This table I am about to shake has a lot of people on it. Losing weight is hard work and you’ve probably heard that shorter people find it more difficult to lose weight than taller people. It’s shocking, but very true!
Let’s turn to the experts for support here. Luiza Petre, M.D., a board-certified cardiologist who specializes in weight loss, said, “Sorry to say it, but it’s true that shorter women have to consume fewer calories to lose weight than taller friends if all other factors are equal.”
Plus, “shorter women trying to maintain their weight often find themselves with mismatched meal partners,” Dr. Petre adds. For example, if you’re 5’3″ and your 5’9″ best friend wants to share a piece of cheesecake for dessert, those extra calories could prevent you from maintaining the calorie deficit you need to lose weight, while not affecting your friend’s weight-loss goals.
“The more muscle mass you have, the faster your metabolism works. Taller people have more muscle mass because they are born with it simply because of their height,” explains Shari Portnoy, a registered dietitian. Your lean muscle mass has an impact on your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which determines how many calories your body burns at rest. The more lean muscle you have, the higher your BMR will be, and the more you can eat. Of course, activity level plays a role here, too, but the higher your BMR is, the less work you have to do to account for extra calories eaten.
Portnoy says that in her experience, shorter people do tend to have a harder time losing weight in general. “The less weight you start with, the harder it is to lose. It will be easier for a 200-pound person to lose weight than a 100-pound person,” she said.
This means that for short women, having the same activity and health levels as their tall friends will not have an effect on their weight unless they put in the extra work, and because you have to eat fewer calories to see weight loss results (or to maintain your weight), it can feel a lot harder.
One of the most important ways you can increase your metabolism is by exercising, and this is one area where shorter people may have an advantage. “A smaller person has a lower calorie requirement, but they can also burn more than a taller person faster doing the same exercise. For example, if a shorter person is walking a mile, they have to put in more work and more steps to get through that mile, whereas a taller person takes fewer steps and won’t have to work as hard,” says Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, in-house registered dietitian at a renowned media house.
Here are some tips that short women should take note of when trying to lose weight:
- Lift weights. Being shorter, it would help to do strength training and develop as much muscle mass as you can, which in return burns more calories.
- Tune in to hunger cues. Although someone shorter should not be eating as much as someone taller, they also shouldn’t be as hungry, although activity level does play a role in appetite. Your body knows what it needs, so trust it.
- Calculate your calorie needs with an online calculator where you can enter your height, weight, and activity level. Of course, you don’t have to stick to the *exact* calorie goal the calculator spits out, but it can help you get a decent idea of approximately how much you should eat if you want to lose weight or maintain your weight. Try the calculator on the health and healthy website at healthnhealthy.com.
- Chat with an expert. Speak to a registered dietitian or a health expert before comparing yourself to your leggy friend who seems to be able to take off those 5 pounds in a snap. Not only will they be able to help put things in perspective, but they’re also likely to have some suggestions about how you can make the most of your BMR.
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