How to Fuel Your Fitness With Functional Foods and Beverages

10 min read

How to Fuel Your Fitness With Functional Foods and Beverages

Posted Mar 23, 2023 Updated Apr 15, 2024

March Madness is almost done! And whether you love college basketball or not, one thing is true: we all need the right fuel to power us through the season. If you’re an athlete on the basketball court, that’s more important than ever because it takes dedication, practice, and fuel to play and succeed at the highest leve.

While you may not be an elite basketball star, the same is true for the everyday exerciser. If you want to excel at your favorite fitness, you need dedication to your exercise routine, regular practice, and nutrients to energize your body. So, what foods or beverages provide the right fuel? Let’s dive in to find out.

How to Fuel Your Fitness: 3 Fueling Basics

Stay Hydrated

Hydration is important for health and performance. Water is a vital resource that helps maintain body temperature, circulation, and proper muscle and organ functio.

Plus, research suggests that a two percent level of dehydration in the body can contribute to a ten percent decrease in performance when you exercise.1 Not to mention, dehydration can also negatively affect mental acuity and cognitive function. So, bring that bottle of water with you onto the court or wherever you practice your fitness. It’s one of the best ways to fuel your body!

Eat Often

Consuming small, frequent meals is also key to having adequate energy throughout the day, as well as during your workouts. Eating often helps regulate your blood sugar, which in turn helps manage your energy level and keep you well-balance.

Include Carbohydrates & Protein in All Your Meals and Snacks

Fueling your fitness routine means providing your body with the energy it needs to be active throughout the day. To do that, the goal is to eat carbohydrates with protein at each meal and snac.

Carbohydrates, such as starchy vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, are a fantastic source of fuel for your body. But they digest fairly quickly. Protein, on the other hand, digests much slower and helps prevent blood sugar spikes and crashes. It fuels fitness by helping to build and repair lean muscle mass. And from a digestion standpoint, it helps you get full faster and stay full longe.

Proteins like cheese, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, beef jerky, nuts and nut butter, seeds, and energy bars are convenient options at snack time. Other proteins like lean beef, poultry, pork, fish, beans, legumes, and lentils are all satisfying meal options.

Fuel Your Body With Functional Foods and Beverages

To fuel your fitness you need functional foods and beverages. But what are those and why are they important?

What Is a Functional Food or Beverage?

Functional foods and beverages offer extra health benefits outside of the ingredients’ nutritional value. There are two categories of functional foods: conventional and modified.

  • Conventional functional foods: These are natural, whole foods such as salmon that contain healthy ingredients. For example, salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids. These omega-3s help buffer free radicals (aka the bad guys) that can cause damage to our cells and lead to inflammation.

  • Modified functional foods: These are fortified foods with added ingredients, such as vitamins, minerals, probiotics, or fiber, to help increase the food’s health benefits. For example, yogurt is often fortified with vitamin D or probiotics. While yogurt provides calcium and other essential nutrients, the probiotics are functional because they provide the gut with live and active cultures to keep it healthy and strong.

From a beverage standpoint, OLIPOP is a modified functional beverage. It helps support gut health with its blend of ingredients including prebiotics, botanicals, and plant fiber. Plus, it contains a whopping 9 grams of prebiotic fiber per can, which is 32% of your daily value for fiber.

Why Are Functional Foods & Beverages Important?

Functional foods and beverages support a balanced diet and assist with getting the nutrients you need for a healthy lifestyle. Many contain important nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fiber, heart-healthy fats, and probiotic.

These ingredients can help close the gap for any possible nutrient deficiencies. For example, a high-fiber beverage like OLIPOP can help with blood sugar control as well as promote better gut and heart health.

Make Your Snacks Functional

Benefits of Healthy Snacking

Snacking is beneficial because it is an opportunity to add nutrients such as vitamins from fruit or healthy fats from nuts to your diet. Think of a snack as an opportunity to fill a nutrient gap, eat a functional food, or add a food group you often miss.

A nutrient-rich snack can also help manage hunger throughout the day by helping to keep blood sugar stabilized. Plus, snacks between meals can help you feel less hungry at the next meal and keep you from becoming “hangry”, which often leads to overeating.

Key Components to Healthy Snacking

But what does a healthy snack look like? Here are some tips:

  1. First, be sure to include a combination of protein and fiber with a little healthy fat to enhance satisfactio.

  2. Second, keep your snack portion size in check. Snacks are not meant to be full meals. They're tiny in-between fillers to keep you from feeling hungry throughout the day. So, a good rule of thumb is to eat until you feel satisfied, then wait 15 minutes to see if you are still hungry before you continue snackin.

  3. Finally, choose a snack that satisfies your craving. Look for functional, creative, nutrient-rich twists on some of your favorite snack foods so that you enjoy what you are eating.

Healthy Snack Swaps

Many popular snack items can be easily swapped for options with higher nutritional value and benefits. Check out these savvy snack swaps:

  • OLIPOP instead of soda

  • Plain popcorn and nuts instead of chips

  • Trail mix with beef jerky instead of a processed snack food

  • Greek yogurt with fresh berries instead of cookies

  • A whole grain English muffin with peanut butter and banana instead of a bagel and cream cheese

3 Healthy Snack Recipes Fueled With Functional Foods

Need some healthy snack inspiration? Here are three healthy snack recipes featuring functional foods that we think will quickly become your new snack favorite.

