What I Eat in a Day: The Ultimate Metabolism-Boosting Diet

by JJ Virgin on January 19, 2018

Last updated: March 20, 2023

For nearly 40 years, I’ve helped readers and clients break through weight loss resistance, crush their goals, support their immune system, optimize their metabolism, and be the best fat burner.

Throughout this time, I’ve learned that people want to ditch the hype, find out what works, and take simple steps for fast, lasting results. And I’ve received the same question again and again: 

“What do you eat, JJ?”  

Here’s the thing: to lose weight and be your best, you’ve got to get healthy. And getting healthy starts by optimizing your metabolism. 

Whether you’re Paleo, vegan, vegetarian, keto, or none of the above… Consider this blog a blueprint of everything I do—and everything you want to do—to get and stay lean, strong, and healthy. 

Read on to learn what to eat to boost your metabolism (and why meal timing matters). Then, I’ll show you how I put this plan into action in everyday life… and how simple it can be! can be!  

What to Eat to Boost Your Metabolism 

The best way to support your metabolism starts with the end of your fork. With the “satiety trifecta,” I’ve simplified how to stay full, balance your blood sugar, optimize your metabolism, and be your best.  

To do that, make every loaded smoothie and meal a blend of fiber, protein, and healthy fats. Every one of these three is rocket fuel for your metabolism:  

  • Protein is the most thermic food, meaning that your body burns more calories for energy compared with other macronutrients.1
  • Healthy fats like wild-caught salmon can help reduce the chronic inflammation that, left unchecked, can crash your metabolism.2 The medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut, on the other hand, favorably benefit your body composition.3 
  • Fiber steadies blood sugar levels, supports gut health, and curbs hunger and cravings. 

When you incorporate this trifecta into every meal and loaded smoothie, you’ll say adios to the blood-sugar imbalances that mess with your hunger hormones… and yes to next-level metabolism!  

When You Eat Is Equally Important as What You Eat 

Meal timing is equally critical to supporting a healthy metabolism. When you graze all day, you keep insulin levels high, which locks the doors on fat burning.  

When you eat within a specific time frame, on the other hand, you become a multi-fuel burner (what we call being metabolically flexible) and take your metabolism to the next level.  

With that in mind, here’s how your day should look: 

Break Your Fast with a Loaded Smoothie 

Start your day with a fast, filling, protein-packed loaded smoothie. Ideally, you’ll enjoy that smoothie after an intense morning workout… say, around 9 or 10 a.m. 

Whatever you do, do not skip breakfast! You’ll end up ravenous and reaching for the nearest muffin or bagel before you can say “blood sugar spike”! 

Remember, the best breakfast offers protein-boosted nutrition, and a loaded smoothie is a winner every time. 

Eat by the Plate Every 3-4 Hours 

Banish the myth that you should be mini meals all day, from morning to evening, for fat loss.  

Eating multiple small meals throughout the day is a surefire way to spike insulin levels, which locks the doors on fat burning and puts your metabolism on the back burner. Ditto with constant snacking, which puts the brakes on your metabolism (yes, even healthy snacking!). 

Instead, you’ll want to eat by the plate, every three to four hours. That way, your body can reach into fat stores and use that for fuel instead. And when you eat from the magic trifecta that I discussed, you’ll steady blood sugar levels and say goodbye to hunger and cravings.  

The result? You stay full longer, steady blood sugar levels, maintain more sustained energy, and turbocharge your metabolism. 

Do a 12–14 hour Overnight Fast 

Among its many benefits, studies show that intermittent fasting can help you lose fat and optimize your metabolism.4 

You don’t need to do a crazy-long fast to be the best fat burner and get other awesome results. Simply have a healthy dinner, close the kitchen after dinner, and then have a late breakfast (I would say no later than 10 a.m.) the following morning.  

You’ll effortlessly create a 12–14 hour fasting window… and you’ll be sleeping eight or even nine of those hours! 

Drink Up Throughout the Day (Except During Meals)

Forget the fancy energy drinks! A single glass of water can increase your metabolism by 30%, help you detoxify, and suppress your appetite.5 

When a craving strikes between meals, reach for a glass of clean, filtered water. You may find you’re often just thirsty, not hungry. Try it in the evening, too. One study found that a glass of water before bedtime can satisfy hunger and cravings.6 

A few things to remember about water: stay away from toxic plastic bottles, and stick with clean, filtered water. (You can always keep things interesting by making easy and tasty infused water.) Also, avoid drinking 30 minutes before and after meals, so you don’t dilute the enzymes you need for healthy digestion. 

