You may have heard of eating metabolism-friendly foods, but how does this food-metabolism relationship actually work? Food isn’t just for fueling muscle growth or providing energy to make sure you’re burning calories.

There’s actually more layers in how this relationships works, right down to all the unseen ways your body treats your food. Beyond chewing, when your body is transporting, digesting, and absorbing what you eat (plus, storing fat), it’s still putting your metabolism to work.

Think of your body like a car. How well your ride runs depends on a number of factors: how old it is (your age), how often you take it out (exercise), the maintenance of its parts (muscle mass), and gas (food).

And just like how the quality of the gas running through the car can affect it’s movement, the quality of the food you eat can affect every way your body runs.

What is your metabolism anyway? Metabolism describes the chemical processes that are going on within your body to keep you alive and thriving. It also determines the amount of calories you burn in one day. If your body has a fast metabolism, it burns calories quickly. And vice versa for a slow metabolism. As we age, we typically slow our roll which causes these metabolic processes to slow down.

That doesn’t mean you should only eat whole foods or be on a strict diet. After all, eating the same food for 30 days could cause your body to feel sluggish or damage your relationship with food. It just means your metabolism could benefit from switching up to higher quality foods.

If you’re ready to give your body a nice metabolic refresh with food, follow our shopping list for a week. Here’s to cooking up a storm in the kitchen so your metabolism keeps running on quality.

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Image by Ayla Sadler

These ingredients were selected in mind for flexibility, affordability, and ease — meaning if you want to whip up your own nutritious, metabolism-boosting recipes, you can!

Listed below are the ingredients to stock your pantry with, but we recommend doubling up (or tripling) and prepping ahead so you don’t have to worry about what to eat all week!

Produce

  • blueberries
  • raspberries
  • kale
  • pre-chopped butternut squash
  • white onion
  • romaine
  • lemon

Proteins

  • salmon
  • chicken

Pantry staples

  • maple syrup
  • Dijon mustard
  • avocado oil
  • red wine vinaigrette
  • pecans
  • dried cranberries
  • dark chocolate bar
  • vanilla extract
  • coconut butter
  • matcha powder

Spices and oils

  • salt
  • pepper
  • allspice
  • ginger

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Image by Ayla Sadler

Some of the most delicious dishes are those that create a powerful flavor with a small amount of ingredients.

This dish takes the fresh, natural flavor of wild-caught salmon and tops it with the sweetness of blueberries. Add a few extra ingredients to bring it all together and you have a visually beautiful and deliciously tantalizing main dish.

Serves: 2

Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • one 8-ounce wild-caught salmon steak
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 1 tsp. ginger

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
  2. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, add the salmon skin-side down.
  3. Squeeze lemon juice over salmon, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and bake for 15 minutes or until salmon easily flakes with a fork.
  4. While the salmon is baking, add the blueberries and maple syrup to a small pot over medium-low heat and stir occasionally. Allow the mixture to simmer until the liquid has been reduced by half.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the allspice and ginger.
  6. Evenly disperse the salmon and gently top with blueberry glaze.
  7. Serve with a side of cauliflower rice or salad and enjoy!

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Image by Ayla Sadler

An important factor to creating the perfect salad is balancing not only the quantity of ingredients, but also the flavors. With this salad, the succulent flavor of the chicken balances beautifully with the bright acidity of the berries.

After mixing these together with a few other ingredients on top of a bed of romaine, you have a perfectly balanced salad full of different flavors sure to excite your taste buds and satisfy your hunger.

Serves: 2

Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3-4 cups romaine, chopped
  • 1/4 white onion, diced
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1 tsp. Dijon
  • 1/2-1 tbsp. avocado oil
  • 1/2 tbsp. red wine vinaigrette
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, add the chicken breasts and bake for 35 minutes or until chicken reaches the internal temperature of 165ºF.
  3. While the chicken is baking, add all the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a high-speed blender, blending until well-combined.
  4. Once the chicken is finished baking, chop it into squares and set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, add the romaine, chicken, berries, pecans, and white onions and drizzle with dressing. Toss to combine, serve, and enjoy!

