Mini-Cut Q & A with Shelace Shoemaker, Health and Physique Prep Coach

Mini-Cut Q & A with Shelace Shoemaker, Health and Physique Prep Coach

Q: What advice would you give someone who wants to trim fat in 8-10 weeks (mini-cut)?  

A: I’ll start this off by saying not everyone is an immediate candidate for a mini cut. There are several things that need to be in place before I consider a mini cut for someone (current calorie intake, daily habits, and health markers, for example).


But, for those that are ready, here are a few pieces of advice when starting a cut.

  • Start by establishing a calorie deficit. Calculate maintenance calorie needs based off your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) and NEAT (Non exercise activity thermogenesis) and create a moderate deficit of 500-750 calories per day. When creating the deficit, keep your protein high and adjust your carbs and fats based off your activity levels and energy needs.


  • Prioritize protein. Adequate protein intake is necessary to support muscle retention during the mini-cut. Keeping protein high is important for satiety as calories get low. There are various methods/calculations used to figure out the protein amount. Some will aim for 1.2-1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight to preserve lean muscle mass. I like to make it a little more simple and go 1-1.5 g of protein for the desired (and realistic) bodyweight.
    During a cut phase, I usually never adjust the amount of protein a client has (unless digestion problems occur). I decrease calories by adjusting either carbs or fats.


  • Focus on whole foods and FIBER! Prioritize whole, nutrient-dense foods such as lean proteins (eggs, chicken, turkey, Greek yogurt, lean beef, fish and Titan’s whey isolate protein), fruits, vegetables (big ass salads are great because it’s a lot of volume of food without as many carbs), whole grains, and healthy fats (avocado, EVOO, red meats, nuts). Limit processed foods, sugary drinks, and high-calorie snacks as they just leave you craving more and won’t meet your micronutrient needs. Make sure to eat lots of fibrous foods to help with digestion and satiety as well. When deep in a cut, I will often suggest oatmeal and potatoes (versus cream of rice or rice) to help clients feel fuller longer throughout the day.  Generally speaking, keep fiber intake between 25-35g on a daily basis. In addition to your whole foods, some supplements I would include would be Titan Essentials for your multi vitamin, Titan’s Omegas and Vitamin D3 and K2 and magnesium glycinate.

  • Plan and prep those meals in advance: When planning your meals in a cut, make sure your meals before and after your workouts have lean meats and the majority of your carbs. When planning for those meals around your workout, pick carbs that are easier to digest, like cream of rice, rice, and fruits or a supplemental source like Titan’s ReBuild, Farm to Carb, or GlycoFeed for intra or post workout carbs.  If you don’t feel comfortable tracking or building a nutrient dense menu, hire a coach to help plan those meals and offer you guidance and/or download a tracking app to track your food intake for macronutrient and calorie accuracy and accountability.


  • Prepping food: prep in bulk! It makes life easier. Whatever you aren’t using in the first couple of days, you can freeze to pull out later.  Pick one or two days a week where you prep everything at once, or at dinnertime, cook more than you need to have ready for the next day.


  • Stay hydrated: I suggest anywhere from ¾ of a gallon to 1 gallon of water for most in a cut. The more you sweat, the more water you should be drinking. Adequate hydration supports metabolism, digestion, and overall health during the mini-cut. If you are sweating a lot, I also suggest adding in Titan’s Thirst+ into your water to help replenish those electrolytes and don’t be afraid to add seasoning and salt to your food.


  • Regular Exercise: Maintain a consistent strength training routine to preserve muscle mass and support fat loss. Incorporate at least 3-4 days of strength training each week (but can be up to 5-6) and 20-30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise to enhance calorie expenditure, support fat loss, and maintain muscle mass. If working out 3 days/week, I would suggest 3 total body workout programming to hit every muscle more frequently throughout the week.  Make sure to give yourself rest days in between. Examples of 4 day splits could be

Upper/Lower Split:

Day 1: Upper Body

Day 2: Lower Body

Day 3: Rest

Day 4: Upper Body

Day 5: Lower Body

Day 6-7: Rest  


Push/Pull Split:

Day 1: Push (focus on chest, shoulders, and triceps)

Day 2: Pull (focus on back, biceps, and rear delts)

Day 3: Rest

Day 4: Legs (focus on quads, hamstrings, and glutes)

Day 5: Push (focus on chest, shoulders, and triceps)

Day 6-7: Rest 

These are just a few examples and you can customize your workout split based on your specific goals and preferences. Don’t forget to track your workouts each week to monitor progression and allow for adequate rest and recovery between workouts.

