150 Pounds

- POSTED ON: May 03, 2013


This is how different
150 lbs can look.

ALL of these women
weigh 150 lbs.



  I am a 5 ft 0 inch woman.
The shortest woman in the picture above is 5 ft 2 inches.

During my years of sharing my online, I've received many comments from women with heights in the 5' 4" to 5' 9' range giving me their opinions about my weight-maintenance stuggles. The substance of those comments have indicated to me that many women simply do not understand, or do not think about, the basic concept of the picture above.

In order to look "normal" weight, shorter women have to weigh less than taller women. In general .... the bodies of shorter women also use less energy (burn less calories) than taller women, and therefore shorter women have to eat far less than taller women.

Additionally, ... in general ... as a woman ages, she burns less and less calories, and many short, elderly woman require very few calories to maintain a "normal" weight.
Food Label information is based on a mythical “AVERAGE” daily requirement  for intake of 2000 calories. Nutritionists also provide that number along with the 1200 calorie number that no one is supposed to go under. Most people consider themselves about average (or better than average) so when they think of daily calorie requirements these are the numbers they normally think about. But these numbers are very wrong for many people.

 More knowledgeable people will use online calculators to determine their basic metabolism rate, and then add the activity factor percentage that they believe applies to them, in order to get an estimate of their own personal daily calorie requirement.

These general truths are also complicated by the fact that the BMR /RMR charts showing calorie requirements for various ages, heights and weights are made up of many different variables that are AVERAGED all together. The calorie requirements given for any specific woman within these charts can often be 10% less than stated.

There can be differences in BMR even when two people have exactly the same lean body mass. Within the studies on which the chart numbers are based, the top 5% of people are using energy 28-32% faster than the bottom 5%.

One 2004 research study reported an extreme case of two people with the same lean body mass (95lbs) … One had a BMR of 1075 calories per day, and one had a BMR of 1790 calories per day. This difference of 715 calories daily is the equivalent to one of these people completing a 10K run EVERY DAY.

Lean body mass is the non-fat portion of the body. For example a "average" 5’4” female weighing 126 lbs would have 95 lbs of lean mass (75%) and 31 lbs (25%) of fat mass. 

Most online calculators use the Harris-Benedict equation and/or the Mifflin equation for RMR. The Harris-Benedict equation was first published in 1919, and is still the most widely used. Since that time there have been numerous studies attempting to improve it, however the most accurate of these studies is the Mifflin equation.

All equations for predicting energy expenditure are only estimates, however, the Harris-Benedict equation typically overestimates by 5% or more.

Also, although Harris-Benedict is called BMR, it is ACTUALLY an equation for RMR, not BMR because the test subjects did not spend the night at the testing facility.

The following chart might be shocking to people who think in the general terms that Nutritionists give about the number of calories required to maintain a normal body weight. 
 I prepared the chart shown here using my own age and height.
This chart shows estimates of my calorie requirements at different weights.
It compares the Mifflin RMR with the Harris-Benedict BMR.

For an estimate of my TOTAL calorie burn based on the chart averages,
see the column which has my sedentary Activity factor (1.2%) added to my Mifflin RMR.

Since my consistent record keeping indicates that my total calorie burn is below average, I also made a comparison of low-average numbers existing within the standard deviation.
This last column most closely matches my numbers in the computer daily calorie records which I’ve kept for the past 8 years.

The calculations most closly matching my records show that eating an average of 1200 calories per day would maintain my body at around 150 lbs.

For my 5’0” elderly body to maintain a weight of 200 lbs, I would need to eat only about 1485 calories daily.

Even my own initial reaction was:
  "THAT CAN"T BE RIGHT!" ... but yes, I'm afraid that it is correct.
Notice that EVEN using the total Formula for an "Average" woman of my height and age means eating a 1635 daily average would maintain her at 200 pounds.  To visualize how 200 lbs looks on my 5' 0" body ... add 50 more pounds to the shortest woman on the top picture, and then make her fatter to adjust for making her 2 inches shorter.   

Leave me a comment.

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Existing Comments:

On May 11, 2013 rroush wrote:
I found this very interesting! The pictures of the women of same weight and different heights are eye-opening. It's one thing to know a certain weight looks different on different people, but to see them standing next to each other is really cool. Your chart is quite insightful too!

On May 11, 2013 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Good to hear from you Rebecca. I used to be shocked when someone online weighing 180 or over said they were now wearing size 10 pants. I need to be around 125 lbs to fit into that size. I'm glad you saw my BMR/RMR graphic. Even though my detailed DietPower records have shown me my own calorie limits, I still find it truly amazing to see how little the "average" short, sedentary, elderly woman gets to eat in order to maintain a "normal" BMI.

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