Root Beer Float


  • OLIPOP Root Beer

  • Frozen Greek yogurt


Freeze 1 cup Greek yogurt and top with OLIPOP Root Beer to your likin.

Strawberry Vanilla Overnight Oats


  • OLIPOP Strawberry Vanilla

  • Greek yogurt

  • Oats

  • Fresh strawberries


Aim for a 1:1 ratio of liquid and oats. Mix ½ cup oats, ½ cup Strawberry Vanilla OLIPOP, and ¼ cup Greek yogurt in a jar with a lid. Stir well and leave in the fridge overnight. You can also get fancy and add vanilla, maple syrup, or honey, or use vanilla Greek yogurt if you want it a hint sweeter. In the morning, if your overnight oats mixture is too thick, stir in more OLIPOP then top with fresh strawberries.

Golden Glow Water Mocktail


The recipe makes two mocktail.

  • Ginger Lemon OLIPOP

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • 2 tsp honey

  • ½ tsp ground cayenne pepper

  • ½ tsp ground ginger

  • ½ tsp molasses

  • ½ tsp ground turmeric


In a glass jar combine Ginger Lemon OLIPOP with lemon juice, honey, cayenne, ginger, molasses, and turmeric. Shake well to combine. Then serve over ice and garnish with citrus slices and fresh mint. Enjoy with a functional snack like cheese, whole grain crackers, nuts, and berries.

Incorporating Functional Snacks to Fuel Your Fitness

As for healthy snacking to fuel your fitness, there are a few pre- and post-workout principles you should follow. Plus tips on how to stay hydrated before and after your workou.

Pre-workout Snack Principles

Pre-workout, the goal is to provide your body with energy and fluid to get to and through your fitness routine. Aim to eat your snack approximately an hour or so before your workout. It should contain complex carbohydrates and lean protein, plus 8-12 ounces of fluid (ideally water.

Functional pre-workout snack ideas include:

  • Oat-based granola bar + hard-boiled egg + 8-12 oz water

  • Homemade energy bites with oats, nut butter, protein powder, honey, nuts, and seeds + 8-12 oz water

  • Greek yogurt + berries + 8-12 oz water

  • Apple + peanut butter + 8-12 oz water

  • Trail mix made with roasted chickpeas + pumpkin seeds + chopped Medjool dates + 8-12 oz water

Post-workout Snack Principles

Post-workout, the goal is to help your body recover. Think of recovery as having three Rs:

  • Replenish: Provide quick-digesting carbohydrates to replenish energy stores

  • Rebuild: Provide high-quality protein to jumpstart muscle protein synthesis

  • Rehydrate: Provide fluid to replace what you lost through swe.

Your goal is to consume a post-workout snack as soon as possible or within 45 minutes after your workout. Providing your body with nutrition, through food or fluid, kicks it out of catabolism (breakdown mode) and into anabolism (building and recovery mode.

Functional post-workout snack ideas include:

  • Smoothie made with 16 oz low-fat milk + Greek yogurt + berries

  • Chocolate milk smoothie made with 16 oz low-fat, ultra-filtered chocolate milk + frozen banana + peanut butter powder

  • 16 oz tart cherry juice + 1 scoop whey protein powder + ice

Hydration Principles

Pre-workout the goal is to consume 16-20 ounces of fluid with your pre-workout meal three to four hours before exercise. Then, consume an additional 8-12 ounces of fluid with your snack approximately an hour before your workout. If you're training in a hot and humid environment, aim to drink even more than thi.

During workouts, the goal is to consume 5-10 ounces of fluid every 15-20 minutes to help prevent dehydration. For workouts up to 90 minutes in length, water is an appropriate hydration beverage. For workouts longer than 90 minutes, you should include sports drinks to provide carbohydrates and electrolytes in addition to fluid.

Post-workout the goal is to consume 16-24 ounces of fluid per pound of sweat lost. Since you’re likely not weighing your lost sweat throughout the workout, a good rule of thumb is to start with 16-24 ounces of fluid. And check your urine color for hydration status. The goal is for urine to be pale yellow to clear in color.

Fueling Your Fitness: The Takeaway

If you want to excel at your fitness and feel your best, be sure to fuel up with nutrient-rich, functional foods both before and after your workout. Include a combination of protein and fiber with a little healthy fat to enhance satisfaction. Find healthy foods that you enjoy, like Greek yogurt, popcorn, or healthy trail mix. Drink plenty of water and make healthy swaps whenever you can, like trading high-sugar soda for high-fiber OLIPOP instead.

With the right fuel from functional food and beverages (plus hydration!), you’ll be well on your way to mastering your workout routine and enhancing your overall health and wellness.


  1. American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance Position Stand. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: 2016.

Cheat Sheet
  • If you want to excel at your favorite fitness you need the right fuel from functional foods and beverages to help you get there.
  • Functional foods and beverages offer extra health benefits from fortified or natural ingredients like vitamins, minerals, fiber, heart-healthy fats, and probiotics.
  • The best tips for staying healthy and fueling your workout are to eat functional foods with a higher nutritional value, stay hydrated pre and post-workout, and choose snacks with a combination of protein and fiber with a little healthy fat.
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