Your energy level is like a balance. On one side you have Calories and on the other side you have energy expenditure. A balance with Calories weighed down to the floor will lead to weight gain. If the balance is even and floating, you are maintaining weight. If the energy expenditure is pushed down into the ground, you can look forward to shedding some weight over the long run.
It's a simple concept, but it does take some explaining. A lot of people get caught up in what they are eating: carbs vs. fat, protein vs. carbs, fruits vs. grains, etc.What I want people to understand is that when it comes to weight, the Calorie is the decider, not the type of food you are eating. You can eat 1200 Calories of fat or 1200 Calories of carbs, and they will produce similar weight gain/loss responses. The reason people talk so much about eating one over the other is because it makes the dieting process easier. Basically, it's not the answer, it's a guiding hand to the overall goal: decreasing Calories and increasing energy expenditure.
Your body automatically keeps you warm and breathing and flowing. This uses up the majority of your Calories. How sweet is that? You do nothing and can burn Calories away. Did you know it even takes Calories to be able to eat your food? That's energy expenditure (mind you this one is very small). While you sleep? Burning Calories, just at a much lower level (think hibernation). Here's the downside to it: your body can still eat or drink more than what it needs do to hunger and pleasurable foods.
So, what am I trying to tell you? Try eating everyday based off of your activity level. If you have a big tournament coming up, stock up and eat hearty to get large stores of energy ready to sue in the games. If you have an "off" day and have nothing more to do than daily work, lighten you lunch and dinner. If you are trying to lose weight, and lose a lot of it, fuel yourself for productive exercise but still keep the meals of the day modest.
Listen to your body. It's an amazing tool to you. It will tell you when you are hungry and when you are full. We have to be able to recognize when we no longer need/want to be eating food. Having this "sixth sense" will help you understand that you don't need to pack the stomach full every time. Remember, there is always another day to enjoy the extra food you really want to add on to your meals.
As a couple of helpful tips:
- Watch out with "seconds." Ask yourself if you are really still hungry or just desiring unneeded Calories
- Have you worked out today? Will you actually go work out later? If the answer is yes, think about how you want to eat in preparation
- Don't reward yourself for doing exercise with food. Reward yourself with a TV show/movie, new shoes, concert tickets, etc.
- Try to not count Calories. Instead listen to your body for its natural signal to stop. Consciously pay attention and give your body time to think about what you just ate.
- If you must, count Calories to see how many you normally get. Then decrease to a comfortable level where you aren't crying for food, but also not in a food coma after every time you eat.