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Image by Ayla Sadler

Whether you’re looking for an appetizer or an entree, this kale and butternut squash salad is the perfect dish to quell your hunger pains and refuel your body with crucial nutrients. It’s easy to make and stores perfectly for leftovers or meal planning throughout your week.

Serves: 2

Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked in water or chicken broth
  • 2 cups kale, massaged
  • 2 cups butternut squash, pre-cut

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon
  • 1/2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1/2 tbsp. avocado oil
  • 1/2 tsp. red wine vinaigrette

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  2. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, add the butternut squash and bake for 30 minutes, or until fork tender.
  3. While the butternut squash is baking, add all the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a high-speed blender, blending until well-combined.
  4. In a medium bowl, add the kale, drizzle the dressing, and massage the two together until married. Place in the fridge until ready to use.
  5. Once the butternut squash is done baking, get out two bowls and evenly divide the kale and quinoa, then add butternut squash. Serve and enjoy!

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Image by Ayla Sadler

After finishing your dinner you’ll inevitably get that extra craving for a sinfully sweet treat to top off the meal. The perfect solution are these dark chocolate matcha butter cups.

These bite-sized treats give a beautiful balance between the dark chocolate and matcha and provide a sweet satisfaction to the end of the meal.

Serves: 2

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • one 3.5-ounce dark chocolate bar (80% or more)
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (non-alcoholic)
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 scoop matcha powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut butter, melted

Directions

  1. In a small pot over medium-low heat, melt the chocolate and coconut oil.
  2. Once melted, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  3. Pour half of the mixture into a lined mini-muffin pan and place in the freezer.
  4. In a medium bowl add the coconut butter, maple syrup, and matcha powder, stirring together until a paste is formed (add more matcha powder if needed).
  5. Remove the muffin pan from the freezer and equally distribute the matcha paste, then top with remaining chocolate. Place back in freezer or fridge until set or ready to be eaten!

If you want to further your metabolism-boosting meal-planning experience, smoothies are always a go-to for a quick breakfast or even a snack!

Matcha smoothie

Serves: 2

Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups nut milk of choice
  • 2 scoops matcha powder
  • 2 tsp. maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1-2 cups ice

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender, blending until well-combined.
  2. Serve and enjoy!

Nut butter and jelly smoothie

Serves: 2

Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups nut milk of choice
  • 1 tbsp. nut butter of choice
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground flax (optional*)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. maple syrup (optional*)

Directions:

  1. Add all desired ingredients to a high-speed blender, blending until well-combined.
  2. Serve and enjoy!

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1. Exercise frequently

Beyond dietary changes, lifestyle habits are key to boosting your metabolism. As mentioned earlier, exercise and muscle mass can give your metabolism a boost.

Even just regular walking or jogging for 20-30 minutes two to three times a week can make a huge impact on your energy levels.

2. Keep up with the protein

Fueling your body with the right foods is a serious game changer. One of those foods being a source of protein.

Proteins increase your metabolic rate by 15 to 30 percent. When you consume meals with protein, they’re giving you energy while also helping you feel full for a longer amount of time, which helps with bodyweight regulation.

3. Avoid reducing calorie intake

Many people believe that reducing their caloric intake for long periods of time will result in rapid weight loss.

While this may be true, what they don’t realize is they could become susceptible to a plethora of health issues, including those of a slow metabolism.

Signs your body has a sluggish metabolism

  • weight gain or an inability to lose weight
  • fatigue
  • frequent headaches
  • low libido
  • dry skin
  • brain fog
  • hair loss

It’s important to note that if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you should always check in with your healthcare provider! Having one or more of these conditions may be known as metabolic syndrome, which increases your risk for serious diseases like heart disease, stroke, or diabetes.

When it comes to treating metabolic syndrome, your doctor will often recommend lifestyle changes. Going with this shopping list will be a good start!


Ayla Sadler is a photographer, stylist, recipe developer, and writer who has worked with many of the leading companies in the health and wellness industry. She currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and son. When she’s not in the kitchen or behind the camera, you can probably find her toting around the city with her little boy. You can find more of her work here.