What to Do When Your Diet Stops Working

February 18, 2013 | By | 21 Comments

Learn the key strategy to find out why your diet stopped working and how to kick-start the fat loss process once again…

It happens to almost everyone. You’re cruising along, losing weight week after week, and then, out of nowhere… the scale stops moving. And it stays stuck no matter how little you eat or how hard you exercise.

This dreaded plateau is not only frustrating, but oftentimes leads you to fall off the wagon altogether. As such, this article will go over the key strategies you must use to diagnose the problem and get back on track to losing weight.

Now, there are several reasons why fat loss stalls. But for the most part, it comes down to energy balance. Specifically, it’s your body’s way of preserving energy. You see, it doesn’t care that you want to get a flat stomach and look good. The most important thing is keeping you alive. And a loss of weight (i.e. energy) is deemed a threat to your survival. So, the harder you try to shed the pounds, the more it will fight you to keep them on.

Knowing this, you can do a few things to “trick” it into burning more fat.

For starters, take inventory of your eating patterns since you stopped losing weight. Have you decreased calories too much? Are you eating more than you should? Obviously, you’ll have to strike a balance. If you’re not eating enough your progress will stall. On the same token, too much food will have a similar effect.

Now, provided you’re on point with your meals (i.e. you haven’t made drastic changes to account for the scale not moving) you may need a re-feed or weekend binge. Taking a 24 or even 48-hour “break” from you diet to eat anything your heart desires is just one way to kick-start your metabolism once more.

The reason this works is because weight loss alters hormone levels in your body (e.g. leptin, thyroid hormone). Specifically, when the latter get low enough, survival mode kicks in and you stop burning fat. However, a short binge will give them a boost and get you on a slimming path once more.

With that said, lets have a look at the other component: exercise. As you know, working out burns calories. And the more active you are, the more calories you’ll burn. But here’s a bit of a paradox that many dieters fall victim too: working out too hard will oftentimes stall fat loss.

Here’s why…

When you go overboard with your workout, you burn more calories. But remember what we discussed above about energy balance? Well, your body compensates for your “enthusiasm” by making you tired. As a result, you move less throughout the day. The net effect is that you burn fewer calories overall.

And even if you don’t burn fewer calories, it seems that being active over the course of the full day is much more beneficial in terms of fat loss than doing it all at once, then parking your butt on the couch for hours and hours. In short, the key to exercise is striking a balance. Too much and it will have the opposite effect.

Now, here’s a tip you can take to the bank: keep track of how many steps you’re making throughout the day by carrying a pedometer. However, do not wear it while you exercise. Write these numbers down for a week and analyze the results. If you’re taking much fewer steps on the days you work out, you’re likely exercising too hard.

Remember, you want to move throughout the day – not just during a 30 or 60 minute period when you decide to work out. Constant movement is a good sign your metabolism is working optimally and you’re eating the right foods. That, and healthy energy levels. If you’re constantly tired, something is wrong. You’re either eating too little, working out too much, or not getting enough rest.

So, now that you know what to look for, correcting the problem is easy. To recap, alter your food intake (or even go on a short binge) and take it easy on the exercise if you have to. These simple changes almost always go on to correct the problem.

With that said, there’s one more factor to take into account. If you’re very close to your goal weight (i.e. within 10-15 pounds) it’s logical for the scale to stop moving or move at a snail’s pace. That doesn’t mean your diet stopped working. It’s just working slower which is completely natural.

Therefore, at this point it’s better if you pay attention to actual body measurements such as waist and hip size rather than the scale. That, and how your clothes fit overall. By doing this, you’ll notice the changes the scale won’t show and continue to stay on track with your plan.

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Filed in: Weight Loss 101

Comments (21)

  1. Joseph Puleo

    Since being on your diet I lost 30 lbs I was told by the va for my size I should weigh 195 I’m 5′ 8″. I feel great lots of energy so I will stay at 200, thank you for a diet that truly works.

  2. Don Broadhurst

    So far I have lost 31 pounds. I still have a great deal more to lose but I am going to stick to it and lose about 100 more pounds. Thanks!

  3. Julie Urbank

    I’ve lost 20 pounds so far. I have hit a so called plateau. I will take the information given here. I am more tired than I was when first staring the CCD. I feel like I need to do more resistance training. I have to admit that I’ve staring eating less because of the plateau. I’m going to try theses tips to see if I can jump start my metabolism.

