Are You Taking Too Many Showers?

Ah, a nice hot shower. It’s probably one of the most enjoyable moments of your day—and one of the best inventions in modern plumbing! Our ancestors could only have dreamed of having hot water at their fingertips with a simple turn of a faucet—but are we all taking this showering thing too far?

Most of us shower every day, but guess what? That’s probably way more often than is necessary. In fact, all those daily soap-ups could actually be harming your skin and hair.

Real talk: Chances are you’re not actually as dirty as you think you are, says Dr. Kachiu Lee, a dermatologist and assistant professor of dermatology at Brown University. Showering daily, she says, is a modern phenomenon: “It’s really a psychological thing. People think that if they don’t shower, they’re dirty. If you’re a construction worker, sure, but if you’re a normal office worker, your everyday life probably doesn’t cause a lot of grime.”

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Daily showers, as refreshing as they may feel, can have some not-so-great effects on your body, too. Specifically, Dr. Lee says, “Showering strips your skin of the natural oils that it produces, and dries it out. There’s also some evidence that bathing gets rid of beneficial bacteria on your skin, although we don’t know the full effects of that yet.”

Ready for your mind to be blown? It’s totally fine to shower every other day or even every three days, Dr. Lee says. Plus, elderly people and babies can bathe even less often than older children and adults because they sweat less.

There are some exceptions to this “every other day” rule, however. For instance, if you have certain skin conditions that require more frequent bathing. Same goes for those who live in very humid climates, have issues with hyperhidrosis (excessive sweat), or are athletes.

Pro-tip: When you are in the shower, you absolutely don’t have to soap your whole body to get clean. Hitting the areas that actually sweat, like the underarms, feet, and groin, is more than enough to keep you smelling clean and fresh. Dr. Lee explains that body parts like your back, arms, and legs probably aren’t dirty enough to warrant a full scrub-down all the time, so it’s fine to just rinse them.

Lee also recommends avoiding antibacterial soaps and other harsh cleansers, especially if you have eczema or other skin conditions. And moisturizing post-shower is key, especially during cold weather (when artificial heating can cause skin dryness).

And what about your hair and scalp? You definitely don’t need to shampoo every time you shower. “It’s good for the scalp to have a little moisture on it,” says Dr. Lee. Consider opting for a less-intensive styling routine, since many hair products, blow drying, flat irons, and other styling tools can seriously dry the hair of natural oils.

Related: In need of some natural beauty products? We’ve got you covered.

7 Tips For Doing A Plant-Based Diet Right

Researchers, dietitians, and influencers alike are all about plant-based diets, which emphasize eating more plants and less animal products (think meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy). Why? Research shows that plant-based diets are good for us: Consider this study about its connection to lower rates of type 2 diabetes, or this review supporting its ability to support weight loss, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, potentially even lessening the need for certain medications.

And the best part is, you don’t have to go full-on vegan—or even vegetarian—to hop on the plant-based train (though you totally can if you want to)! Plenty of plant-based eaters enjoy eggs, meat, and dairy every once in a while, but the whole notion of ‘plant-based’ is simply that plants are top priority.

Still, skeptics worry that a plant-based diet means missing out on certain nutrients. That could be the case, sure, if your version of a plant-based diet is only bread and bananas and peanut butter. But with these seven nutritionist-backed tips, you can create yourself a plant-based diet that’s nutritionally-balanced and sustainable.

1. Prioritize Protein

You may think of protein as the nutrient that builds and repairs your muscles and bones—but it does a whole lot more than that. “You also need protein to make hair, blood, enzymes, connective tissue, antibodies, and hormones,” says culinary nutrition expert Jessica Levinson, R.D., founder of Small Bites by Jessica. And in a plant-based diet, you’ll have to venture beyond chicken breast to get that precious protein.

Most people need 0.8 to one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, which is about 70 grams for someone who weighs 150 pounds. If you’re an athlete or working to build muscle, you’ll need more like 1.2 to 1.4 grams per kilogram of body weight, which is about 82 to 95 grams for someone who weighs 150 pounds.

And, yes, that’s totally doable on a plant-based diet. Center every meal around protein by filling at least a quarter of your plate with a plant-based protein source, like beans, legumes, tofu, tempeh, or edamame, says Stephanie Mendez, R.D., a nutritionist with NY Nutrition Group and co-founder of women’s fitness and nutrition program Matriarch. All of these options offer upwards of 12 grams of protein per serving. Nuts and high-protein grains (like quinoa and amaranth) also offer some protein.

Related: 7 Meat-Free Protein Sources

You can even plantify your go-to protein shake by adding a plant-based supplement like soy, pea, rice, or hemp protein powder. Many plant-based proteins include a blend of these in order to provide the best mix of amino acids (the molecules in protein) possible.

When you do incorporate animal-based proteins, limit them to less than half of your total protein intake, suggests Christy Brisette, R.D., of 80 Twenty Nutrition. Try to stick to fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna (which are high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids), poultry, and lean meats, all of which are all lower in saturated fats, she says.

2. Keep Carbs In Check

When you cut back on foods like dairy, eggs, and meat, it’s easy to replace them with carbs, says Mendez. And even if you’re eating all healthy foods, a diet too high in carbs and too low in healthy fats and proteins may leave you feeling unsatisfied.

Avoid this mishap by making sure one half of your plate is filled with non-starchy veggies (like spinach, carrots, mushrooms, cauliflower, or broccoli), one quarter with protein, and one quarter with carbs (either from starchy veggies like potatoes, corn, peas, and squash, or whole grains like brown rice, oats, or bulgur), according to Mendez. (Most dietitians recommend about 30 to 45 grams of carbs per meal, which would be about a cup of cooked whole grains or starchy veggies.)

And, like with any healthy diet, you’ll want to limit baked goods, added sugars, white bread, and pasta, and choose less-processed, whole-grain carbs. Refined carbs are stripped of their fiber, protein, and other nutrients (including vitamins E and KB vitamins, selenium, and magnesium), says Levinson. Meanwhile, whole grains, starchy vegetables and more wholesome products like whole-wheat bread contain fiber and nutrients to fill you up and keep your blood sugar stable and healthy, says Mendez. “Just make sure the first ingredient says ‘whole grain’ and there are no added sugars,” says Mendez.

3. Keep An Eye On Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 helps your body form red blood cells and DNA, and plays an important role in brain and nerve function, says Levinson. And because it binds to proteins and is found mostly in non-veggie sources like fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and milk, plant-based eaters have a harder time eating their fill. (Adults need about 2.4 micrograms a day.)

Incorporating one serving of eggs, dairy, or seafood a day can bump up your B12 intake. Otherwise, you can find it in nutritional yeast, and some fortified cereals, grains, and nut milks.

Related: Is There Such A Thing As Eating Too Much Meat?

If you’re going plant-based long-term, Mendez recommends having your B12 levels checked regularly. Your doctor can let you know if a B12 supplement is necessary with a simple blood test, she says.

4. Eat Your Spinach (And Other Iron Sources)

This is a big one. Iron helps your body transport the oxygen you breathe to all of your tissues. It also supports your metabolism, your hormones, and connective tissue. The average woman needs about 18 milligrams per day, while the average man needs eight.

There are two types of iron: heme iron, which comes from animal proteins, and non-heme iron, which comes from plants. Non-heme iron isn’t absorbed as easily as heme iron, so you need to eat more of it to hit your goals. To do so, make sure your diet contains a variety of sources, like beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, fortified grains and cereals, and (of course!) dark, leafy greens like spinach. One cup of beans contains about eight milligrams of iron, while a cup of boiled spinach contains about four.

Women, especially, should try to have a serving of iron-rich plant foods at every meal of the day, Mendez says.

Related: Talk to your doc about whether an iron supplement is right for you.

Levinson also recommends pairing iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods (vitamin C boosts your absorption of iron) and avoiding eating iron foods with calcium-rich foods (calcium limits absorption). For example, try pairing spinach with tomato sauce or fresh tomatoes.

5. Don’t Forget About Omega-3s

Omega-3s (like EPA and DHA) are a type of fatty acid that supports brain, eye, and heart health. Tricky thing is, they’re primarily found in fatty fish and eggs, says Mendez.

Featured Plant-Based Omega Supplements

But fear not! There are plenty of plant foods that help you stock up on these important omegas, like flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. These plant sources contain an essential fatty acid called ALA, which is used to produce EPA and DHA. Feature these foods on your plate regularly so your body can produce enough of the omega-3s it needs, says Mendez.

6. Plan Ahead For Snacking, Travel, And Meals Out

If you’ll be out and about—and potentially without veggie-friendly options—packing snacks and small meals can keep your plant-based eating possible and keep you from making an impulsive, imbalanced food choice. Pizza and pasta are tasty, sure, but they often contain lots of fats and carbs without much protein, so you don’t want to rely on them when you’re out, says Mendez.

Meal planning and prepping on the weekends (breakfast and snacks included) can go a long way in making plant-based dieting easy throughout busy weeks. If you know you’re going to be on the run, stash healthy, portable snacks to tide you over. Choose something that’s about 50 percent protein and 50 percent carbs, like a handful of nuts and an apple.  

7. Don’t Assume Vegetarian Or Vegan Products Are Healthier

Ooh, vegan cookies? Something about ‘em just seems healthier, right? But don’t be fooled.

For one, highly processed vegetarian foods—especially meat replacements like burgers or nuggets—are still highly-processed. “When you look at food labels for things like veggie chicken, they have a lot of other ingredients, including preservatives and chemicals added to get the texture and taste of meat,” says Mendez.  And vegan cookies, though they may not contain dairy, are usually still high in calories, fat, and sugar, she adds.

So limit the premade, processed foods as much as possible. After all, a brownie is still a brownie. Focus your meals and snacks on whole foods, and consider meat-free and vegan packaged foods with the same skepticism you’d consider any other foods.

Pin this infographic to keep these plant-based eating guidelines handy:

It Took Emergency Surgery For Me To Admit That I Was A Binge Eater

My husband Tuan says he hardly recognized the woman he drove to the emergency room in 2016: me. I was doubled over and moaning, after being woken up at 5 a.m. by intense abdominal pain.

In the E.R., I found myself on a gurney on the hospital’s surgical floor. The orderly had left me off to the side of the bustling corridor, where they lined up patients scheduled for surgery like taxiing planes awaiting takeoff.

Prior to that, an E.R. doctor had diagnosed me with cholecystitis, an inflammation of the gallbladder, and said I needed surgery to remove it. I’d had hereditary gall bladder issues, which had caused me to develop gallstones (hardened deposits of digestive fluid that can form in your gallbladder). But it was one particular gallstone, which had become lodged in my cystic duct, that became the source of my excruciating pain.

Waiting to be operated on was harrowing. I was nearly naked and the air felt cold—or maybe it was my fear making me feel that way. I shivered a little as I imagined my body in the drawer of a morgue, should something happen to me. A doctor approached me and introduced himself as my anesthesiologist.

The surgery was a wake-up call. I’d been keeping a secret for far too long—that I had been binge-eating since childhood.

“Can you read this before you give me the anesthesia?” I asked him. He nodded as I handed him a slip of paper. “I will come through this surgery well, and heal quickly,” it read. “I am loved.” The affirmation I wrote made me feel a little more in control.

Maybe my affirmation worked, because my surgery was successful. Afterward, though, I wore a drainage bag attached to the lower laparoscopic incision in my right side. It tugged uncomfortably at my skin, especially during bumps in the road as we drove home from the hospital.

After recovering for several months, I realized that the surgery was a wake-up call. I’d been keeping a secret for far too long—that I had been binge-eating since childhood—and surely that behavior had not kept me in optimal health.

My eating disorder had its roots in the chaotic household in which I grew up. I lived in fear of my mentally ill father and my parents didn’t emotionally care for me, so I often ended up turning to food for comfort. Many times after family dinners—long after I was full, long after my family members had left the dinner table—I stood alone over the stove in the kitchen of our suburban home, eating leftovers from the pots. A typical after-dinner binge left my belly feeling hard and round, yet I never felt sated.

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I got married in 2009 and continued secretly binging (or so I thought). My husband worked hard to ignore my binges, but empty Combos bags, clanking Pringles cans, and Cadbury bars still clinging to their foil—which I’d toss over the side of the bed after eating—were hard to overlook. I’d eat to treat myself after an annoying or long day, but these treats were ruining my health. Occasionally, my husband caught me bingeing and teased me for my “secret eating,” but neither one of us named the problem or took steps to address it.

For decades I had been able to binge without consequence. But now, in my late forties, my binge-eating had finally caught up with me. After the hospital, I had to try to make sustainable lifestyle changes for the sake of my health. More than that, my seven-year-old daughter deserved a mother who modeled good health practices.

I found a new doctor who worked at a hospital nearby. “I need help losing weight,” I told her. Young and eager to assist me, she saw how miserable I felt. The doctor promised emotional support—an essential element of sticking with good health habits.

It has been almost three months since that initial meeting and I’ve lost nearly 20 pounds (off of 200lbs), four BMI points, and several inches from my waist, hips, and butt, and my blood pressure has dropped. I’ve reduced my portion sizes and sugar intake, but I still allow myself to eat the foods I enjoy—in moderation. My husband now buys mini ice cream cones at Trader Joe’s (60 calories each), for example.

I had to try to make sustainable lifestyle changes for the sake of my health. More than that, my seven-year-old daughter deserved a mother who modeled good health practices.

Instead of forcing myself to go running, which I seriously dislike, I signed up for unlimited Pure Barre classes for a full-body group workout. I swim at the community pool and aim to walk 10,000 steps every day. I keep a food (and mood) journal to stay on top of triggers and remain honest with myself about what I eat.

In September, I rode my daughter to school on our cargo bike (another lifestyle tweak) for her first day of second grade. I felt good about knowing I had finally faced my behavior honestly, and I loved my improved mood, the way my pants fit, and how my more-sculpted shoulders looked in a sleeveless shirt.

I also love that my daughter watched me change my own health habits. I hope, inspired by my example, she’ll find ways to stay healthy far beyond the second grade.

What Is Tryptophan—And Does Turkey Really Make You Sleepy?

We all have our own Thanksgiving rituals, but the day usually looks something like this: Wake up, watch the parade and then some football, eat a massive amount of delicious food, and fall into an all-night food coma.

A lot of that food coma gets blamed on the tryptophan in turkey, but is it really this mysterious compound that makes you sleepy? Let’s fact-check Thanksgiving dinner’s biggest legend.

What Is Tryptophan?

Tryptophan is actually a type of amino acid a.k.a. the molecules that build proteins in our bodies. Turkey contains a number of amino acids, including tryptophan, threonine, isoleucine, and leucine. Our bodies can produce some amino acids (called ‘non-essential’), but we have to get others (called ‘essential’) from food.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that, in addition to building proteins, also synthesizes the neurotransmitter serotonin. So what does that have to do with your post-gobble slumber? Serotonin (which is often called the ‘feel good’ hormone) helps regulate your body’s sleep patterns by producing the hormone melatonin, which your body releases when it’s time to settle down for the night, explains says Jackie Ballou, R.D.

So that explains that! Right? Er, not so fast.

Myth Busting Tryptophan

There’s a catch: Turkey doesn’t actually contain any more tryptophan than other types of poultry, says Ballou. You can even find tryptophan in foods like soybeans, yogurt, eggs, and cheese—and none of these foods, including turkey, contain enough of the amino acid for it to have a sedative effect. Plus, the other amino acids in turkey counterbalance the tryptophan’s sleepy effects.

To put it in perspective, three ounces of turkey contains approximately 250 mg of tryptophan. To really feel the effects of the stuff, you’d have to consume the nutrient on its own and in a much higher amount. (Tryptophan supplements, which can support sleep, mood, and relaxation, usually contain about 1,000 milligrams.)

Related: 8 Possible Reasons Why You’re Exhausted All The Time

What does cause you to feel so tired after your Thanksgiving feast, then? All of the calories! When you gorge yourself with stuffing, pie, turkey, and potatoes, your body devotes tons of its energy to digesting it all, says Ballou. Plus, many of the Thanksgiving foods we love are really high in carbs—so they’ll make your blood sugar soar and then crash, and leave you half-asleep on the couch not long after you eat.

But hey, Turkey Day comes but once a year—so enjoy the food, relish the company, and bask in the food coma.

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6 Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Iron

Though it mostly goes unnoticed, iron has a very important job: It carries oxygen through our bodies, which helps us produce energy and get rid of carbon dioxide. Like we said—IMPORTANT!

If you’re not getting enough iron or if your body is struggling to absorb the iron you are already consuming, you could have iron-deficiency anemia. In the United States, 5.6 percent of the population are at least mildly anemic, according to the journal PLoS One. Additionally, an estimated 1.5 percent of Americans are moderately to severely anemic.

However, certain populations are more at risk for low iron than others, says Brittany Poulson, RDN. “People at higher risk of iron-deficiency anemia include women of childbearing age (due to blood loss during menstruation), infants and children, pregnant women, vegetarians (meat is a great source of dietary iron), and people who donate blood often,” she says.

Low iron levels can be caused by a wide variety of factors, including a lack of iron in your diet, an underlying health condition that makes it difficult for your body to absorb iron (like certain intestinal diseases), and pregnancy, according to Poulson.

The trouble is, many people aren’t aware that they aren’t getting enough iron—until they don’t quite feel like themselves. If you’re experiencing any of the following six symptoms, it’s worth a trip to your doctor to find out if you’ve got iron deficiency going on behind the scenes.

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#1. Extreme Fatigue

Feeling tired is one of the most common symptoms associated with low iron, according to Registered Dietitian Vanessa Rissetto.

“Fatigue [can] happen because your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to its many parts,” she says. “Also, the red blood cells your body makes have less hemoglobin than normal—and hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein in red blood cells.”

It’s worth noting that fatigue is not the same as sleeplessness. With fatigue, you generally feel lethargic, both mentally and physically—like you have no energy at all.

#2. Excessive Weakness

If you’re not getting enough iron, you may also notice that you’re feeling weak, especially in your muscles, according to Rissetto. This could be due to a  lack of oxygen. When you don’t have enough red blood cells, you’re likely not transporting an adequate amount of oxygen to your cells, organs, and body parts. Accompanied by weakness, you may also notice you are feeling dizzy or lightheaded, according to Poulson.

#3. Loss of Appetite

Are you suddenly finding yourself skipping meals? This could be another sign that you’re not getting enough iron. “If there is decreased oxygenation to the stomach, it can make you feel less hungry,” says Rissetto. “Less action means less interest in food.” If your appetite has markedly changed, do speak with your medical care provider.

#4. Spoon-shaped Nails

Yep, the physical appearance of our nails can indicate underlying health conditions. If you’re not getting enough iron, you could develop koilonychia, a condition caused by anemia that gives nails a thin, spoon-shaped appearance.

#5. Cold Hands and Feet

Some people are prone to having cold hands and feet because of their natural body temperature. However, if you’re experiencing it out of the blue, it could be one more clue you need more iron in your diet. This is also caused by the lack of oxygen moving throughout your body.

Related: Are You Getting Enough Iron?

#6. Pale Skin

If you’re suddenly struck with a look of pallor, you may want to have your iron levels checked, according to Poulson. This isn’t the same as having a fair complexion, of course, which is dependent on the melanin in your skin. If your skin is looking lighter, or unusually less colorful (like your cheeks have lost their color, for example), talk to your doctor.

Treating Low Iron

If you find you’re not getting enough iron, you should, first and foremost, focus on improving your diet. “Excellent sources of iron-rich foods include lean beef, liver, and dark meat chicken and turkey,” says Poulson. “Other sources include turkey, chicken, pork, fish, beans, peas, lentils, iron-enriched grains, spinach, collard greens, prunes and raisins.”

Pro tip: It’s beneficial to eat iron-rich foods (from plant sources) alongside foods that are high in vitamin C, since this essential vitamin aids our bodies in the absorption of iron.

If a change in diet is not enough, iron supplementation should be your next step. You may want to avoid consuming dairy, coffee, tea, chocolate, or high-fiber foods when taking iron supplements, as components of these foods may bind to the iron and reduce its absorption. Talk with your doctor about appropriate dosages before beginning supplementation.

Hemp Is Going Mainstream—Here’s How To Add It To Your Diet

You may have heard a thing or two about hemphemp oil, hemp seeds, hemp powder—but really, what exactly is it?
 
First thing’s first: Hemp comes from the cannabis plant—but it’s absolutely not marijuana. Hemp is derived from the non-psychoactive variety of the plant, and is both genetically different and cultivated by different means. In fact, hemp seeds and stalks have been used to produce  everything from textiles to paper production for over 8000 years. So don’t worry about hemp having any wacky side effects—eating it is both super-healthy and completely safe for everyday use.
 
Emily Keranen, NMD, an Arizona-based naturopathic doctor, is a big fan of hemp—and readily recommends it to her patients: “Hemp products are a good source of omega fatty acids, particularly omega-3,” she says. “Additionally, the high mineral content of hemp seeds, particularly phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and zinc, helps to strengthen bones and boost the immune system.”

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So how do you eat it? 

Hemp can be consumed in a variety of ways, depending on your diet and preferences. Hemp seeds, which have a neutral to slightly nutty taste, are commonly eaten by vegetarians because they’re a big source of plant-based protein, says Dr. Keranen: “The amount of protein in hemp (one tablespoon contains about 5.3 grams of protein) makes it a great protein source for plant-based eaters and anyone else looking to increase their protein intake.”
 
