How Many Calories Should A 130 Lb Woman Eat


How Many Calories Should A 130 Lb Woman Eat — There’s a lot of confusion around how many calories a 130 lb woman should eat. I’m going to answer that question today, and then provide you with some tools to help you figure out how many calories you should eat. It’s easy to lose track of how many calories a 130 lb woman eats in a day. Because every eating plan is different, it depends on your lifestyle and goals. 130 pounds is not a particularly heavy weight, but you need to eat enough calories to support your health.

How Many Calories Are in a Pound?

Every pound of body weight contains approximately 3,500 calories. However, when creating a calorie deficit, it’s important to still give your body proper nutrients, and not restrict too intensely. 

The most important part of any weight loss plan is sustainability. Many people find reducing their average daily calorie intake by about 500 calories per day results in a loss of one pound per week. The math is simple: 500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories lost.

Calculating Your BMR for Weight Loss 

The number of calories each individual burns per day is different depending on factors like age, size, sex, and activity level. Things like hunger hormones and medical conditions can also make it harder or easier for someone to lose weight. If you are trying to understand how to lose weight and manage your weight in the long term, you can get a general idea of how many total calories you should eat each day, to either maintain or lose weight, with the following formula:

  1. First find your BMR (basal metabolic rate: the amount of calories needed to perform your normal bodily functions at rest).

    BMR = your current weight × 10
  2. Next, multiply your BMR by an activity factor.

    BMR × 0.30 (for average daily activities)
  3. Last, add your BMR to your activity factor.

Example for a 130- pound woman

130 pounds × 10 = BMR of 1,300 calories

1,300 calories × .30 = 390 activity factor

1,300 + 390 = 1,690 calories per day

BMR changes based on a person’s activity level. People who participate in regular physical activity more than three times a week will need to raise the activity factor to .40–.60. Similarly, muscle burns more than fat. People who participate in regular weight training and physical activities may have a higher percentage of muscle and a lower body fat percentage. This means their bodies burn calories more effectively. 

How Many Calories Should 130 to 135-pound Woman Intake Each Day to Stay That Weight?

Many women weighing 130 – 135 pounds are at a healthy weight. Exceptions are short-statured women who are 5-foot-1 or shorter, because when they weigh 135 pounds their body mass index falls into the overweight category, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The number of calories a 135-pound woman requires to maintain her current weight is based on her activity level.

Sedentary Women

Women weighing 135 pounds who are sedentary – that is, they avoid regular physical activity – need about 13 calories for each pound of their body weight to maintain their weight, according to Harvard Medical School. Therefore, sedentary 135-pound women require about 1,755 calories daily to stay at their current weight. However, individualized calorie needs vary by age. Women’s calorie requirements for weight maintenance decrease at age 26 and again at age 51, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.

  • Women weighing 135 pounds who are sedentary – that is, they avoid regular physical activity – need about 13 calories for each pound of their body weight to maintain their weight, according to Harvard Medical School.

Moderately Active

Moderately active 135-pound women need 15 to 16 calories for each pound of their body weight daily to maintain their current weight. The University of Washington suggests moderately active women aim for 15 calories per pound, and Harvard Medical School reports moderately active females need 16 calories for each pound of their body weight daily. Therefore, 135-pound moderately active women seeking weight maintenance should shoot for 2,025 to 2,160 calories a day.

Regular Physical Activity

Active women not only expend more calories during exercise, they generally have more muscle mass – which boosts metabolism throughout the entire day. Women who regularly participate in strenuous exercise need about 18 calories per pound of their body weights on a daily basis, suggest Harvard Medical School and the University of Washington. Based on these recommendations, 135-pound active females require about 2,430 calories daily to maintain their current weight.


Because women athletes often engage in intense physical training at high intensities for long periods of time, their calorie needs generally exceed those of non-athletes. According to the University of Missouri Extension, female athletes generally require 20 to 23 calories per pound of their body weights on a daily basis. Therefore, a 135-pound female athlete might need 2,700 to 3,105 calories a day to maintain her current body weight.

How to Maintain and Lose Weight 

Fitness woman stretching in the grass

The example shows that an average 130-pound woman can maintain her weight on 1,690 calories per day.  Now, let’s say she wants to lose a few pounds. To lose weight, she needs to create a negative balance by reducing the number of daily calories and increasing her exercise to burn even more calories. For instance, she needs to get on a 1,400-calorie food plan, plus work out aerobically 4 –5 days per week. She’d have no problem shedding some weight safely and efficiently. The lower your starting body weight, the fewer calories you generally burn per day. This means that shorter or smaller women shouldn’t aim to lose weight at the same speed of their taller peers. 

Plug your own stats into the formula, and figure out what it will take calorically to melt away those unwanted pounds. Understand that no one should ever eat less than 1,200 calories per day; you will slow down your metabolism and set yourself up to gain all the weight back. Even if you are very petite, and the math works out to be less than 1,200—stick with 1,200 calories and jack up your exercise.

If you decide to work with a nutritionist, remember: you want a food partner, not a food dictator! Find a qualified registered dietitian (R.D.) who will move at your pace and make you feel completely comfortable.

