3 Steps to Help You Lean Out in 2024

Every January, gyms, fitness centers, and training classes worldwide witness a surge in memberships as people commit to New Year’s resolutions targeted at healthier and fitter bodies. 

“If you want to get lean this year, the odds are stacked against you,” said fitness content creator Jeremy Ethier in a video published to YouTube on New Year’s Day, 2024. He claimed that over 80 percent of people who start a weight loss program quit before achieving their goal. A January 2023 study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that “setting personal resolutions or goals concordant with intrinsically meaningful motives is an important determinant in mental wellbeing and sustained exercise adherence. (1)

Assuming one’s interior motives are correctly aligned for success, what tools should one employ to find success? Ethier shared three science-backed steps that helped him shed body fat while retaining muscle mass. Check them out below:

Jeremy Ethier’s Three-Step Weight Loss Plan

Step One — Diet

“Diet is, without a doubt, going to drive most of your results,” said Ethier, advising that entering a calorie deficit — burning more calories than you consume — compels the body to burn stored body fat for energy.

Ethier suggested fixing one’s food environment. This involves the removal of junk and other trigger foods from the home and placing high-calorie snacks in harder-to-reach places so it is more difficult to casually nosh.

Ethier highlighted the importance of mindful eating. A study published in BMC Public Health concluded that “more frequent family eating while watching TV was associated with increased odds of overweight and obesity.” (2)

Foods To Include

Protein is the most important macronutrient for building muscle and burning fat. Ethier recommended consuming about 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day (3). For example, a 180-pound individual should aim to eat around 144 grams of protein daily. 

Image via Shutterstock/wavebreakmedia

Eating satiating foods can also help shed fat since feeling full for longer periods of time can lead to consuming fewer calories. According to the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, potatoes, oats, whole grains, lean proteins, apples, and oranges are among the most satiating foods. (4)

Ethier suggested eating fibrous, nutritious foods 80 percent of the time and allowing for treats and more processed foods for the remaining 20 percent of the time. 

Sample 80-20 Percent Meal Plan

Breakfast — Protein Pancakes

Lunch — Salmon and Potatoes

Dinner — Chicken and Veggies

Dessert — Greek Yogurt with Fruit

[Related: These Are the 10 Best Carbs to Eat for Bodybuilding]

Step Two — Exercise

A 2023 meta-analysis published in Advances in Nutrition found that combining a calorie deficit that maintained high protein with resistance training or mixed exercise was the most effective strategy to improve body composition. (5)

Resistance training signals the body to prioritize using fat stores instead of muscle for energy. Ethier recommended lifting weights three to five times per week while maintaining a consistent step count, ideally around 7,000 steps per day.

Step Three — Consistency

The final step, and often the most challenging, is staying consistent. Ethier shared three “consistency hacks” to help maintain a fat loss regimen.

1. The Power of 60 Percent

“Instead of aiming for perfection, aim to hit your goals at least 60 percent of the time,” said Ethier. Hit your fitness goals four to five days a week; aim for more once consistently hit this target. 

2. Diet Breaks

The second hack involves taking diet breaks every eight to 12 weeks. It comprises increasing regular calorie intake by 500 for a week or two. 

While a diet break is not a free pass to eat whatever you want, it can offer more flexibility with food choices and help to recharge mentally and physically before the next dieting phase.

3. Don’t Measure Progress via Belly Fat

Per Ethier, most people tend to initially lose fat around their chest, shoulders, arms, back, and face. Once the body has lost enough fat from those areas, it will shed fat from the upper stomach area and then, finally, the lower belly. 

Losing body fat requires patience. “Most people highly underestimate how much fat they have to lose and how long it takes to do so,” said Ethier. “Expect it to take longer than you think. As long as you trust the process, you will succeed.”


Dickson JM, Hart A, Fox-Harding C, Huntley CD. Adaptive Goal Processes and Underlying Motives That Sustain Mental Wellbeing and New Year Exercise Resolutions. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2023 Jan 4;20(2):901. doi: 10.3390/ijerph20020901. PMID: 36673668; PMCID: PMC9858624.

Kegler MC, Hermstad A, Haardörfer R. Home food environment and associations with weight and diet among U.S. adults: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health. 2021 Jun 1;21(1):1032. doi: 10.1186/s12889-021-11102-2. PMID: 34074262; PMCID: PMC8169424.

Morton RW, Murphy KT, McKellar SR, Schoenfeld BJ, Henselmans M, Helms E, Aragon AA, Devries MC, Banfield L, Krieger JW, Phillips SM. A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults. Br J Sports Med. 2018 Mar;52(6):376-384. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2017-097608. Epub 2017 Jul 11. Erratum in: Br J Sports Med. 2020 Oct;54(19):e7. PMID: 28698222; PMCID: PMC5867436.

Holt SH, Miller JC, Petocz P, Farmakalidis E. A satiety index of common foods. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1995 Sep;49(9):675-90. PMID: 7498104.

Eglseer D, Traxler M, Embacher S, Reiter L, Schoufour JD, Weijs PJM, Voortman T, Boirie Y, Cruz-Jentoft A, Bauer S; SO-NUTS consortium. Nutrition and Exercise Interventions to Improve Body Composition for Persons with Overweight or Obesity Near Retirement Age: A Systematic Review and Network Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Adv Nutr. 2023 May;14(3):516-538. doi: 10.1016/j.advnut.2023.04.001. Epub 2023 Apr 6. PMID: 37028708; PMCID: PMC10201832.

Featured image via Shutterstock/wavebreakmedia

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