For the past decade, a team of Finnish researchers has been following the weight-maintenance habits of more than 4,500 people in their mid-20s.[1] They found that, on average, about a quarter of the young men and women enrolled in the study maintained their weight over the 10 years. A far smaller percentage (3.8 percent of the men, 7.5 of the women) actually lost weight. Those who lost or maintained their body weight shared two things in common: they didn't miss meals and they had no history of dieting.

The Best Diet May Be No Diet

Conversely, the most common factors associated with weight gain among the women were having two or more children, consuming sugary drinks, skipping meals, a history of dieting, and not being satisfied with their life. The young men who gained weight also skipped meals and had a history of dieting, as well as a history of smoking.

How to eat healthfully without dieting

One increasingly popular alternative to normal dieting is a "flexible dieting" approach called "if it fits your macros," aka IIFYM. The idea behind this approach is to eat foods that help you meet your daily nutritional goals, but in a wide variety of ways so that your foods aren't heavily restricted and you don't feel like you're on a diet.

The Best Diet May Be No Diet

If eating meals regularly is a challenge for you, it may help to understand what's known as your food personality. Are you a "casual easy-goer," an "insatiable eater," or a "professional grazer" type? The more you know about how you tend to eat, the better you can match your daily meals with your food personality, and still consume the calories and nutrition you need.

Get the basic facts—and some delicious recipes

The backbone of any successful eating plan is understanding how many calories you need every day and your ideal ratio among the macronutrients fat, protein, and carbohydrate. Visit our calculator page to find out some of these basic numbers for you, and check out our database of more than 900 healthy recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and desserts!

  1. Kärkkäinen, U., Mustelin, L., Raevuori, A., Kaprio, J., & Keski-Rahkonen, A. (2018). Successful weight maintainers among young adults—A ten-year prospective population study. Eating Behaviors.

About the Author

Hobart Swan

Hobart Swan

Hobart Swan formerly wrote and edited for He also worked as a producer of health content for CBS Radio, and as a health-content specialist at Healthwise, the nation’s...

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