Don't be so worried about how many calories you're intaking a day. Instead, focus on where your calories are coming from. The source of the calories are more important than you know. They affect your energy level, nutrition deficiencies, health and weight.
First, try to avoid the ingredients listed here: Ingredients to Avoid.
Those ingredients typically carry the highest carb load, sugar content, fat content and calories. I stumbled on a great article that showed the distribution of food and how important it is to watch what you eat.
For example, here's an image of the same caloric intake, but clearly very different sources:
Ask yourself a few questions that will help you see the effects of the calories you are intaking:
- Do you tire often?
- Do you need caffeine or other stimulant to give you energy in the morning?
- How do you feel after you eat? Satisfied, filled, or Stuffed?
- Do you overeat?
- Do you desire more sugar or salt throughout the day?
The wrong foods tend to cause you to overeat, feel bloated, stuffed, lackluster, without energy and constantly hungry (even after having eaten).
When you eat the right foods (real food, not overly processed garbage), your body will regulate. You won't overeat, because you'll be satisfied.
With real food, you gain energy that stems from the nutritional and caloric value that works with your metabolism.
Overall, it's just makes you feel good!
In a health article by Ryan Andrews, he offered a great quick cheat sheet of tips that gives you an overview of what calories from whole foods provides: