How to do a mini cut diet (My experience)

Updated December 2023.

Do you want to know how to do a mini cut? If you are going to do a mini cut to lose as much body fat as possible and keep on as much muscle tissue as possible, without losing too much muscular strength, then you need to read the following.

Many people want to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. If you are building muscle naturally (Which is gaining muscle without using performance-enhancing drugs, otherwise known as PEDs), then you will naturally lose a percentage of muscle when you are in the fat loss phase. The challenge then becomes how can you minimize the amount of muscle that is being lost whilst you are losing fat when doing a minicut.

You need to burn fat as slowly as possible to minimize the amount of muscle loss during your mini cut.

This means the longer that you can stay in a mini-cut phase, the more lean you should appear.

There are a few things that you do need to consider when you are planning to start doing a minicut.

  1. Your lean muscle mass.
  2. The percentage of body fat that you are currently holding.
  3. The nutrition plan that you will need to implement to lose your body fat successfully.
  4. How much body fat you will need to lose in the timeframe that you are in the minicut.
  5. What type of cardiovascular activity you will need to do?
  6. How much cardiovascular activity you will need to do during your minicut.

What has been my previous experience when doing a minicut?

I’ve been fortunate to do a mini cut diet a few times now and I have a much better idea about what is required to successfully cut body fat and weight as quickly as possible.

One thing I would say is that the leaner you are when entering your mini cut, the better and easier it will be to cut the fat. In my experience, if you are holding too much body fat and you miscalculate the calorie intake that’s required to preserve your existing muscle and trim the fat off your frame, you will be in a mini cut for much longer than you expect.

Really, a mini cut should go for 4 to 6 weeks. I’ve experienced staying in a mini cut for up to 12 weeks simply because my body weight wasn’t coming down fast enough.

In my most recent minicut, I was able to stay in the minicut phase for 10 weeks and went from 86/87kg on average to a low of 78.9kg, with an average at 79/80kgs.

I was able to still progress slightly with my strength in my muscle groups, however in the last week of the minicut, my calorie intake had dropped to around 1800 calories per day and it was becoming more challenging to push through with the heavier weights.

How do you do a mini cut?

Find out the amount of calories your body needs to maintain your current weight and body fat.

For me, my baseline weight is around 2100 calories a day.

You will need to measure your calories week on week (aim for 2000-2500 to find the number that keeps your weight and body fat the same week on week.)

My first minicut in 2019

Once that’s done, you will need to work out how aggressively you want to lose your body fat whilst preserving as much muscle as possible. (If you are natural, you will lose muscle. If you take performance enhancers, you will be able to use a stack that will preserve your muscle whilst you are cutting.)

Calculate how aggressively you want to lose your body fat.

If you want to lose 500g per week, you will want to reduce your daily calorie intake by 500g per day. 1000g or 1kg will be 1000 calories per day.

This would allow you to lose 2-4kg of body fat in 4 weeks. And up to 3-6kg in 6 weeks if everything goes to plan.

Aim for 4 to 6 weeks to complete your mini cut.

You want to get in and out of your mini cut as quickly as possible. If you are fairly lean, you will find that you can make significant progress within 4-6 weeks.

If you are greater than 15% body fat, you will struggle to lose the body fat quickly and you may end up staying in deficit for a longer amount of time until you reach your desired goal.

Focus on losing as much body fat as possible with your nutrition only.

Focus on losing as much with your nutrition so that when you want to be more aggressive, you can add more cardio elements to trigger more fat loss.

Mini cut nutrition Insight
Mini cut nutrition Insight

Your nutrition needs to be protein-focused, as the body will process the protein to rebuild and preserve your muscle tissue, and use the existing fat on your body as an energy source. You will fuel your body with healthy fats such as avocados and fats that’s included in non-processed foods, however you will deliberately be consuming a calorie deficit, which will force your body to use the existing fats as a fuel source.

You will need to do resistance training to build and preserve the muscles in your body.

The more lean muscle tissue your body has, the more fuel it will burn. So the exercise training will require you to lift weights that target muscle groups (ideally large areas of muscle tissue such as your hamstrings, back and lats, quadriceps, and chest).

As your lean muscle increases, you will find that you will need to do less cardio activity because your muscles are burning more calories whilst you are resting. So you look more lean all of the time.

This time around, I’m estimating my lean muscle mass to be around 67.15kg.

My daily step count was 8000 steps per day.

The last mini cut my step count was 10,000 steps a day.

The mini cut before that, it was 15,000 steps per day.

Accelerate your body fat loss with walking as your cardio exercise.

Commit to 8000-12000 steps a day of walking to trigger a low-impact cardio.

Accelerate your body fat loss with HIIT cardio sessions.

