This guide to cutting for women has been inspired by the frequent requests Lipstick Lifters receives for information on how to cut. 

As strong advocates of the bulking and cutting method; we are keen to ensure that women fully understand how, when and why they should utilise this method.

This is a lengthy guide, so if you don’t have time now, be sure to bookmark this page so you can come back later.

Before you go any further…

First you need to understand the concept of bulking & cutting.  Because the two go hand in hand.  If you haven’t already read Bulking & Cutting For Women, it’s worth doing so before you delve into this guide. 

With that said; if you already have a good understanding of the bulking and cutting process, you can skip the above guide and continue reading this guide to cutting for women.

Cutting for women: What does it mean?

Put simply, cutting is the process of reducing overall body fat. 

The ‘cutting’ terminology is used mostly amongst bodybuilders, but it is also very well utilised and understood across the various weightlifting sports.

More often than not; when a weightlifter goes on a cut, they are more specifically entering into the process with the intention of revealing the lean muscle they have built during a bulk.

Outside of bodybuilding, a powerlifter or strongwoman may choose to cut for other reasons; such as adhering to the weight class of their competition. 

And of course, anyone can choose to cut, simply because they want to.  

You don’t have to be a pro to use this method, however you do have to be an experienced weightlifter. 

When to cut

Generally for women, cutting is the most appealing part of the cycle.  But you must understand that if you’re completely new to lifting, and you’re taking this seriously, you shouldn’t even consider a cut until you are at least 6 months in. 

Because cutting is what you do AFTER you have bulked.  Sure you will find some lifters who cut before a bulk, but this is not recommended for newbies.  Anybody who hasn’t been ‘bulking’ has no business ‘cutting’.

For experienced lifters; a cut is something that is traditionally done in preparation for a competition. 

So to decide when to begin your cut; you would take your competition date and how much fat you have to lose into consideration.  Then simply count back from your competition date how many weeks you need to be in a cut for to achieve your goal.

Generally, a cut should last for at least 6 weeks.

*More info on how to calculate the number of weeks you need to be in a cut for is further down this guide.

Why ‘women cutting’ is different from women dieting

Anyone can choose to go on a ‘diet’ and ‘lose weight’, but understand that ‘losing weight’ is not strictly the same as ‘cutting’. 

‘Weight loss’ typically involves a loss of water, fat, and muscle.  How much of each you lose, depends heavily on the method you use.  Typically, FAD and/or heavily restrictive diets combined with relentless cardio, result in the most muscle wastage.

The weightlifters worst nightmare.

A ‘cut’ on the other hand, is an advanced and strategic approach to fat loss, one that promotes more fat loss while maintaining as much lean muscle as possible.  And this is why we would like to see more women cutting.

Cutting for women: How to cut

For a start; get comfortable being uncomfortable, because the fact is; cutting is a process.  Everybody wants to do it until they realise what it actually takes.

Here is what you need to consider BEFORE you even start:

Get your mind right

Without a doubt, the absolute first thing you need to do is get your mind in the right place.  As with everything, if you mind is in the right place, you’re halfway there.

You need to be mentally prepared to commit to this in its entirety. 

This process is not for anyone seeking a quick or temporary fix.  If you go into this with a short term ‘quick fix’ mentality, you will fail long term.

Decide how much fat you want to lose

From where you are now, consider roughly how much fat you want to lose, and estimate what that would be in lbs and put an actual number on it. 

You won’t know exactly how much body fat you have in lbs, but the important thing is to give yourself a realistic estimate so you have a goal.

Anything from 2lbs to 30lbs is reasonable. 

If you have more than 30lbs of fat to lose you may benefit from a simpler approach to dieting for now.

Once you have your ‘number’, simply count back the weeks with an aim to lose 1lb a week.  And keep in mind that 1lb of fat is equivalent to 3500 calories.  So generally speaking, a deficit of around 500 calories per day would equate to a 1lb loss in a week.

As tempting as it may be, aiming for anything more than 1lb a week is generally not advised.  Ultimately, you can do what you want, but 2+lbs a week in this process is considered aggressive fat loss and is best reserved for those who are very well versed in what they are doing.

How long do you need to cut for?

Based on the above recommendation; if you estimate that you have 12lbs of fat to lose, you should intend to be in your cut for at least 12 weeks.

That’s all in, no excuses and no cheat meals for the duration of your cut.

Choose your start date and work out your end date. 

Then write them both down.

For sustainable results, you need to remain in your cut for at least 6 weeks.  If you have less than 6lbs to lose, you will unfortunately have to accept that you will naturally burn this fat at a slower rate.

Plan what you’re going to eat

You’ll make this a whole lot easier on yourself if you have a clear cut diet plan.

Your diet plan needs to be written by you, or a qualified person close to you, who you check in with on a regular basis in order to make the inevitable amendments.  You know what you like to eat, don’t force yourself into something you hate, because you will ruin this entire process for yourself.

The first thing you need is to work out what your caloric intake should be.  You can start with the ‘fat loss’ numbers provided by our Macro Calculator.

Remember that these numbers are progressive, so you’ll need to regularly check in.

Plan what you’re going to do when you’re out of your own space

Work and social events have the potential to blow this whole operation, but thanks to this guide you’re smarter than that.  You’re going to decide right now how you will manage these situations.

Don’t be afraid to carry your food around with you, sure people will have something to say when you’re chewing your way through a zip lock bag of chopped carrots and broccoli.  But what’s more important; your long term goals, or other people’s opinions?

