How to Make New Years Resolution Weight Loss Goals Stick

The New Year has just kicked off, which means that gyms are packed with new members ready to whip their bodies into shape. And how about you? Do you have any fitness-related New Year’s resolutions? 

If so, the odds are stacked heavily against you. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, a whopping 91% of people feel they have failed to achieve their goal when the end of the year comes and they look back on it [1]. In other words, only 9% follow through and succeed at their New Year’ resolutions.

Why’s that? Well, there are various reasons, but among the most common ones is people having unrealistic expectations. And this makes sense. After all, we’re relentlessly bombarded with overblown claims by magazines, late-night TV shows, and fitness “experts”.

So, to make sure you’re one of the few that succeed at their New Year’s goals, we’ve outlined what you can realistically expect to achieve. Whether it is shedding unwanted body fat or building dense, powerful muscle, you’re about to discover the evidence-based truth.

On top of that, you’ll learn how to set proper New Year’s resolutions. This is a crucial but often overlooked aspect when it comes to maximising your chances of success. Hence, according to research by the Dominican University, proper goal setting can increase success rate by as much as 78% [2]. So, let’s dive in.

Fat Loss

Weight loss is the most popular New Year’s resolution [1]. With 21.4% of resolutions being related to it, slimming down stands head and shoulders above the second most common goal, which is self-improvement.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, in most developed countries, including America and Australia, two-thirds of the population is overweight or obese [3-4].

Unfortunately, most people have unrealistic expectations about how fast they can shed fat. (Blame all the “Get ripped now” and “Lose 10kg by tomorrow” programs.) This often leads to frustration and loss of motivation.

So, to make sure you know what to realistically expect, let us present to you the actual rates at which you can drop weight when following a proper nutrition and workout plan. Please note that those are averages – some people can slim down slightly faster, while others need more time.

Also, keep in mind that those rates are based on shedding fat without losing precious muscle mass (a common problem with losing weight too fast). 

Fat loss rates

The speed at which you can drop weight is mainly determined by your body fat percentage. The more fat you carry, the faster you can lose weight. The less body fat you have, the slower your weight loss should be to avoid muscle loss.

Here are the rates to strive for:

  • If you’re male and your body fat is below 11%, or you’re female and your body fat is below 19%, aim for a weight loss rate of 0.2% to 0.4% of body weight per week.
  • If you’re male with body fat of between 11% and 15% or female with body fat of between 19% and 23%, aim for a weight loss rate of 0.4% to 0.6% of body weight per week.
  • If you’re male and your body fat is between 16% and 25%, or you’re female and your body fat is between 24% and 31%, aim for a weight loss rate of 0.6% to 1% of body weight per week. 
  • If you’re male and your body fat exceeds 25%, or you’re female and your body fat is above 33%, aim for a weight loss rate of 1% to 1.5% of body weight per week. 

So, let’s say you’re male, you weigh 80kg, and your body fat percentage is 22%. In that case, you should aim for an average weight loss rate of between 0.48kg and 0.8kg per week.

Muscle Gain

While losing weight is the most common body shape-related New Year’s resolutions, many lifers are after the exact opposite: adding mass to their frame.

Muscle gain rate

Compared to dropping fat, the rate at which you can gain muscle is much lower. The reason is that building new fibres is a resource-intensive and time-consuming process.

Many believe that bulking up fast is best, but that’s not true. While a calorie surplus is needed to build muscle optimally, there comes a point of diminishment in return or, to put it another way, the point where extra calories do not equal faster growth. Instead, they will be stored as body fat.

For example, one 12-week study found that elite athletes who consumed a small surplus gained the same amount of muscle and strength but only one-fifth of the fat mass compared to those who consumed a 600-calorie surplus [5].

Granted, the study involved highly trained individuals. Beginner and intermediate trainees can build muscle at a faster rate. But keep in mind that eating everything in sight is not the best way to bulk up. It doesn’t speed up muscle growth. What it will do, however, is cause you to gain excess body fat that blocks muscle definition and that you have to shed later during your “cutting phase”.

Here are the rates of weight gain to strive for:

  • Beginner trainees: gain between 1% to 1.5% of body weight per month
  • Intermediate trainees: gain between 0.5% to 1% of body weight per month
  • Advanced trainees: gain up to 0.5% of body weight per month

How do you know if you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced lifter? The most accurate measurement comes from observing the rate at which you are able to make strength progress. 

  • Beginner trainees: they can progress most movements on a week-to-week basis.
  • Intermediate trainees: they can progress most movements on a month-to-month basis.
  • Advanced trainees: their progress is only evident when assessed over multiple months or even years.

It’s important to note that the progress outlined above is for lifters who follow a proper workout routine and a sound nutrition plan, train hard, and get enough rest and recovery. 

How to Set Proper Goals

By now, you know at what rate you can expect to reach your goal, be it losing fat or gaining muscle. What comes next is setting goals. This is the first step to making the invisible visible. 

When you set proper goals, your chance of success increases significantly. This is because goals create commitment, provide measurability, and sharpen the focus. For example, a study from the Dominican University found that well-set goals increased success by 78 [2].

But what’s the anatomy of an effective goal? Well, there are six criteria that must be met. Those are:

  • Personal: Your goal should be something you have a burning desire to achieve. So ask yourself, “What do I really want?” Be true to yourself.
  • Specific: Clear goals are superior to vague goals [5]. So, instead of saying “I want to drop weight”, specify how much weight you want to lose.
  • Challenging: Dare to set demanding goals. They have a higher success rate than moderate and easy goals [6]. The reason is that challenging ones strengthen motivation and thus make you more likely to follow through.
  • Time-bound: If you don’t set deadlines, it is easy to let procrastination take over. But if you set a time limit, you create a sense of urgency, which makes you more likely to act.
  • Written down: According to a study done by Dr Matthews, the simple act of writing your goal on paper on a regular basis increase success rate by 42% [7].

Here’s What to Do Next

We’ve already covered lots of ground. You’ve discovered at what rate you can realistically expect to shed fat and build muscle, and you’ve learned how to incorporate this into well-defined goals. But let’s not stop here.

Your next action-step is setting up your diet – particularly your calorie intake – in such a way that you can reach your fat loss or muscle building goal at the “ideal” rate.

Fortunately, you don’t have to rely on guesswork. We’ve crafted a simple-to-follow guide that shows you exactly how to optimise your diet based on your goals, situation, and preferences.

Best of all? It’s free and no opt-in is needed. So click here now and discover step-by-step instructions on how to set up your nutrition to whip your body into an eye-catching shape. 


1. Statistic Brain. New Years Resolution Statistics. (2017, January 1). Retrieved from

2. Matthews, G. (2007). The impact of commitment, accountability, and written goals on goal achievement. Paper presented at the 87th Convention of the Western Psychological Association, Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

3. Overweight & Obesity Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from

4. A picture of overweight and obesity in Australia. (n.d.). Retrieved from

5. Garthe, I., Raadstad, T., Refsnes, P. E., & Sundgot-Borgen, J. (2013). Effect of nutritional intervention on body composition and performance in elite athletes. European Journal of Sport Science, 13(3), 295-303.

5. Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2002). Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35-year odyssey. American Psychologist, 57(9), 705-717

6. Locke E.A. (1985). The Application of Goal Setting to Sports. Sport Psychology Today. Journal Of Sport Psychology, 7, 205-222.

7. Matthews, G. (2007). The impact of commitment, accountability, and written goals on goal achievement. Paper presented at the 87th Convention of the Western Psychological Association, Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *