Having been failed by every other diet out there, you decided to try the low-carb approach. The first week you probably lost anywhere between 2 to 10 pounds, and thereafter you most likely dropped 1 to 3 pounds each week. You're thrilled with your results and you're thinking, "Wow, this is easy!"

You're now a low-carb convert and preaching your low-carb enlightenment to your friends, your family, your cat and anyone else who'll listen. You've had to shop for smaller clothes, you've mastered the outside perimeter of the grocery store, and you've convinced your sister (and your cat) to eat low carb. You have more energy, your cravings have lessened, and maybe you've even seen some positive changes in your cholesterol.

Hitting the wall
So you're cruising along nicely on the low-carb highway, munching on chicken, nuts, and vegetables when whammo! You hit a wall and your low- carb progress all of a sudden comes to a complete halt.

After losing weight continuously for weeks or even months, the scale seems to have settled in its favorite spot, which, unfortunately for you is still 10-30 pounds away from your goal weight. After putting the scale in different spots on the floor, changing the battery, and even banging it around a little bit you finally realize that you have to face a dreadful fact: your low-carb diet seems to have stopped working.

Oh why, oh why, oh why?! Just when you seemed to have finally solved your lifelong diet problem, a wrench is thrown into the works. You start thinking: maybe you're eating too many nuts. Sure they have primarily "good" fat, but what about all those calories? Maybe you're eating too much red meat. Or cheese. Maybe it's the olive oil you're putting on your salads. Maybe you're eating too many times a day or your portions are too large.

Trying something new
So you try to re-strategize your low-carb diet. Maybe you cut down out your snacks, eliminate the nuts, and decide to shun red meat. You slash your calories, forgo the butter, and cut down on the olive oil. Unfortunately, after a week of this, you find that not only are you still not losing weight, but you're also suffering from diminished energy and you're battling cravings. What's a seasoned low carber supposed to do?

Well, before you trade in your full-fat cheese for low-fat cupcakes, ponder this question: Are you exercising?

"Exercise!" you may be saying, "The best part about my low- carb diet is that I was losing weight without exercise!" While this is all well and good -- you can lose a lot of weight on a low-carb diet without exercising. Chances are, you will not reach your goal weight without adding in exercise as an essential part of the low-carb equation.

Or maybe you're saying, "Well, I already exercise! I've been exercising for months and my weight is still stalled." If you are saying this, then good for you for establishing a very important habit. However, your weight may have stalled because you're not exercising properly. I know what you're thinking, "Not only do I have to exercise, but I have to figure out how to exercise properly?"

I've got some great news for you: Low carbers have it made over high carbers when it comes to exercise. It's true! Following a low-carb diet makes exercise much more effective and you don't have to work out as long as your high-carb counterpart.

How is this possible?
Well, perhaps you've heard fitness experts say that it takes 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise before we start tapping into our fat stores, and for most people this is true. In the first 20 minutes of a workout the body is busy burning carbohydrates and sugar as energy. It's only after the initial 20 minutes when most people stop burning carbs and start burning fat.

This is where we low carbers have a distinct and huge advantage! Since we're not storing a whole bunch of carbohydrates and sugar to be used as energy, the very first minute we start exercising is when we start to burn fat. So instead of having to work out for 40 minutes to get the fat burning benefits of high-carb eaters, we can cut our workouts in half and get incredible results! In other words, low-carb dieters burn just as much fat in 20 minutes that high carb dieters burn in 40 minutes! Not too shabby, huh?

Don't just stop at cardiovascular exercise, though. This is a common mistake among many exercisers. Cardiovascular exercise, such as brisk walking, running, or bicycling, is great for burning fat while we're doing it, but to get the ultimate benefit of burning fat 24 hours a day, strength-training should be on every low carbers to do list.

Strength training benefits
If you're pleased that you've lost weight, but feel that you just look like a smaller version of your flabby self, then strength-training will be your ultimate secret weapon. Strength training helps us burn fat, it speeds up our metabolism and it reshapes our bodies. Strength-training helps us build muscle (aka tone) and muscle takes up three times less space than fat. So while we're reshaping our bodies, we're also exercising ourselves into even smaller-sized clothing. Combining cardiovascular exercise with strength-training just three times a week is guaranteed to break through the weight loss barrier you may be experiencing on your low-carb diet. And by adding exercise to your low-carb routine, you'll also experience even more energy, you'll sleep better, and you'll just fall in love with your mirror.

