5 Amino Acids All Gym Lovers Should Know About

Amino acids, the molecules that make up protein, help build everything from our hair to our skin to our eyes (and more!). They’re also crucial for a type of tissue we hold particularly dear—our muscle.

Five aminos have earned some extra spotlight for their muscle-boosting benefits, and may be particularly important for anyone who hits the gym and goes hard on the reg. Whether you’re considering adding an amino acid supplement to your fitness routine, don’t know much about the one you’re already taking, or just want to understand the magic that happens inside your muscles—we’ve got all the amino info you need.

The best-known—and perhaps most important—amino acids are the three branched-chain amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These aminos, called BCAAs, are found in food protein sources like meat and dairy, explains Brian Tanzer, M.S., nutritionist and manager of scientific affairs for The Vitamin Shoppe. “These amino acids work to protect lean body mass—a.k.a. your muscle,” he says.

The importance of branched-chain aminos for our muscles has been well-researched, with one review (published in the Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology) concluding that the BCAAs—especially leucine—“enhance protein synthesis.” They’re often found in a 2:1:1 ratio of leucine-isoleucine-valine—both in natural food sources and supplements. All three work together, but each has a slightly different function.

Leucine

The first BCAA is an all-star when it comes to muscle-building. Leucine plays a crucial role in muscle protein synthesis (the process in which muscle is repaired and built) and in the production of growth hormones, which also support muscle mass, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). “Leucine also protects muscle tissue from breaking down when under stress, like vigorous strength-training,” adds Tanzer.

Since leucine is also an essential amino acid, meaning our body can’t produce it, we have to get it from food or supplements.

Isoleucine

The second BCAA, ‘isoleucine,’ might sound a lot like ‘leucine,’ but the magic it works in your muscles is a bit different. This BCAA can be converted to glucose and used as an energy source by your muscles when you’re working out, Tanzer says. In addition to regulating energy levels, isoleucine also regulates blood sugar and stimulates hormone production and immune function, according to NCBI.

Valine

Like isoleucine, our third BCAA can also be used as an energy source by the muscle when you’re on your grind. But it also supports your workouts in another, unexpected way. “When you exercise, your body’s serotonin (its feel-good hormone) goes up, which can make you feel a little drowsy after a while,” says Tanzer. “Valine actually blocks the uptake of serotonin in your brain, which can help prevent that drowsy, fatigued feeling.” (This is known as the ‘central fatigue theory,’ in case you want to drop some science knowledge on your gym buddies.)

How To Benefit From BCAAs

To get the max benefits from these BCAAs, you’ll want to get between five and 10 grams into your system both before and after a workout, recommends Tanzer. This can be tough to pull off with food alone, since your body needs to digest the food, absorb the amino acids, and process them in the liver before it can transport them to the muscles through the blood.

That’s where a supplement comes in: “With an amino acid supplement, you skip the breakdown process and can send those BCAAs straight into the bloodstream and to the muscles,” Tanzer says.

You can start sipping on a BCAA supp—most are in powder form—a half-hour or so before your workout and keep on sipping as you sweat. (And since isoleucine and valine can both be used for energy, getting your BCAAs in before the gym can be especially beneficial if you haven’t eaten in a while.) Shake another scoop or two into your water bottle for post-sweat recovery, too.

Related: 4 Possible Reasons Why You’re Still Feeling Wrecked Days After A Workout

In addition to the three ever-important BCAAs, there are two other aminos you may want to keep in mind—and possibly in your shaker cup.

Glutamine

This amino acid plays a role in your post-workout recovery—and just so happens to be the most abundant amino in the body, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Glutamine supports your immune function, which takes a hit whenever your body is under stress—including when you work out, says Tanzer. “Your immune system might pull glutamine from your muscle tissue, leading to gradual muscle breakdown, so replacing that glutamine post-workout can help preserve your muscle mass,” he explains.

One study published in the Journal of Exercise Science and Fitness found that glutamine helped active men preserve muscle strength—and avoid soreness—following strength-training tests.

Tanzer recommends mixing five to 10 grams of glutamine into your post-workout BCAA drink. More bang for every sip!

Citrulline

The last noteworthy amino might be in another supplement you already take: your preworkout. “Citrulline is a precursor to nitric oxide synthesis, which helps relax the blood vessels and boost circulation to your working muscle tissue,” explains Tanzer. Better circulation to your muscles benefits both your workout performance—and later recovery.

Because of its effect on blood vessels, you’ll also find citrulline in some ‘pump’ supps. (You’ll probably also see a similar amino acid, arginine, in these products—but citrulline appears to be the more effective of the two because it is better absorbed, according to Tanzer.)

Along with boosting blood-flow, the nitric oxide produced by citrulline can also boost the muscle’s ability to use energy, according to a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. The researchers found that cyclists performed better on a time trial and reported feeling less fatigued after taking citrulline regularly.

Citrulline may also help remove ammonia and lactic acid (which build up throughout exercise) from the muscles, and may help you grind on without that muscle ‘burn’ feeling, says Tanzer.

Somewhere around six grams of citrulline pre-workout is ideal, says Tanzer, though you’ll still benefit from the lower doses found in many preworkout formulas. You can add extra to your usual preworkout before you hit the gym, and add some to your recovery drink, as well, he says.

Just check with your doc before taking citrulline if you have any kidney issues, Tanzer recommends. The ammonia citrulline helps pull from the muscles has to go through the kidneys before leaving the body.

Related: Check out a wide variety of amino acid supplements.

The 10 Most Masterful Meal Preppers On Instagram

Few things mesmerize us more than scrolling through countless symmetrical arrangements of Tupperware packed with proteins and veggies. Call us crazy, but considering there are 5,361,719 photos on Instagram tagged #mealprep (and that’s just as of 11:13 P.M. on May 26, 2017), it’s safe to say we aren’t the only meal prep lovers out there.

We spent hours staring at bowls of hard-boiled eggs, entire sheets of roasted veggies, and grills filled with chicken breasts, to identify the Insta-meal-preppers that do it best. Consider their feeds all the inspiration you need to go ahead and order that 20-pack of food containers

@kaleandcarrotsticks

Seven types of veggies, one photo. Feast your eyes on an endless variety of produce and cinnamon-y sweet potatoes. Shots of beautiful avocado toast and eggs will leave you looking like the heart-eyes emoji.

It's that mealprep Sunday for a lot of you. In case you were looking for some ideas or motivation hopefully this can help a little. 1. Crustless egg quiche (see previous post for the recipe) 2. Overnight oats with strawberries 3. Veggie burger with roasted asparagus, zucchini and carrots 4. Lentil and bean chili 5. Protein almond butter balls 6. Fresh veggies, hummus and bean for salads 7. Post workout shake with a banana 8. Dark chocolate and pecan covered pineapple treats (see previous posts) 9. Lemons for my water #mealprepsunday #foodporn #mealplan #mealprep #macros #fitspo #nutrition #diet #mealprepideas #whole30 #fitspiration #eatright #wholefoods #healthy #iifym  #fitnessmeals  #dieta #fitfood #cleaneating #cleaneats #mealprepmonday  #mealprepping #mealplanning #foodprep  #weightloss #healthyfood #mealprepdaily  #mealprepmondays

A post shared by Marek (@marekfitness) on

@marekfitness

With every meal, snack, and sweet treat accounted for, this is the ultimate day of healthy, balanced eating. Check out the feed for crustless quiche and oatmeal bake recipes that’ll last all week long.

Here's what each day looks like this week. Quick tip if you wanna shred lbs after the holidays… don't eat any sugar or carbs before your workout… hit that fat burning zone on nothing but BCAAs and a little protein and fat (like a handful of nuts), and the energy will be derived from burned fat rather than the sugar in your blood. Easiest to do this is the AM. 🍽 Pre-Workout (6:30am): Cashews, BCAAs, MCT oil, Whey Protein Isolate, * Breakfast/Post Workout (9:00am): 4 Soft boiled Eggs, half Avocado, Blueberries * Lunch (12:00pm): Rosemary & Thyme Chicken, Steamed Asparagus & Broccoli, Baked Sweet Potatoes * Snack (3:00pm): Protein Pancake, 4 Soft-Boiled Eggs, half Avocado, Homemade Kombucha * Dinner (6:00pm): Tex-Mex Salad – Spinach, Ground Turkey (spicy seasoning), Bell Peppers, Tomatoes, Black Beans, Corn, Hemp Seeds * Snack (9:00pm): Bell Pepper, BCAAs, Casein Protein

A post shared by Chris Rocchio (@chris.rocchio_fit) on

@chris.rocchio_fit

These meal prep pics take all of the guess-work out of what a day of healthy eating looks like. Rosemary and thyme chicken with steamed asparagus and broccoli and baked sweet potatoes for lunch, anyone? Some posts even include the macros for these healthy meals.

