David Sean is a fitness and nutrition expert who has won his Pro Physique card several years ago. His business revolves around coaching people into not just losing weight, but also giving them expert advice when it comes to professional physique posing.

In volume 1 of our hot topic episode, David talks about metabolism and steady state cardio, why guys have it easier than girls when cutting fat, why the concept of “newbie gains” is real, and why he says cardio can actually make you gain fat.

“You just have to be a bit more specific when you get more advanced.” David Sean

On Today’s Episode of the Low Carb Leader:

  • Guys usually build metabolism throughout their life. Girls usually slow their metabolism.
  • Guys are easier to train compared to girls since their basal metabolic rate (BMR) is already high whereas girls usually have theirs starting at a slower pace.
  • The effects of surplus calories on new and elite athletes have different results. New athletes gain more muscle than elite athletes.
  • The effects of cardio workouts on your muscle tissue.
  • The effects of steady state cardio.


The Takeaway:

  • The more advanced you are in fitness, the more focused you have to be when it comes to building more muscle.
  • You can do 15-30 minutes of cardio if only to reduce stress and promote healing.


Connect with David Sean:


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Read Podcast Transcript

030 – Hot Topics, Volume 1



Hello, and welcome to The Low Carb Leader podcast. I am your host, Dan Perryman, and you have joined me for Episode 30. So this podcast is a little bit different. In addition to the regular type of podcast that I do each week, usually involving interviews, these are going to be called, “Hot Topic” podcasts, and these will be short, probably 10 to 15 minutes, and they will actually just address a couple questions. Today’s episode is going to discuss metabolism and steady-state cardio. During today’s podcast it is from a Facebook Live interview that I did with my coach, David Sean, who can be found at DavidSean.co, and he is a fitness and nutrition expert, and he actually won his pro physique card several years ago. So he knows a lot about all things nutrition, fitness and physique.


So this is kind of a new format. I will be releasing these episodes periodically. So it’s my hope that you can just listen to these podcasts real quickly, maybe on the way to work or as you commute, and get a few tips around just a few topics. So I’d love to hear your feedback. You can email me at dan@thelowcarbleader.com and let me know what you think of this new format. As a reminder, if you join the podcast please hit subscribe. So I hope you enjoy the podcast.


Calorie Intake and Your Metabolism



One of the things that I see a lot is that people will go onto these diets and reduce their calorie intake, and then can actually gain weight through that process. Kind of give that example of the lady getting ready for a physique show and how they reduce calories and what happens.



Yeah, you know, it’s interesting. You see this with guys and gals, but it’s a little bit worse with gals because people talk about science all the time, and I know you guys want to learn like where should I go next. People want simple answers, but I really try to get people to expand their mind and get ready for maybe a little bit longer answer because I want them to really see the whole picture. So in society guys tend to sort of build their metabolism up, and women more often will beat their metabolism down, and here’s why. Guys, their whole life, they will lift weights – and by the way I’ve got some female clients that love to eat and love to lift heavy, so it’s not all females. And those are the females that people should really look up to, like okay, she’s got it figured out. But the guys will lift heavy. They will eat big. And they’ll have muscles. They might be walking around with even a little bit of a gut, but they might have some biceps and have a chest going, you know what I mean, and they feel pretty good about it. So they’ll keep eating big, and they’ll keep lifting heavy. Well, what our women told? You’re supposed to be small and petite, and there are certain ways that our culture will make women think that they’re supposed to be small and petite. So what women do is, they go, I don’t want to lift heavy, and they’ll be like I want to reduce calories. And what happens when you do that is you lose the opportunity to gain all the muscle that guys do. So guys, because they’re adding more lean tissue, their basal metabolic rate each day is building over a lifetime. It’s getting bigger. So a guy, if he’s in that situation and he hits me up and he wants coaching and says hey, I want to do a physique show or a bodybuilding show, I can reduce his calories and he’ll cut right down if he has a good metabolism at the starting of the cut phase, whereas sometimes women, they’ll come in and say I want to get lean, but the problem is that if it’s a woman – and like I said, guys have done this, too. I’m not saying it’s just women, but it just happens more often, they will start out already having like I’ve been dieting for a while and nothing’s happening. So when I hear someone say that I know their metabolism isn’t as strong as it can be. Their basal metabolic rate isn’t as high as it can be. Their energy levels, maybe thyroid and testosterone levels are a little low. There are a lot of things that could be going on. But let’s just wrap it up and say metabolism. Their metabolism isn’t optimal.


