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HOLLYBEE110 Posts: 339
12/18/09 5:22 P

One of my favorite diet-advantages I find from working the night shift (I have to do 6pm-6am, ouch!) is that it eliminates my otherwise deadly "nighttime eating".

When I get off shift, I eat a healthy "dinner" (often consisting of breakfast food), and then I shower and go right to bed. No late night tv, no boredom, no temptations to just sit on the couch and snack.

Then I wake up at about 3 in the afternoon, get a good workout in, and head back to the daily grind!

ICTERUS Posts: 15
12/18/09 4:36 P

I worked 3rd shift for many years. It's hard to keep the energy up, but caffiene helps. Remember that dehydration makes you drowsy, so keep drinking water also. I turned my schedule upside down. Breakfast when I woke up at 10 PM, lunch in the middle of the night and dinner in the morning when I got home. Did very light work outs in the morning, sometimes a nice walk. I tried to take advantage of nice weather.

12/18/09 3:34 P

For me, getting enough sleep is crucial. If I'm tired, I head for a Starbucks or make myself a giant coffee at home and then load it up with sugary junk. So, even if I don't feel sleepy, I make myself go to bed at a decent hour so that I can be well rested for the next shift. For example, if I have to be up at 4pm the following day, I try to start getting ready for bed by 3am so that I can have a couple extra hours sleep if I need it. If I don't, then I'll just wake up an hour or two early. Who couldn't use an extra hour in the mornings? lol

Also, I buy loads of "Eating Right" microwave dinners, which are about 330 calories each, relatively low in sodium and give me options like low fat, high protein or low carb dinners. That keeps me from swinging by a 24hr drive through on the way home. Plus, our local grocery store sells 'em at about $2 each. It costs me $18 or more for dinner for two when I drive through somewhere. Dinner for two with Eating Right meals costs me about 4 bucks. That's about 5 times cheaper than fast food!

I also keep a 1.5 liter bottle of water on me at all times. If I drink two of those, I have met my water requirements for the day (2 liters is approximately 8 glasses of water, so 3 is just a few more glasses).

Lastly, if I'm able, I sneak a quick bit of cardio in before I head to work. That usually gets me energized and pumped for the work night ahead. A brief 20 mins with some good music is perfect. Then I'm not worn out but I still feel like I've done a good job.

GEMINISUE Posts: 6,379
12/18/09 3:03 P

If I worked third shift, regularly, I would have breakfast before work, lunch at work, dinner, when I got home, and snack before my bedtime, if needed.

GAMMY98 Posts: 751
12/18/09 2:24 P

just thought I would throw this in no help at all. I work 3 shift for 7 years but work at Dunkin Donut. I drank a lot of coffee and ate a lot of donuts. Now I can not usually even eat a donut. I never gained any weight to whole time I work there. I was alway on the go the whole night.

FIORENZA SparkPoints: (108,726)
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12/18/09 1:59 P

bring herbal teas with you and drink a lot of it

LYNZIJOY SparkPoints: (29,534)
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Posts: 710
12/18/09 10:36 A

Drink a TON of water. It is so easy to get dehydrated when you are up working at night, plus it puts strain on your body's natural rhythm. Water will help!

PATRICIAANN46 Posts: 19,513
12/18/09 10:22 A

I have never worked third shift, but I would think that you would have total calorie intake, exercise times, etc. just like someone on first shift. Your day would just involve different hours.

WANNABFIT34 SparkPoints: (38,450)
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12/18/09 5:40 A

I agree about the caffeine water will keep you just as awake, and eating at properly spaced intervals, and exercise. Living a healthy lifestyle will help you survive working overnights

TRACYZABELLE SparkPoints: (139,139)
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12/18/09 4:45 A

I also switch to "normal" on days off...

WINDY01 SparkPoints: (107,989)
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Posts: 1,276
12/18/09 4:26 A

I work 3rd shift and have been doing this for about a year and a half. I think I am finally getting the hang of it. I used to count my meals from 3pm to 7am, but that got too confusing for me so I count my meal days from midnight to midnight. I work 10 days in a row 11pm to 7am. On those ten days, this is how I work it.

3am breakfast
7am snack
9:30am-4pm Sleep
4:30pm snack/lunch
7pm dinner with husband

I eat my heaviest meal at 4:30 and second heaviest meal at 7pm. Sometimes I have a snack between 7p and 3a. This seems to work for me. and I know that my actually awake time is spread out over 2 days.

On my days off, I live in the daylight world with no problem.