Related: What Is The ‘If It Fits Your Macros’ Diet—And Should You Try It?

@pbfingers

Short on time but still trying to pull off a quick meal prep? One-pan meals to the rescue! Expect bright, colorful recipes with a side of adorable toddler pics from this meal-prepper.

So whilst we all tuck into our tupps I thought I'd share what's in mine this week (I'm actually on the tube but I'll be having mine soon). . Top row we have overnight oats as modelled by me this morning 💁🏻and some pork shoulder on a bed of pearl barley with courgette and shrooms. . Middle row: layered chicken, turmeric rice and veggies; steak with cabbage, peas, peppers and carrots; and some hard-boiled eggs for snacking. . Bottom row: turmeric basa on a bed of quinoa and red onion with a little tub of houmous; some veggies to go with my fish – I couldn't fit it in the tub; and some protein pancakes with chia, tahini and bloobs. . All set for my four day working week 🤗🍱 . #mealprep #mondaymotivation #foodprep #tupperware #food #pork #stew #veggies #steak #eggs #pancakes #chicken #rice #oats #glutenfree #brofood #gainz #fatloss #macros #protein #carbs #healthychoices #fitness #fitfood #bodybuilding #healthyeating #healthyfoodporn #nutritious #foodporn #foodstagram

A post shared by Danny Andrea (@dannysfitfood) on

@dannysfitfood

This fit chick proves that healthy eating can be packed with flavor—and pretty dang photogenic. When you’re sick of chicken breast, you’ll find plenty of other protein options here, including venison, trout, and hake fish.

Related: How Much Protein Do You Really Need?

@foodprepprincess

The symmetry in this arrangement of meal containers, bags of veggies, and pieces of fruit is almost museum-worthy. And look out for the occasional healthy sweet treat recipe! We’re currently drooling over a shot of PB and chocolate protein squares…

@theleangreenbean

Who says healthy baked goods can’t be a part of meal prep? Sweet potato cookies, waffle French toast, and banana pancakes for the win. This Crossfit®-loving mama is all about enjoying healthy food and nailing box jumps.

@zsofkaa

This Hungarian fit chick’s produce pics will make you want to hop in the car and drive right toward your local farmer’s market. We may not speak the same language, but our bellies hear the call of those smoothie bowls and produce-packed snacks loud and clear.

@michellevodrazka  

Let it be known that meal prep can totally involve cinnamon buns. Cinnamon bun-flavored protein bars, that is. This feed is perfect for all the gluten and dairy-free preppers out there.

Related: Find a protein bar to post in your own meal-prep pics.

14 Ways To Get Your Matcha Fix—Other Than Making Tea

Matcha, a powder made from green tea leaves, has taken over lattes and Instagram feeds everywhere. Considering it’s chock-full of nutrients and antioxidants, as well as a natural source of caffeine, we’re not complaining.

But if a mug of piping hot matcha doesn’t appeal on warm-weather days—or if you’re new to the slightly-bitter flavor—you can enjoy the benefits of this green super-powder in baked goods, energy bites, smoothies, and more.

matcha 1
photo: Epic Matcha

Matcha Limeade

Why not enjoy a nice dose of antioxidants in that refreshing glass of limeade? Epic Matcha’s recipe takes matcha straight into the summer.

matcha 2
photo: Oh, How Civilized

Matcha Banana Nice Cream

With a couple of frozen bananas and a good blender or food processor, you’re never more than a minute or two away from a healthy ice cream alternative. Swap out your usual flavor add-ins for matcha powder to create a delightfully green frozen treat, courtesy of Oh, How Civilized. (Sub in coconut milk for the condensed milk for a dairy-free option.)

matcha 3
photo: Living Well Mom

Matcha Energy Bites

Five simple ingredients come together for these chewy and sweet bites from Living Well Mom. Matcha newbies can add slightly more maple syrup for a little extra sweetness.