  4. I have lost 30 pounds and feel better then l have in two years. Thank you mr ward for cc

  5. I started about twelve weeks ago. My start weight was 248lbs. I now weigh 212lbs. My jeans were 42 waist and now I wear size 38 waist and some 34 waist jeans. I am 6ft. 4in tall and my goal is to see 198 on the scale in the next four weeks. Thanks for CC.

  6. Karen Perkins

    I have only lost 8-10 lbs. in 8 weeks, however, I am a type 1 diabetic with an insulin pump. I now weigh just under 170# and am a 5’5″ female. My doctor seems to be happy with
    my weight overall. I am active but do not do concentrated exercise. Is insulin a deterant to weight loss?

    • Hi Karen,

      The insulin has side effects and less you need to take, the better. So, this is where a healthy diet that helps with sugar control is very important.

  7. Mary

    This is exactly what I needed today I’ve lost 16 I’m 4’11 118 trying to get to 111
    I just purchased turmeric bone broth I’ve plateaud do you think a broth fast will help? Can’t imagine a binge

    • Hi Mary,

      We don’t recommend fasting, it is unsustainable and weight always comes back.

      • Mary Hewitt

        I’m confused. Above you said you don’t recommend fasting, yet in your book you do recommend intermittent 16 – 24 hr fasting, to speed up weight loss.
        I tried the cheat meal, then back on the CCD program. I gained 2.2 lbs. 3 days later I was still carrying the gain, so I’m doing the IF, hoping to get back to losing pounds.
        But if the weight is just going to come back, I don’t need to be fasting. I have a long ways to go and can’t afford conflicting information.

        • Hi Mary,

          The first phase of the Cruise Control Diet is the metabolic reset phase. It is a very strict 2 week period (4 weeks if you are doing the Boot Camp) during which you are not allowed to have any cheat meals. You need to be strict during this phase only.

          After this, you enter the maintenance phase. This is the main phase of the weight loss. This is the period when you lose weight and adjust to the new healthier way of enjoying foods and getting healthy at the same time. It is important that during this phase you have 1 or 2 cheat meals a week.

          Cheat meals are one sitting or one occasion of eating and drinking. For example, if you have a pizza and you drink a soda with it and then have ice cream, that is all considered one cheat meal. If you have a healthy meal and finish that with an ice cream, that is also counted as one cheat meal. If you have a mid afternoon chocolate, that is also considered one cheat meal.

          Cheat meals are in place to help with this issue of weight lose halting, you should be making sure that you are eating enough as well, and the cheat meals of food that are not usually allowed while on the diet will help assist in preventing weight loss plateaus.

          We recommend eating cheat meals on two separate days as they should not be confused with “cheat days”.

          What cheat meals are not is cheat days and cheat weekends. The idea is that if you eat well 21 meals a week you have something that is not good for your health but you enjoy it 1-2 times a week, in the grand picture, it will not have an significant impact on your progress but it will allow you to feel not so restricted.

          The strategic cheat meals you’re allowed (actually encouraged) to have during the week serve not only to satisfy your cravings… but to boost your leptin and thyroid hormones.

          This is important as when you lose weight those hormone levels go down and you end up hitting a plateau. However, by strategically cheating, you ensure you avoid the plateaus and keep the scale moving until you reach your goal weight.

          This second phase lasts for as long as you want. If you stick to this long enough you will soon realize that cheat meals are not as enjoyable or desirable after some time. As your body changes and your taste buds also change, your will taste preference will change too. With time, having a cheat meal will make you feel heavy and/or bloated and your body will start to desire these less and less.

          Phase III is the Intermittent Fasting discussed at the end of the book. It is not recommended for people with diabetes as it involves prolonged periods of fasting. It is, however, recommended if you want to lose the weight as fast as possible or simply want to speed things up.

