When you are a serious athlete, staying in shape means everything. Staying at a certain weight level can keep you sprinting ahead of other runners and maintaining strong biceps can help you wrestle your opponent to the ground. When you want to stay in shape, there are some universal health tips that you should remember. Here are the top five secret health tips from sports nutritionists that you may not have considered in your journey to be the best athlete that you can be.

1. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners

There are a few foods that any athlete should avoid like the plague. Drinking diet sodas or any liquid that contains artificial sweeteners will make a person gain weight. The body treats artificial sweeteners as though they are sugar. Athletes who are trying to lose weight will only succeed in their efforts if they avoid liquids that contain artificial sweeteners.

2. Drink More Water

You should drink an extra glass of water for every hour that you work out. Most athletes assume that they only have to drink eight glasses of water every day. Athletes need to replenish their body with oxygen more often because they engage in such intense activities. Drinking more water will help your body receive the oxygen and hydration it needs to continue to develop. Your body will continue to develop on an upward trend when you decide to drink more water every day.

3. Let Your Body Rest Between Workouts

Some athletes put themselves into over-exhaustion mode by working out every single day. The truth is that you should balance your workouts every week and only exercise in an intense way up to three or four times every week. If you are training for a marathon, then one of the worst things you can do as an athlete is to overexert yourself in the weeks preceding the marathon. Make sure that you take at least one day to rest in between major running sessions. If you go running for five or six miles on one day, then limit yourself to walking or light jogging the next day. You can also cause yourself severe injuries when you overexert yourself and work out every single day in a week.

4. Avoid Excessive Weight Lifting

If you prefer to have a lean body as an athlete, you will want to avoid excessive weight lifting. Lifting heavy weights will cause you to become stronger; and your muscles will bulk up. Unless bulking up is part of your plan, you should avoid lifting heavy. If you still want to have some weight lifting in your regimen, be sure to add small weights to your regimen.

5. Go Running More

Athletes who want to improve their agility, speed and flexibility should go running more. Running is the single easiest way for a person to lose weight in a short amount of time. Combined with a healthy diet, running will help you achieve your optimal weight. You should remember to hydrate your body immediately before and after a running session. Running also causes you to sweat more than other activities, so it is essential for you to remember to hydrate your body every ten or twenty minutes.

Karen Warren is a nutritionist and guest author at Best Nutrition Degrees, a site with resources and guides to top-rated nutrition degree programs.