The benefits of a minicut
There are a few unshakeable truths to muscle gain that everyone has to get behind. For one, it takes time, far more so than you’d face with a comparable amount of fat loss. To put on an appreciable slab of muscle, you’re looking at a matter of months, if not years. That leads to the second truth, and the one that gets people so twitchy. You’ll also get fat. Maybe not enough for a pair of love handles, but chances are it’s going to be noticeable.
Fat loss is a cakewalk compared to this.
Both facts of the bulking life mean you’re in for a frustratingly long and taxing road. You need to be up for the grind. The longer you’re able to go, the more you’re likely to run into speedbumps.
Especially if you’re taking it via the carnivore diet.
The appetite can often get crushed when aiming for the monster portions necessary to force an energy surplus.
You can become sluggish when attempting to digest higher amounts of saturated fat and protein, since your gut may not be far enough along the adaptation process.
That digestive demand could then be going on to disturb your sleep, further compromising energy levels.
The monotonous task of eating all that steak might be getting to you.
All of which means there’s a chance of reaching a point where you stop progressing altogether. You’re still hitting your calories, slugging weights around the gym, but the gains have flatlined.
That’s where you reach across to break the glass for Plan B. Minicuts are an underrated, efficient, risk-free way to shake things up when the bulk begins to stall. You’re dipping in and out of a deficit before the body has a chance to slow things down.
The potential dangers
I say underrated, because there are plenty of coaches that view it as an unnecessary tool that only serves to derail the momentum that a client may have accumulated across the bulk. And they have a point, when we’re talking minicuts that don’t emphasise nutrient density, overstay their welcome, or change drastically from the normal diet.
A carnivore diet doesn’t suffer from these predicaments. You can easily shift into a large energy deficit without risking muscle loss. There’s just too much nutrient density to go around when you’re harvesting your calories from red meat and organs.
The large deficit, combined with the low-insulin state of ketosis, allows you to slash bodyweight in record time. The only hiccup is the adaptation period that would be required for someone who hasn’t already spent time in ketosis.
Which, in all fairness, comes with a significant cost to performance in the short term. So if you’re not fat adapted, I’d strongly suggest mini-cutting with a meat-based diet. Ideally low carb, just not so low that you don’t have enough to fill the gas tank.
But for those of you already blooded in the ways of carnivore, the mini-cut is a tap-in. A few weeks of hard dieting that’s designed to prime you to make fresh inroads into the muscle-building trail.
My Carnivore Minicut
I’m just coming off the back of a minicut where I lost 7kg, a full stone, in three short weeks. I initially bulked from 84kg up to 95kg in 18 weeks, before deciding to cash in and get my mojo back.
For the cut, I dropped the calories from 5100 to 2400, with the deficit likely being in the region of 40-50%. Suicidal territory, but with complete nutrient density, and over a very brief period. The minor dents to strength could simply be attributed to the loss of glycogen and water retention, rather than to the actual muscle tissue.
I didn’t bother changing the style of training, and the diet itself didn’t get shifted by much. I just took out my workout carbs, and the post-workout portion of rice. I went from low carb, to zero carb, while keeping the essential duo of brisket and butter.
The minicut itself was an absolute breeze, especially since I was heading in with zero appetite. So having to cut my eating down so drastically gave me nothing but relief. Sleep was noticeably helped by the resting heart rate dropping down from 66 to 61. Nothing quite like my previous bests in the low 40’s, but that was enough to give the body some breathing space. My HRV score also rose from 31 from 53, signaling a shift towards parasympathetic dominance.
All of which meant I went from feeling sluggish and emotional, to a state of relentless zen. The marginal drop in strength was balanced by a resurgence in energy and recovery. Mentally, I flattened out, while still retaining persistent drive. The emotional swings were fewer, and when they did happen, they were hardly debilitating.
The craziest thing about this, is that the diet didn’t shift by much. It was already neatly tied up. It just had a few extra helpings of carbs. Carbs that were specifically picked for their low toxin count. I’m starting to get a sense of inevitability that my long-term future is going to be keto dominant.
The Bulk is staying Carnivore
It’s just too fun to drop.
So in the two weeks that have followed the minicut, I’ve added in a 50g serving of cyclic dextrin during workouts, without any post-workout rice. I will probably have to add some more cyclic dextrin in the post-workout window, since I’ve been flirting with low blood sugar following a few particularly heated workouts.
This new take on bulking, which I have tried before briefly, should be enough to keep me in ketosis for big chunks of the day. Allowing me to stay firmly in zen mode. Whether it’s enough to help me break past 95kg, and whether it’s going to let me sleep for 8 hours a night, that’s something I’m just going to have to play by ear.
In any case, the minicut has done the job spectacularly, giving me a newfound appetite from buttered steak, and it’s extended the bulking season by whittling down body fat. For those of you looking to trial it yourselves, I’d make sure to cap it at three weeks. Any further, and it’ll be at risk of turning into an actual diet. Don’t let temptation drag you into a premature winter shred. Stay committed to the gaining season.