For those who struggle with weight and low energy, learning how to increase metabolism will result in safe and effective fat loss, an increase in muscle tone, an elevated sense of mental well-being and a host of other wellness benefits.

Even the environment will fare better as we collectively improve metabolism. How so? Many people struggling with obesity eat a majority of their calories from processed, factory-farmed and heavily packaged foods. These foods are far more of a strain on the environment than foods grown naturally.

With those facts in mind, we present our list of tips on how to increase metabolism:

Tip #1: Eat real food

How to increase metabolism: eat real foodAsk yourself if something you’re about to eat was around more than 10,000 years ago. If not, don’t eat it. Better yet, if you’re really serious about boosting your metabolism, raid your pantry and fridge — not to gorge, but to purge it of any products that you highly doubt were around just a few generations ago.

If you have a hunch that the Jell-O, Twinkies, potato chips and Twizzlers in your cabinets weren’t enjoyed by cavemen, trash them and never buy them again.

Lean meats, plenty of fresh vegetables, some fruit and a small amount of seeds, nuts and natural oils should comprise 99 percent of your food intake. (Cheat once in a blue moon so you don’t completely fall off the wagon.)

Start reading food labels. If a product has as many items as the periodic table of elements, it won’t boost your metabolism. Don’t eat something if it has more than three to five ingredients (less is best).

Foods loaded with preservatives, excessive natural sugar, and cheap sugar surrogates like high-fructose corn syrup lead to weight gain because these substances are a shock to the liver and have a tendency to get stored as body fat.

Tip #2: Eat 3-6 times per day

How to increase metabolism: eat 3-6 times per dayOn one hand, it seems like many people have heard the wise tip of eating several small meals throughout the day. Why then is there still a prevalence of fasting to lose weight?

The psychological factor of stepping on a scale and seeing the weight go down is huge. If someone skips meals, say to lose 10 pounds for a wedding, they may be successful in dropping the weight.

When someone steps on a scale, however, the number before them does not tell the whole story.

The reading on the scale fails to decipher how much weight was attributed to fat loss (much to the chagrin of the faster, not likely very much), how much to muscle gain (none; more likely, muscle mass will waste away), and how much to water-weight fluctuations (very likely).

Eating smaller, balanced meals throughout the day keeps blood sugar levels from fluctuating. As a result, cravings for foods that tend to put on fat are greatly reduced.

If you go several hours without eating (more than four or five), your body’s neurological wiring will still act as it did in prehistoric times, shutting down your metabolism to prepare for a period of starvation.

Tip #3: Eat 10 grams of protein by 10 a.m.

How to increase metabolism: eat 10 grams proteinEvery meal you eat should contain the three main macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein and natural fat. The trick is to figure out which proportions of each to eat at every meal. (An online test called Metabolic Typing can help you figure this out).

And if you’re following tip #2, chances are, you’re eating breakfast. That’s smart because it will fire up your engine and make sure your metabolism gets cranking early in the day.

By 10 a.m. every day — lazy Sundays included — eat 10 grams of high-quality protein to kick start your metabolism. (One egg has about 6 grams.) Even waiting to eat your first meal of the day at an 11 a.m. brunch will throw your metabolism off for the rest of the day.

Tip #4: Exercise — but don’t do too much cardio

How to increase metabolism: exerciseSome runners and joggers can’t figure out why, despite all the cardiovascular exercise they’re doing, those last 10 extra pounds won’t melt away.

Too much cardio will actually burn muscle tissue. A better way to boost metabolism through exercise is to start a strength-training routine.

Don’t have the money or desire to join a gym or hire a personal trainer? No problem. Your own body is the only piece of exercise equipment you need. You also don’t need to exercise for an hour or more at a clip to boost your metabolism.

Recent studies have demonstrated that several short bursts of resistance training can be more effective at boosting metabolism than an hour-long workout. Pushups off your knees, even for men, are a great way to get back in shape and boost metabolism. Perform several sets of 10 repetitions throughout the day.

4 extra tips to boost metabolism:

  • Drink green tea throughout the day.
  • Make sure to also drink plenty of water.
  • Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night to regulate hormone levels.
  • Check with a health professional to see if your hormone levels are balanced.
Judd Handler is a certified Metabolic Typing Advisor and wellness coach. He offers complimentary wellness consultations via Skype (search: coach_judd).

Got other ideas for how to increase metabolism? Leave us a note in the comments below.

See also:

12 Salads to Boost Your Metabolism and Your Mood (via EcoSalon.com)