I gained some extra fat over the holidays.
I’m sure you’ve done that once or twice before.
So back in February, I decided it was time for a mini-cut.
I’m not interested in being completely ripped to the bone — but I wanted to see some abs.
That was the goal going into it.
Below is a picture of me a few days before I started my 8-week cut.
The following week, I started my mini-cut.
Below is a picture of me 8 weeks later.
Now that you see what I did, let me show you how I did it.
Burn Fat and Preserve Muscle with an 8-Week Mini-Cut
In my experience, if you workout consistently and eat a healthy diet (even in abundance), you are almost always around 6-10 weeks away from being lean at any time.
All you have to do is a mini-cut to get ready for beach or pool.
Since I have no aspirations of being a fitness competitor, I have no need to get into single digit body fat percentages — I just want to look lean and fit in the summer.
This article explains how I do it.
I typically set aside 8 weeks for a mini-cut.
If you are already somewhat lean, you might only need 4-6 weeks. If you have more fat to lose, 10-12 weeks makes more sense.
My schedule for this mini-cut was 3 weeks of slowly tapering my caloric intake down by 100 calories each week followed by 5 weeks in a steep caloric deficit (~1,100 calories below maintenance).
I’ll go into more detail about my diet further down the page.
The reason I take this approach is because I’ve found it to be most effective for me through a lot of trial and error.
The first few weeks help my body adjust to having fewer calories without being in such a deficit that I lose any strength.
After a few weeks of preparing my mind and body for eating a strict diet and maintaining intensity in my training, I dive into the real diet.
I don’t recommend you copy what I’ve done if you have a lot of fat to lose because you will hit a plateau too quickly and waste time. It’s much better to lose fat over a longer period of time when you have a lot to lose — you’ll be further ahead in the end, so be patient!
I also don’t recommend this approach if you aren’t consistently training hard or you will end up losing a lot of muscle. You have to force your body to need your muscle, despite the lack of calories (and energy).
My Training Program
The program I ran during this cut is The Stout Method. It’s not available to the public yet — you’ll hear more about it soon.
But don’t worry, I’m not going to completely hold back on you.
Here’s a rundown of my training during this cut:
- 5 days per week (Monday – Friday)
- Alternating upper body/lower body days
- Emphasis on compound movements
- High volume and low rest periods
- I finish every workout with Tabata
People always ask: “How should I change my training during a cut?” The answer is simple — you shouldn’t change your training.
You should continue to train as hard and heavy as you did before you started cutting.
Forget all that light weight toning bullshit, unless you want to end up looking skinny-fat when it’s all over.
It’s inevitable that your strength will drop as you get further along in your cut — but you want to fight to keep every ounce of strength.
Deadlifts got much more difficult during this cut, and I did have to drop the weight down a bit, but the important thing is that I NEVER STOPPED DEADLIFTING!
Not only does dieting makes you physically weaker, it also plays tricks on your mind.
I see guys go from savages to straight pussies who just want to do high reps on machines because their normal routines “are too difficult” while dieting.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve done the same thing before too — that’s how I know it doesn’t work!
If your training gets soft, your body will get soft, even if you’re losing fat.
When you train hard during a cut, your body stays hard as you chisel away at the excess fat to reveal the statue underneath.
My Fat Loss Diet
For the first few weeks while I was tapering my calories down, I focused on cutting out all the bullshit and eating very clean. I’m talking chicken breast, sweet potatoes, and broccoli for every meal.
- Week 1 — 300 calories below maintenance
- Week 2 — 400 calories below maintenance
- Week 3 — 500 calories below maintenance
During this time, I was steadily losing weight, but I still had plenty of energy and felt strong in the gym because I was eating around 200 grams of carbs per day.
Starting with Week 4, I dropped my calories down significantly and kept my diet exactly the same each week.
- Weeks 4-8 — 1,100 calories below maintenance
During the last 5 weeks, I kept my protein intake high (275 grams per day), fat moderately-low (38 grams per day), and just enough carbs to not feel lethargic (60 grams per day).
First thing in the morning, I drink some water and 1 scoop of whey protein.
Then I drink a cup of coffee on my way to the gym.
- 2 whole eggs
- 1 cup of egg whites
- Some bell peppers, onions, and a handful of spinach
- 1 banana
This banana is the biggest source of carbs I eat all day. I added the carbs to breakfast because that is my post-workout meal.
Meals #2, #3, & #4:
- 7 ounces of chicken breast
- 2-3 cups of power greens (salad blend)
- 1 tablespoon of salad dressing
I get great fat loss results with grilled chicken salads. There are many ways to eat lean protein and micronutrients, but this is what works for me.