TRACYZABELLE SparkPoints: (139,139)
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12/18/09 3:33 A

Your body does not know what time it is.. as long as you stick to your calories and breakdown of nutrients you will be fine... just keep moving.. I work nights and I eat:
snack at 11 , dinner at 2am, snack around 5 or 6 sometimes, meal at 8am (sometimes breakfast food sometimes lunch), sleep......small meal at 5pm.. then nap and back to work again..

Best of luck to you.

12/17/09 10:24 P

Basically, I did what so many others are doing: just eat healthy, "normal" meals. A short workout will wake you up after a long day's sleep, and get you in the mood for a good breakfast of protein such as eggs or a few ounces of chicken and whole wheat toast and fruit before work; a healthy "morning" snack of fruit or yogurt; lunch of sliced chicken or beef in a lettuce wrap and carrot sticks and a walk if at all possible; an "afternoon" snack of raisins or nuts and a light dinner once you're home of fish and brown rice and steamed veggies, followed by a warm bath and some yoga. Stay out of the snack machines and DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES DRINK COFFEE!!! I've worked nights on and off and I know many others who have as well, and coffee will mess up your system like nothing else you've seen! It's too easy to get addicted to the caffeine when you're messing up your circadian rhythm. Stay away from energy drinks and the rest of that crap as well, as they can all cause any number of physical problems. Basically, if it comes out of a vending machine or a 7-11, don't touch it. And all that caffeine and sugary and fatty junk food is going to keep you from sleeping once you do get into bed. You're doing yourself a world of hurt already by messing up your sleep cycle, so don't compound the problem with bad food and drink choices. I KNOW it's tough -- I've been there, and I've watched coworkers destroy their bodies with coffee and junk food in addition to the disrupted sleep patterns. You can't help what your job is doing to your body, but you can help what you put into your body! Eat well, eat regularly, continue to work out even if it's just a bit at a time, and you'll feel a thousand times better than your coworkers.

THE_HOBBIT SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 88
12/17/09 10:13 P

My husband works third shift and he's been doing really great with his diet. He works out after work and sleeps during normal business hours. Just work out whatever allows you to eat and sleep in a balanced manner.

ELDERBO Posts: 110
12/17/09 9:59 P

Really, the main issue with eating a meal just before bedtime is that for some people it impacts their sleep negatively. As far as eating late a night goes...that suggestion is based on someone with a normal schedule. I also work midnights so my "breakfast" is dinner, I bring my lunch with me to work which I eat anywhere from 2 am-5 am depending on how busy I am, and then usually eat some sort of dinner/breakfast after I get home.

The biggest thing with working midnights and food is that you must bring your food if you want to eat healthy. About all that's open at 3 am is McD's and a variety of 24-hour gas stations/convenience stores...not the best choices if you're looking for healthy food.

XENA1956 SparkPoints: (67,180)
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12/17/09 9:52 P

I did it for 5 years. It is tuft. The best thing I did back then was when I got home around 6am ,I went to take a walk along the river for about 1 hr. Then I could go home, eat a light breakfast, lay down and I would fall asleep within a few mins. and not wake up until the alarm went off around 4pm. The weekends were the worst for me because my friends and family always wanted to do things like the movies and I would fall asleep in the dark LOL

FIGHT2SURVIVE Posts: 10,451
12/17/09 7:29 P

I worked nights my entire adult life. Now that I no longer work, I can't reverse my days and nights. So I take frequent cat naps when I can but I want unusual foods at weird times of the day. I have been trying to change this for 3 years and have had no luck with it. I hope you do better.

Fitness Minutes: (12,905)
Posts: 1,674
12/17/09 5:20 P

I worked 3rd shift for 2+ years. The only thing I did was switch my eating schedule. I ate when I got up or shortly there after. Since my job was really physical I would front end calorie load before work.I ate a snack on first break, and drink water,if I was hungry then another snack at lunch break again with water. By last break I just drank water. I rarely was hungry when I got home. Depending on the freight load I would occasionally have an energy drink.

FIORENZA SparkPoints: (108,726)
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12/17/09 4:30 P

bring colorful packaged food to cheer you up - and a lot of coffee

12/17/09 4:21 P

I use to work a midnight shift a couple of years ago and everything is the same your just doing everything at night. Make sure your packing all your healthy foods,and it doesn't matter about what time u eat along as u stay within your calorie range you will not gain weight and i would wake up a couple of hours before work to get some exercise in and i still lost weight?

KATHYJO56 SparkPoints: (571,852)
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Posts: 161,191
12/17/09 3:30 P

emoticon I used to work 3rd shift and boy is it a killer for dieters. We all ate all night long. What the company didn't supply, we did. My remedy was to try to stick to very healthy foods when I was at home, because only God knew what I was going to put in my mouth at night.