Calories-Per-Pound Method

Another simple way to estimate daily calorie needs for weight maintenance (if you’re within a normal weight range) is to multiply your current body weight by an activity factor.

According to Harvard Medical School, you can use the following guidelines to estimate your calorie needs for weight maintenance (this applies to both men and women).

Multiply your current weight (in pounds) by:

  • 13 calories per pound of bodyweight if you’re sedentary
  • 15-16 calories per pound of bodyweight if you’re moderately active
  • 18 calories per pound of bodyweight if you’re active most days

Using the equation above as a guideline, a 130 pound moderately active woman needs about 1,950-2,080 calories daily to maintain her current weight.

If she becomes more active, she may require 2,300-2,400 calories daily to maintain her weight.

How Many Calories Should a Woman Eat Per Day for Weight Loss?

Once you know how many calories you burn daily (your TEE), you can easily estimate how many calories you’ll need to lose about 1-2 pounds per week.

Weight loss calorie needs are about 300-500 fewer calories than your usual intake.

Track Usual Calorie Intake

To track your usual intake, keep a food journal (use the USDA’s food composition database to determine the calorie content of your favorite foods) or use a calorie counting app, such as:

  • MyFitnessPal
  • MyNetDiary
  • FatSecret
  • ControlMyWeight
  • Noom

Once you know your usual intake, simply subtract 300-500 calories from this number to determine your weight loss calorie needs.

Learn how to count calories to lose weight with our Calorie Calculator for weight loss!

General Weight Loss Calorie Guidelines for Women

For many women, consuming 1,200-1,500 calories daily will get the excess weight off at a safe, healthy pace.

Women who weigh more or those who are very active may need about 1,500-1,800 calories daily to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

Weight Loss Tips and Tricks

There are several tips and tricks you can use to help cut calories and get the excess weight off, including:

  • Replace soda, lemonade, sweet tea, and juice with water.
  • Avoid greasy and fried foods.
  • Eat at home vs. at restaurants.
  • Sleep at least 7 hours each night to control your appetite.
  • Fill half of each plate with non-starchy vegetables.
  • Fill half of each plate with healthy protein foods plus fiber-rich starches.
  • Drink at least 2 cups of water when you first wake up and before each meal.
  • Eat low-calorie, non-starchy vegetables first (after drinking water) at mealtime.
  • Keep a daily food journal to track calorie intake.
  • Reduce stress as much as possible.
  • Avoid skipping meals (eat small meals every few hours).
  • Join a structured weight loss program that offers motivational support.
  • Complete at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise most days.
  • Weigh yourself daily to track progress.

120-Pound Woman Energy Requirements

The number of calories you burn in a day depends on your metabolism and activity level. Your resting metabolic rate is the amount of energy your body uses at rest. It includes the energy your organs use just to keep your body running. You can calculate this number by using the Harris-Benedict equation.

The Harris-Benedict equation is a formula that uses your height, weight, age and gender to estimate your resting metabolic rate. For example, a 40-year-old 120-pound woman who stands 5 feet and 3 inches tall has an estimated resting metabolic rate of 1,286 calories.

Once you’ve calculated your resting metabolic rate, you have to figure out your activity level. You can use a step counter on your phone or watch to monitor your steps for the day. These calculators typically estimate your energy expenditure based on your activity level.

You also have to factor in the number of calories you burn in the gym. Harvard Health Publishing provides the estimated calories burned by activity and body weight.

Based on this data, a 125-pound person would burn 270 calories in 30 minutes on the elliptical, or 300 calories in 30 minutes while running at 6 miles per hour. Keep in mind that body weight matters when measuring activity, so a 120-pound girl burns less than a 180-pound one doing the same activity.

Another factor that affects your energy expenditure is non-exercise activity thermogenesis. As you go through your day, you do little activities like cleaning the dishes or carrying grocery bags. These activities don’t count as exercise, but they do burn calories. Once you’ve added up all your activity for the day and your resting metabolic rate, you’ll have an idea of how many calories you burn in a day.

To keep things simple, use an online calculator like MyPlate, which will tell you how many calories to consume per day based on your goals. For example, if you are 120 lbs, simply input your goal, height and gender to calculate your ideal energy intake. Keep in mind that all calculators are giving you estimates, so the numbers they provide may not be 100 percent accurate.

Food Quality Matters

Whether you lose or gain weight comes down to energy balance, but the quality of the food you eat still matters. For example, eating a candy bar versus eating fruits. The sugar in candy bars digests quickly, whereas the fiber from fruits slows down sugar absorption into the bloodstream. Fiber makes you feel fuller, which can ultimately help you eat less and lose weight.

An April 2017 study published in the FASEB Journal showed that increasing fiber intake by 10 grams per day helped subjects lose more weight. This shows that what you eat is important, so instead of simply focusing on how many calories you take in, focus instead on the types of food you’re eating.

Keep in mind that drastically reducing your calorie intake can slow your metabolism and lead to nutrient deficiencies, among other side effects. If you decide to lower your calorie intake, it’s better to do so gradually. Start by cutting 300 to 500 calories per day, track your progress and adjust your diet accordingly.

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