In addition, a study in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism showed that hemp seeds contain powerful antioxidants and other protective compounds, promoting immunity, joint support, and cardiovascular health. 
             
Hemp seeds are incredibly versatile (think of them sort of like chia). You can sprinkle them on top of yogurt or applesauce, pop them into your favorite smoothie or smoothie bowl, or even add them to baked goods like cookies, muffins, or quick breads. You can also reach for Hemp Heart Bites, which pack a whopping 10 grams of protein per serving.
 
Additionally, you can get the benefits of hemp by consuming it as a protein powder. Powders like Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro are super-easy to add to a post-gym or pre-workout shake, and boast tons of amino acids (which help us build muscle), fiber, protein, and omega-3s.
 
Lastly, there’s hemp oil, like Nutiva’s Organic Hemp Oil. Says Keranen: “Hemp oil is a wonderful source of omega fatty acids and can be used as a finishing oil on salads, or added to dressings, smoothies, and dips for raw vegetables and bread.”
 
Hemp oil contains three fatty acids that work wonders in the body, according to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. These include linoeic, α-linolenic, and oleic, all of which are crucial for body functions and help to boost heart, joint, and mood health.
 
A note of caution: Dr. Keranen says that hemp’s omega-3s can degrade at high temperatures, so don’t use the oil for baking, roasting, or other oven activities. (Not into drizzling oil onto your food? Hemp oil also comes in capsules.)
 

 Want to ease your way in to hemp oil? Here’s a simple recipe from Nutiva:

Related: Your Guide To Cooking With Healthy Oils

12 Tasty Ways To Eat Turmeric (Other Than Golden Milk)

Turmeric—a staple of holistic medicine, featured ingredient in Indian cuisine, and a star in healthy Instagram pics the world over—is known for its immune boosting properties and ability to ease digestive issues.

It also happens to taste heavenly when mixed with coconut milk and honey as a soothing, health-boosting beverage called golden milk. But the turmeric-infused grub doesn’t end there! Whether you buy turmeric root fresh or grab a bottle of ground turmeric from the spice aisle, you can sprinkle a little gold into everything from hummus to salad dressing to smoothies.

We rounded up 12 of the most creative and delicious turmeric recipes we could find—and we guarantee you’re going to want to try them all.

photo: Sprinkle of Green

1. Turmeric Sweet Potato Hummus

Enjoy every dunk of this nutrition-packed dip by Sprinkle of Green knowing you’re scooping up all the benefits sweet potatoes, turmeric, and beans have to offer (think vitamin A, protein, fiber, and more). Whether you’re dipping with whole-grain pita chips, crackers, or veggie sticks, it’s a colorful and flavorful snack or appetizer.

Related: 12 Energy Bites You’ll Want At Breakfast, Snack-Time, And Dessert

photo: Natalie’s Health

2. Lemon Turmeric Energy Bites

When you need a boost fast, energy bites are as easy to grab-and-go as they are to make. These bites from Natalie’s Health are light, sweet, and zesty—and come together quickly in the food processor. In addition to the golden goodness of turmeric, they also offer protein, fiber, and healthy fats from rolled oats, almonds, and chia seeds.

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photo: Dear Crissy

3. Turmeric Gummies

Trick your taste buds into thinking you’re eating candy (while supporting your immune system, of course) with Dear Crissy’s gummy recipe. You’ll blend together steamed carrots, OJ, hot water, gelatin, and turmeric paste to make these fruity, chewy health powerhouses. You’ll score some vitamin A and vitamin C in addition to the turmeric.

photo: PaleoHacks

4. Turmeric Coconut Flour Muffins

Warm turmeric is perfectly at home in these grain-free, naturally-sweetened muffins by PaleoHacks. They’re the perfect healthy quick breakfast, snack, or after-dinner treat—and unlike your average store-bought muffin, they provide the fiber you need to feel satisfied.

photo: Rebel Recipes

5. Golden Ginger And Turmeric Cookies

No mere gingerbread cookie or gingersnap can stand up to Rebel Recipes’ spicy ginger and turmeric cookies. Made with wholesome ingredients like ground almonds, oats, bananas, and coconut oil, they’ll light up your taste buds from the first bite. (You can thank pink salt, cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric for that!)

Related: Shop a wide selection of ingredients for healthy baking.

photo: Savory Lotus

6. Creamy Turmeric Dressing

Any food lover knows a delicious sauce can make a meal. This simple dressing by Savory Lotus is great drizzled on salads, veggies, meat, or fish—or practically any other food or dish that could benefit from a quality condiment. All you need is tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, honey, turmeric, black pepper, and a little salt to step up the flavor and nutrition of any meal.

photo: Simply Quinoa

7. Healing Turmeric Cauliflower Soup

This thick, creamy soup is as comforting as it is nourishing—and provides the fiber, protein, and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) you need to feel both cozy and satisfied. Simply Quinoa’s recipe uses cauliflower, red lentils, vegetable broth, and nut milk as a base, and packs in the flavor with shallots, garlic, turmeric, cumin, and sea salt.

photo: Healthier Steps

8. Turmeric Coconut Rice

An easy way to spice up (literally) any grain side dish? Turmeric, of course. Healthier Stepsturmeric coconut rice turns a plain grain into a robust, elegant side. Along with onion, garlic, turmeric, thyme, and carrots, you’ll cook your rice in coconut milk for extra rich, creamy flavor.

photo: Jar of Lemons

9. Golden Glow Pineapple Turmeric Smoothie

You may not think to shake turmeric into your smoothies, but with the right blender buddies to sweeten it up and mellow it out, we’re willing to be you’ll start. This bright blend from Jar of Lemons combines turmeric with banana, frozen pineapple, and coconut milk, for a thick, creamy smoothie that tastes as refreshing as it looks. Add your favorite vanilla protein powder into the mix and you’ve got the ultimate free radical-crushing, muscle-building post-workout smoothie.

photo: The Seasoned Mom

10. Golden Chicken

Without a strong marinade game, chicken breasts can be almost too boring to eat after a while. Try The Seasoned Mom’s turmeric marinade for a burst of color and flavor. Honey, whole-grain mustard, Dijon (who doesn’t love that), turmeric, garlic, olive oil, and salt whisk together quickly—any you don’t use to marinate your meat makes for a delicious dressing!

photo: Fooduzzi

11. Cinnamon Turmeric Iced Tea

When it’s too warm out for golden milk, sip on turmeric in a refreshing iced tea blend. Fooduzzi brews her favorite loose-leaf tea (half English Breakfast, half Ceylon) with cinnamon, turmeric, and either maple syrup or honey, then stashes it in the fridge to make a sweet and spicy beverage that’s perfect whether you’re sipping poolside or just need something flavorful to put in your water bottle.

photo: The Mediterranean Dish

12. Turmeric Roasted Carrots

Toss any veggie in a little fat and throw it in the oven and it’s pretty much guaranteed to turn out ah-mazing. But throw some spices and seasonings into the mix and you’ll be next-level impressed. The Mediterranean Dish perfectly caramelizes her carrots by roasting them with olive oil, turmeric, cinnamon, coriander, minced garlic, and salt and pepper for a punch of flavors that’s sure entice even the biggest of veggie-haters.

5 Health & Beauty Uses For Activated Charcoal  

Activated charcoal is trending right now, lauded for its ability to purge the body and skin of general uncleanliness. We’ve seen it popping up in products like ice creamtoothpaste, shampoo, and even lemonade!

Essentially, activated charcoal is charcoal that’s been heated to a very high temperature to make it more porous. The idea is that the many pores that are produced during this process make it possible for the activated charcoal to absorb all the nasties that might be floating around in your body and on your skin.

According to Brian Tanzer, Manager of Scientific Affairs at The Vitamin Shoppe, AC was originally used in emergency rooms to address toxicity issues related to poisoning and overdoses. “Activated charcoal can bind to toxins, reducing their absorption into the body,” Tanzer explains. “It carries a negative charge and traps positively-charged molecules that are potentially toxic.”

But activated charcoal has applications outside of the hospital, too—like in your bathroom! Here are the many ways lovers of AC use it for health and lifestyle purposes:

1. On your skin

Beauty aisles are lined with cutely packaged products starring activated charcoal, including soaps, face masks, skin peels, and more—and it’s not just a marketing gimmick: AC has skin-cleansing properties, according to research. Just note that it can also absorb good things, like the oils your skin actually needs, so always use a moisturizer afterward.

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2. As a deodorant

While there’s no specific research on how activated charcoal can combat general body odor or sweating, beauty bloggers swear by it. And, a 2008 study from the Indian Journal of Dermatology found that AC may cause a reduction in odors associated with skin blistering. So it’s probably not a bad idea to test out a deodorant that lists AC as an ingredient. You can also make your own, if you’re the DIY type.

Follow this tried-and-true recipe from blogger French Pixie. You’ll need just a few ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon activated charcoal
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot 
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1/4 cup liquid coconut oil 
  • 2 tablespoons magnesium oil 
  • 1 tablespoon  witch hazel 

3. Hangover preventer

Had one-too-many the night before? Good news: AC may help. According to a study in the Journal of the Indian Medical Association, there is some strong evidence linking alcohol poisoning reduction to activated charcoal. The Bulletproof Coffee blog recommends taking an AC supplement after or while drinking to help prevent hangover symptoms.

Related: Shop activated charcoal products, from soaps to peels. 

4. Teeth whitener

For anyone who prefers natural oral care, AC users have touted it for its teeth-whitening and surface stain-removing qualities. You can use a charcoal toothpaste, or powder like My Magic Mud’s Tooth Whitening Powder, but it’s also easy enough to pop open a capsule and just rub it onto your toothbrush with water. 

Just be warned: It can be quite messy. RIP bathroom sink. 

5. Gas reducer

Tanzer says AC may also be used for tummy troubles: “As a dietary supplement it is used to address some issues related to GI health, such as occasional digestive discomfort—and particularly gas that results from the digestion of food in the GI tract.”

Plus, a study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that it may also reduce abdominal cramps and bloating. If you want to support a healthy tummy, the Vitamin Shoppe’s activated charcoal capsules can be taken after or during meals to help keep the flatulence at bay.

One note: Activated charcoal can interfere with the efficacy of some medications, so if you’re taking anything regularly, you should speak with a healthcare provider before going all in.

