Weight loss is a big challenge for anyone, but it can be especially challenging for those who work the night shift or have rotating shifts. According to some research, late shifts can disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm, or what we commonly refer to as the internal body clock. The increased consumption of energy-dense foods is also a factor in how your shift affects your weight. Faced with this challenge, can an individual with this kind of work schedule lose weight and still stay on the job? When you work the late shift, your food choices can be limited to fast food and junk food from the convenience store. Even when you’re eating healthier, weight loss won’t happen if you’re not burning calories through exercise.
Our minds and bodies are meant to be in sync with the daytime sunlight and the nighttime darkness. As a former night nurse myself, I remember years of feeling the fatigue and lethargy of living “The Vampire Life”— awake all night, sleeping all day. REST up for your shift in a completely dark room, consider pulling the shades and creating a dim to dark environment even in the hall if you need to get up to use the bathroom during the day in order to avoid light-confusion before heading back to bed. SUPPLEMENT as appropriate with light therapy, melatonin, 5-HTP or other suggestions your health care professional might suggest.
I found out the hard way that working nights affects your health— I gained around 30 pounds and felt downright depressed.
Step forward into a lunge position with the right leg, then push off through the front heel to stand up and repeat with the left. Holding the V-up position, perform small pulse crunches, keeping your chin off of the chest and shoulders off the ground.
Marianne, an emergency communications dispatcher, sleeps during the day and works at night. In fact, if you’re working the night shift, science has shown that shedding weight and keeping it off can be harder on you than others. If the sun is already up by the time your shift is over, put on a pair of sunglasses before stepping out into the daylight or commuting home around sunrise.
By doing the same thing for at least an hour before bedtime, you’re actually programming sleep triggers. A UCLA study of some of the world’s last remaining hunter-gatherer tribes noted that temperature drops were an important sleep cue for our paleolithic forebears.
Want another way that a lower temperature can help night workers fend off love handles and the health problems they can precipitate? According to Combat the Fat author Jeff Anderson, new research suggests that you may be able to spot reduce body fat from your abdomen. For nutritionist Lisa Jubilee, one of the best and cheapest ways to give your metabolism a jolt after waking is to drink water (she suggests 20 to 32 ounces) shortly after waking. According to holistic health coach Seth Santoro, the best strategy for lowering body fat percentage is to work out soon after waking up.
Research has found that people burn fewer calories when they sleep during the day and log their waking hours after the sun’s gone down. Before you head out to start your shift, make a point of closing all the curtains in your house and invest in some blackout curtains for your bedroom. Bright lighting tends to make people eat faster and consume more according to a 2012 study from the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab. Have a few cups of java for a metabolism boost, but if you’re never seen without a mug at your lips, that could work against you, says nutritionist Amy Shapiro. If you’re worried about gaining weight on the night shift, it’s highly likely that plenty of your co-workers share the same concerns.
Kym Sandford about this book: I have to admit, I had no intention of writing this book, it was only after a friend of mine suggested I write it to help other people, did I contemplate writing it. Over the years I put on a lot of weight, this was mainly because I worked the night shift behind a desk.
I was very apprehensive at first as I didn't know the first thing about creating a diet, but I lost 54 lbs in 60 days and I continue to lose weight.
It was around the 2 month mark when I bumped into an old work colleague, surprised at my weight loss, he asked what my secret was, I told him I'd created a diet tailored for night shift workers.
When the body’s internal body clock is disrupted, it affects certain processes like your metabolism. Fast food, high-calorie snacks, sodas and energy drinks are staples in a night shift worker’s diet. In this case, while you can’t control your schedule, you can still do something about your diet and your lifestyle. Leave your chair for a while and turn your 10-minute sanity break into a quick workout session.
Something called our circadian rhythms have adapted over time in response to external timed cues, such as presence of light and eating.


Start by having a conversation with your health care provider— make sure they are aware of your work schedule and see if they have appropriate recommendations for you. Remember, your organs work differently when the circadian rhythms are disrupted, so stick to simple foods you know are easy on your body.
