Why is it harder to for smaller people to lose weight?

Why is it harder to for smaller people to lose weight?

The number of calories your body uses at rest will broadly depend on your size (weight and height), so if you are shorter, you will probably find that your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) will be lower than your taller friends.

That means that the number of calories you need to eat in a day to maintain your weight will be lower, lower still if you want to create a calorie deficit to lose weight. If you are quite inactive that number could be around the 1500 calories a day range just to maintain weight (whereas for me I’m looking at around 2,500-3,000 calories to maintain).

So why does that make it harder? Well think about your average dinner, you’re probably looking at 500 calories, with perhaps 400 calories for lunch and 300 calories for breakfast.  Now if you’re tall and need to eat 2,000 calories to be in a deficit you would still have around 800 calories for snacks.  That’s enough food to feel easily full, have a high calorie treat or whatever.

What if your target to hit a calorie deficit is 1400? You have 200 calories spare, maybe enough for a couple of pieces of fruit. You essentially have less leeway to play with, battle cravings with, enjoy the foods you love with than your taller counterpart does. It’s a bit like giving two people the same shopping list but one person £100 and the other person £50 and asking them to both buy everything on the list.  The person with less money will find it a bit harder and have to be more careful.

This means smaller people might then find it more restrictive to diet, and when things become restrictive or you feel like you’re hungry all the time then you’re less likely to stick with a calorie deficit and see results.

So how do you tackle that? Well in part there are things you can do surrounding food.  Looking to fill up on more dense, low calorie foods (lots of vegetables) at main meals can help keep you full but lower the calories used, which would free up more calories to snack with.  You might find methods such as intermittent fasting which limit your window of eating help, meaning you have less time to eat the allotted number of calories (this might help mentally), even just switching breakfast for a protein shake could free up some calories for the rest of the day. 

It’s also a good idea to look at your activity levels.  You may be able to increase your NEAT and therefore increase your TDEE to allow you to increase the number of calories you need to eat each day.

If you are looking to lose weight and you have used a TDEE calculator and it suggests a super low target, it’s worth chatting to a PT or fitness professional and thinking about what tactics you can utilise to maximise your chance of hitting your goal.

Calories in a 1 Minute Read

  • The Energy Balance Equation = Calories in V Calories Out
  • You burn a certain amount of calories just existing (Your BMR)
  • You burn some calories depending on your activity levels through the day
  • This combined is your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)
  • This is your Calories Out
  • Everything you eat has a calorific value, everything you eat in a day gives you Calories In.
  • If Calories In and Calories Out are equal consistently you will maintain your current weight
  • If Calories In is more than Calories Out consistently (creating a surplus) you will gain weight
  • If Calories In is less than Calories Out consistently you will lose weight
  • Calories In being less than Calories out is the definition of a Calories Deficit
  • Consistently is the key word, one day in surplus or deficit will not make a difference
  • If you want to lose weight and are not you need to review Calories In
  • You could keep Calories In the same and look at increasing Calories Out but this may be difficult to do depending on your current activity levels
  • It may be ideal to look at both reducing Calories In a little and increasing Calories Out a little
  • Calories are calories regardless of whether they come from fat, carbs or protein. Different amounts of calories make up different foods but when it comes to being in a calorie deficit how those calories are made up is not relevant