Tony Tuesdays: Sports and Diet

Tony Azevedo, aka The Savior, is a 4-time Olympic water polo player, graduate of Stanford, and the current captain of the US National Men’s Water Polo Team.  Tony Tuesdays is his conversation with the water polo community courtesy of HARDCOREPOLO.

Today I want to talk about something that I am very passionate about, FOOD. I consider myself a foodie and really enjoying trying all different kinds of cuisines. But I will go into detail about my culinary adventures another time, because today I want to focus on athletes and nutrition.

Tony Azevedo, Olympic Water Polo Player (courtesy of Mike Lewis, olavistaphotography.com)

Tony Azevedo, Olympic Water Polo Player (courtesy of Mike Lewis, olavistaphotography.com)

What an athlete puts into his or her body is just as important as how much they are training or whom they’re training under. Eating the right foods and getting the right amounts of nutrients allows your muscles to recover, helps prevent injury (dehydration, etc) and gives you much more energy to train.

I feel that oftentimes athletes today are so obsessed with what supplements they can buy to get big, or which ones will pump them up the most, instead of just focusing on a healthy lifestyle. Sure, I understand that many athletes (myself included) train 8 or more hours per day and it becomes impossible for them to eat enough protein or get enough vitamins simply through food, but the bottom line is that the most important firs step is just eating well.

If you are consuming the proper amount of protein every day, eating lots of fruits and vegetables and drinking tons of water, you are going to be ok. I know this can be hard to follow at a young age, but the first thing I did when I decided I was going to try and make the Olympic team at age 18 was cut out fast food and soda. After a hard workout your body needs real replenishment and not fake food (as I like to call fast food places).

As I have gotten older my diet has also changed immensely. One big step is that I have started to eat ‘alkaline’ to relive acid reflux issues that I was experiencing. Just by changing certain things I used to eat and drink I have drastically changed the way I feel. I started incorporating coconut water after all my morning trainings (Zico in my preference), which is loaded with potassium and hydrates you much faster than water or artificially sugary drinks.

Supplements have their place and time. For example, I use ProAnox for extra antioxidants and protein when I am training 8 or more hours per days, but for young athletes this should be an exception instead of a rule. The most important component is simply learning how to live a consistent healthy lifestyle. You don’t need a quick fix with a couple pills per day when you start eating the right things on a regular basis.

Tony Azevedo, Olympic Water Polo Player (courtesy of Mike Lewis, olavistaphotography.com)

Tony Azevedo, Olympic Water Polo Player (courtesy of Mike Lewis, olavistaphotography.com)

I understand that eating ‘fresh’ can be difficult, often because it is more expensive, but there are ways to make it work. I try and go to a Farmer’s Market twice a week where I get all my veggies and fruits as well as natural proteins such as fish, chicken or meat (these markets can be a lot less expensive than places like Whole Foods). This really helps you to stay away from processed foods, which is something I try really hard to do.

And you don’t have to go crazy! I don’t stay away from desserts or eat diet foods, I just try and eat the freshest goods as often as possible. So once in a while you can still eat Captain Crunch or animal crackers. As long as you are aware of what you are eating and what it means, you are already ahead of most of your peers.

A typical day for me includes:

Breakfast– Greek yogurt with agave and nuts. Mango or papaya sliced (when in Brasil).
Lunch– a large salad including tuna, feta cheese, avocado, arugula, beets and every other veggie possible. For just a salad you will be extremely full afterwards!
Snack– Fruit, cashews, maybe a small sandwich
Dinner– a fish accompanied with sauteed spinach and quinoa

Of course depending on where I am living my menu changes (based on the local produce) but it’s always fresh and includes a ton of veggies and proteins.

In the end, the earlier you start to eat well and learn about food, the better off you will be in the future. Think about how many athletes put on an incredible amount of weight immediately when they stop training. When you are younger you can get away with bad habits but as you get older it will catch up to you. Start getting smart now!

Follow Tony Azevedo on Twitter here.

Follow HARDCOREPOLO on Twitter here. 

Stay tuned for more Tony Tuesdays coming soon!

 About HARDCOREPOLO

HCPblock2Founded on the pool decks of Southern California by serious swimmers who know what it means to train at intense levels on a daily basis HARDCOREPOLO is here. HARDCOREPOLO is the first brand to truly examine and explore the ethos of the hardcore polo player. HARDCOREPOLO is an authentic and innovative designer, marketer and distributor of premium quality young mens and young womens swimsuits, training gear, clothing, accessories and related products under the HARDCOREPOLO name. Our true, authentic, athlete driven, innovative, iconoclastic, and creative style differentiates us from the bland competitive swim suit industry and gives us reason to be. Start to finish, design, cutting, sewing, everything we produce is made in our native Southern California, something we are very proud of.

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About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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