UnMiked: What is “Functional” Fitness and Nutrition Anyways?

I have been thinking a lot about this one. Do people understand my domain? Do they need to? Is it too long? Should I get rid of the .wordpress , or change the domain name entirely?

(I am open to ideas!)

Lets start here:

  1. 1. of or having a special activity, purpose, or task; relating to the way in which something works or operates.

By this definition, straight from Merriam Webster, functional can be pretty ambiguous when it comes to nutrition. Anyone in the fitness world has seen functional training get completely bastardized and miss used to the extreme.


In the nutrition world, functional nutrition isn’t as common of a term, but it has been used. Most people refer to foods that have potentially positive health benefits as “functional foods” – foods rich in polyphenols, phytonutrients, fiber, omega-3’s…

I feel this is a pretty respectable definition, however I will argue that ANY food could be called a functional food, just like almost any exercise could be called a functional exercise.


First let’s start with what functional exercise is NOT. By definition, functional is “special activity, purpose, or task; relating to the way in which something works”. Unless your specific purpose of training is to be the best at standing on a BOSU ball while pressing a dumbbell around your head while abducting your opposite leg – this is not functional training. For more on this, please read here.


On the flip side, if your specific purpose or goal is to get the biggest pecs as possible and be able to maybe compete in a powerlifting meet, then the barbell bench press is extremely functional!

The same goes with nutrition. If your goal is to get super shredded for summer, than any food that helps you get to that goal is functional. If your specific goal is to get as fat as possible then eating copious amounts of twinkies, Whoppers, and KC BBQ might be your functional nutrition plan for the summer (and damn that would be so good!)


To claim something is a functional food or exercise you have to be able to state the goal of the person doing it, and how that exercise or food directly helps them get one step closer to that goal, and not one step closer to the ER.

Looking forward to bringing you all more functional functioning funcsacious exercises and nutrition in the future.

Published by Mike Gorski

Registered Dietitian and Fitness Coach OWNER OF MG FIT LIFE LLC

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