. Another great book for those dedicated to regaining their bodies is Kettlebell -Simple & Sinister which outlines an incredible workout using simple tools.

Learn how the survival mode can help you improve your health! Join us June 23rd!

by Dr. William H. Karl, D.C.
Join Dr. William H. Karl, D.C. on Thursday, June 23, at 7p.m., and learn how to build muscle and reduce fat. R.S.V.P. at 734-425-8220. For more information, visit:

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Dr. William H. Karl, D.C., is a Certified Wellness Doctor with over 30 years of experience helping people become well and achieve optimal health.  With an extensive knowledge of the human body and a keen interest in applying new and advanced techniques, he is able to provide the finest care possible for each and every one of his patients! Visit his website to sign up for a free monthly newsletter, or call (734) 425-8220 to find out how you can start getting healthier!


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