If you enjoy the food you eat, it’s much easier to stick with your diet.
To make the salad, I measure and then heat up 7 ounces of chicken in a container. Then I add my salad mix, some dressing, and I put the lid on and shake it up. By doing this, you can make a little bit of salad dressing spread a lot further — which makes the salad taste better and keeps the calories from the dressing lower.
I typically avoid the zero calorie salad dressings because of all the artificial crap in there. That means finding a lower-calorie dressing that’s actually healthy can be tricky.
Here’s one of my go-to salad dressings:
Here’s a new one I discovered that’s really good:
For those keeping score at home, that’s 7 ounces of chicken for each salad and 3 salads per day — that requires a lot of chicken.
There are many ways to batch cook chicken. Grilling isn’t the most time-efficient way but it gives the chicken the best flavor and I find that chicken stores more moisture while sitting in the fridge after being grilled.
Related article: How to Meal Prep the Easy Way
Those salads are surprisingly filling because I try to pack as many leafy greens as I can in there.
I still get hungry at times, but it’s not that bad at all.
For my last meal of the day I have 2 scoops of whey protein.
Fat Loss Diet Tips
In my experience, the most important part of this diet is getting enough protein. You’re always at a risk of losing muscle when losing weight, but you don’t want to intentionally make it happen!
Plus, protein helps with fat loss because our bodies burn more calories from digesting protein than from other macronutrients. And protein keeps you feeling full for longer, which helps with food cravings.
I always notice that I look better the next day if I get all of my protein in the day before, and when I eat less protein I don’t look as good or feel as well.
The next thing to focus on is getting as many micronutrients as possible.
The best thing I learned from eating a vegan diet is the noticeable difference micronutrients make in overall health, energy, and fitness.
I could show you all the science to explain the health benefits, but that stuff goes in one ear and out the other. The fact is I always look better and get better results when I eat more micronutrients.
The last tip I want to mention is the use of a refeed day. Some people call these “cheat days,” but I don’t like that term because the idea here is not to eat whatever you want.
The point of a refeed day is to eat more carbs to replenish your glycogen in your muscle and give your body a boost in energy.
Here is something I like to eat on a refeed day:
I’ve tried the competition and these are the best of their kind!
I had two refeed days during this cut. Once I get to the point where I’m feeling rundown from the diet and I’m struggling to move the same weight in the gym, I throw in a refeed day every 2-3 weeks.
I continued to lose weight after each refeed day. You don’t want to overdo it or you will hurt your progress.
The Supplements for a Successful Summer Cut
Supplements are completely optional. The only thing I think is absolutely crucial to get similar results is the BCAAs.
BCAAs are a controversial subject, meaning nerds online like to have endless debates about the scientific literature (or lack thereof) on BCAAs. On paper, it seems like they’re a waste of money, but for me, they are not.
Ever since I started using BCAAs while dieting, I could never go back. I used to lose so much muscle every time I would try to drop my body fat, but that just doesn’t happen as much when I take BCAAs.
However, the key for me is megadosing them — I consume 30 grams of BCAAs each day. To put that in perspective, one scoop is usually 5-7 grams of BCAAs depending on the brand you buy.
I drink 10 grams during training and then spread the remaining 20 grams out through the rest of the day.
Protein powder is completely optional. I just like it because it’s a convenient way to consume extra protein.
The following are supplements I always take that are especially beneficial while dieting:
- Omega 3’s — Learn more about Omega 3’s
- Vitamin D3 — Learn more about Vitamin D3
- NAC — Learn more about NAC
- Ashwagandha — Learn more about Ashwagandha
Something that I just started using a few months before starting this cut is Trader Joe’s Superfood Red Drink. I absolutely love this stuff! It’s probably my favorite health supplement now.
There are other brands that are just as good, but I just like this one because I’m a Trader Joe’s fanboy.
The last two supplements I use during this type of cut are for hormone optimization. When you diet and train hard, your testosterone can take a hit, which is bad for your fitness results and it can crush your libido.
You don’t want to lose your libido right at the time when women want to have sex with you more than ever, do you?!
To keep my testosterone high, I take:
As I said in the beginning, this approach isn’t for everyone and I don’t recommend you copy exactly what I’ve done here.
However, you can use this as a template for your own mini-cut.
If you have any questions, I’m more than happy to help.
Fitness Dieting Made Easy
This FREE guide shows you what to eat for burning fat, building muscle, and improving your health!
What do you think? Do you agree, disagree or have any thoughts to add? Let me know in the comments below.
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