So if someone’s metabolism isn’t optimal to start a cutting phase all that happens is you reduce calories – so if you’re a woman and you’ve been taking in 1500 and you say I want to cut, it’s like where do you go, 1200? Okay, now there’s a 300 calorie deficit. Well, if your metabolism adjusts to that, you’re not in a deficit or a surplus. Where are you going to go then? Are you going to go to 900 calories a day? Are you going to go to 500? Well, what happens if you take in 500 and you’re not losing weight? That’s literally you’re starving yourself. That’s not a good situation. So there’s no place to go. And so when you get to where you’re like I can’t take the bottom down any further in terms of calories per day, that’s the point where you go I’ve got to do something else. What is that that you do? That’s where you start to build your metabolism up. You decide to add more lean tissue. You actually will up your calorie intake. And you want to do it slow. So if you’re a woman who has been doing like a low, real low-calorie diet, I’m not saying you’ve got to go up immediately to 2000 calories a day or 2500. You should step that up 100, 200 calories per day per week and just kind of watch that adjust. You don’t want to rapidly add fat, but you do want to add maybe a little fat and just start building your calories up.


So if you guys are trying to transform your body, it’s great to be lean. You know, I compete Olympian lean, but just make sure you ask yourself, how is this serving to build my metabolism over time? And I feel like with – Dan is actually a good example. So if you remember we built your calories up to like 2700 to 2900 at some point. Is that right?



Yes, I think I was around maybe 1800 a day, and then you built it up to almost 2800. I actually – you actually built my calories up from 1800 to 2800, and I actually lost fat.


A Tip for Beginners and Elite Athletes



Yeah, see that’s what – okay, so I actually do have a couple – for the people that like to have the clinical research, let’s just cite a couple studies. I don’t want to bore the people that don’t care about that too much. So check this out. First let’s talk about this is where I’m going to say that I want to give the newbies a tip and also if you’re advanced here’s a quick little tip. So if you’re new check out this study. This is kind of cool. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness did a study where untrained subjects combined resistance training and a diet that had a 2000 calorie surplus each day. So if they’re burning 1500 they were taking in 3500. Pretty big surplus. These subjects gained 6.6 pounds of fat-free mass and almost no fat in eight weeks. Part of that was sarcoplasm and just the actual water inside the muscle cells, but part of it was actual structural protein, myofibrillar hypertrophy for you guys that like to know about that. But anyway, point being is they had a big calories surplus, and they were new, and they didn’t gain fat. What’s interesting is a lot of people that are new, they don’t get enough calories to start so they don’t ever build that new tissue. So they never build their metabolism. So when it’s time to cut they can never get in a good deficit. So if you can build your metabolism – it’s a little scary. I know it’s a little scary. If you can do that you’ll cut so much better. So check this out. The European Journal – and this is for the advanced people or more intermediate or advanced – they did a study on elite athletes that consumed 2000 calories excess a day with resistance training, and they actually gained body fat. So the advanced elite athletes gained body fat with a 2000 calorie surplus, and the people who were new didn’t. So some people might go wait, elite athletes need more. But the whole concept of newbie gains – and that’s a slang term – is when you’re new to this you’re growing so fast that a lot of people underestimate how many calories it takes to structurally put on this new muscle tissue. Plus once you get the muscle tissue in place, now your metabolism is firing better. So what’s cool is so these athletes took in a 2000 calorie excess a day. In that same study they had elite athletes only taking 500 to 1000 excess a day, and they did not gain fat. So you might want to think about that if you’re a little bit more advanced and your body fat is high. If you’re not in newbie gains mode anymore you might just have to adjust that.


So newbies, a lot of times they don’t get enough calories, and people that are advanced often get maybe a little bit too much sometimes. So there’s a lot more to it with the numbers, but what it demonstrates is if you’re in newbie gains mode, gain that muscle and eat. And it’s good to plan your calories out, for sure, but make sure you just don’t starve yourself too much at the beginning.



Yeah, if you look at those charts I mean you want to maximize your first year as a newbie because going into year four or five it’s – muscle gain is pretty difficult at that point, right?



Well, you just gotta kind of get a little bit more specific, you know what I mean? It’s like well I didn’t take creatine before, and now I have to. Well, I didn’t do building phases too much before, and now I have to. Well, I didn’t do this type of training, and I didn’t lift as heavy, or I didn’t systematically get on a strength program that’s going to make me stronger. You’ve just got to be a little bit more specific when you get more advanced.