Related: I Brushed My Teeth With Charcoal For 2 Weeks—Here’s What Happened

10 Foods That Pack More Added Sugar Than You Should Have All Day

You’ve been told at least a hundred times by now that eating too much sugar can have a scary impact on your health. And though sugar is our body’s number-one fuel source, excess intake can lead to blood sugar spikes and crashes, cravings, and weight gain, and even lead to conditions like type 2 diabetes.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends limiting added sugars (including natural sugars found in honey, syrups, and fruit juices) to less than five percent of your daily calories—or less than 25 grams, if you eat a 2,000-calorie diet. Get this, though: The average American eats a whopping 82 grams of sugar a day. And many of those grams coming from this added sugar—and not the kind naturally found in dairy, fruits, and vegetables.

Check the nutrition label on any packaged food and you might see sugar lurking in everything from granola to ketchup as high fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, beet sugar, honey, molasses, or cane sugar—just to name a few.

According to the FDA, food labels will have to specifically identify added sugar eventually, so you’ll know which sugar bombs to avoid. (This was just pushed back from 2018 to 2020.) For now, we asked a few nutritionists to round up some of the popular foods out there that are sure to push you over the added sugar edge.

1. Pumpkin Spice Lattes

Sorry, PSL lovers, but odds are your go-to Fall coffee order is loaded with sugar. A grande (16-ounce) PSL from Starbucks, for example, packs 48 grams of sugar if you order it with two-percent milk.

2. Store-Bought Muffins

Heavenly as they may be, many coffee shop muffins are total sugar bombs—even the ones that seem like healthier (or at least less sugary) options. Dunkin’ Donuts’ blueberry muffin comes along with 43 grams of sugar, with their cornbread muffin not far behind at 30 grams of sugar.

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3. Gin And Tonics

Despite the common belief that clear boozy drinks are lower in calories than their colorful counterparts, even the safe-sounding G&T is loaded with sugar. Throw back just two drinks (about 12 ounces-worth of tonic water) and you’ll down 32 grams of sugar. Where’s it all coming from? High-fructose corn syrup, which is the second ingredient in Schweppes’ tonic water.

 4. Store-Bought Smoothies

Many smoothies you’ll find at fast food joints and other chains—even those made from fruit—contain added sugar, too. A prime example: Dunkin’ Donuts strawberry banana smoothie. A small contains over double the recommended daily sugar intake with 54 grams.

Related: How To Make The Best Smoothie For Your Goals

5. Craisins

This uber-popular salad topper is one of the biggest culprits out there. A quarter cup of the sweetened dried fruit packs 29 grams of sugar, while unsweetened dried cranberries contain just about three grams, says Jackie Ballou, R.D., owner of Balancing Act Nutrition. Check the label and you’ll see the sweet stuff listed right behind ‘cranberries.’

6. Specialty Pancakes

It’s no shock that a breakfast with ‘cake’ in the name is going to be full of sugar. And sugar is just what you’ll get with decadent creations like an order of IHOP’s espresso mocha cream pancakes (71 grams), pumpkin spice pancakes (36 grams), or New York cheesecake pancakes (55 grams). Many options are more than double the recommended daily limit for added sugar—before you even add syrup!

7. Cinnamon Rolls

Who doesn’t love the ooey-gooey icing-drenched dough of a cinnamon bun? This heavenly pastry comes at a price, though—a roll from Cinnabon packs a whopping 880 calories and 59 grams of sugar.

Close Calls

Though the next few foods don’t quite pack a full day’s worth of added sugar, the sweet stuff makes up enough of their total calories to be an issue—so buyer beware!

1. Some Canned Soups

Surprised by this one? Us too. Though some richer canned soups out there sound savory, they can contain a shocking amount of sugar. One cup of Campbell’s Slow Kettle-Style Tomato and Sweet Basil Bisque contains 24 grams of sugar  and lists the sweet stuff fourth on the ingredient list. Granted, a few grams of sugar come from the tomatoes, Ballou says.

2. Applesauce

Unless you’re buying one-ingredient applesauce (ya know, made from just apples), there’s a good chance you’re spooning up some added sugar. Mott’s Cinnamon Applesauce, for instance, contains 24 grams of sugar per serving—versus 11 grams in the unsweetened version. The second ingredient in their sauce? High-fructose corn syrup.

3. Flavored Yogurts

Despite yogurt’s popularity as a ‘health’ food, many flavored versions are chock-full of added sugar. Yoplait’s ‘thick and creamy’ variety is particularly high in the stuff, with 28 grams of sugar per serving. About 12 of those grams are naturally-occurring, while the other 16 are added, says Keri Gans, R.D.

Your Guide To Surviving Black Friday

There’s nothing more exciting than splurging on mega-discounted must-haves at the end of the year. That flat screen you’ve been eyeing? Two, please. That sofa sectional? Haul it onto the truck. But when you’re sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on your way to the mall—or when you’re getting pushed and shoved in the cash register line—stamina is key.

This Black Friday, keep your energy high and your tummy full of healthy, on-the-go eats. Consider these snacks and stress-fighting items your best friends—and you’ll be ready to shop ‘til you drop.

Trace Minerals’ Electrolyte Stamina Tablets, $31.72 for 300 tablets


Black Friday shopping is basically a race—a race to the store, a race for a parking spot, and a race to the register. If you’re running on empty, you may end up walking off that 40-person line and heading straight to the nearest donut chain for a sugar rush. Instead, up that energy the healthy way with Trace Minerals’ Electrolyte Stamina Tablets. Pop up to four of these and replenish those lost electrolytes!

Three Jerks’ Original Filet Mignon Jerky, $8.49


Ain’t got no time to stop for a sit-down lunch. When hunger strikes midday, chew on this tender, savory snack, which packs 12 grams of protein. No preservatives, MSG, or nasty nitrates—just delicious, healthy beef.

Marley Coffee’s One Drop Mocha Coffee Drink, $2.49


You need your java fix—we get it. With this ice-cold bevvie you’ll get no artificial sweeteners and you’ll enjoy the rich flavor of chocolate blended with Marley’s Jamaican coffee. Inspired by Bob Marley himself, a single can of this stuff will have you feelin’ irie while you scan those aisles.

VPX’s Bang Peach Mango, $25.99 for 12 cans


Coffee’s not your thing—but you never turn down caffeine? We’ve got you covered. With VPX’s Bang Peach Mango (an exclusive flavor to The Vitamin Shoppe), you’ll get a strong energy rush with 0 calories. It’s got branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), creatine, and caffeine (357 mg of it, to be exact). Start your happy dance!

Celsius Stick Packs, $14.29 for 14 packs


If you’re gonna be guzzling water all day—and you’ll need to!—you might want to try adding Celsius’ orange-flavored pack to your agua. The pre-workout formula (filled with vitamins, taurine, and guarana extract) actually kicks up your metabolism, helping to burn calories and boost energy. SCORE!

Amazing Grass Green SuperFood, $26.99 for 30 servings


With its fresh, lemon-lime flavor, you’ll want to start your shopping day off with this good-for-you powder. Made entirely with organic green, raw, and gluten-free foods, you’ll enjoy a natural flavor (matcha and yerba mate teas) and an energy kick (hello, 85 mg of plant-based caffeine). Filled with probiotics and enzymes, your tummy will be ready to take on the day

ONE Brand’s One Bar in Birthday Cake, $27.99 for one box


In the mood for something sweet? Of course you are. Before heading to the mall, grab a gluten-free ONE Bar and go, go, go! You’ll not only indulge in the yummy flavor of birthday cake, you’ll get 20 grams of protein. You’ll also be supporting your appetite and helping to promote healthy muscle—which you’ll need when you’re fighting strangers for the last Paw Patrol Sea Patroller.

Sunfood Superfood’s Mango Slices, $13.95


Need a second wind? These delicious mango slices will help you refuel when the late-afternoon slump attacks. With vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, fiber, you’ll get a quick dose of nutrients when you need them the most. Plus, they’re non-GMO, organic, and totally raw—with only six grams of sugar.

Zenify’s Zero Sugar Natural Stress, $21.99 for a box


If you dig drinking your supplements, you’ll love Zenify’s Stress Relief concoction. With zero sugar or caffeine (yep, you read that correctly), tons of B vitamins, vitamin C, and 250mg of L-theanine, you’ll de-stress and feel good. Because when you’re running around like crazy, you want to feel relaxed—but not sleepy. This healthy drink will keep your mind sharp so you can finish your holiday shopping without losing your marbles.

FitAid’s Recovery Blend, $10.99 for four cans


After a long day of shopping, carrying giant bags and boxes to your car, and standing on line, you’ll undoubtedly be zonked. Speed up your recovery by swigging some of this yummy stuff. Packed with lots of good-for-you ingredients like turmeric, coQ10, omega 3s, and vitamins C, you’ll be feeling less like a frenzied shopper and more like yourself in no time.

Your Guide To Surviving Holiday Calories

There are so many reasons to get excited about the holiday season: friends, family, delicious meals, office parties, classic movies, colorful decorations, and more. Not on the list, though: all those extra calories packed into a steady flow of wine, homemade stuffing, pie, and peppermint bark.

The endless eating and drinking that continues through November and December can be pretty anxiety-inducing—especially if you’ve been busting your you-know-what to eat your veggies and keep your body in tip-top shape.

With a little will-power and strategy—along with help from products designed to conquer cravings, manage your appetite, and support a healthy weight—that once-daunting ugly sweater party transforms into an opportunity to blissfully bust a move to Mariah Carey.

Consider these 12 supplements just the reinforcements you need to keep your healthy habits going strong this holiday season.

1. Crave Crush Spearmint Lozenges, $7.99 for a 15-pack

When turning down that second (or third) piece of pie seems downright impossible, Crave Crush will stop your sweet tooth in its tracks. By blocking the sweet taste buds on your tongue, these minty suckers can help you enjoy your favorite holiday flavors without spiraling yourself into a food coma. Sail through all the parties and cookie exchanges on your calendar with these bad-boys.

2. Garden Of Life Vanilla Raw Organic Fit Meal, $33.59 for 10 servings

With all the hustle and bustle—and never-ending supply of sweets and treats—during the holiday season, having quick and portable healthy snacks can make the difference between making it to January feeling fit and healthy and falling off the bandwagon. Garden of Life’s Fit Meal packs 28 grams of raw, organic plant-based protein, six grams of fiber, and 20 vitamins and minerals—all for just 190 calories.

3. Ultimate 10 Probiotic 13 Billion, $19.99 for 100 capsules

Probiotics, a.k.a the ‘good’ bacteria that live in your gut, help support good digestion, regularity, and immune function. And having a healthy population of these critters is extra important when your diet includes more cookies and cocktails than normal—and when gift shopping season stress skyrockets. The Vitamin Shoppe’s Ultimate 10 Probiotic in 13 Billion strength can help re-colonize that good bacteria for smooth sailing all season long.

