Giving your diet your all, but the number on the scale isn’t budging? You could be running your weight-loss efforts into the ground, despite your best intentions. All it takes is a few simple missteps in your diet, and suddenly you’re wreaking havoc with your metabolism. Here, we tackle five common dieting fumbles — and offer easy fixes — to help you score big points with your physique in no time.

The Fumble

You grab artificially sweetened products to cut sugar and calories from your diet.

You might want to think twice before downing a can of diet soda to crush your sugar craving. Turns out sugar substitutes also can sabotage your weight-loss efforts. 

A study conducted at Yale University found that consuming noncaloric artificial sweeteners altered the brain’s pleasure center and dampened physiological responses to sweet taste, leading to gorging on higher-calorie alternatives later on. In the study, researchers examined the brain signals that influence whether one prefers sugars to artificial sweeteners. These signals regulate the release of dopamine — the “feel-good” hormone that keeps your brain feeling rewarded. They found that consuming artificial sweeteners caused dopamine levels to plummet and promoted an intense craving for real sugar. Those who consumed artificial sweeteners chose (and ate) more sweets later on than those who just consumed regular sugar.