Related: Is Matcha Really A Miracle-Worker?

matcha 4
photo: The Grateful Grazer

Coconut Matcha Energy Bars

Making energy bars at home can save major cash—on top of the added sugar many bars are packed with! Swap sugar for antioxidants with this recipe from The Grateful Grazer. They’re also loaded with healthy fats from almonds, cashews, hemp seeds, and coconut.

matcha 5
photo: Salu Salo Recipes

White Chocolate Matcha Cookies

The ultimate gateway matcha recipe, these matcha cookies play off your favorite traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe. Salu Salo Recipes mixes matcha into the dough and swaps your usual chocolate chips for white chocolate. Soft and chewy—and party-friendly.

matcha 6
photo: Desserts With Benefits

Matcha Overnight Oats

This easy make-ahead breakfast is the perfect canvas for different flavor combinations. Desserts With Benefits sweetens up these matcha overnight oats with vanilla and almond extracts. Plus, you can always add your favorite vanilla protein to give your oats a boost.

Related: 8 Overnight Oats Recipes That Make Breakfast Taste Like Dessert

matcha 7
photo: Pastry Affair

Coconut Matcha Chia Pudding

No instant pudding packets here! Soaking chia seeds in coconut milk creates the perfect creamy, slurp-worthy pudding texture you’ll want to spoon up for breakfast, snack-time, and dessert. Top this treat from Pastry Affair with a dollop of coconut whipped cream and you’re golden.

matcha 8
photo: Fearless Dining

Matcha Banana Bread

Starting to realize you can add matcha to just about any baked good your heart desires? Fearless Dining’s classic banana bread recipe packs a bunch of our favorite healthy baking ingredients, like coconut oil, almond flour, and almond milk.

matcha 9
photo: Becomingness!

Raw Matcha Brownies

No baking required for these ooey-gooey matcha brownies by Becomingness! Cacao powder, pecans, dates, and vanilla extract come together to make these fudgy brownies, while cacao butter, matcha, and a sweetener like honey or maple syrup create a creamy layer of matcha goodness.

matcha 10
photo: Milly’s Kitchen

Matcha White Chocolate Bark With Coconut And Raspberries

Chocolate bark isn’t just for the holidays—this colorful matcha white chocolate bark screams springtime. With just four simple ingredients, it’s easy to make and sinfully sweet. Tweak this recipe from Milly’s Kitchen by swapping in different toppings for the raspberries and coconut.

matcha 11
photo: Goodness Is Gorgeous

Matcha Pistachio Ice Pops

Since you’re not about to be sipping hot matcha poolside, these frozen matcha pistachio pops are the ultimate summer antioxidant boost. Get your ice pop molds ready for Goodness Is Gorgeous’s recipe!

match 12
photo: Living Well Mom

Matcha Fudge

Coconut butter, coconut cream, and coconut oil make the most delightful base for this light and sweet fudge by Living Well Mom. Plus it’s free of the refined sugar in most fudge—and sweetened with pure maple syrup and vanilla extract instead.

matcha 13
photo: Sarah Hearts

Matcha Rice Krispie Treats

Because six-year-olds and full-grown adults alike can appreciate a good rice krispie treat (or four), why not add matcha to the crunchy, marshmallowy mix? Swap coconut oil in for butter to make Sarah Hearts’ recipe dairy-free.

matcha 14
photo: My Life Cookbook

Mango Matcha Green Smoothie

This summery smoothie from My Life Cookbook packs all sorts of greens, including matcha, spinach, and (our personal favorite) avocado. Mango naturally sweetens up the blend for a tasty, nutrient-packed drink.

Related: Shop matcha products, including powders, tea bags, and whisks.

I Drank Kombucha Every Day For Two Weeks—Here’s What My Gut Had To Say

I’ll just come right out and say it: My stomach has always been trouble. Fried food usually leaves me curled up on the couch for hours. Anything loaded with carbs or sugar? Cramp city. The older I get, the more sensitive my stomach becomes.

Over the years I’ve tried just about every gut remedy out there. My desk at work is well-stocked with ginger tea, I faithfully take a probiotic every day, I guzzle water, and I eat a lot of fiber. Still, though, my stomach doesn’t always cooperate. (I’ll spare you the details, but you know what I mean.)