4. Sports Research Sweet Sweat Stick, $29.99

A little too much holiday spirit? Maybe you need a good sweat. Make Sweet Sweat your gym buddy and you’re guaranteed to have a sweatier, more satisfying workout. (One of our never-sweaty staffers put this stuff to the test and dripped like she’d never dripped before!) Sweet Sweat has a fresh, clean scent so you can crush your workouts worry-free.

5. Tonalin CLA 1,000mg, $24.89 for 180 softgels

CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is a polyunsaturated fatty acid that can reduce how much of the fat you consume gets stored. This well-researched fatty acid has even been shown to have a small, but legit, impact on body composition (how much of your fat comes from lean mass like muscle versus fat). Supplement with 1,000 milligrams three times a day.

6. Atkins Advantage Café Caramel Shake, $5.99 for a four-pack

As much as we may want to indulge from Thanksgiving straight on until the New Year, sometimes we just have to tell our sweet tooth ‘no’—or do we? With 15 grams of protein, two grams of net carbs, just one gram of sugar, and 180 calories per shake, Atkins Advantage’s Café Caramel shakes are a guilt-free way to satisfy your sweet tooth and fuel your body. Four-shake packs are just $5.99 and easy to stash at work or at home.

7. Green Coffee Bean Extract, $31.49 for 180 capsules

Green coffee bean extract contains antioxidants that help maintain our body’s defense system against damage from free radicals. Plus, one of these antioxidants, called chlorogenic acid, has been shown to support healthy blood sugar and fat metabolism. The Vitamin Shoppe’s green coffee bean extract can be taken up to three times a day.

George’s 100% Aloe Vera, $29.99 a gallon

Soothing aloe vera does your digestive system good and can help keep you regular—two things we all cherish when our eating habits (and bathroom habits) get all out of whack during the holidays. Sip down those soothing benefits with George’s aloe.

9. Healthy Delights Naturals Appetite Control Soft Chews, $19.99 a bag

These natural acai berry chews taste like candy and may actually keep you from destroying half the batch of cookies you were supposed to bring to Grandma’s house. Made with ingredients like garcinia cambogia, green coffee bean extract, l-carnitine, and green tea extract, these chews may be helpful before big meals and nights out.

10. Sports Research MCT Oil, $29.99 for 32 ounces

MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) aren’t your average fats. MCTs can be used as an energy source and boost our metabolism more than many other fats—and they’re also less likely to be stored as fat. Sports Research’s unflavored MCT oil can be the way you’d use some other oils (like in salad dressings) or added to smoothies or coffee for lasting energy.

11. Enzymedica Digest Gold, $79.49 for 240 capsules

If your digestive system isn’t partaking in the holiday cheer this time of year, a digestive enzyme can help your body better break down all that gingerbread and Santa-shaped chocolate. Enzymedica’s Digest Gold formula contains digestive enzymes to help your system conquer everything from protein to fat to carbohydrates to fiber. Survive every rich, belly-busting meal with a 240-capsule bottle, $79.49.

Check out more holiday-friendly, weight-management products at VitaminShoppe.com, all 15% off!

Should You Stock Up On Oscillo This Flu Season?

When cold and flu season approaches, we do everything in our power to take cover. Some pile on the scarves, others load up on vitamin C. But despite our best efforts, most of us still fall prey to that same ol’ aching, coughing, and sneezing at some point over the winter.

While rest and hydration are essential when you’ve got cold- and flu-like symptoms, many swear by a homeopathic product called Oscillococcinum (oscillo-what?) to move recovery along quicker.

Despite its intimidating name—for the record, it’s pronounced oh-sill-oh-cox-see-num—the over-the-counter item has developed a cult-like following, especially among people who prefer a homeopathic route to health.

Quick lesson: Homeopathy is an alternative medical system developed in Germany more than 200 years ago. The FDA regulates these products, but doesn’t rate their efficacy. Oscillo’s active ingredient is called Anas Barbariae Hepatis et Cordis Extractum, which is an extremely diluted extract of duck liver and heart.

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According to Dr. Elena Klimenko, MD, who is both board certified in internal medicine and licensed in medical acupuncture and homeopathy, Oscillo is a very commonly used product, sold in over 50 countries throughout the world—especially in France, where it is made and is the bestselling over-the-counter product for flu-like symptoms.

Some of Oscillo’s perks? “It does not cause drowsiness or a foggy feeling, does not interact with other medications, herbs, or supplements, and is not contraindicated with pre-existing conditions,” Klimenko says.

When taking Oscillo, you’ll put the entire contents of one tube under the tongue every six hours, up to three times a day—and time is of the essence, says Klimenko, who recommends taking it at the first sign of symptoms. It’s recommended for children two years and older, whereas decongestants and antihistamines aren’t recommended for anyone under the age of four.

The Bottom Line

A study published in British Homeopathy showed that Oscillo not only shortened the severity of flu symptoms, but the duration of them as well. In the study, 63 percent of participants who took the medicine within 24 hours of the onset of flu symptoms reported either a “clear improvement” or “complete resolution” of the symptoms within 48 hours.

When it comes to prevention, Dr. Klimenko stresses washing your hands often, eating well, and taking a multivitamin each day. But if that doesn’t work—and unfortunately it often doesn’t—she recommends Oscillo.

5 Times You Should Deadlift With A Trap Bar

The trap (or ‘hex’) bar—a hexagonal shaped bar you can literally step inside—has been around since the 80s, when a powerlifter named Al Gerard invented it to reduce the stress deadlifting put on his back, according to the USA Weightlifting Association (USAWA). These days, just about every gym has one—but since most people stick to straight barbell deadlifts, it often sits in the corner, collecting dust.

When you deadlift with a straight barbell, the bar is in front of you—so even if you keep it close to your shins, you have to extend forward to grab it and pull it up, explains Brandon Beatty, C.S.C.S., F.M.S. If you do it improperly, the deadlift—which fires up your legs and the entire back of your body—can strain your lower back.

That’s where the trap bar comes in:  “A conventional trap bar is shaped like a hexagon with handles on each side, so the lifter can stand in the middle, grip the handles on the sides, and stand up as if they’re picking up two suitcases,” says Jake Boly, M.S., C.S.C.S. This puts the weight closer to your center of gravity, so you’re in a better position to pull without putting pressure on your lower back.

Regardless of your lifting experience or goals, deadlifting with the trap bar can step up your workout routine and improve your fitness, says Beatty. Here are five circumstances in which it might come in handy.

1. You’re New To Lifting

If deadlifts are new territory for you, both Beatty and Boly recommend starting with the trap bar. The trap bar is a useful tool for teaching the deadlift because it helps someone learn the key components of proper form—like how to bend and move through their hips, maintain a straight back, and keep their knees stacked on top of their ankles—in a safer way, explains Boly.

It can also help you build the core and back strength needed to eventually deadlift heavier weight with proper form, says Beatty. (He also recommends working with a trainer one-on-one or in a class—like an intro to CrossFit® class—when starting out, to ensure you nail your form.)

2. You Want To Increase Quad And Glute Strength

Deadlifting with a trap bar puts your body in a slightly different position than deadlifting with a straight bar, so the move will work your muscles a little differently. In a straight barbell deadlift, your hamstrings, lower back, hip abductors, and core do the brunt of the work, but in a trap bar deadlift—which is a little closer to a squatting movement—your quads, glutes, and hamstrings take on more responsibility.

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Recent research published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research confirms that deadlifting with the trap bar activates the leg muscles more and the back muscles less than deadlifting with the straight bar. So if your goals are quad gains and a booty pump, the trap bar is your new best friend.

3. You Have Lower Back Pain Or Limited Mobility

Of course, anyone with a back or spinal injury should check in with a doctor or physical therapist before lifting again, the trap bar is a useful tool for someone who needs to limit the stress they place on their lower back, says Boly.

Related: Bad Posture Can Lead To Big Problems—Here’s How To Fix It

Many trap bars have a second set of higher handles, which allows you to deadlift from a slightly higher starting position and decreases how much bend you need in your knees, hips, and lower back to do the move, says Beatty. This decrease in the range of motion you have to move through is great for people with limited lower-body mobility or who have a knee or hip injury, he says.

4. You Want To Become More Explosive

Remember that study we mentioned earlier? It also found that lifters could produce more force and power when deadlifting with the trap bar than when deadlifting with the straight bar. When you pull from inside the trap bar, you’re able to completely engage all of the powerful leg muscles like your quads, hamstrings, and glutes, which together are able to produce more power than the primary muscles used in the straight bar deadlift, says Beatty.

5. You Want To Keep Your Workouts Fresh And Plateau-Free

“For many people, the trap bar can replace the straight barbell for deadlifting because it still engages the muscles you want to target with deadlifting,” explains Boly. But if straight bar deadlifts are already a staple of your training plan, incorporate trap bar deadlifts every other time you deadlift, Beatty recommends. So if you deadlift twice a week, perform one session with the straight bar and one with the trap bar. Using the trap bar will force you to mix up your grip and, because it’s easier on your back, may even help you lift slightly heavier and overcome any straight bar deadlift plateaus, Beatty says.

Plus, performing a variety of exercises is best for muscular development over time, since you target different muscles in different ways, he says.

Your workouts are only as strong as your supplement stack. Shop performance supps here.

Your Guide To Surviving Holiday Stress

It’s OK to admit it: Your favorite warm and cozy season is also a little, well, stressful. After all, you’re planning big get togethers, getting trampled at the mall, and maybe even flying cross-country to see relatives, who all have LOTS of questions.

If you’re feeling the heat, the good news is that you’ve got options—so take a breath, armor up, and get back into the swing of things with this holiday season stress-reduction arsenal.

1. TwinLab’s Stress B-Complex Caps, $14.35 for 100 capsules


Before all the craziness begins, consider taking two of these capsules each day, preferably with a meal. B vitamins play a critical role in modulating our responses to stress. Protect yourself now so it’ll be smooth-sailing by Cyber Monday.

2. Yogi Tea’s Calming Tea, $4.49 FOR A BOX

Kick back and take a load off with a delicious, steaming cup of Yogi Tea’s finest. It’s filled with good stuff like chamomile and lemongrass—and a nice licorice kick for a dose of sweetness.

3. Boiron’s Sedalia, $11.79 for 60 tablets


So you’ve been cooking all day, or your mother-in-law is notoriously hard to shop for, or you’re in charge of the company party. Take a deep breath and turn to Sedalia, a nerves-calming product that works naturally with your body. First off, it’s homeopathic, so it won’t leave you feeling out of it.You’ll want to take two tablets three times a day.

4. The Vitamin Shoppe’s Super Stress With Vitamin C, $27.99 for 300 capsules


You know that vitamin C is essential for good health. But you can’t just drink OJ all day, can you? Instead, buck up your immune system—and give yourself a dose of natural energy—by popping this antioxidant twice a day with a meal. Especially around the holidays, when you’re feeling run-down (and when cold season comes back with a vengeance), you’ll want to get all the help you need.

