15 foods to boost your metabolism

Which foods can give your metabolism a boost?

Healthy Eating

Sonia Chartier

31 March 2019

Your metabolism is the speed at which your body burns the calories you get from your food.

The thyroid gland is in charge of metabolism and energy production in your body, controlling the release of thyroid hormones. This chief endocrine gland has a distinctive butterfly shape and is located in your neck under your Adam's apple (eve if you don't have one, you still have a thyroid).

underactive thyroid include feeling the cold easily, feeling overly tired or down, having trouble sleeping, bowel issues such as IBS, skin problems, low libido and weight gain.

Supporting your thyroid gland is important to keeping your metabolism in tip-top shape.

Read on to discover the 15 foods that can support your metabolism.

1. Legumes
Legumes, also known as pulses, include a wide variety of lentils, beans and peas. They are typically low in fat and high in protein, fibre and many essential minerals including iron, magnesium, potassium and folate. Iron is essential for the production of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and tri-iodothyronine (T3). Iron also helps transport oxygen around the body, which fuels many of your metabolically active cells. Magnesium is really useful as it helps support the production of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which promotes T4 production in the first place.

2. Eggs
Eggs are among the most complete sources of protein around. By "complete," we mean that it contains all nine essential amino acids (the ones we need to get from our diet because we can't manufacture them) and in the correct proportion for optimal use by the human body.
Protein in your diet helps support the growth and repair of your lean muscle mass. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so the more muscle you have relative to fat, the faster your metabolism is likely to be! Transporter proteins are also responsible for manoeuvring thyroid hormones around the body. Is there anything we don't need protein for?!

3. Salmon
As well as all-important protein, having enough fat in your diet is just as important. Yes, fat—you heard right! Fresh salmon fillets are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 is a natural anti-inflammatory and helps support many areas of your body. This can be especially beneficial for a thyroid gland on the blink.
Oily fish is also a rich source of vitamin D. Both vitamin D and vitamin A support thyroid receptors on your body's cells, allowing them to respond efficiently to the active thyroid hormone T3. Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, also helps support the absorption of calcium in your body. Good levels of calcium support the functions of your thyroid gland as well as your metabolically active lean muscle.

4. Milk
Milk is an excellent source of calcium and protein. Your thyroid gland will thank you for some organic milk and other dairy products, as they are important sources of iodine, which is essential for the production of T4 and should be consumed as part of a healthy, balanced diet. To reap the metabolism-related benefits of some friendly bacteria at the same time, incorporate some iodine-rich yogurt into your diet. Bonus! And for anyone out there who doesn't do dairy, fish and shellfish are other great sources of iodine.

5. Water
Drinking enough H20 is important for many bodily functions, and thyroid support is no exception. Moreover, research has shown that drinking cold water can be particularly effective in increasing metabolism and burning some extra calories! That's because of the extra energy used by your body to heat the water up. By drinking up to 2 litres of cold water a day you could burn up to 95 extra calories! Easy!

6. Hot peppers
Chili peppers contain an active ingredient called capsaicin. Capsaicin is an excellent natural anti-inflammatory which can support a sluggish (or overactive, for that matter) thyroid gland. Capsaicin has also been the subject of many scientific studies that have suggested that it promotes thermogenesis, the process of burning calories and, in turn, generating heat. Diet-induced thermogenesis is a part of our daily energy expenditure, so incorporating some spice into your diet can help burn more calories! Pass the poblanos!

7. Apples
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, or so the old adage goes. But is it true? It has been suggested that apples may have positive effects on our metabolism.
Apples are a good source of carbohydrate. They contain a soluble fibre called pectin, which absorbs water and swells into a gelatinous substance that helps slow the absorption of glucose by the blood stream. That, in turn, is thought to have a positive impact on fat metabolism. (Go, apples!) Glucose is important for the production T3 and energy, so a balanced diet containing good proportions of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats is important all around for energy expenditure. So don't go cutting your carbs, okay?

8. Avocado
Avocado is rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. These fats are important for balancing hormones all over the body and can contribute to a healthy thyroid. Fats act as precursors to many hormonal pathways—we need them! Cholesterol produced by your liver is therefore essential to support metabolism. Is it true that healthy fats can actually help people stay slim? Yes!