The latest gut-friendly trend to make its way onto my to-do list: kombucha. The fizzy fermented drink—made by adding sugar, yeast, and bacteria to tea—has invaded the refrigerated section of even the most basic grocery store after winning over my fellow health nuts with its funky flavors and promise of probiotics. (These good bacteria live in our gut and help us digest food, destroy harmful microorganism, and produce vitamins, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.)

A sucker for trendy health foods, I was already a fan of other probiotic-packed fermented foods like kimchi, and I’d splurged on a bottle of kombucha here and there—but it wasn’t until after a belly-decimating, cheese and pastry-filled trip to Europe that I was ready to really commit to drinking it regularly. My gut needed some serious TLC.

Since I’d recently cut out dairy (yep, even my morning Greek yogurt got the boot), I wondered if it was time I find myself another fermented food to replace it with—and kombucha seemed like an easy way to bump up my daily probiotic intake. I mean, I wasn’t about to commit to eating kimchi every day, but I was already used to drinking lots of water, so why not throw some kombucha into my daily sips? Easy peasy.

So I stopped by the East Rutherford, New Jersey, The Vitamin Shoppe to stock up on kombucha. (Complete with eight kegs of Aqua ViTea kombucha and refillable glass bottles and growlers, this place is like a Health Enthusiast heaven.) I filled a growler with a mix of the ginger and turmeric flavors and headed home, ready to rock my gut’s world.

Related: 8 Foods And Drinks For When You Just Can’t Go To The Bathroom

mug selfie.jpg

The Experiment

To find out if drinking this effervescent beverage on the reg would really make a difference, I decided to have a glass every morning for the next two weeks. (Aqua ViTea’s website recommended starting with four to six ounces a day, so I stuck with a small glassful.)

My first morning of the experiment, as I sipped my way through a glass of the bubbly tea while checking my email, I noticed that I felt super-full—but not in a heavy, just-ate-a-cheeseburger kind of way. Simply sated.

And I had a second realization: Kombucha could really get things moving. Not in a frightening Bridesmaids-movie-scene kind of way, but whoa.

The same pattern continued through the rest of the work week. I drank my glass of kombucha about a half-hour or so after breakfast, hit the bathroom sometime around mid-morning, and felt awake and satisfied until lunch. After a few days, I also noticed that I felt more awake and alert as I went about my morning routine. Placebo effect or not, I didn’t mind. (My kombucha was made from a blend of black and green tea—but I learned that very little of the caffeine in those teas survives the fermentation process. Kombucha does contain some B vitamins, which we associate with energy, though.)

I rationed out my 64-ounce growler so it’d last me the full week, and refilled it with my turmeric-ginger mix for week two. By then, I looked forward to my fizzy sips each morning, especially because my stomach felt so great.

As my gut got used to the daily bubbles, I didn’t feel quite as full after drinking them. Somewhere in the middle of week two, I started drinking a second glass around mid-afternoon, when an itch for something sweet and a dip in energy hit. I felt revitalized—and you know that slightly groggy, sloth-like feeling of a meal lingering in your stomach? (I call this the ‘after-lunch blahs’.) Gone.

I was becoming a kombucha-holic—with less than a third of my second growler left with four more days to go in my kombucha streak—so I started diluting my bubbly beverage in a little sparkling water to avoid yet another growler refill. My growler lasted through the end of week two, though just barely.

kombucha selfie

The Verdict

After two full weeks of kombucha-drinking, my toilet time was more regular than it’d been in a while and I felt like my stomach was moving and grooving—no gas, no bloating. A major win in my book, considering I was used to feeling like there was a balloon in my stomach at any point of the day.

I also no longer felt the need to brew up a double mug of green tea for a caffeine boost around lunchtime; my mind was clear and my focus steady. A splash of kombucha in plain bubbly water kept my taste buds happy (and made it much easier to stay hydrated) all day long.

I’ll definitely continue to hit up the kombucha bar at The Vitamin Shoppe for my weekly growler fill-up, and may even get myself a second growler to stash at home. Yeah, I love it that much.

Related: Shop a variety of drinks, from sparkling waters to teas to energy-boosters.

Should You Make The Switch To Grass-Fed Whey Protein?

Hit the yogurt or meat section in just about any grocery store these days and you’ll find tons of products labeled ‘grass-fed.’