I’m also a big fan of green tea, which can boost your metabolism and help you reach your ideal weight. One study looked at 102 overweight or obese women who received green tea extract for 12 weeks. The results? Significant weight loss, reduced waist circumference, and a healthier lipid (cholesterol and triglyeride) profile.7 

Putting the Plan Into Action: My Typical Meal Routine 

Now that you know what to eat and why meal timing matters, I’ll show you what a typical metabolism-boosting day looks like for me.  

Upon waking: First thing in the morning, I reach for a glass of hot water with lemon to rehydrate and wake up my metabolism. Bonus: lemon lowers your blood sugar response and cuts sugar cravings. Talk about an awesome start to your day! 

After meditation, I reach for my gratitude journal along with a cup of half-regular, half-decaf coffee, which is a great metabolism booster.  

Breakfast: After an intense morning workout, I have a loaded smoothie with avocado, berries, and a pinch of cinnamon and cayenne pepper, all blended in almond milk.

While you’re getting your protein fix, spice things up. Cinnamon improves insulin sensitivity, so you keep steady blood sugar and hunger at bay.8 Meanwhile, cayenne pepper kicks up metabolism and keeps hunger at bay, so cravings aren’t a problem between meals.9 

I always add a scoop of Collagen Peptides Powder to my loaded smoothie. Among its duties, this fabulous protein supports glowing skin, a healthy gut, and lean muscle mass.* 

Mid-morning: Unsweetened green tea is a daily staple. I drink 32 ounces every day, including a glass every morning, hot or iced. 

Lunch: Simple foods like sliced turkey wrapped around bell pepper strips, leafy greens, and dairy-free almond ricotta are my go-to’s: zero fuss and super healthy. I avoid highly reactive foods like dairy, gluten, and soy.

Mid-afternoon: I’ll have unsweetened green tea or this Metabolism-Boosting Arnold Palmer. Snacking (even on healthy stuff) can raise insulin levels and mess with your metabolism, which is why I never recommend it.  

Dinner: I always eat by the plate. That means I have a clean protein such as grilled wild-caught salmon, with sides like steamed broccoli sautéed in ghee, and wild rice. 

Wild-caught salmon is a clean source of protein that’s also rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Broccoli is high in fiber and nutrients, and ghee is a healthy source of fat. Wild rice is a type of grass that’s low-sugar impact. I find that if I include some slow-low carbs at dinner time, I usually sleep better at night. 

An hour before bedtime: Winding down my day with a tall glass of water helps me fight off cravings, so it’s easy to shut down the kitchen 3 hours before bedtime.  

Then it’s off to a 12–14 hour fast as I drift off to a good night’s sleep! I always take Sleep Candy™ , which combines melatonin with other calming nutrients, to fall and stay asleep. * 

That’s it: a science-based, straightforward plan to boost your metabolism all day long! 

The views in this blog by JJ Virgin should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please work with a healthcare practitioner concerning any medical problem or concern. The information here is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or condition. Statements contained here have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. 


  1. Halton TL, Hu FB. The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Oct;23(5):373-85. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2004.10719381. PMID: 15466943. 
  2. Lee YS, Olefsky J. Chronic tissue inflammation and metabolic disease. Genes Dev. 2021 Mar 1;35(5-6):307-328. doi: 10.1101/gad.346312.120. PMID: 33649162; PMCID: PMC7919414. 
  3. Clegg ME. Medium-chain triglycerides are advantageous in promoting weight loss although not beneficial to exercise performance. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2010 Nov;61(7):653-79. doi: 10.3109/09637481003702114. PMID: 20367215. 
  4. Varady KA, Cienfuegos S, Ezpeleta M, Gabel K. Cardiometabolic Benefits of Intermittent Fasting. Annu Rev Nutr. 2021 Oct 11;41:333-361. doi: 10.1146/annurev-nutr-052020-041327. PMID: 34633860. 
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  7. Chen IJ, Liu CY, Chiu JP, Hsu CH. Therapeutic effect of high-dose green tea extract on weight reduction: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Clin Nutr. 2016 Jun;35(3):592-9. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2015.05.003. Epub 2015 May 29. PMID: 26093535. 
  8. Deyno S, Eneyew K, Seyfe S, Tuyiringire N, Peter EL, Muluye RA, Tolo CU, Ogwang PE. Efficacy and safety of cinnamon in type 2 diabetes mellitus and pre-diabetes patients: A meta-analysis and meta-regression. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2019 Oct;156:107815. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2019.107815. Epub 2019 Aug 16. PMID: 31425768. 
  9. McCarty MF, DiNicolantonio JJ, O’Keefe JH. Capsaicin may have important potential for promoting vascular and metabolic health. Open Heart. 2015 Jun 17;2(1):e000262. doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2015-000262. PMID: 26113985; PMCID: PMC4477151.