9. Seaweed
Seaweed is an excellent source of iodine. Iodine is required to make both T3 and T4—both are crucial for a healthy metabolism—so a deficiency can lead to an underactive thyroid, called hypothyroidism. Low iodine is especially dangerous during pregnancy and can contribute to birth defects. In addition to iodine, seaweed such as kelp and bladderwrack are extremely nutritious and rich in a range of minerals including selenium, zinc, magnesium, iron, potassium, copper and calcium, as well as vitamins A, B, C, D and E. Selenium, in conjunction with iodine, is important for converting T4 into T3. The vitamin C and B vitamins found in seaweed are particularly important for transporting iodine to your thyroid cells so it can be put to good use.

10. Green tea
Green tea is all the rage nowadays, but what are the health benefits? Green tea is rich in EGCG, a catechin (a type of natural phenol and antioxidant) that has been the subject of many studies aiming to assess its role in thermogenesis and boosting metabolism. Green tea is naturally rich in antioxidants that can support your thyroid gland and many other areas of the body. It naturally contains some caffeine, which can give your metabolism a slight boost. But avoid having too much caffeine or the opposite can occur, leaving you feeling exhausted as your adrenal glands go into overdrive, which will in turn have a detrimental effect on your metabolism. Green tea can be a nice, gentle, antioxidant-rich alternative to caffeine-laden coffees, and may help boost your metabolism.

11. Oysters
Some of you might shake your head in disgust at the thought of oysters. But maybe you'll think again when you consider the health benefits they offer. Oysters are extremely high in the essential mineral zinc, one of the highest sources out there, in fact. Zinc is extremely important for the production of many hormones around the body and a zinc deficiency is thought to hinder the conversion of T4 into the active thyroid hormone T3. Get adventurous and try some fresh oysters, for the sake of your thyroid!

12. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is claimed to offer a host of health benefits, from oil pulling (swishing good quality oil around in the mouth to improve oral hygiene) to weight loss. What are the mechanisms involved?
Coconut oil is rich in saturated fats, which are mainly comprised of medium chain triglycerides. They're oxidized quickly for energy, compared with other sources of fat such as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Therefore, they can give your metabolism a well-needed boost.
Try replacing your normal cooking oils with coconut oil: the roast potatoes you gave up will get a new lease on life, and with any luck, so will you!

13. Cranberries
Cranberries are very high in iodine. They're a nice choice, as taking too much iodine in the form of high-strength supplements can shock your thyroid gland. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 150 µg, so don't go overboard. For a quick and easy whole-food source, incorporate some fresh organic cranberries or low-sugar cranberry juice into your diet.

14. Sea salt
Sea salt is a raw, unrefined form of salt which, unlike refined salt, still contains a range of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, including iodine. Salt should be used sparingly though; the RDA for salt is only 6 g. If you feel a need to reach for the salt, you might want to try Herbamare®, which is a sea-salt blend infused with organically grown vegetables, herbs and kelp, making it a nice, iodine-rich choice.

15. Go organic!
Opt for organic foods wherever possible—your thyroid gland will thank you in the long run. The interference of chemicals in your body as a result of choosing of non-organic meat, fruits, vegetables and dairy can wreak havoc with your hormones. While we're on the subject of what you're putting into your body, it's also important to eat enough to keep your metabolism running smoothly. Don't jump on the fad diet bandwagon and cut out all carbs—your thyroid needs them! Just make sure they're complex carbs.

These foods are particularly useful in helping to keep your metabolism working well, but the key is to adopt a fresh, varied diet, which will naturally be packed with thyroid-boosting vitamins and minerals. Enjoy your food!


Boschmann, M. et al (2003) Water-induced thermogenesis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 88(12) 6015-6019
Ludy, M. et al (2012) The effects of capsaicin and capsiate on energy balance: critical review and meta-analyses of studies in humans. 37(2): 103-121
Dulloo, A.G. (1999) Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-hour energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans. 70(6): 1040-1045

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