Most serious bodybuilders own carefully curated stacks of supplements to help boost their efforts to build god-like physiques. But what about the fitness lovers who aren’t training for the next Olympia and simply want to feel healthy and strong? If that sounds more your speed, you probably don’t need a sky-high sports supplement stack—but a few staples can go a long way in keeping you headed towards your goals.
Here, experts share three supplements that offer holistic support for your active lifestyle so you can keep lifting, spinning, running, or bootcamping for years to come (and feel great while doing it).
1. A Protein Powder Or Meal Replacement Shake
The right nutrition goes a long way in keeping you moving. That’s why the experts recommend adding a protein powder or all-in-one shake to your daily routine. “Dietary proteins help promote a variety of health benefits, including muscle recovery, satiety, and healthy weight management,” explains Dr. Jacob Wilson, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., CEO of The Applied Science and Performance Institute and member of The Vitamin Shoppe Wellness Council.
If you’re simply looking for an extra boost throughout the day or after a workout, stick with a simple protein. “Protein powders such as whey protein—in a dosage of 15 to 30 grams—are usually the most popular and effective for general health,” Wilson suggests. And if whey isn’t your jam for any reason, you can opt for a plant-based protein such as KOS Organic Plant Protein or GHOST Vegan Protein.
Read More: 5 Times In Life When You Need More Protein
Additionally, if you want to round out your overall nutrition or sometimes skip out on sit-down meals, a meal replacement (or “all-in-one”) shake can be helpful. “These options include whole food ingredients such as plant-based protein, fiber, antioxidants, and other vital nutrients for an easy way to cover baseline nutrient needs to support general health and fitness,” explains The Vitamin Shoppe nutritionist Brittany Michels, R.D.N., L.D.N., C.P.T. She loves the plnt brand Organic Vegan All-In-One Shake.
Collagen has become a popular supplement amongst people with a wide variety of health, fitness, and beauty goals—and it makes sense that it’s such a multitasker considering collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. “It helps to provide structure to the bones, ligaments, tendons, joints, muscles, hair, skin, nails, eyes, blood vessels, and gut,” Michels says.
Because of its roles in the tissues that make up our joints and muscles, collagen has become a gym-goer’s staple. It’s also important to note here that our collagen production naturally decreases as we age, which makes supplementing with the stuff especially beneficial for anyone who wants to maintain a high degree of health and fitness throughout their entire life, according to Michels.
The Vitamin Shoppe brand Multi-Source Collagen is a versatile option you can add to your coffee, post-workout shakes, soup recipes, and more. Primal Kitchen’s Collagen Fuel, meanwhile, comes in a couple of satisfying flavors for those looking for something with a little extra pizazz.
3. Something To Support Calm
While supplements that support relaxation and a healthy stress response might not seem like top priorities for fitness, hear us out on this one. Ultimately, exercise is a stressor on your body—and your workouts are only as good for you as you are able to hit the gym with decent energy and recover well. For that reason, Wilson suggests that incorporating something to promote a sense of calm can really move the needle for anyone trying to survive the hustle and bustle of daily life and stay fit while doing it.
Read More: 4 Unexpected Ways To Manage Stress Naturally
“In our ever more demanding society, stress management is vital,” he says. There are a number of different herbs and nutrients you can take in supplement form to throw your body a bone here, but his top three are the adaptogenic herb ashwagandha, the mineral magnesium, and the amino acid l-theanine. Try 100 to 300 milligrams of ashwagandha (which has proven highly effective at promoting healthy cortisol and stress levels), 100 to 400 milligrams of magnesium (the glycinate and citrate forms are a favorite for helping you chill), and/or 100 to 200 milligrams of l-theanine (which is what makes a cup of green tea oh-so-soothing).
While a protein powder or meal replacement shake, collagen, and a supplement to support calm make for a pretty solid foundation for anyone who wants to feel fit and healthy (and stay that way), you might want to add others to your lineup to best support your individual health needs and fitness goals. A few other options Wilson and Michels often recommend: the foundational health trifecta of omega-3s, a multivitamin, and probiotics.
Your best bet for figuring out your personal supplement needs? Meet with a nutritionist (The Vitamin Shoppe offers Healthy Awards loyalty members free coaching!), who can make specific recommendations based on all of the factors that make you uniquely you.