  8. Clayton Hisel

    I’ve just started with the CCD. I finished reading the book yesterday, and re-read the basics this morning. I like what was presented in the CCD core booklet.
    Before I had been doing my own diet regime. Basically it was a combination of a high protein, low carb, calorie driven eating plan. I don’t like sugar in my foods, so 15 years ago I began drinking diet lemon/lime soda. I’ve also cut starches (most) and high calorie foods. When my son & I go out he says that I “deserve a cheat day.” On my own I’ve dropped from 217 (on Thanksgiving) to 190 (Wednesday Feb 28). Please note that church pot luck dinners are definite “cheat days”!
    I’m starting CCD at Phase 1: and at the moment it seems like it will be almost easy; even though I will be eating more…not necessarily different, but more diverse. I’ve dropped diet soda from my diet altogether. (I read an article on “0-calorie” sweeteners,and the researchers said that it is possible that ANY of the artificial sweeteners might be tricking the body into thinking it’s had sugar, and produce insulin to compensate. Thus rendering weight loss harder to accomplish.) Almost what James Ward was saying! I’m drinking lemon flavored water for now(I’ll switch to lime later!).
    By changing my eating style, I may have stalled my weight loss, but I’ll stick with it. I don’t want a diet,I want to establish a good lifestyle plan. I’m hoping CCD will help provide it.

    • Hi Clayton,

      Congrats on your weight loss!

      Good for you for wanting to kick the diet soda habit. More and more research is pointing to its (big) role in weight gain. Here’s what I suggest:
      Squeeze half of a lemon into a glass of seltzer water (not tonic water as it has lots of sugar). If you need to sweeten, use natural stevia
      And slowly, you can even cut back on the stevia as you get used to not having sweet drinks.

      The Cruise Control Diet is a whole-foods approach to weight loss and overall health. It’s a simple, yet highly effective program with 4 general rules:

      Eat natural foods that help your body to burn fat.

      Avoid processed, packaged, and other foods that cause your body to store fat.

      Treat yourself to some “guilty pleasures” (e.g. chocolate, cookies, candy) from time to time so you don’t feel restricted.

      Most importantly, don’t count calories, calculate points, keep food journals, or attempt “artificial” portion controls. Instead, let your body’s natural hunger instinct guide how much (and when) you should eat.

      While the first 3 rules are common to any sensible weight reduction plan, the fourth one is what sets the Cruise Control Diet apart from other programs. It’s also the secret behind its success.

      If you’ve ever been on a diet, you know that losing the weight is the “easy” part. Keeping it off is the actual challenge. And the reason for that is simple: most plans burden you with too many rules and restrictions. Naturally, you can’t stick with them long-term (and eventually gain back every pound lost).

      However, when you’re relying on your body’s natural instinct for weight control – rather than forced willpower – dropping the pounds becomes practically effortless. This allows you to stay on the program for life, so once the weight comes off, it’s gone for good.

      Wishing you a great start!

  9. David

    I’ve been down gthe Ccd for 1 month I’ve been militant. I don’t exercise much except walking everywhere, My close fix better I see a difference; however the scale doesn’t move. It is a calabrated medical scale so I know it’s correct, is there a reason this occurred. All my research comes up wanting. David

    • Hi David,

      Congrats on your initial weight loss. The first two weeks of the program are the metabolic reset phase. It takes time for your metabolism to change in order for you to loose weight. Everyone loses weight at a different pace. As long as you are feeling better overall, sleeping better, and have more energy, the diet is working. You need to stick with it and you will look and feel better.

      Keep up the good work!

  10. Hi Tonya,

    Yes, that is correct. No carbs in the first two weeks. You can have meat, fish, seafood, eggs, salad, soup, nuts, fruit and veggies.

    Keep up the good work!

  11. Hi Tonya,

    Yes that is correct. No carbs for the first two weeks. You can have meat, fish, seafood, eggs, salad, soup, fruit, veggies and nuts.

    Keep up the good work!

  12. Jeannie

    I am on week 8 and I seem to bouncing from 8-1l lbs of weight loss. Do I need to start over from week one or maybe go back to week 3 or 4?

    • Nadia Karanastasis

      Hi Jeannie,

      Congrats on your initial weight loss. The first two weeks of the program are the metabolic reset phase. It takes time for your metabolism to change in order for you to loose weight. Everyone loses weight at a different pace. As long as you are feeling better overall, sleeping better, and have more energy, the diet is working. You need to stick with it and you will look and feel better.

      To start, can you please tell me how much total weight you need to lose?

      Next, how are your energy levels throughout the day? And finally, do you do any kind of exercise?

      Next, I’d like you to carefully read this article and tell me if any parts of it apply to you:


      Finally, can you please describe what your typical day of eating looks like (type and amount of food eaten, portions, times of the day, snacks, drinks, and finally, how much times goes by before you get hungry again?)

      Please give me a detailed response and we’ll figure out what’s wrong and get you going.

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