Sure, we all like to picture our cheese coming from cows that used to hang out on sunny, green pastures instead of inside giant, cramped warehouses—but it turns out grass-fed animal products may not only be better for our consciences, but for our overall nutrition, too.

Remember the phrase ‘you are what you eat’? Consider this: “A lot of standard cow feed comes from dent corn, which is super-high in starch [a.k.a. carbs],” explains Joe Pilewski, director of product development for NutriForce Nutrition. This corn is quite nutritionally different than grass—and more difficult to digest, he says.

So, it would make sense that a cow’s daily grub affects, well, our daily grub. Research, like a 2013 study published in PLOS One, has found that organic, grass-fed milk contains fewer omega-6 fatty acids and more omega-3 fatty acids than the conventional stuff. Many Americans consume too many omega-6 fatty acids from foods like processed veggie oils, and not enough omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in foods like fatty fish, explains Ryan Andrews, M.A., M.S., of Precision Nutrition. And since omega-3 fatty acids support our heart and brain health, and our immune system, we wouldn’t say ‘no’ to getting more out of our dairy. According to the study, grass-fed milk is also higher in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), a fatty acid that supports lean muscle mass.

Similarly, research suggests grass-fed animal products may also be higher in antioxidants like vitamins A and E. One review published in Nutrition Journal found that grass-fed beef contained more beta carotene (a precursor for vitamin A) than grain-fed beef. It also found that grass-fed beef packed more alpha-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E.

So, while that’s a pretty solid case for picking grass-fed dairy and meat products, does it mean you should also switch to a grass-fed whey protein supplement? After all, whey protein is made from milk!

The short answer: It depends on what you’re looking for. “Protein powder has gone through manufacturing in which many nutrients have been processed and removed,” explains Andrews. Chances are, you love your go-to whey protein isolate because it’s just the protein (and low in fat, carbs, and sugar, if it contains any at all)—but you don’t get the nutritional benefits, like extra omega-3s or vitamins, of grass-fed whey.

That said, there’s more to our food than its nutritional stats. “People are really starting to ask where their food is coming from and if it’s a sustainable choice,” says Andrews. Going for grass-fed may be a more environmentally-sustainable choice, on top of being an opportunity to support companies that prioritize the treatment of their animals, he adds.

It’s worth noting that many protein supplements utilizing grass-fed whey prioritize clean, natural ingredients across the board. You might notice that these supps use sweeteners like stevia, or stick with natural flavors. “There are a lot of facets that constitute clean whey,” notes Shawn Sherwood, vice president of research and development for Designer Protein. Those may include everything from being non-GMO to skipping artificial flavors and sweeteners, he says. If a supp’s super-clean street cred is a priority for you, look out for products labeled Non-GMO Project Verified, USDA Organic, and/or NSF certified.

Related: Shop the full selection of natural whey protein supplements.

 

10 Refreshing Drinks You Can Make With Apple Cider Vinegar

It’s no secret: We’re obsessed with apple cider vinegar. The pungent liquid contains B vitamins, calcium, potassium, and antioxidants—and studies have shown it can promote heart health, immune health, and even support healthy blood sugar.

Not quite ready to throw back shots of ACV on the daily? Not a problem. Mixing it with a few easy ingredients can quickly transform regular ol’ ACV into a refreshing mocktail.

Grab your bottle of Bragg and sip your way through these tasty beverages.

drink 1
photo: Living Renewed

The Afternoon Energy-Booster

Before you turn to yet another coffee when your energy tanks around mid-afternoon, try this bubbly ACV drink from Living Renewed instead. If you’re a vinegar-drinking newbie, start with less ACV and more sweetener. Then increase the vinegar and decrease the sweetener as you get used to the taste.

You’ll need:

12 oz. sparkling water
½-1 Tbsp ACV
1 tsp lime juice
3-5 drops liquid stevia
Ice

Combine all ingredients and enjoy. (Makes one serving.)

Cranberry juice
photo: iStock

Zingy Cranberry Cocktail

If only we could order this when out on the town. The perfect combo of sweet and sour, this cranberry mocktail from The Healthy Honeys feels quite fancy.