Caffeine is appropriate in moderation, but make sure you do not drink any within four hours of your desired sleep time so as not to disrupt the cycle further.
When appropriate, suggest using dimmer lights and decrease noise in order to keep from being over stimulated and stressed out. From this position, lunge forward into a deep lunge and then return to the starting position. Just like in a health care institution, she approaches her lifestyle with evidence based research and loves holistically tying it into her daily life.
A blast of daylight will further mess with your body’s production of melatonin, the naturally produced hormone that signals to our bodies that it’s time for bed. Over time, your brain will begin to associate those things with bedtime and fast track you into fat-burning slumber—even while everyone around you is getting up and getting going. It’s always best to work from data, even if you’re the one logging the quality and duration of your sleep and if you’re working nights, recording how you sleep is doubly important.
Even if you’re going to bed as the sun begins to climb, you can recreate a sunset-like temperature drop by taking a hot bath or shower. A striking new study published in the journal Diabetes suggests that simply blasting the air conditioner or turning down the heat in winter may help us attack belly fat while we sleep.
Striking some poses before bed can have a powerful influence on sleep quality because of yoga’s focus on breathing and meditation. Before hitting the sheets, do a quick set of crunches, reverse crunches, and a jackknife set.
On a website for working nurses, Alice Burron writes: “One simple way to combat the disadvantage of working a night shift is to make sure you come to work with nutritious meals and snacks planned out ahead of time. To come to this finding, the University of Colorado at Boulder researchers studied 14 healthy adults for six days.
But since humans synthesize vitamin D from sunlight as well, it’s particularly important to do so for those of us who burn the midnight oil for a living. Research printed in the journal Physiological Reports showed that people who did five 30-second bursts of max-effort cycling, followed by 4 minutes of rest, burned 200 extra calories that day.
Instituting changes can be easier when you know that those around you are in the same boat and a lot of research has demonstrated how people’s lifestyle choices affects the lives of those around them. Sitting on my bum for 8 hours combined with vending machine food caused me to rapidly join weight. Plus, considering that most of these jobs are sedentary in nature, this kind of lifestyle can affect your risk to be overweight or obese.
When you get home after work, go straight to sleep and avoid distractions that could keep you up. Chemical reactions take place as our circadian rhythms react to these external factors and give us feelings of energy or tiredness.1 Internally you can feel disruptions in digestion, muscle soreness and headaches. Even though you can’t control the sunlight or your work schedule, there are many modifiable factors you CAN control5 in order to preserve your health. Avoiding alcohol on your days off is important, as the inner effects often linger for a few days.
Leading a bedside career from public health to intensive care, she has firsthand insight as to how our modern culture approaches health and wellbeing.
Well, for starters, a 2014 study found that night shift patterns monkey with the metabolism of employees, causing them to use less energy than they normally would over the course of a day.
These sleep triggers could include listening to relaxing music, writing in a sleep diary (see #4), taking a hot shower (#5), turning down the thermostat (#6), meditating (#7), or chowing down on a big bowl of good carbs before bed. Your body burns carbs for energy, but if you eat them before you go to sleep, your body just stores them as fat, no?
Simply list each complete hour you were asleep in bed, and each partial hour (including naps). Colder temperatures subtly enhance the effectiveness of our stores of brown fat, aka the fat that keeps you warm by helping you burn the fat stored in your belly. Then go to sleep safe in the knowledge that your quick workout has given your body a little help in shifting that tire while you’re zonked out. During sleep, your body’s metabolic function slowed, and unless you woke up in the middle of your daytime slumber to swig some water, it didn’t receive any fluids. Also make plans ahead of time for immediately after you get off work so that you are not tempted to grab fast food or go out to eat.” Sounds like a job for these 20 Healthy Freezer Meals Recipes! For two days, study participants slept at night and stayed awake during the day, then they reversed their routines to mimic the schedules of night owls. Outside light makes it harder for your mind to shut down, even if you think you’re immune to such instinctive signals.
If you’re constantly consuming it, you may not eat much—or realize how hungry you really are—until you get home and gorge.