6. plnt’s Ashwagandha, $15.29 for 90 capsules

Ashwagandha is an ancient Ayurvedic medicinal herb known as an adaptogen, a type of plant extract known to promote a healthy stress response in our bodies. Used to help us deal with everyday anxiety, you’ll want to pop one capsule twice a day.

7. The Vitamin Shoppe’s Essential Oil – Lavender, $23.89 for 4oz


The use of lavender oil as a soothing and rest-promoting remedy has long been established, so when you need to step away from the festivities for a moment to take a breather—consider bringing it with you. Not sure how to use essential oils? Here’s where we break it all down. Basically, you can inhale it or apply right to your skin using a dilution method (like a cream or carrier oil, such as coconut oil). It smells delightful, you’ll get a moment to yourself, and you’ll be flooding your senses with something that isn’t holiday stress.

8. Organic India’s Holy Basil, $23.89 for 90 capsules


Holy wha? Stick with us for a minute. Holy Basil (also known as Tulsi) has been nicknamed “Queen of the Herbs,” and with good reason: It’s used to boost immunity, help promote energy, and it keeps you feeling revitalized. You’ll want to take one-two capsules twice a day.

9. ProBioCare’s Stress Support, $43.99 for 90 capsules


Holiday season is filled with all the goodies—chocolates and cakes and liqueurs and carbs a plenty. A little indulgence is bound to happen—and that’s totally okay! To help your stomach make it through the many holiday parties and family dinners and  office snack-fests, take this two-in-one probiotic and ashwagandha capsule, which will support your digestive system and promote a healthy stress response.

10. Hylands’ Calm Tablets, $7.99 for 100 tablets

Having a hard time sleeping? Could it be because your to-do list is reaaaaally long? You’ve got to make dinner, get presents, wrap presents, and make it through a few company parties—and who knows what else! To help fight those anxiety-wracked sleepless nights, these calm tablets will come in handy. They’re non-habit forming, totally natural, and made with a homeopathic formula. You’ll need one to three tablets about an hour and a half before bed.

11. The Vitamin Shoppe’s Rhodiola Rosea, $23.99 for 60 capsules

First of all, if you can’t pronounce Rhodiola, no worries. We’ve got you covered. Second, it’s an adaptogen, which is a compound found in herbs and natural substances that help the body adapt to stress. Sounds enticing, right? With this supplement, you’ll take one capsule twice a day with a meal to boost energy, vitality, and the feeling of, yes, I can handle this!

Check out more holiday stress-support products on VitaminShoppe.com, all 15% off!

 

5 Reasons To Eat ALL The Squash This Fall

With the biggest food holiday of the year on the horizon, there are fall wreaths, pumpkins, pie-scented candles, and colorful little gourds everywhere. And some of these decorative staples are just as good for you to eat as they are pretty to look at. While you shouldn’t waste your time trying to cook up those bendy little gourds, the pumpkins—and tons of other types of winter squash (yep, pumpkins are a type of squash), like butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, and delicata squash—deserve some major real estate on your Thanksgiving plate.

“The more color, the more phytonutrients [natural compounds that protect plants] and antioxidant properties a squash has,” says Jeanette Kimszal, R.D.N., N.L.C. So reach for the bold hues!

Here are five important nutrients squashes add to your plate.

1. Vitamin A

A food’s orange hue indicates it contains carotenoids, which are chemical compounds that turn into vitamin A in the body, says Kimszal. These carotenoids, including beta-carotene, are powerful antioxidants, and vitamin A is crucial for maintaining healthy vision. Take just one look at the orange-y color of pumpkins and butternut squash and you know they’re loaded with these compounds.

One cup of cubed pumpkin has about 200 percent of your daily value for vitamin A, and a cup of butternut squash packs nearly 300 percent, according to Kimszal. (Women need 700 micrograms a day, while men need 900.)

2. Fiber

Everyone should shoot for about 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day, but most only clock in around 15 to 18 grams, according to the CDC. Not only does fiber keep you from feeling ravenous again minutes after eating, but it’s also key for digestive health.

Related: 7 Ways Extra Calories Are Sneaking Into Your Diet

A cup of butternut squash provides almost seven grams of fiber, while a cup of acorn squash provides nine grams of fiber—a serious dent in your daily needs!

3. Vitamin C

We all know vitamin C is important for our immune systems, but did you know most types of squash, like acorn and hubbard, provide about 20 percent of your daily vitamin C?

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If you want some extra antioxidant power, a cup of butternut squash boasts about 50 percent of your daily vitamin C needs, says Alix Turoff, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., C.P.T. (Men need about 90 milligrams a day, while women need about 75.)

4. Iron

The next time you make squash, save the seeds! A cup of roasted pumpkin seeds provides about two milligrams of iron, which your blood needs to transport oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body, says Turoff. That’s a little more than ten percent of women’s daily iron needs (18 milligrams) and a quarter of men’s (eight milligrams).

5. Tryptophan

Looking for another reason to chow down on seeds? They contain tryptophan, an amino acid your body uses to create the hormone melatonin, which helps you sleep, says Turoff. Tryptophan also plays a role in your production of the feel-good hormone serotonin, which can help boost mood, adds nutritionist Keith Kantor, Ph.D.

Butternut squash seeds are some of the highest in tryptophan, with a ratio of 22 milligrams of tryptophan per gram of protein. Talk about a mood and snooze-boosting snack!

How To Put More Squash On Your Plate

If you want to keep things simple, you can bake or broil just about any squash with herbs and spices for a perfect fall side dish. Smaller squashes, like acorn squash, can just be halved, cooked, and eaten straight out of the skin with a spoon, while larger squashes, like butternut squash, are best peeled and cubed. Spaghetti squash, which can be scraped out in noodle-like strings once cooked, also makes for a perfect healthy pasta alternative, says Mearaph Barnes, R.D., co-founder of Roots Reboot.

Squashes are also great in soups, like Kimszal’s coconut broccoli butternut squash soup, because they’re hearty and slightly sweet.

And, of course, there’s always pumpkin pie. Want to make yours a little healthier this year? Blend a can of 100-percent pure pumpkin puree with 10 ounces of silken tofu and 10 to 12 pitted dates in the food processor, says Barnes. Then, add powdered cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon to taste. Pour the mixture into a whole-wheat pie crust and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Related: Shop all sorts of healthy baking ingredients.

6 Trainers’ Favorite All-In-One Workouts

To strength train or get your cardio on? That is the question—but it really shouldn’t be.

Most gym-goers think you have to choose between the two fitness routines—but you can get the best of both worlds at once. If you’re strapped for time (and when aren’t you?), it’s totally possible to build muscle while boosting your heart rate and burning major calories.

We tapped six top trainers for their favorite strength-meets-cardio all-in-one workouts so you can make your gym time work double duty.

When it comes to total-body benefits, the Turkish get-up takes the cake. In a single move, you build head-to-toe strength, stability, and muscular coordination—all while jacking up your heart rate in a huge way, says Winnipeg-based certified exercise physiologist and kinesiologist Gavin McHale, C.E.P. To up the cardio benefits even further, perform them AMRAP-style (as many reps as possible).

How to nail the Turkish get-up: Lie on the floor on your back with a kettlebell next to your right side. Roll toward the bell, grab the handle with both hands using an overhand grip, then roll back onto your back. Shift the bell to your right hand and press it over your right shoulder until your elbow is locked out. The weight should rest flat against the back of your forearm. Bend your right knee to plant your foot firmly on the floor, and leave your left leg extended. This is the starting position.

From here, roll up onto your left forearm and then your left hand, keeping you right arm locked out over your shoulder. Press through your left hand to a tall seated position. Next, press through your right foot to thrust your hips up so that your torso forms a straight line from right knee to right shoulder. Swoop your left leg under your hips and behind you until your left knee is in line with your left hand. Shift your weight and push up into a half-kneeling position so your torso is vertical and left hand is off of the floor. Next, push through your left foot to stand up, keeping right arm still locked out over your shoulder. Pause, then slowly reverse the movement to return the bell to the floor. That’s one rep. Repeat on the opposite side, resting as needed between reps. (Master your form before adding weight.)

What’s harder than pullups or burpees? Pullups and burpees! Put together, they strengthen the body’s biggest muscles, including the lats, glutes, and shoulders. And, by performing them in minute-by-minute supersets, they improve both aerobic (cardio) and anaerobic (strength) endurance, says SoCal-based personal trainer and strength coach Mike Donavanik, C.S.C.S., C.P.T.

Move 1: Pullups: Unless you are able to churn out at least 10 unassisted pullups in a row, perform assisted pullups using a resistance band or assisted pullup machine. Tie a large looped resistance band over a pullup bar, grab the bar with an overhand grip that’s just wider than shoulder-width apart, and place your feet in the sling created by the band. Hang here with your core braced, then squeeze your shoulder blades down and together and pull through your arms to lift your body up toward the bar. When your collarbones reach the bar, pause, then slowly reverse the movement to return to start. That’s one rep.

Related: Can’t Do Pullups? These Moves Will Get You There

Move 2: Burpees: Get in a high-plank position, with your hands directly under your shoulders and your body forming a straight line from head to heels. Pull your shoulders away from your ears and brace your core. From here, lower your chest toward the floor to perform a pushup, allowing your elbows to flare out diagonally from your body as you do so. At the top of the pushup, jump your feet forward so that they land on the floor outside of your hands. Explosively jump straight up into the air, reaching your arms overhead. Land in a squat position. That’s one rep.

This all-over workout’s rotates through exercises that work different muscle groups, allowing you to perform each move back-to-back and keep your heart rate up, says Amanda Pezzullo, C.S.C.S., Equinox Chicago Loop Tier X manager.

Move 1: Half-kneeling cable chops: Attach a D-shaped handle to a cable machine positioned at shoulder height. Stand with the machine on your right and lower down so your left knee is on the ground. Rotate to the right to grab the handle above your right shoulder with both hands and brace your core. From here, rotate your torso to pull the handle down and to the left of your body. Pause, then reverse the movement to return to start. That’s one rep. Perform 10 reps, then repeat on the opposite side.

Move 2: Kettlebell deadlifts: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with a kettlebell on the floor in between your feet. Keeping your back flat, push your hips back and slightly bend your knees to grab the bell’s handle with both hands, using an overhand grip. From here, thrust your hips forward and straighten your knees so you come to stand with the kettlebell flat against your body. Pause, then slowly reverse the movement to return to start. That’s one rep. Perform 10 reps.