USAKIBAT SparkPoints: (0)
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12/17/09 1:14 P

I think you are doing fine, since you are working out when you get off of work. If you don't gain weight doing this, I wouldn't change it. emoticon

CANDICANE32 SparkPoints: (25,072)
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Posts: 1,666
12/17/09 1:06 P

I worked third shift years ago and i treated it like i worked 9-5. i would not go to bed as soon as i got home because that is not what i would do when i worked a regular shift.

CLSYLADY Posts: 2,445
12/17/09 11:55 A

I work nights and have for 10 years. I treat it just like a "normal" person would during the day. Basically that is what night shift workers are only as my grandson would say, we're backwards. So I eat breakfast, lunch and dinner just as I normally would if I worked during the daytime. What really matters is not when you eat but the calories you consume. Stay within your calorie range and get your exercise and plenty of sleep and you should be fine.


JONAHSADIE SparkPoints: (59,273)
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Posts: 2,366
12/17/09 9:54 A

Eating at night makes no difference in your weight loss unless you are eating over your calorie allotment. Eating at night CAN however, affect your sleep. You may have an upset stomach, etc. which will cause your sleep to suffer. Also, your body works on healing itself while you sleep and when you eat right before bed, your body uses some of the "healing" energy for digesting. This is what I have read from here and various other sites.

MAYBER SparkPoints: (120,147)
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12/17/09 9:06 A

What great ideas from everyone my DH worked the rotating shift most of our married life and we did many of the same things posted. I am the one with the weight problem and he has been in the 160's all his life and is now 75 and just starting to get the middle age spread but not adding on weight it is just shifting

PATRICIAANN46 Posts: 19,513
12/17/09 9:04 A

I have never worked a third shift, but my son works a second shift and he treats his time as if it were the first shift. Same plan, just different hours.

MARIELYNN49 Posts: 84
12/17/09 8:06 A

I worked night shift at a couple hospitals for 7 years. In the year and a half I was on weight watchers and working nights I treated my nighttime schedule like a day time schedule. I would get up at 4:30 in the afternoon and eat "Breakfast" which was whatever someone or myself cooked for me. Something as simple as a sandwhich or cereal. For "Lunch" (at midnight) I had a lean cuisine, a chicken breast or another small meal with some fruit and extra veggies. At 5:30 - 6am I would eat some flavored oatmeal. I would arrive home at 8 am ready to sleep. Since I only worked three nights a week this worked for me and I only exercised on the days I wasn't working.

12/17/09 6:54 A

Your "right after work" exercise program is brilliant and a perfect key to a health program that will help you on first or third shift. My husband started his exercise program like that, while on third shift, about 25 years ago.

He has stayed in shape wonderfully, and I wish I had followed his example!

If you keep that morning exercise time stable in your life it, will be a principal key to good health.

Over 25 years ago, my husband took a third shift job to support his volunteer work on a cause that is important to him. That was when he started the exercise program that has kept him healthy today. He created an exercise habit that is almost an addiction, and it continues to keep him much healthier than he would otherwise be.

I'm judging this compared to the health of his father and grandfathers at his age now, and honestly, the exercise you're doing for yourself is exactly what he did for himself that has been most important to creating his good health.

JUDE-E911 Posts: 257
12/17/09 6:10 A

Ive worked third shift for two years now.. we are lucky enough to have kitchen with a full fridge. I buy large packages of frozen veggies and fruit at home then divide into freezer bags and keep at work. Along with my rice so even if I dont bring dinner cooked from home I have a fallback and try not to eat fast food. My supervisor likes to bring us pizzas though...she stopped bringin me chocolate fudge pies with it when I blamed her for me gaining weight lol ....I just get my fruit out when I get there and a few hours later when its thawed a little im ready to eat it!! It works for me.... most days!

SIFAKA1 Posts: 2
12/17/09 4:03 A

I started working third shift at the end of October. Before that, I'd lost ~45 pounds and was in a plateau. I found going to an 11:30 PM to 8:00 AM shift actually helped me start losing again. I just changed my shift again to be 2:00 AM to 10:30 AM, and I'm trying to figure out how to adjust everything now (again). However, my schedule that really worked for the 11:30 to 8 shift was to eat a snack ~1:00 AM, eat breakfast ~5:00 AM, go to bed right at 8:00 AM (I work from home), wake at 4:00 PM and eat small lunch, work out sometime between 4:30 and 9:30 (depending on family's schedule), eat dinner with my family at 6:00 PM, eat a snack ~10:00 PM. As many have already said, it's not necessarily "when" you eat but what you eat and the number of calories. I space my meals like I do so that I don't ever get super hungry, which may cause me to overeat. I have a very hard time getting to sleep (no matter the shift I work), so eating right before bed doesn't work for me (just like working out prior to going to bed doesn't work for me)

JHENNIN32 Posts: 1
12/17/09 2:39 A

I work 7 nights on 7 days off. I sleep from 9a-3p. On my work week I eat dinner with my family at 5p. Eat again at about 2-3am. Then something lighter like a bowl of cereal again around 6am. On my off week I eat normal meals with my family. I always try to eat at least 2-3 hours before I sleep though.