When it comes to cardio, the majority of the time I suggest 20-30 min of steady state cardio (anywhere from 3-6 days/week). This could include the treadmill, stepper, spin bike, elliptical, etc. Remember to choose things you enjoy doing, too.  Hikes, skiing, swimming, cycling are all great options as well. Because we are in a fat loss phase, I will also suggest that clients are also getting anywhere from 8-12k steps daily in addition to their cardio (this depends on where we’re starting in the first place. Don’t jump from 5K steps and expect 12k steps!) This is adjusting as we go along based off weekly biofeedback, recovery and as the body adjusts to the cardio.


  • Monitor your progress: Track weight, measurements, and overall progress during the mini-cut. Adjust their nutrition and exercise plan as needed to ensure you are on track to meet weight loss goals. Side note: become familiar with the Bristol Stool Chart.  This will help you understand how well your digestion is and whether or not you need more/less fiber and/or water.


  • Rest and Recovery are SO IMPORTANT: Prioritize your sleep! Get at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night. And take those rest days. Your body needs to recover in order to build.

Q: How much can someone expect to lose?

A: In a healthy fat loss phase, aiming for a safe and sustainable rate of 0.5-1 kg (1-2 lbs) per week is realistic during a mini-cut. This can result in a total weight loss of 4-8 kg (8-16 lbs) over an 8-10 week period.


Q: How should someone cut without losing muscle?

A: As mentioned above, prioritizing and eating an adequate amount of protein is one way to help maintain muscle mass without losing muscle. We also want to avoid excessive cardio and focus on strength training to maintain our muscle mass. Gradually cutting calories and/or adding cardio throughout the 8-10 weeks, fueling properly throughout the day, and focusing on sleep will help ensure the best scenario for maintaining muscle throughout your cut.


Q: Once someone reaches a desired look- how do you recommend maintenance?

A: You’ve hit your goal! Congratulations! Now what? Now is the time to slowly transition to a maintenance phase by gradually increasing calories to match your energy expenditure. This can start by adding 100-150 calories/day each week by increasing carbs and/or fats. While increasing, monitor your progress and adjust your nutrition and training as needed. Your leanest body isn’t your healthiest body, so make sure to find a sustainable look and lifestyle that works for you and your overall health.


Q: What advice do you have for someone just beginning to cut?

A: First piece of advice, be patient! A lot can happen in 8-10 weeks! . Start with a clear goal and realistic timeframe for your cut. Think about 1 lbs/week as being realistic. Don’t let that scale be the only indicator of progress. Do you feel better? Do you sleep better? Do your clothes fit better? And remember this about the scale, it can fluctuate hour by hour, day by day, depending on your sodium intake, hormones, when you had your last poop, inflammation, stress, where you are in your cycle if you’re female, and what workout you’ve done.  So don’t lose your mind over the scale.


Track everything that goes in your mouth! Every bite, lick, taste. Every sauce and condiment. It all adds up.

Finally, if you are just getting started, I recommend that you seek guidance from a qualified coach or nutritionist. And COMMUNICATE effectively with that coach. No detail is TMI! This is your HEALTH, coaches need to know what’s going on in order to best support you on your journey.


About the Author

Shelace Shoemaker is a Titan Athlete,  IFBB Figure Pro and two time Olympian. She got her start in competing in figure in 2009. She is a certified group exercise instructor, personal trainer, nutritionist and specializes in bodybuilding competition prep, strength training and conditioning, and nutrition. She got her start in coaching after previous experiences led her to look for a better and healthier way to approach bodybuilding and nutrition. She now coaches a team of NPC and IFBB bodybuilding competitors and lifestyle clients through her team Iron and Lace.

After teaching for WCSD for 16 years, she discovered that her true passion was educating and supporting others with their fitness and health goals. She resigned from teaching and is now coaching online and at American Iron full time. She loves sharing her passion for sports, living a healthy lifestyle, and fitness with others. She believes that health, fitness and bodybuilding not only create transformations physically and mentally but are also huge character builders that empower your life and confidence beyond the gym.





Mini-Cut Q & A with Shelace Shoemaker, Health and Physique Prep Coach

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