Who keeps check...?
Counting calories is NOT necessarily the only way to maintain or lose weight. If you did that, you'd never touch nuts, seeds, avocados or omega 3 oils and yet all are great ways of getting your "good fats" needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Not all fats are your enemy, even if they are very calorific.
Eat protein with complex carbohydrates, avoid sugar and eat a wide variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables. And exercise. Easy when you say it quickly, eh?
As for how many calories is right for you. there are ways of measuring your Base Metabolic rate to determine how many calories you ACTUALLY need to tick over each day but better people than I can come along and explain that.
I've used an online calculator to find out how much I need to eat, given my body weight, age, general activity level and specific running/cycling level. I'm only about 48 kg so now I'm running about 50 miles a week I still only need just under the "average" women's 2,000 calories per day. I don't calorie count, but I do look at calorie-to-protein ratios, particularly on prepared foods (as in: 500 calories and only 10 g of protein for what's supposed to be a main meal - forget it!). I make sure I've got healthy "nibbling foods" in (fruit, carrots, nuts etc.) and mostly don't have much in the way of biscuits, cakes etc. in the house except for stuff I'll eat out on the long runs (malt loaf, fig rolls and so on), and occasional treats.
Interestingly I've found that as my running has increased, I've got less of a sweet tooth and go more for savory stuff.
summerrain, I used http://www.stevenscreek.com/goodies/calories.shtml. This allows for number of hours per day spent asleep, practically inactive (e.g. sitting reading) etc. My job is fairly sedentary, so it allows for that. And yes, eat when you're hungry, not if you're not. But if you're thirsty you can feel hungry - so try a (nonalcoholic!) drink first. And if you suddenly crave a particular type of food, you may be deficient in something - like when I suddenly craved margarine and butter - I presume I was low on essential fatty acids or fat soluble vitamins or something - after a month or so it tapered off.
Well, if you're not putting on weight/your clothes are not getting too tight, then you're not eating too much! Every individual is different, that's why I said it gives me a ballpark figure. Trust the wasitband in your trousers - it will tell you if you're eating too much.
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