Give cardio and strength training a try and in just four weeks you'll be touting the benefits of exercise to everyone you know just as strongly as you did way back when you first started loving your low-carb diet. Who knows, maybe you'll convince your sister (or your cat) to work out with you.


Comments on "Why has my low-carb diet stopped working?"

erin March 28, 2014 | 10:42 AM

I have been low carbing for 3 years. I started out at 149 pounds, 5'3". I now weigh 133. I lost 21 pounds, have gained 5 back, and cannot seem to lose these 5 pounds again. I still need to lose 10 more pounds. I drink only water and diet soda, or tea with splenda. I don't eat white bread, occasionally I have a slice of Ezekiel 4:9 whole sprouted grain bread. I exercise at least 5 times each week. Any suggestions?

Jay February 15, 2014 | 3:01 PM

I've had the same problem, the Atkins worked like a miracle the first time I tried it and now? In the time I should have lost 6 kilos, I've lost 1! Catherine, you mentioned that you skip meals, I've heard this can lower metabolism as your body goes into starvation mode so keeping regular mealtimes is a must. Also, Atkins is not a license to eat as much fat as you like, I've made that mistake too. Keep your fat content down, it's not a low fat diet, but it shouldn't be a high or maximum fat diet either! You can also cause yourself to get gout that way. Also, try a few vegatarian days in between, I've even mixed it up with a few days of adding a variety of fruits and then gone back to induction and it did help kick start things again.

You're Right February 08, 2014 | 12:53 PM

But that wasn't what I wanted to hear! Darn it! I lost over one hundred pounds on Atkins in the first year. Two to three pounds a week and now flat line, nothing for the last eighteen months, while I still need to lose sixty more pounds. Thanks a lot for your page, I knew this was going to happen, but it really helps to hear it from someone else.

Catherine January 30, 2014 | 10:57 AM

I am day 17 of my diet.. I had my second child last september..Im 5'2 and my target weight is 115, My start weight was 137. the first week i dropped to 130. the second week i only lost a pound.. i feel like im stuck at 129 lbs... I havent cheated at all.. I usually have 2 pieces of bacon and scrambled eggs with cheese in the morning, half and half in my coffee.. with a packet of fake sugar.. lunch is diet soda hard boiled egg and string cheese with a pepperoni stick.. dinner is usually just meat.. a spinach salad with vinegar sometimes..i rarely snack and i skip meals often.. id say i take in less the 20 carbs a day.. Please tell me what i can cut out or do differently too start back on my weight loss.. should i stop eating the spinach and all dairy.. i really want to look good this summer..

Melissa May 30, 2013 | 5:13 AM

When you say " munching" do you mean "eat"?

The Dude May 02, 2013 | 7:40 PM

Yeah, everything in there I am doing. I have stopped in my weight loss after two weeks. I run for 20 minuets every other day and include push-ups, jump rope, sit-ups, and squats. I am very active lately and do not believe I am gaining muscle as fast as I was shedding weight. My only loss was 10 pounds after my initial start and believe that it is only water weight.

Michelle April 23, 2013 | 6:22 PM

As an experienced low-carber, you may be savvy of the time it takes you to burn certain amounts of fat. My first low-carb diet began by accident as I consistently reduced the size of my meals to a cup of carrots and a piece of bread and cheese once a day. I lost weight like tomorrow wasn't coming. I've eaten about twenty grams of fat today and know that avoiding carbs can help me lose this. But I've also had anywhere from 60-70 carbs today. I hear less than 20 should do the trick. On 60-70, how long would it take me to burn those twenty grams? And at 20 a day, how long would this take in contrast? And all low carb foods, with the exception of turkey ham, tuna, chicken breast, and sardines seem to be high in fat. What do I do? I start with tuna and salad and still end up eating bread and chips. What is your secret to avoid cravings and stay true to your dieting efforts?

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