Mini-cuts: What are they? Who are they for? And how do you do them?

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This week’s blog is all about mini-cuts. Mini-cuts are often used by bodybuilders and strength athletes but can be useful to the general population when used correctly. A mini-cut is pretty much how the name describes it, a short term fat loss diet. A mini-cut is often no more than 5 weeks in length as any longer would require a more standard approach to dieting. Mini-cuts could also be as short as 2 weeks depending on how much weight you want or need to lose. The idea of a mini-cut is to lose as much body fat as you can in as shorter time as possible without losing body fat. Now depending on your body fat percentage, this could be anywhere from 0.5-1.5% of your body weight per week or 1-3lbs per week. This will mean that you will be on quite low calories but a mini-cut only lasts a few weeks and therefore can be manageable.

So now we have a basic idea on what a mini-cut is, we can talk about who might want to use a minicut. Firstly, you should already have experience with fat loss before you attempt a mini-cut. If you haven’t had success with dieting in the past or have a history of yo-yo dieting then a mini-cut will not be effective and will likely lead to a large rebound in weight. You should also not be mini-cutting if you have a significant amount of weight to lose because a more standard approach do dieting is going to be required. However, if you want to lose less than around 10lbs or 5kg then a mini-cut might be useful. Finally, if you suffer from any medical disorder or eating disorders then mini-cuts are not for you. So when might a mini-cut be useful? The original purpose of a mini-cut was to allow bodybuilders to gain more muscle mass. If you are a bodybuilder looking to gain muscle and bulk up then you will inevitably gain some body fat. As you gain more body-fat, your body struggles to gain as much muscle as you were at a lower body fat. Therefore if you take a short period of time to lose some fat then when you get back to bulking, you should find that you gain muscle more easily. This is probably the best way to use mini-cuts, in the middle of a bulking phase to potentiate further gains in muscle mass. Another reason for doing a minicut is for someone who competes in weight classes. In most sports that have weight classes (weightlifting, boxing, etc.) having as much muscle mass is normally an advantage. If you have a significant amount of muscle mass and are at the top end of your weight class then it may be worth doing a mini-cut to allow you to gain more muscle mass to fill out your weight class. Most of you guys reading this however will not be bodybuilders or weight class athletes and so when might you want to use a mini-cut? I would say that there is only one time where the general public might want to do a mini-cut. This would be when someone who is interested in slowly building muscle over time for some reason has gained too much weight in a short period of time (whilst on holiday or over Christmas). In this case a 2-4 week mini-cut should get you back to the shape you were before your binge and allow you to get back to feeling good in your body whilst gaining muscle and strength.

So how are you going to implement your mini-cut? So because a mini-cut is only going to last a maximum of 5 weeks, you can afford to be in quite a large calorie deficit as you will likely not experience many of the negative physiological and psychological effects of dieting (decreased metabolic rate, increased hunger, increased cravings, etc). I would normally recommend starting on a 250 calorie deficit for a normal diet but for a minicut I recommend anywhere between 500 and 1000 depending on the person’s current calorie intake. This means that if you are used to eating 2500 calories per day, you could be eating as little as 1500 calories per day. This will almost guarantee significant losses in fat and because it is only for a short period of time, the negative effects should be minimal. With your calories being so low, your protein intake is going to need to be fairly high to preserve muscle mass. My recommendation is around 2.2g per kg of body weight or 1g per lb of body weight. As far as the other nutrients go, it is up to you and ultimately won’t make a difference whether you go for lower fat or lower carb or a combination however my recommendation is to go lower on fats. Carbs are going to help you out with recovery and give you energy for your workouts which will be crucial whilst on low calories. I recommend setting your fat at 0.3g per lb of body weight or 0.7g per kg and getting the rest of your intake from carbs. Unlike a normal diet, you won’t have to adjust your calories over time and should be able to lose weight consistently for 4 weeks at the same calories because your body won’t have time to adjust. It is also important to have a plan for when you finish your mini-cut. After your mini-cut you will probably want to eat lots of cheat foods and whilst it is important to get back to a sustainable diet, it is also important not to binge. Maybe allow yourself 1 cheat meal after your mini-cut and then get back to maintenance calories. You definitely don’t want to put back on all the weight you’ve lost.

So these are my final thoughts on mini-cuts. Mini-cuts should only be done by healthy adults who have experience dieting. They should only last 2-4 weeks and should be aggressive. Keep calories low and protein intake high to ensure you are losing fat and maintaining muscle. And finally train hard and enjoy the results.

Speak to you guys again soon.

Albie

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