If you want to weigh less... eat more often.

That might sound counterintuitive, but some of the most successful dieters around are the ones who make sure they have all three meals each day -- or even more.

I even know some slim and trim people who eat five or six small meals a day. It's like they're always eating -- yet they never gain any weight.

A new study confirms that these people aren't just blessed with a magical metabolism -- just good habits. Because as it turns out, overweight and obese people actually eat less frequently than people who keep slim and trim.

Researchers used data from two studies on eating habits: One looked at how much -- and how often -- obese and overweight people ate, while the other looked at the habits of people who had normal BMIs for at least five years.

Roughly half of the people in that second study were once overweight or obese themselves, and had to lose at least 30 pounds to get there.

Regardless of whether they were once fat or always thin, these normal-weight people had a few things in common: First, they were more likely to eat three meals a day and two snacks than the overweight and obese, who actually ate less frequently (including, believe it or not, fewer snacks).

Second, the thin people consumed up to 200 fewer total calories each day despite their more frequent feedings, according to the study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

And third, the people who kept the weight off were more likely to get more movement -- a lot more movement. In fact, the researchers say they burned up to 2,200 calories per week more than the overweight and obese.

If you're overweight and hate the idea of joining a gym, don't worry. The good news is these people weren't iron-pumping fitness fiends. They weren't even treadmill junkies.

They just walked an average of 60 minutes a day, every day -- something just about anyone can do if they commit to it.

Naturally, it doesn't matter how often you eat if you eat all the wrong things -- three meals a day at McDonald's will still leave you bloated and sick, and let's not even think about two daily snacks of chips and ice cream.

So eat more often -- just make sure you eat better, too. And if you commit to a healthy diet low in carbohydrates and rich in healthy fats and fresh vegetables, you won't even have to count calories.

Just eat until you're full, and your body will take care of the rest.