Steady-State vs. HIIT Cardio



Okay, so your favorite subject. I’ve got to ask you about this, cardio, because I think your –



Oh, that’s funny.



I think your view on that is very unique, and I actually – he’ll take us through his approach on cardio, but I’ve actually commented a couple times on my Facebook page about high-intensity versus steady-state cardio, and there is a – we’re not steady-state haters, but there’s a place and time for it, correct?



Yeah, yeah. So you know, it’s funny because these days – back years and years ago when I first started saying this, back when I was on social media, and I’d say these things, people would just think it was crazy. Now that there’s so much research out on it that like the top coaches, they already know it. So they already know what I’m about to say. But it’s one of those deals where the top coaches know it, but for some reason it’s missing the people who aren’t looking for the information. What this comes down to is – well, let’s go back to building your metabolism. If you adopt that philosophy that throughout the journey of you transforming your physique that you should build your metabolism over time – granted, if you do a cut cycle your metabolism will reduce for a little bit, but that’s okay. Your metabolism will adapt, and as you start pushing the calories and the volume and the weights back up after your show or whatever it is, your metabolism will be right back. I mean, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing if your BMR goes down a little bit. It’s going to fluctuate. But with cardio, at the end of the day, it will actually break down your lean muscle tissue.


And some people say well, the studies show that if you do 60 minutes of cardio and you’re fasted, it’s not until around that 45 to 60 minute mark that you’ll start eating your lean muscle tissue. But what’s interesting about these studies is these studies are not done on people that are doing physique shows, you know what I mean? So they really can’t compare people. Like if they did a study where everybody was 5% body fat, then I would say okay, cool. But what people don’t realize is when you’re 5% body fat, or for a woman if you’re maybe anywhere between 12 and 17, getting pretty lean, before you get super lean that cardio really won’t hurt you as much because you’ve got fat tissue to feed off of. So if you get to a low percent body fat you’re always burning fat, and you’re always assimilating – there’s always – these processes are always going on back and forth in your body. But it’s the balance of those that you have to consider. And the way that that balance gets thrown off and you start eating away at lean muscle tissue, the perfect combination for that is you’re doing a show – for you ladies out there, if you’re doing a bikini show, bodybuilding, physique, or maybe you’re just doing a cut cycle because you just want to be lean, the perfect storm for where cardio really hurts you is when you’re already lean and you start overdoing the steady-state cardio. And I mean you’re doing it like every day. I don’t have my clients do steady-state cardio during contest prep because I don’t want it to eat away at their lean muscle tissue while they’re that lean. And if their lean muscle tissue is reduced, then their BMR is going to be reduced. So now it’s easier to get in a calorie surplus. So I’m not kidding you; steady-state cardio can put you in a calorie surplus on accident when you thought you were going out there to lose fat. And so if you are going to do steady-state cardio, get some branched-chain amino acids and sip on those a little bit. Don’t do too much cardio when you’re super lean. The people that do the most cardio to get ready for a show are the ones that gain fat back the fastest because BMR, basal metabolic rate, is reduced. And if basal metabolic rate is reduced, it’s way easier to get in a calorie surplus.


So when you want not only to be lean during a show or during – I don’t want to talk about contests too much, but these are parallels to anyone who is doing any sort of a diet. But if you’re going to get lean just make sure you watch out for your metabolism. And so the steady-state cardio portion of this, if you’re super lean you don’t really need to do it, and you probably shouldn’t. And if you’re in a building phase, it’s not going to hurt you really unless you get crazy excess with it because you’ve got enough body fat to where it’s not going to hurt your lean muscle tissue too much. So I would just say this. Keep that philosophy in your head of what is what I’m doing – what is it doing to serve building my metabolism over time? And just make sure you don’t hurt yourself with steady-state cardio.


Now one last thing is if you’re super lean – I’ve got a client that’s going through it right now. Her name’s Julie, so shout out to Julie if you’re watching. I told her to do 15 to 30 minutes of steady-state cardio, if she wants to, to reduce stress and to promote healing. So those are good reasons to do cardio. So I had to back her off of the cardio initially. And now her stress level is high because her body fat is a little bit lower and she’s dieting. So I said you can do it. I want you to sip on some branched-chains, and I want you to not go hard, and I want you to do 15 to 30 minutes only to reduce stress. So there’s a time and a place for everything, but the way people are doing cardio out there in the world when you go in like the commercial gyms, it’s just not being done in a way that’s going to serve anybody in the short or long-term.