Try sending an email or putting something on a bulletin board that acknowledges the health and weight loss challenges that night shift workers face, and invite your coworkers to join you in instituting some changes that have been scientifically proven to be effective. You can also try “tricking” your internal body clock into thinking that it’s night by using eye masks or shutting the curtains. Seasonal changes, such as fall and winter, can trigger symptoms of depression and even something called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.
Numerous studies4 have found links between diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, cancer and injury, all connected to disturbed sleep-wake cycles from shift work.
After reshaping her own life she has made it her mission to inspire and support others in their quest for knowledge and achieving their goals.
The unfortunate effect was even more pronounced when these nocturnal employees finally hit the hay as the sun finally came up: The study participants burned between 12 percent and 16 percent fewer calories than when sleeping at nighttime.
Participants spent a few weeks sleeping in bedrooms with varying temperatures: a neutral 75 degrees, a cool 66 degrees, and a balmy 81 degrees. Jubilee suggests completely rehydrating before stressing your body with any other food or drink. That’s bad, but it can get worse if you don’t get some light into your life when you awake from your slumber. When participants slept during the day, researchers found that they burned 52 to 59 fewer calories than they did while catching their zzz’s in the evening—likely because the schedule messed with their circadian rhythm, the body's internal clock that plays a major role in metabolism function.
While you can nail 90 percent of your recommended daily value (400 IU) in a 3.5 ounce serving of salmon, a daily supplement makes a lot of sense. Melatonin, the hormone involved in putting your body to sleep, is compromised when light is present. Our bodies simply aren’t adapted for this level of inactivity; most of humans’ evolutionary history involved being active, searching for food and fuel. You probably don't have a stationary bike handy at your place of work, but a similar result could be achieved by performing burpees, jumping jacks or jumping rope.
These symptoms are seen more often in women than men, and usually will resolve as the dark months turn to spring and summer.2 But what happens if your work schedule won’t allow for normal cycles of day and night?
The thing is, we need the nighttime shift work of health care professionals, police officers, factory workers, maintenance professionals and more.
Make sure to keep low throughout the movement and don’t let the knee come over the toe in the low lunge. The upshot of this and similar findings is that workers on the night shift have to be particularly smart about their choices to maintain a healthy weight, as well as to avoid some chronic diseases associated with night work. One study in the European Journal of Nutrition put two groups of men on identical weight loss diets. After four weeks of sleeping at 66 degrees, the subjects had almost doubled their volumes of brown fat. A study published in the International Journal of Endocrinology showed that sleep-deprived adults who were exposed to dim light after waking had lower concentrations of the fullness hormone leptin while those in blue light (the kind from energy-efficient bulbs) had higher leptin levels. If you have no choice but to sleep during the day, plan to cut 50-60 calories from your daily diet. Nutritionist Lisa Jubilee says that one way to burn more calories daily is to stand more and sit less. I was desperately looking for something that would sour me as a night worker, but there just wasn't anything around that suited me, so I decided to do some research and create my own diet plan. The tips below should be enough to get you up and running—although it won't be to go for a run outdoors at lunchtime. As you're vertical throw open your blackout curtains, or if it’s already dim outside, turn on those energy efficient lights. Yes, it stinks, but we told you in the very beginning that it would be harder for you than others.
She cites a British study which found that standing at work burned 50 more calories per hour than sitting.
And for more amazing ways to blast fat fast, don't miss these 40 Best Foods to Melt Love Handles!
Half of the group ate their carbs throughout the day while the second group reserved carbohydrates for nighttime. If that doesn’t sound like a lot, consider this: If you stand for just three hours of your day, in one year you’d expend more than 30,000 extra calories—which amounts to about 8 pounds of fat!
If your night gig has you sitting for the duration of your night shift, raise your desk to take advantage of this easy, calorie-torching hack. The bedtime carb group showed a significantly higher diet-induced thermogenesis (meaning they burned more calories digesting their food after they got their eight hours ). Bedtime carb eaters lost 27 percent more body fat—and felt 13.7 percent fuller—than those on the standard diet.



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