Also, don’t be afraid to say no; you don’t owe anybody an explanation.  If you would rather sit at home weighing out chicken breast while they’re all at the bar; that is your choice.  

Women cutting know how to cook

If you don’t know how to prepare healthy meals, take the time to learn. 

Contrary to what many believe, it is possible to cut without forcing your gag reflex through dry chicken, cold rice and soggy broccoli.

The bottom line is; be in a caloric deficit while consuming quality calories.

Get creative in the kitchen, cook with real and whole foods.  Anything pre-prepared/packaged should be left in the supermarket.

For pros – this is a science

Many pros treat this as a science, food is 100% fuel and the end goal is all that matters.  So in this instance a plate of chicken, egg whites and broccoli isn’t about pleasure, it’s about feeding your body what it needs in order to achieve the desired outcome.

When you go all in on the thing you want most, you will do whatever it is you have to do.  This level of commitment and mental strength is rare, because most people want to enjoy food.  And so they should. 

It’s down to you to decide where you personally want to position yourself.

There’s nothing wrong with either approach – do what works for you.

A word of caution if you are partial to binging

It’s easy to fall into this rabbit hole so be careful.  Sadly it is the nature of restrictive diets.  For many it’s not too big a deal to have a ‘splurge’ and get back on track, for others it can trigger a downward spiral.

If you are at all concerned about this, please be kind to yourself; your mental health is far more important than losing a few lbs of fat.

If you know that you are easily triggered to binge, you should reduce your caloric intake gradually over the course of a few weeks and even months if necessary.  Don’t go straight from 3000 calories a day to 1200.  Work out a staged plan to slowly reduce 50-100 calories a week.  You can do this.

Cutting for women: During your cut

Know exactly what you’re eating

In the midst of a cut, you should know very well how many daily calories you’re eating broken down by macronutrient and you should be keeping close track.

Since you’re going to be cooking all your own meals, it’s a good idea to calculate total calories of ingredients and divide that by the number of portions it will serve. 

Weigh your food raw/uncooked.

Drink water

Besides watching what you eat, you should increase your water intake to stay hydrated as well as curb hunger. 

Also, you should avoid drinking empty calories.  And if you’re thinking you’ll chug down on zero calorie drinks, think again.  These can trigger sugar cravings and sugar should especially be avoided during your cutting phase. 

Please also consider chemicals as well as calories, just because something has ‘zero calories’ or ‘zero sugar’, doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

Black coffee is ok, in fact, coffee has proven a helpful stimulant for many.  Leaf teas are of course fine.

Alcohol should be avoided.

Keep lifting but add cardio

Keep lifting, but not as hard as you would in a bulk, you also should take this opportunity to do more cardio in order to increase your caloric deficit and therefore promote faster fat loss.

Do any cardio you like, it really doesn’t make an awful lot of difference. 

Your bottom line fat loss comes primarily from your diet.  The calories burned through cardio should be considered a bonus.

Obviously running burns more calories than walking, but if you hate running, there’s no need to torture yourself.

Make sure you’re getting enough fiber

A lot of attention is placed on proteins, carbs and fats, but fiber is an important part of your diet and should not be forgotten.

Raw vegetables are an excellent very low calorie ‘filler’ that will take care of your fiber intake.

Berries, apples, pears and kiwis are relatively low sugar fruits when eaten whole.

Pay attention to how your body is responding to your cut

Everybody is different, so you should not judge your own responses to another, treat yourself as an individual and monitor your response as you go.

Besides monitoring a reduction in body fat, you should also pay attention to how you feel. 

Feeling hungry in a cut is inevitable; how this affects your mood, sleep and energy levels will of course have an impact on this experience for you.

The important thing is to remember that this is only a temporary state. 

Above all else, it is a battle of the mind.  If you can train your mind to be stronger than your feelings, you’ll put yourself in a very powerful position.  - Treat your cut like a Military operation.

Don’t blow the whole operation because of one setback

If you mess up, fall off plan, or take an epic run and jump into complete self-sabotage:  Accept it.  And Move on.

Setbacks happen; anybody who isn’t failing at something isn’t really stepping outside of their comfort zone.

The most important thing is that you stay committed to your goal in the long term.

Women cutting take ownership

Stop looking for somebody else to tell you what to do and what to eat.  Self-education is imperative to your long term success.  Nobody else can do this for you, only you can make this happen for yourself.

By all means seek guidance from those more experienced than you, but understand that you are best using that guidance as just that – a guide to getting you started. 

Everybody responds differently, so just because something worked for one person, doesn’t make it a foregone conclusion for somebody else.  This is why you absolutely must accept a period of experimentation.  Provided you are keeping track, you will always have something to refer to in order to make more informed decisions moving forward.

Lipstick Lifters primary objective is to teach independence.  And the reason we feel so strongly about this is because we know that unless you take an active interest in this yourself, you will always be on the back foot.  So please do own this.

The Ultimate Guide To Cutting For Women Conclusion

In short; you’re not going to achieve anything with a short term mentality. 

Take the time to understand and plan this process out for yourself, give yourself at least 6 weeks of uninterrupted ‘cutting’ and track your results so that you can make more informed decisions in your next cut.

As mentioned at the very start of this article; cutting is part of the bulking and cutting cycle.  So be sure to check out The Ultimate Guide To Bulking.



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