REGAN49 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (20,305)
Posts: 959
12/17/09 1:42 A

emoticon I work 11pm - 7am five days a week! My day usually goes like this: Eat dinner at 11pm; 2am a snack (fruit or nuts) 5 am eat breakfast; Go home at 7am sleep till 10 or 11am; Eat lunch around 1 or 2pm; 5pm a snack; go back to sleep at 7pm; Then start all over...on my days off I try to convert back to regular eating...sounds crazy but it works for me, right now!!

FANCYB1 Posts: 1
12/17/09 1:21 A

I to work nights 6p-6a and here is my eating schedule.wakeup @1pm-smoothie 3pm-apple,string cheese, 6pm-breakfast--8:30pm-snack---11:00pm-lunc
h---1:30am--snack--4:00am--dinner-6:00am on the way home very lite snack. Hope this help.

BIGT_56 SparkPoints: (69,267)
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Posts: 3,392
12/17/09 12:02 A

I work a 12 hour 7:00 to 7:00 rotating shift also. I am one of a small number of people that actually sleep better when I am on the night shift. I go straight to bed when I get home and get 6 to 7 hours of really good sleep. I can't seem to do that when I work daylight.
I eat within an hour of getting up. I have a snack when I get to work. I take my supper with me and usually eat around 11:00 at night. I will have a small snack around 4:00.
I wish I could work night shift all the time. I have a really bad problem with snacking if I am home at night, but I don't seem to do it at work.
I agree that calories are calories. I just try and get mine between the time I get up and the time I go to bed, no matter when that happens to be.
I have had more trouble figuring out my 10,000 steps a day. I finally decided to do them the same way as my calories...from the time I get up to the time I go back to bed.

TBANMAN Posts: 141
12/16/09 10:14 P

I work 3am to 10am weekdays with weekends off. I normally have a 200-300 calorie breakfast at about 3:30, then a 200 or so calorie snack at 6:30 and then another 200 calories when I get home, then sleep for 3 hours. I get up around 2pm, have lunch (200-300 calories), hit the gym, then have dinner (400-500 cals) around 5:30 or 6:00. I'm in bed by 9pm then do the whole thing over again the next day. I've found this works well - I don't get hungry, don't get cravings, and I've been steadily losing. Good luck to you - working odd hours is never fun.

LILDEGAS2803 Posts: 148
12/16/09 6:18 P

Everyone here has great suggestions. I worked the "noc" shift for three years 10p-10am.As long as you have the recommended calories while awake you should be fine. Eating at night will not make you gain weight. I think the most important part is getting a sleep pattern down so that you can actually have the energy to work out and eat right. I found that if I was exhausted during my overnight shift I tended to snack more. I found that if I force myself to stay awake until about 12/1pm, I was able to get a full 8hrs sleep before work. Good luck!

CORKEY58 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (20,906)
Posts: 1,586
12/16/09 5:22 P

I work from 10pm til 7am. It was confusing to me at first on how to track my meals. I figured out I just needed to start my day as if I was getting up in the morning.
I have my breakfast before I go to work. Pack a healthy lunch and eat supper when I get home.(which is usually another breakfast). This has worked out great for me.

12/16/09 5:06 P

I also work rotating shifts. I go to work either 7AM or 7PM and work 12 hour shifts. I use my calorie allotment for the day from midnight to midnight. That way it doesn't matter if I am off work on days or nights.

I go to bed as soon as I get home in AM and go to the gym on my way to work. Working out before night shift seems to give me more energy.

It's fun to hear what works for others on shift:)


MOEMOORE SparkPoints: (34,357)
Fitness Minutes: (40,447)
Posts: 393
12/16/09 4:44 P

Like others have mentioned, I adapt my food schedule to the "day" I'm awake. I work rotating 12 hours shifts. Sometimes 6am-6pm, and somethings 6pm-6am. I try to mimic my life and eating schedule for each.

I have "breakfast" after I wake up, and "dinner" a few hours before I go to bed.

