A mini cut is often used as a fat loss strategy in between your bulking phrase to avoid excess fat gain. The big difference between the mini cut and the traditional cut is the time span and the rate of progress. As the name mini cut appears, the phrase for mini cut needs to be short to avoid some long-term impact on the individual.
I believe most of us will come into this situation during body recomp: You feel good in the beginning but later you found that your muscle gain had slowed down. You think that is because you didn’t eat enough therefore you increase the surplus even more, however, found that you only put on fat.
This is what I’ve experienced lately, and I don’t think I wish to jump into the a long cut because buiding more muscle is currently my priority. Then I discovered another solution: mini cut. A mini cut is best if you wish to lose some fat during building more muscles (muscle growth often slows down after long time of bulking), while continue making progress in your recomp journey.
If you are at the same place as me and wish to know more about the mini cut. This is a simple guide for you (especially beginners) to start your first mini cut.
Mini cut Overview
Same as a conventional cut, a mini cut is still a strategy that focusing on losing fat. However, mini cut by constrast only spans a short time (2-6 weeks) and often appears to be more radical because it will not last longer as a conventional cut is. People use mini cut for different reasons such as attending gatherings, or when they are required to look good on camera, or for those that are on stage.
There is also another group of people that benefits from mini cut — those that reach a point where they only gain fat during bulking. As we know, human body is excel in adapting to any stimulus. Therefore you’ll found that It muscle gain tends to be stagnant after you stay for too long in a ‘bulking mode’ (at this point you only gain fat instead of muscle). A mini cut, will reset the muscle-building stimulus again and you’ll find yourself able to build muscle again after a cut.
However, there is some drawback. Mini cut works for those that are already close to their body fat goal. Let’s say an individual has 32% body fat and wishes to cut to 21%. That is too much. Instead, going for a slow cut rather than this aggressive approach will be safetier and healthier.
The Principles for Cutting–Deficit
For every fat loss strategy, the working theory is still the same. You need to rely on calorie deficit to result in fat loss. The calorie deficit from the mini cut is allowed to be larger for up to 30% of your maintenance calories. As the calorie deficit theory suggested, what we tries to create is calories consumed < calories expense. There are three ways to create calorie deficit and you should only follows the one that suits you well.
Method 1: Deficit Through Dieting
Perhaps this is the most directly come to mind when I mentioned ‘calorie deficit’. Yes, in this case perhaps by eating less is the most straight forward solution and you didn’t need much work to do it. This approach works well for those that already eat a huge amount of food as they have a greater allowance of space for them to cut down their calories in a large extend. However, if you already eating less (below 1500 kcal), you actually can’t reach the aggresiveness because if you continue off set the calories, you have nothing left. In this case, you can look for the other option below.
Looking for food swaps ideas? This article will introduce 40 foods with lower calories alternative and it also tell you how much calories you can expect to save!
Method 2: Deficit Through Increase in Physical Activities
If cardio is not found in your training routine, this could be your approach. This also works for those that have lesser workout days such as 2 to 3 session each week. It’s a great idea to add in some more cardio session if your time allows. For this, you don’t need to restricitng your diet but still cretaing a deficit.
Same for those that have scedentary lifestyle. What you need to do is just add in some cardio or more physical activities througout the day. It’s true that when you are moving around, you can burn as mush as triple calories compared from sitting. Meanwhile, increasing physical activities actually improves cardiovascular health and maintain bone density.
However, you need to be aware of overconsuming because cardio often makes the appetite raise and sometimes we tend to eat more than usual.
Method 3: Hybrid
This is the most recommended way I did. The reason why is that by assistance by both approach, you can create a greater balance without going too extreme and ended up struggling at the middle.
Why using hybrid is the best way?
Because deficit could be created with both way, by diet or by increasing activity level. In the case of mini cut, you need to lose fat as fast as possible while avioiding losing muscle mass and impacting you well bieng overtime. Therefore by using hyprid, you only need to do both at half of the effort however still reaching the same result. Another benefits of hybrid is while you are controlling the amount of you are are eating, you still stay active, this could actually help you remain some muscle as possible. As you body tend to ‘use it or lose it’.
Avoid Muscle Loss While In A Deficit
You will definitely lose weight once you are in a deficit. However, in the terms of a cut, what we tries to do is maintaining as much muscle mass as possible while still losing fat. In the long term, more muscle mass will allows you return to your recomp more closer to your goal. The tricky part is how to make sure the weight that you lose is fat but not muscle. That is the thing that we need to execute right. [Differencs between fat loss vs weight loss? ]
Eating enough protein to maintain muscle mass while still being in an overal calorie deficit.
As your overall calories decrease, you still need to make sure your protein consumption did not fall under the required amount. The protein requirement during a cut is 1.6g-2g per kg of your body weight. I usually did not make much difference on protein during either cutting or lean bulk. Instead, what I’m doing is just decreasing the amount of carbs and fat to reach the overall deficit.
Still lifting weight as usual.
Even when you introduce more cardio during the mini cut, it has nothing to do with strength training. You still need to train with weight
Cardio and strength training works very differently for our body. For cardio, its role is to improve your cardiovascular fitness while helping you expend more energy in order to create a deficit, thus leading you to lose weight. However, strength training is the only thing that could make sure you did not lose muscle while you are in deficit.
You still doing the same thing as your usual strength training session. It is not necessary to use lighter weight unless you really feel weaker due to the lower calorie intake. In the case of using lighter weight, try not to be less than 70% of the weight that you are usually working on.
Bonus: The Calorie Deficit Cheat Sheet
Of course, the most obvious way to creating calories deficit is to decreasing the food that you eat meanwhile increase physical activities. However. the process doesn’t need to be painful all the time. There are some slight tweak for both method that you could intergrate into your mini cut to make things less difficult for you.
Create calories deficit through diet
Create calories deficit through physical activities
You can also download the pdf version for further reference.
That’s all for part 1 of the mini-cut guide. In the next post, I will be explaining the real execution process to set your calories goal and actually work it out.