You’ll need:

1-2 Tbsp ACV
2 Tbsp cranberry juice
1 ½ cups water
2 tsp maple syrup

Stir all ingredients together and drink. (Makes two servings.)

drink 3
photo: Confessions of an Overworked Mom

Blueberry ACV Drink

Add antioxidant-packed blueberries into your ACV for a boost of subtle flavor and good-for-you cred. Confessions of an Overworked Mom’s quick recipe practically begs to be put in a mason jar.

You’ll need:

2 Tbsp fresh blueberries
1 Tbsp ACV
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp maple syrup
12 oz. water
Ice

Place berries at bottom of your glass and muddle with a spoon. Then combine remaining ingredients. (Makes one serving.)

drink 4
photo: Wellness Mama

Ginger Honey Switchel

Switchel drinks, which often combine apple cider vinegar and ginger, are all over Pinterest. Because why not combine the benefits of ACV with the belly benefits of soothing ginger? This basic switchel recipe from Wellness Mama is slightly spicy, but sweet.

You’ll need:

2 Tbsp ACV
3 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
2-inch piece ginger root, minced
4 cups water
½ lime, zest and juice

Combine all ingredients in jars, shake well, and refrigerate overnight. Pour over ice to serve. (Makes four servings.)

drink 5
photo: Dr. Axe

Secret Detox Drink

If there’s one ACV concoction you’ve already heard of, it’s this one. Dr. Axe’s detox drink combines a number of powerhouse ingredients—including ginger, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon—for a drink that tons of Axe fans now start their day with.

You’ll need:

12 oz. warm water
2 Tbsp ACV
2 Tbsp lemon juice
½-1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp cinnamon
Dash cayenne pepper
1 tsp raw honey (optional)

Combine all ingredients, stir, and drink while warm. (Makes one serving.)

Related: 14 Practical (And Unexpected) Uses For Apple Cider Vinegar

drink 6
photo: Primally Inspired

Berry Lemon ACV Drink

Primally Inspired’s fruity vinegar drink is the perfect companion for a day at the pool. Try mixing up your flavors by swapping out the raspberries for blackberries.

You’ll need:

2 Tbsp fresh or frozen berries
1 Tbsp ACV
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp raw honey (optional)
12 oz. water
Ice

Place berries and honey at bottom of your glass and muddle with a spoon. Then combine remaining ingredients. (Makes one serving.)

drink 7
photo: Fermented Food Lab

Summer Watermelon Shrub

This fun drink from Fermented Food Lab will please a crowd at a barbecue or brunch—and because you make it ahead of time and stash in the fridge, that vinegar taste practically disappears.

You’ll need:

5 cups watermelon
½ cup honey
½ cup ACV
Sparkling water
Ice

Puree watermelon until liquefied and strain for juice. Add vinegar and honey to watermelon juice and stir. Store in the fridge for one to two days before serving. (Makes about five servings.)

drink 8
photo: Delighted Momma

Sweetened ACV Elixir

Even kids will happily guzzle this mix from Delighted Momma. The combination of fruit juice, cinnamon, and stevia is perfect for anyone not-quite ready for the bite of ACV.

You’ll need:

1 ½ cup water
2 Tbsp apple juice
2 Tbsp ACV
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp stevia

Combine all ingredients and pour over ice to serve. (Makes two servings.)

drink 9
photo: MamaShire

Peach Good Girl Moonshine

This one had us at ‘moonshine.’ MamaShire’s peach ACV drink recipe is such a creative way to use tea. So many flavors to experiment with!

You’ll need:

1 cup boiling water
2 peach tea bags
2 Tbsp ACV
½ tsp stevia
2 pinches ginger
Ice

Steep tea in hot water for five to 10 minutes. Remove tea bags and combine remaining ingredients. Let cool, then pour over ice. Add more water, if needed. (Makes two servings.)

drink 10.jpg
photo: The Skinny Confidential

Pink Detox Drink

This pink drink from The Skinny Confidential is worthy of a million Instagram likes, on top of being packed with good-for-you ingredients. Add as many mint leaves as your heart (and Insta followers) desire. (The Skinny Confidential recommends starting out with 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper.)

You’ll need:

6 cups water
3-5 Tbsp ACV
½ grapefruit, juiced
1-2 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp turmeric
Mint leaves (as desired)
Ice

Combine all ingredients and mix well. (Makes about six servings.)

Related: Stock up on apple cider vinegar to get your daily dose.