If you are trying to manage your weight with dieting, you may be doing it right wrong, as it can make you fatter. Instead, start eating regularly, suggests a study.
While exercise and healthy eating habits are considered to be the cornerstones of weight management, the new study suggests refraining from dieting and observing regular eating habits could be essential to successful weight management in both women and men.
“Generally speaking, weight management guidance often boils down to eating less and exercising more. In practice, people are encouraged to lose weight, whereas the results of our extensive population study indicate that losing weight is not an effective weight management method in the long run,” said Ulla Karkkainen, a researcher and nutritional therapist at the University of Helsinki in Finland.
“Often, people try to prevent and manage excess weight and obesity by dieting and skipping meals. In the long term, such approaches seem to actually accelerate getting fatter, rather than prevent it,” Karkkainen added.
For the study, published in the journal “Eating Behaviors”, the team included nearly 5,000 young men and women, where the participants answered surveys mapping out factors impacting weight and weight change when they were 24 years of age, and again 10 years later at the age of 34.
Between the ages of 24 and 34, the mean gain in women was 0.9 kg per year, while in men the corresponding gain was one kg.
“Even though dieting may seem a logical solution to weight management problems, it can actually increase weight gain and eating problems in the long run,” Karkkainen noted.
The research findings prove that instead of losing weight, it is more important to focus on eating regular meals, taking care of one’s well-being and finding a more general sense of meaning in life.
Regular and sufficient meals support the natural biological functions of the body and help in managing one’s eating habits and weight management in the long term.