Accelerate your body fat loss with spin cycle HIIT cardio sessions. 5 minute warm-up with 8 rounds of 15 second sprints with a 45 second rest. Ideally, focus on losing as much body fat as possible without using HIIT. However, if you do hit a plateau and you would like to increase things, then add this into your program.

What are some things that you should keep in mind?

You need to be as strict as possible with your nutrition during a mini cut.

I didn’t realize how sensitive my body was to holding fat if I didn’t remain strict with my nutrition. When I did the first mini cut, I was consuming extra oils and slightly higher fats. Nothing excessive, but week on week, my body fat and weight would remain the similar and would be decreasing very slowly. If you enter a mini cut, stick to the calories and the macro nutrients suggested to accurately trigger fat loss at the rate that you need to shed down as quickly as possible.

Don’t cut your calories too low.

There is a fine balance between losing weight quickly that is body fat and the erosion of lean muscle tissue. You want to preserve as much of your body’s tissue as possible. This means you will need to keep your lean protein up, and also consume enough carbohydrates to ensure that your muscles have enough energy to do the exercises and help the muscle with repair and recovery.

I also found that when my calories went too low for too long, I would start to experience pains, strains, and niggles that could lead to a long-term injury. In my experience, I’ve noticed this flares up in my shoulders when doing incline and flat bench press, and in my knees.

I’m currently going through a mini cut diet in order to lose the body fat that I accumulated as I was going through my bulk phase. This experience has shown me that I wasn’t aware of how much body fat I was actually carrying. When I’d looked at my photos in the past, I’d estimated that I was around 15% body fat. Although, I think that I was over when I had checked at the time.

In this mini cut, I’m probably somewhere between 11.5-12.5% body fat. And it sees to be quite challenging to get my body to response well when compared to others that undergo a minicut.

A mini cut is a phase during the bodybuilding technique whereby we strip back the body fat for a few weeks, and then get lean enough to continue with another bulk phase.

To be successful in a minicut, your body needs to be in a calorie deficit that will aggressively consume your body fat as an energy source.

What were some of the challenges that I faced when doing the mini cut?

My body requires a very low amount of calories per day to trigger a deficit. (1809 calories per day)

I also have a very sedentary lifestyle, which means I don’t move during working hours. So a cardio element needed to be introduced to help trigger the fat loss.

The cardio elements were:

  • Walking 10000 steps a day
  • 2 x HIIT cycling per week. (5 minute warm-up, 20 seconds 100%, 1 minute recovery)

How much body fat am I able to lose with this approach?

800g-1kg per week.

What nutrition allowed me to accomplish this?

  • Very limited starchy carbs (70g oats per day)
  • Fibrous carbs (Spinach, cucumber, cabbage, pumpkin, watermelon, garlic, leek)
  • Lean protein (Lean beef, chicken breast, egg whites, and Greek yogurt)

How long should a mini-cut go for?

4-10 weeks from what I’ve been told by my coach. Now that we have the data, it should be much quicker to do a mini cut by doing a switch with the cardio to trigger fat loss over a 1-3 month period.

What are some things that you should consider during a minicut?

There are certain things that can affect the success of your mini-cut.

Deviating away from your nutrition plan.

This can be done consciously or unconsciously. You really do need to track everything, especially if you see that your weight isn’t going down as planned.

Something that I learned was that some of the spices that I was using to flavour my chicken had sugar in it. This prevented my body from losing more body fat because the calories burned were coming from the sugar intake instead of my stored body fat.

Eating food you don’t prepare(e.g. restaurants)

You don’t know what people are putting into your food and how it may affect your weight and fat loss journey. Ideally, track everything that you prepare. If not, try to consume things that don’t have oils, fats, or sauces added to them. And if things are added, add notes in your nutrition tracker that there are probably extra oils and fats that may affect how your body’s fat loss.

Salt intake.

An abnormal uptake in salt can force your body to hold water weight for a few days. If this is the case, remove as much salt as possible from your diet and see how your body’s weight is affected over the following 3 days.

Cardio and heart rate

I did notice a difference in walking at 4.5km/h vs 7.5km/h. Walking at the slower rate takes longer, but allows you to hold the weight more consistently over time. Whereas walking faster to the point where it is almost a jog and it spikes your heart rate might not allow your body to hold the weight loss gains as consistently as you would like?

Focus on building lean muscle mass!

The thing that will continue to work in your favour is to build as much lean muscle mass as possible. And advantage with people that are bigger/heavier or even obese is that because of the amount of weight that they have to carry, they tend to have developed muscle tissue. And they also have a lot of fat that can be used in their energy reserve. So they might find that they will lose body fat quickly compared to the person that is skinny fat.

In both cases, focus on developing lean muscle tissue and you will find it easier to lose body fat.