Move 3: Reverse lunge to single-arm cable row: Move the D-shaped cable machine handle to knee height. Stand tall facing the machine with your feet hip-width apart, holding the handle with your right hand and your palm facing in. Pull your shoulders back and brace your core. From here, take a giant step back with your right foot, then bend your knees to lower into a lunge. Pause and row the handle to the side of your torso, keeping your elbow pointed straight back behind you. Pause, reverse the row, and then press through your front foot to return to standing. That’s one rep. Perform 10 reps and then repeat on the opposite side.

Move 4: Pushup to side plank hold: Get in a high-plank position with your hands just wider than your shoulders and your body forming a straight line from head to heels. Brace your core. From here, perform a push-up by bending at the elbows and lowering your body until your chest nearly touches the floor. Allow your arms to flare out diagonally from your body. Pause, then drive through your hands to return to start. Then, lift your right hand, rotate your hips, and stack your right foot on your left to get into a side plank position. Pause, then reverse the movement to return to start. Perform another pushup and rotate into a side plank on the opposite side. That’s one rep. Perform 10 reps.

Move 5: Cardio sprint: Run, bike, or row as fast as you can for two minutes.

Combine two strength exercises and one cardio drill and you’ve got a simple total-body circuit that will help you hit all of your goals, says celebrity trainer Kyle Brown, C.S.C.S. Perform them with timed work and rest intervals to really hone your cardio.

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Move 1: Knee-to-chest walking lunge: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and hold a pair of dumbbells down at your sides with your palms facing your body. From here, take a giant step forward with one foot so that your back heel pops up. Then slowly bend your knees to lower your body into a lunge. Pause, then drive through your front heel to stand back up, and lift your back leg forward and up until your knee meets your chest. Lower your foot to return to a standing position. Repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep.

 Move 2: Dumbbell renegade row: Place a pair of hex dumbbells on the floor just wider than shoulder-width apart. Get down into a plank position so your body forms a straight line from head to heels and grab the dumbbells with a neutral grip. Brace your core. From here, row one weight up toward your upper abs, keeping your elbow pointed straight back behind your body. Pause, then lower the weight to return to start. Repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep.

 Move 3: Ice skaters: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and arms down by your sides. From here, bend your knees and hop to the right, landing on your right foot, while sweeping your left foot diagonally behind your right leg and swinging your arms across your body. Repeat in the opposite direction. That’s one rep.

 This high-intensity workout alternates between rowing and performing 45-seconds of bodyweight exercises (AMRAP, or ‘as many reps as possible’) to really hone in on cardio while building strength, says Lisa Niren, certified group fitness instructor at CITYROW in New York City. Move as quickly as possible between exercises to keep your heart rate up and fatigue your muscles. Each time you perform the circuit, try to finish it in less time that you did before.

Nail your rowing form: Sit on a rowing machine with your feet secured on the foot pedals. Sit up straight and bend forward at the hips to grab the handle with both hands, using an overhand grip. Drive through the foot pedals to extend your legs, then squeeze your shoulders back to row the handle to your upper abs. Lean back just slightly as you row the handle toward you. Reverse the move to return to start, and immediately repeat.

AMRAP Move 1: Pushups: Get in a high-plank position with your hands just wider than your shoulders, with your body forming a straight line from head to heels. Brace your core. From here, perform a push-up by bending at the elbows and lowering your body until your chest nearly touches the floor. Allow your arms to flare out diagonally from your body. Pause, then drive through your hands to return to start. That’s one rep.

AMRAP Move 2: Plank: Get down in a low-plank position with your forearms on the floor so that your elbows are in line with your shoulders and your body forms a straight line from head to heels. Brace your core. Pretend you’re digging your forearms into the floor and pulling them toward your feet. Hold for 45 seconds.

AMRAP Move 3: Bodyweight squats: Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart, and hold your arms straight out in front of you at shoulder-level. Brace your core. From here, push your hips back and bend your knees to lower your body as far down as you can. Pause, then push through your heels to return to start. That’s one rep.

AMRAP Move 4: Alternating forward lunges: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and hands on your hips. Brace your core. From here, take a big step forward with your right foot, then bend your knees to lower your body toward the floor. Pause, then press through your front foot to return to start. Repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep.

AMRAP Move 5: Alternating step-ups: Stand tall and hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing in. Place your right foot firmly on the rowing machine’s fixed base, and transfer all of your weight to that leg. Drive through your right foot to straighten your right leg and raise your body to a standing position on top of the base. Pause, then slowly bend your right leg to lower to start. That’s one rep. Repeat on the opposite side.

No gear? You can still get your strength and cardio on with this bodyweight circuit, says certified strength coach and kettlebell trainer Matt Jacob, owner of Revolution 1 Fitness in Chicago. Plus, you’ll also hone your shoulder stability to help injury-proof your body’s most finicky joint.

Move 1: Eccentric bodyweight squats: Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold your arms straight out in front of you at shoulder-level. Brace your core. From here, push your hips back and bend your knees to lower your body as far down as you can for a count of five seconds. Pause, then push through your heels to quickly return to start. That’s one rep. Perform 10.

Move 2 & 4: Inchworms: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Keeping your legs as straight as possible and your back flat, bring your hands to the floor and walk them forward until you’re in a high-plank position with your body forming a straight line from head to heels. Pause, then walk your feet forward to your hands. That’s one rep. Perform five.

Move 3: Shoulder protractions and retractions: Get down in a low-plank position with your forearms on the floor so that your elbows are in line with your shoulders and your body forms a straight line from head to heels. Brace your core. Pretend you’re digging your forearms into the floor and pulling them toward your feet. Hold. From here, round your upper back by flaring your shoulder blades out and away from each other. Pause, then pull your shoulder blades back and together so that they sink down in between your shoulders as far as possible. The only thing that will move is your shoulder blades. That’s one rep. Perform 10.

Related: Get the most out of quick workouts with a little help from a preworkout supp.

Your Guide To Surviving Holiday Indigestion

The holiday season is all about friends, family, and—perhaps most importantly—food.  But as much as we love the pumpkin bread, office potlucks, and cookie exchanges, it’s a miracle our stomachs survive ‘til the New Year.

Unless, of course, you and your tummy head into the holidays armed with a healthy plan. Whether it’s a soothing tea or herbal remedy, we’ve hand-picked products that will keep you in the holiday spirit (i.e. out of the bathroom) while you enjoy every last bite of stuffing and pie.

1. Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar, $6.99 for 32 ounces

This golden liquid is a must-have for any health enthusiast, but it’s especially handy when you’re waist-deep in seasonally-obligatory mashed potatoes, gooey cookies, and all the pies in the book. ACV has been shown to support healthy blood sugar levels, with research published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association even finding that it can lessen the impact of a high-carb meal on blood sugar levels.

2. Prince Of Peace Natural Ginger Candy, $1.99 for 31 pieces

Here’s a candy your belly can really get behind. The warm and spicy ginger root has been known throughout history for its stomach-soothing properties. These just-sweet-enough candies are a natural way to satisfy your sweet tooth and keep your tummy calm.

3. Licorice Root, $5.99 for 100 capsules

Centuries ago, licorice root was used to ease stomach issues, and the herbal remedy remains a popular supplement for digestive issues today. Try licorice for yourself with The Vitamin Shoppe’s 450mg supplement.

4. Lily Of The Desert Whole-Leaf Aloe Vera Juice, $25.99 for 64 servings

Gooey green aloe vera is just as good for your insides as it is for your skin. In fact, the funky plant can be beneficial for your digestive tract and support regularity—and we all know that’s an issue when most of the color in your diet is coming from the icing on holiday cookies. While we’re not quite sure if it counts as a serving of veggies, it’ll definitely do your sugar-coated digestive system some good.

5. Dynamic Health Tart Cherry, Turmeric, And Ginger Tonic, $17.00 for 32 ounces

Whether you blend it into a smoothie, stir it into seltzer, or drink it straight, this tonic is a soothing way to end any night of eating and drinking. Tart cherry contains sleep-supporting melatonin, while turmeric and ginger both offer their own antioxidant and soothing powers. This tonic will be there for you all holiday season long!

6. King Bio Indigestion Relief, $16.49 for two ounces

A friend’s or family member’s dinner party is the last place we want to be rocked by discomfort, but we’ve all found ourselves slouched on someone else’s couch waiting for our stomach to settle down. That’s where a stash of King Bio’s natural medicine formula comes in. Just a few sprays and you’ll be ready to get back to rocking around the coffee table.

7. Solaray Lemon Balm, $10.49 for 100 capsules

Lemon balm dates back to the Middle Ages, when its calming and soothing properties were used to help with everything from trouble sleeping to digestive issues. Set your mind and body up for a relaxed, indigestion-free holiday season with Solaray’s 350 milligram supplement.

8. Alvita Organic Fennel Tea, $5.99 for 24 bags

Traditionally used to ease occasional bloating and gas, fennel seeds have a slightly sweet, licorice-like flavor. Alvita’s fennel tea is the perfect sweet tooth-satisfying follow-up to any meal that leaves you feeling not-so-great.

9. Boiron Nux Vomica, $6.99 for 80 pellets

Homeopathy to the rescue! Nux Vomica is just what you need after eating four chocolate truffles too many. Keep a sleeve handy to nix any stomach upset the holidays send your way.

10. Alvita Organic Peppermint Leaf Tea, $5.99 for 24 bags

When it comes to tackling stomach issues in an all-natural (and delicious) way, the more tea the merrier! Peppermint tea’s refreshing, invigorating flavor is almost as impressive as its belly-soothing powers. When you need a mind-body pick-me-up, peppermint is the brew for you.

11. Milk Thistle Extract, $29.99 for 200 capsules

Let’s face it: The holidays are chock-full of sugar and booze—and your liver has to take the hit. Show your body’s detox center some love with The Vitamin Shoppe’s Milk Thistle Extract ($29.99 for 200 capsules) and pass the spiked cider, please!

Shop the full digestion guide on VitaminShoppe.com

5 Plant-Based Holiday Recipes Your Guests Will Devour

‘Tis the season for pies and pumpkins and potlucks—and tons of time spent searching for crowd-pleasing recipes that are as good for you as they are good.

Whether you’re in charge of a side dish or dessert, look no further than these healthy takes on rustic classics, all made with simple, wholesome ingredients. (And did we mention they put nutrient-rich plants front and center?)

Serve up any (or all) of these five dishes this holiday season, and celebrate knowing your body is as well-nourished as your belly is full.

1. Honey Almond Roasted Brussels Sprouts

This shout-worthy sprout side dish is made with Brussels sprouts, plnt raw honey, plnt coconut oil, sliced almonds, sea salt, and pepper. 

2. Sweet And Tangy Quinoa Bowl

This nutrient-packed grain bowl is made with quinoa, butternut squash, green apple, celery, olive oil, lemon juice, plnt raw honey, and plnt chia seeds

3. Apple Pie Crumble Tarts

A classic dessert gets a healthy makeover using just all-purpose flour, plnt raw honey, plnt coconut oil, red apples, lemon juice, and apple pie spice. 

