How Many Calories Should A Petite Woman Eat


How Many Calories Should A Petite Woman Eat? A petite woman can be defined in many different ways but is typically a woman who is shorter and, on average, weighs less than women of other body types. It’s important to remember that this body type category is not a hard science. There are always going to be exceptions as some tall women will weigh less than some short women. So while this is an article that helps you get the general idea of how many calories your petite body needs on a daily basis, it’s always best to speak with your doctor when it comes to your personal nutrition information.

The Petite Advantage: Small Changes for a Big Impact

A nutrition expert’s latest book, specifically designed to help busy women 5’4″ and shorter lose weight, includes easy-to-follow rules for dieters of all heights.

Nutrition expert Jim Karas, a Chicago-based Wharton grad turned fitness guru, has developed a serious cult following thanks to his cardio-free approach to diet and fitness. High-profile devotees like Diane Sawyer adore his speedy, full-body resistance-training regimen for the time-strapped. (It consists of a mere half hour of exercise three times per week.) His latest book, The Petite Advantage Diet, was specifically designed to help busy women 5’4″ and shorter — who account for just under 50 percent of the population — lose weight. Turns out these easy-to-follow rules can work for women of all heights.


“If you diet first thing in the morning, you inevitably overeat later,” says Karas. Plus, your calorie-burning ability each day is cued up by your first meal. Skimp, and your body goes into hoarding mode. If you’re short, a high-protein, high-fiber, 300- to 400-calorie meal early on will maximize your metabolic efficiency all day.

Shorter women often find themselves going plate-for-plate with mismatched meal partners. Would you have seconds of cheesecake because your boyfriend did? Then ignore your 5’8″ friend reaching for more. “We’ve got petite-size clothes but no petite-size food,” laments Karas. He suggests loading up on low-calorie, high-water-content foods, like vegetables, plus protein found in foods like salmon or ground turkey. If you’re cooking at home, opt for a whole-wheat wrap with chicken, hummus, bell peppers, and spinach. (“Volumetric” eating — in which the goal is to feel fuller by eating water-rich foods — is an effective strategy among dieters short or tall, notes J. Graham Thomas, Ph.D., assistant research professor at Brown University Medical School.) Karas also loves fiber for its satiety-promoting and bloat-reducing properties; he recommends a 3-gram supplement 15 minutes before dinner.


Karas is exasperated by those who overindulge in high-calorie “healthy” foods, like olive oil (just one teaspoon a day! he begs), avocado (eat a quarter), or even whole-grain bread (“it’s not a get-out-of-jail-free card!” he says).


Avoid meals with unknown quantities of oil and fat; Italian and Chinese restaurant dishes are filled with culprits. Skip a chain restaurant’s spaghetti-and-meatball dinner, which can have up to 36 grams of fat, and indulge in a plain petite filet — a 6-ounce serving of filet mignon — which has just 11.2 grams. For extra kick, spice up your food with chili or jalapeño peppers, which rev up your body’s calorie-burning capabilities, says Karas.


If you’re petite, limit yourself to 1,100 calories for two days straight. Then indulge in one 1,600-calorie day. (Taller women should eat 1,200 calories for two days and 1,700 on the third.) The “bonus” day keeps you psychologically motivated; physiologically, it prevents your metabolism from dipping while you’re eating lightly.


Karas says petite women should think of themselves as studio apartments in New York City: “There’s no room for junk (fat), just functional furniture (muscle).” That means go easy on the cardio, since excessive aerobic workouts can weaken the immune system, increase appetite, and destroy muscle, he says. Karas cites a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition reporting that a calorie-restricted group on a cardio-only exercise plan lost muscle, while one on a strength-only plan maintained muscle; meanwhile, both groups gained cardiovascular health. His prescription? Interval-based strength training.


Eating simple starches like potatoes and white bread, or even experiencing a stressful day, can trigger hormonal shifts, especially in small women, according to Karas. As a result, their appetites may spike. “Just as a short woman might react badly to a drug dose meant for a larger person, there’s less margin of error for hormones,” he says. Karas insists on seven to eight hours of sleep per night, as well as 10 minutes of deep, slow breathing per day, to reduce inflammatory stress hormones like cortisol. “Be selfish,” he implores. “Take care of yourself!”

Why Does It Feel So Much Harder To Lose Weight When You’re Short?

short girl weight loss tips

Putting on five pounds when you’re 5’10” is NBD—you might not even ~notice~ it. But when you’re 5’2”? .

But here’s where things get really, really frustrating: Losing those same five pounds is also way harder when you’re short.

“Short women have slower metabolisms,” explains Craig Primack, M.D., president-elect of the Obesity Medicine Association. “The average woman has a basal metabolic rate (BMR) of 1,400 calories per day. That means, if she lays in bed for 24 hours, she will burn 1,400 calories. But I see women who are shorter than 5 feet with BMRs of 1,200 calories, and some who are 5’10” or so at 1,750 or more per day.”

