Extreme or rapid weight loss cuts have become an increasingly popular way to achieve dramatic body transformations in a short period of time.
However, these aggressive dieting techniques come with considerable risks and should be approached with caution.
In this post, we will share everything we’ve learned about extreme cutting, analyzing the pros, cons, and best practices.
Let’s get started.
Key Takeaway: A measured approach based on macro-nutrient targets, caloric deficits of 500-750 calories, strength training, and cardio delivers sustainable fat loss for long-term health.
What is an Extreme Cut?
An extreme cut refers to an aggressive reduction in caloric intake, typically 1000-1500 calories per day, to promote accelerated weight loss.
This equates to a daily deficit of 500-1000 calories below maintenance levels.
Extreme cuts also involve adjustments to training volume to compensate for fewer calories.
The goal of extreme cutting is to spur rapid fat loss while retaining muscle mass.
This is achieved through strict diet control and high protein intake.
Timeframes range from 4-12 weeks.
Extreme cuts should not extend beyond 12 weeks due to the risk of metabolic damage.
Balancing Diet and Exercise
The diet component of extreme cuts requires a substantial caloric deficit.
This is combined with training adjustments to prevent muscle loss.
Strength training maintains muscle while higher repetition ranges help offset reduced calorie intake.
Incorporating HIIT cardio 3-5 days per week also creates an additional caloric deficit through fat burning.
Limiting cardio to 30-45 minutes prevents overtraining while dieting.
Protein should be set at 1-1.5g per pound of body weight daily.
Fats at 0.25-0.4g per pound.
The remaining calories are from carbohydrates. This ratio supports muscle retention.
How To Extreme Cut
Below, we have outlined one potential protocol for an extreme cut.
This is based on a deep dive into research papers, fitness-related Reddit, and first-hand experience.
|– Set weight loss goal
– Calculate TDEE and deficit target
– Meal plan based on calorie targets
– Begin cardio regimen 3-4x per week
|Ramp Down Calories
|– Reduce calories by 200-300 this week
– Adjust macros for new calorie target
– Perform cardio 4-5x this week
|– 1000-1500 calorie daily deficit
– 1-1.5g protein per pound of bodyweight
– Additional 300-500 calorie cardio deficit 4-5x per week
|Maintain Extreme Cut
|– Remain diligent with meal plans and training
– Consider intermittent fasting or alternate-day fasting
– Ensure adequate micronutrient intake
|Ramp Up Calories
|– Gradually increase calories by 200-300 per week
– Increase carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores
– Add volume back to weight training
|Transition to Maintenance
|– Return to baseline TDEE calories
– Emphasize strength training over cardio
– Allow metabolic adaptation to new body weight
As you can see, 12 weeks is a recommended time frame for a safe cut, but as you gain experience, you can experiment with shorter time periods.
MMA fightser, wrestlers, and bodybuilders often engage in much shorter time periods, as low as one week.
However, we recommend listening to your body and consulting an expert if you have any doubts.
Personal Experiences with Extreme Cuts
Extreme cuts promise rapid results.
Those who have tried them report losing 15-30 pounds within 4-8 weeks.
However, the experience itself is physically and mentally challenging to say the least.
The Role of Protein and Calories
Consuming adequate protein is vital to preserve muscle mass when calories are drastically reduced.
Testimonials suggest intakes up to 1.5g per pound of body weight prevent significant muscle loss.
Daily calories below 1000 for extended periods often lead to fatigue, irritability, and trouble concentrating. Controlled refeeds can provide a mental break.
Extreme hunger, low energy, and rapid changes in appearance can take a psychological toll.
Having clear fitness goals and a defined end date helps maintain motivation and discipline.
Effective Strategies for Extreme Cuts
For those committed to an extreme cut, several techniques can make the process more manageable:
Caloric Deficit Approach
Gradually reducing calories over 2-3 weeks helps ease into a large deficit. Likewise, calories should be slowly increased back to maintenance levels post-cut.
To get a sense of daily caloric intake, refer to the table below.
|Calories/Day Before – Male
|Calories/Day After – Male
|Calories/Day Before – Female
|Calories/Day After – Female
Notice: Keep in mind that this is a general range, and you should adjust the amounts to suit your needs.
Alternate day fasting and periodic refeed days also provide dietary variety and metabolic relief while maintaining a weekly deficit.
Extreme Cut Supplements
The good news is that you do not need to do too much to support a health cut.
After protein powder, the next best supplement is creatine.
- NSF Certified
- Trusted by 100+ pro teams
- Flavorless, no added ingredients
This will help you maintain muscle volume while decreasing caloric intake.
Additionally, there are several brands that package combinations of metabolic-enhancing nutrients and appetite suppressants to support weight loss.
Protein intakes of 1-1.5g per pound of body weight minimize muscle breakdown when calories are low. Dietary fats should reach 15-25% of total calories.
Carbohydrates help restore glycogen for training performance.
Limiting carbs later in the day can control nighttime hunger.
Weight training preserves muscle mass when cutting.
Reducing volume by 30-50% compensates for fewer calories.
Maintain training frequency and intensity.
Incorporating HIIT cardio 3-5 days per week can help to burn additional calories.
But be sure to try to limit sessions to 30-45 minutes to prevent overtraining.
Potential Risks and Downsides
The aggressiveness of extreme cuts carries risks, including:
- Metabolic slowdown – Lowered metabolism makes it harder to keep weight off.
- Muscle loss – Inadequate protein can lead to breakdown of muscle tissue.
- Nutrient deficiencies – Restricted calories reduce vitamin and mineral intake.
- Gallstones – Rapid weight loss increases risk of gallstones.
- Rebound weight gain – Severe caloric restriction often leads to rebound overeating.
- Disordered eating patterns – Obsession with numbers can promote unhealthy behaviors. If you suspect this is an issue, consult a doctor or therapist immediately.
Success Stories from Extreme Cuts
Those who have succeeded with extreme cuts highlight the following lessons:
Rapid Fat Loss is Possible
When calories are severely restricted, weight loss occurs quickly.
Losing 20-30 pounds in 4-8 weeks is achievable.
However, the majority of weight lost is water and glycogen.
Strength Maintenance Requires Effort
Keeping protein high, continuing to lift weights, and limiting cardio helps retain strength.
Some strength loss is expected, but can be regained post-cut.
Metabolic Adaptation Must Be Considered
After an extreme caloric deficit, metabolism may slow, making it harder to keep weight off.
Reverse dieting and active rest periods can help avoid this.
Healthier Alternatives to Extreme Cutting
For sustainable, long-term fat loss, less aggressive dieting approaches are recommended:
Gradual Caloric Deficits
A 500-750 calorie daily deficit equates to 1-2 pounds lost per week. This gradual rate allows for greater muscle retention.
Intermittent Fasting Strategies
Fasting periods up to 16-20 hours facilitate fat burning while allowing normal intake on feeding days. This provides metabolic variety.
You will need 1g protein per pound of body weight.
Aim for 15-30% of calories from fat, and the remainder should come from carbohydrate sources.