4. Pumpkin Banana Bread

Fall-flavored banana bread is perfect for the holidays, and made with almond milk, apple cider vinegar, bananas, pumpkin puree, oats, vanilla plnt protein powder, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon

5. Cranberry Almond Protein Bark

Satisfy your sweet tooth with this low-sugar, protein-packed treat, made with plnt coconut oil, almond butter, vanilla plnt protein powder, plnt liquid stevia, maple syrup, dried cranberries, and slivered almonds. 

10 High-Fiber Foods You’ll Actually Enjoy Eating

To keep things moving down there, one nutrient is key. Yeah, you know the one we’re talking about: fiber. Considering most of us don’t get enough of the stuff—and no one likes being constipated—the more fiber, the better.

Loading up on fiber (at least 25 grams a day for women and 38 grams for men) doesn’t seem so appealing, though, when you think of Grandma’s advice: prunes. But how else are you supposed to get your daily fill? Luckily, you’ve got more options than you think.

Tune up your fiber intake—and your digestive health—with a few of these tasty, smooth moves-promoting foods. We promise you’ll never have to contemplate prunes again.

1. Avocados

Believe it or not, this ever-trendy green fruit happens to pack a hearty dose of fiber. One serving (about a third of a medium fruit) offers three grams of fiber for 80 calories, according to Maggie Moon, M.S., R.D., author of The MIND Diet.

Plus, they are incredibly versatile—so have some fun beyond your basic avocado toast! “Avocados are rich and delicious, yet mild in flavor, so they go well in many dishes,” she says. You can blend avocados into smoothies, whip them into puddings, put them in omelets or soups, or mash them into guacamole, she recommends.

2. Chickpeas

Everyone knows that beans are filled with fiber (you can thank the childhood song “beans, beans” for that), and chickpeas are just as good.

“Half a cup of cooked chickpeas is 130 calories, and provides seven grams of protein and a whopping six grams of fiber,” says Moon.

Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas, are super easy to use. Keep a few cans stocked in the pantry and you’ll have a quick add-in for soups and salads ready at all times, she says. You can also blend them into hummus or bake them with spices like turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, and onion for a zesty crunchy snack, she says.

3. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are super filling and fun to eat, thanks to the gooey-sticky texture they take on when they’re combined with a liquid. And they win bonus points because they’re also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help protect your heart, Moon says.

Two tablespoons of chia are 140 calories and provide a whopping 10 grams of fiber. Talk about small but mighty!

Try blending them into smoothies, mixing them into oatmeal, sprinkling them into salad dressings, or soaking them in almond milk to make chia pudding, suggests Moon, who likes topping chia pudding with fresh fruit.

4. Hemp Seeds

Hemp is another seed that brings on the fiber, texture, and healthy fats.

For 120 calories, three tablespoons of hemp seeds pack nine grams of fiber, says Kelly Jones, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., L.D.N. They also provide about 16 grams of protein along with key minerals like magnesium and iron.

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Jones likes adding whole hemp seeds to oatmeal, salads, fall soups (like butternut squash), and homemade energy bars.

5. Lentils

Perhaps one of the most powerful plant proteins out there, lentils are also loaded with good ‘ole fiber.

“Lentils are one of my favorite plan- based protein sources,” says Jones. A half-cup of green lentils contains 15 grams of fiber and nine grams of protein.

Related: 11 Meat-Free Meals That Still Pack Plenty Of Protein

And there are tons of delicious ways to cook with this pulse. Try mixing them with salad greens, veggies, and your favorite vinaigrette, or subbing them in for meet in tacos or chili, she suggests.

6. Pears

Throw a pear in your bag and you’re guaranteed to have a more satisfying and fiber-filled lunch. With six grams of fiber in a medium-sized pear, they pack more fiber than many other types of portable produce we snack on—including apples, which supply just shy of five grams per medium fruit.

Jones recommends adding pear slices to oatmeal, toast, or salads, or just eating the fruit fresh with some almonds. And, if you’re mixing together homemade trail mix, try adding dried pears, which offer 11 grams of fiber per 40-gram serving, she says.

7. Berries

Another high-fiber fruit option: berries. These naturally-sweet bursts of goodness are also some of the most nutritious eats out there, because they contain antioxidants that fight free radical damage and aging.

“Berries are a great source of fiber, and raspberries are especially high with four grams per half-cup,” says Adina Pearson, R.D.

Frozen berries are great for making smoothies or sauces for pancakes or waffles, or just mixing into yogurt or oatmeal, she says. And, of course, there’s nothing better than eating them fresh when they’re in season.

8. Pistachios

All nuts are rich in fiber, but pistachios have the highest fiber count of all, says Tanya Zuckerbrot M.S., R.D., bestselling author and founder of The F-Factor Diet.

A one-ounce serving of pistachios (about 49 kernels) is 159 calories and offers three grams of fiber, she says.

Related: Stock up on a variety of nuts for healthy, satisfying snacking on the go.

Zuckerbrot likes to add crushed pistachios to salads for crunch or sprinkle them into yogurt or oatmeal. These nuts are also a great travel snack—just portion out one serving size into a baggie, she says.

9. Brussels Sprouts

One of our go-to’s for veggie side dishes, Brussels sprouts offer almost four grams of fiber per cup—for just about 40 calories. (Not to mention they also contain about four grams of protein, too.)

If you have any distaste for Brussels leftover from childhood, try balsamic-roasted sprouts, says Zuckerbrot. “Cut the Brussels sprouts in half, toss them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper, and roast at 425 degrees for 25 minutes,” she says.

Or, make a salad by shredding Brussels sprouts in the food processor and mixing the shreds with toasted slivered almonds, grated Parmesan cheese, and a dressing of fresh lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper, she suggests.

10. Edamame

A terrific plant-protein, edamame (a.k.a. soy beans) are also high in fiber to keep cravings at bay and boost your digestive system, says Zuckerbrot.

A one-cup serving of the green beans clocks in at about 190 calories, with an impressive eight grams of fiber and 17 grams of protein, she says.

Steamed edamame makes for a delicious high-fiber and high-protein snack or appetizer, says Zuckerbrot. You can even add a little sea salt or soy sauce for extra flavor. You can also buy them shelled and add them into stir-fries or Asian-inspired chicken salads, she says.

Pin this infographic to ensure you’re noshing on enough fiber throughout the day!

Your Guide to Surviving Holiday Travel

The holiday season is jam-packed with fun festivities, mouth-watering treats, and family get-togethers. And then there are the airports.

There might actually be nothing worse than traveling on Thanksgiving. On top of the delays, long lines, and crabby strangers, air travel breeds bad eating, sleep deprivation, and disorganization.

This year, make your life a little easier by treating yourself to the below items, which will help keep you healthy, satiated, and ready to rock.

1. Boiron’s Jet Lag Relief, $13.49 for 80 pellets

If you’ve got family on another coast—or another continent—you’re probably super-familiar with that extra-special brand of exhaustion that comes with holiday travel. After all the holiday parties, shopping extravaganzas, and travel delays, you might find yourself sleepless. Enter Jet Lag Relief. You want to actually enjoy the holidays—without passing out face first into your English aunt’s roast dinner, so pop five pellets the day before you travel and then five more on the day of to promote restful sleep.

2. The Vitamin Shoppe’s Melatonin Gummies, $9.99 for 60 gummies

Let’s say you’ve tried everything you can think of to get a good night’s sleep— you’ve hit the gym, had a mug full of warm milk, meditated—and still, nothing. What about taking a melatonin supplement? Melatonin modulates our sleep and wake cycles, and can help support successful snoozing. Take two gummies 30 minutes before bedtime, and prepare for slumber bliss.

3. BlueAvocado Travel Bag, $6.79

When you cram all your toiletries into different tiny suitcase compartments, it makes finding any of it impossible later on—and easy for TSA agents to single your bag out for unidentifiable random objects. Why not get a roomy travel bag that reduces waste, is eco-friendly and TSA-compliant, and even machine-washable?

4. Quest Nutrition’s Protein Vanilla Milkshake Packets, $26.99 for 12 packets

We know what you’re thinking—milkshakes and planes don’t mix. But that’s not totally true. You can have all the creamy goodness of a milkshake—plus a proper dose of protein (23g!)—by mixing one pouch into 16 oz of water. Plus, there’s less than one gram of sugar per serving so you won’t, er, crash at your destination.

5. Nature’s Way Zinc Lozenges, $3.99 for 60 lozenges

We truly hope you don’t come down with a bug, but let’s be honest—buses, trains, and planes are basically petri dishes filled with germs. To promote strong health during the icky cold and flu season, pop one of these berry-flavored, vitamin C- and Echinacea-filled lozenges every two hours (up to six lozenges per day).

6. New Wave Enviro Products’ Bottle Gallon, $8.79

Have a particularly long road trip ahead of you? You’re gonna want to stay hydrated without having to shell out cash for bottled H20 at every other service stop. Pick up this easy-grip, BPA-free  gallon bottle and make your drive that much easier. (Port-A-Potty not included.)

7. Building Better Solutions’ Pill Bag, $5.79

You wouldn’t dare dream of traveling without your meds and supps, right? Trade in your cumbersome pillboxes for easy-to-use, 3×2 resealable plastic bags that make storing all your capsules super-easy. Plus, they’re moisture-resistant (unlike most pill boxes), lightweight, small enough to fit into your pocket, and easily disposable.

8. Quest Bar’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bar, 1 box for $24.99

When you’re on the road, there are a lot of temptations along the way: fast food, warm hot chocolate from those not-so-trustworthy vending machines, gas station candy, and so on. Instead, reach for a chocolate chip cookie dough bar that’s sure to give your taste buds a treat without putting your waistline or blood sugar at risk. They’re gluten-free, have less than one gram of sugar, and they offer a solid 21 grams of protein.

9. Dr. Bronner’s Organic Lip Balm, $2.89

You already know that Dr. Bronner makes incredible all-natural, 100 percent vegan, skin-friendly, heavenly-scented products. But while you might use the all-purpose soap on the regular, you’ll want to also keep this soothing lip balm in your pocket to help your lips stay chap-free during the wintry weather.

10. SheaMoisture’s Virgin Coconut Oil, $11.49

Whether you’re stuck fending off eight hours worth of stale, dry airplane air—or are just visiting a relative in a particularly dry climate, you’re going to want to keep your thirsty skin happy. Cue SheaMoisture’s 100 percent coconut oil, which treats your skin to all-natural, fair-trade ingredients like coconut milk and Acacia Senegal (known to promote skin health). At three fluid ounces, you’ll be able to pack it into your carry on.

Shop the full travel guide on VitaminShoppe.com.