How to lose weight when you’re short

1. Eat for your needs. You know that whole “stay in your lane” saying? It totally applies to the food on your plate, too. Match your meals and snacks to your personal hunger levels and energy needs, rather than assuming you can lose weight eating the same number of calories that taller ladies can, says Betsy Opyt, R.D. So as much as you might want to, maybe don’t eat the same exact brunch and two mimosas as your super-tall bestie.

If you really start paying attention to your hunger signals, you may automatically start eating less. After all, how starving you are is a reflection of your metabolic rate, according to one study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. People with higher metabolic rates (think: tall people) are generally hungrier than those (ahem, shorter ladies) with slower metabolisms.

2. Lift heavy. Even if you can’t make yourself grow a few inches, you can still catch up to your tall friends’ metabolic rates, Opyt says. The key is building lean, metabolically active muscle. (No, you can’t change the size of your organs.)

That’s why she and Spano encourage all of their shorter clients to incorporate strength training into their workout routines. Primack votes for lifting weights at least two to three times per week, prioritizing heavy weights and moves that work several muscles over using lighter weights and only working one muscle at a time. “It is better to lift a 20-pound dumbbell once than a 1-pound dumbbell 20 times,” he says. “Exercise to muscular failure stimulates the muscles even more.”

3. Put back more protein. Protein is awesome for weight loss because it’s so satiating, putting the kibosh on blood-sugar swings and triggering the release of feel-full hormones. Obviously, when you’re trying to cut calories, that can help.

But if you’re trying to adopt the metabolism of a much taller individual, you’re also going to need protein to build muscle, says Spano. A 2018 review published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition shows that, to get the most muscle-building out of your workout, you should eat 0.4 to 0.55 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight four times per day. For a 150-pound woman, that works out to four meals of 27 to 38 grams of protein each.

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4. Pay attention to vitamins and minerals. To lose weight, you have to take in fewer calories than you burn per day. There’s just no getting around it. Unfortunately, that means, to lose weight, you might have to cut calories pretty low—sometimes to 1,200 or even less per day.

And hanger isn’t the only issue you’ll deal with if you’re cutting cals. It can also be hard to get all of the nutrients you need when you’re taking in less food, Spano says. Talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian to determine if you need to take a multivitamin or a fiber, calcium, or other supplement. Primack adds that you should never go lower than 1,200 without the supervision of a bariatric or weight-loss doctor who can monitor your nutrient needs and minimize any muscle loss.

5 Weight Loss Tips Every Petite Woman Should Know

The New Year brings new resolutions to slim down and shape up, but if you are one of the 50 percent of women in the U.S. classified as petite – 5’4? or under – you face unique challenges when trying to lose weight.

Fitness expert Jim Karas wrote his new book, The Petite Advantage Diet, to help shorter women left wondering, in frustration, why regular diets don’t work for them, as they watch their taller friends drop the pounds.

Karas appeared on ” Good Morning America” today to share his top diet and exercise tips for petite women.

1) Allow Yourself Carbs

People forget that carbohydrates are not just breads and pasta, but items like fruits and vegetables too, Karas says.  Healthy carbs, especially those with a high water content, are needed to help people stay full and lean in the midsection.

2) Watch the Small Stuff

Karas estimates petite women who overeat by as few as 28 calories a day will gain 30 pounds over the course of one decade.  A 45-year-old woman who weighs 160 pounds and is 5’9,” for example, can eat 2,013 calories per day to maintain her weight.  A petite, 5’3? woman of the same weight and age would only be able to consume 1,973 per day without gaining weight.

If the petite woman were to take in those extra 40 calories per day, she’d gain 4.2 pounds of fat each year, which would mean 42 pounds each decade and an extra 128 pounds over the course of 30 years.

3) Eat High-Calorie and High-Fat Foods Sparingly

Karas says petite women should watch out for three foods in particular when counting their calories: olive oil, avocado and juice.

Just one tablespoon of olive oil, for instance, contains 120 calories and is 100 percent fat, so Karas recommends using it sparingly, no more than one serving per day.  Juice, meanwhile, has 25 percent more calories than soda and twice as many calories as liquid sports drinks, so petite women should watch their intake.  Commercial juice products are also pasteurized, which kills valuable nutrients and vitamins.

4) Swap Your Meals

Eaters in the U.S. typically start the day with their smallest meal, breakfast, and then work their way up to the largest, dinner.  Petite woman in particular, Kass says, should do just the opposite.  To start off, he recommends flipping breakfast and lunch servings in order to better balance the day calorie-wise.

5) Skip the Treadmill, Pick Up the Weights

Karas says cardio can actually cause petite women to gain weight because it increases their appetites.  Instead, petite women should focus on strength training, which fulfills their cardio needs while also increasing their caloric burn, enhancing their posture and strengthening and flattening their core muscles.

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