In terms of sleep on the night shift, like another poster mentioned, I found that I go to bed within an hour of getting home, and my body awakens after 4 hours or so. I stay up and do small things around the house after having a snack. Then its back to bed to sleep before my shift. I let my body drive that. Its been working ever since I stopped fighting my body!

Glad to know there are other shift workers on here!

12/16/09 3:40 P

Isnt gatorade a bad choice because its loaded with bad carbs from sugar?

12/16/09 3:35 P

Isnt gatorade a bad choice because its loaded with bad carbs from sugar?

KELGRAM1 Posts: 8
12/16/09 2:05 P

For us, sleeping 4 hrs after getting off work, and another 4 hrs in the evening, gives us the best rest and energy. A "breakfast" after the first nap, and dinner before going to work seems to help.

DAWNMARIE4825 Posts: 73
12/16/09 12:16 P

I work 6pm to 6am during the weekends, Eating at night does not affect your weight loss (not when night is your normal time for being awake). I read an article on this site "6 diet rules meant to be broken" Very informative..A calorie is a calorie is a calorie it doesn't really matter when you consume them just that you burn off more than you take in a day. I have found that if I pack enough healthy low fat food for work it keeps me away from that awful snack machine. (did you know a small bag of Doritos has 17g of fat!).. The word is not to eat to close to bed time cause that can affect your sleep (not your weight loss efforts). I hope this was of some help, good luck with your efforts!!!!! emoticon

Edited by: DAWNMARIE4825 at: 12/16/2009 (12:16)
MMAGUY Posts: 141
12/16/09 11:43 A

I work 1am-6am Monday thru Friday and then 1am-7am Saturday and Sunday. What I usually do is eat dinner no later than 6:30. I try to go to bed by 8:30 at the latest. I need to start getting healthy snacks and drinks while I'm working (I deliver newspapers in the country/motor route.) I've cut back on the pop and energy drinks and started drinking water and gateraide. Still working on the healthy snacks. When I get home I nap anywhere from 1-4 hours then I get up and eat breakfast. After lunch I usually lay down and relax.

GOFORIT2010 Posts: 207
12/16/09 10:35 A

For me, my work hours vary. Sometimes I have to work at midnight and other times I start about 7 am. From my experience, I make sure I eat within an hour of waking up and my last meal is 2 hours before going to bed (plan on what time you are going to bed so you know when to stop eating). Throughout the day (whatever a "day" may be) I will eat approximately every 3 hours (hungry or not it keeps me from overeating). In the past I struggled on what was the right way to eat for someone that works nights, but not anymore. I stay within my calorie range throughout my "day" (even if I end up with an extra long day; I just eat at the higher calorie range). So far I have been making progress even with my crazy work schedule just by following this eating pattern (I haven't added exercise to my schedule yet). I also make sure I drink plenty of water. Believe me, the last few months at work have been crazy and I still lost weight; this eating schedule really does work for me. emoticon

BUTSWEETER Posts: 1,255
12/16/09 9:40 A

A lot of regular people say you shouldn't eat at night if you want to lose weight, but most experts and professional say that a calorie is a calorie, no matter when you ingest it. If you eat yours at hours of the day when most people don't, that's fine! As long as you stay within your calorie range and aren't having trouble sleeping due to eating close to your bedtime, eating at night is fine.

CROBINGO Posts: 2,849
12/16/09 8:59 A

I don't think it is eating late at night. I have heard and read it is eating eat within 2 hours of bedtime. So if you work late at night and ajust your meals with your work schedule, it seems to me, you would be fine.

BLACKBIRD311 Posts: 1,888
12/16/09 8:35 A

hi sara,

it's a hard one ay working nights, honestly. i use to think the same regarding meal times. i finish work at 7am i use to have breakfast and then stay up for a couple of hours because i thought i shouldn't be going to sleep straight after a meal. then i would have my tea/dinner just before going to work as i thought it was wrong to eat too late.

apparently i was wrong and over the past 4 or 5 months i have pretty much just made sure i have 3 meals a day, lots of water and enough sleep. i've learnt here at sp that sleep is important and 2 - 4hrs a day/night is not enough!! i was finding it hard at first to actually find time to have proper meals. i was still trying to squash them into my normal daylight hours!! how dumb is that - that's what happens when you don't take tha time to stop and look at things properly because you are "too busy"

i normally start work at 8pm (lately) so if i cook tea and i'm not really hungry i take it to work with me in a container. when i was going to weight watchers a couple of years ago they teach you to be more aware of your body/hunger signals which has helped me a lot. through becoming more aware and taking notice i have realised i sometimes get hungry around 2am in the morning when i'm at work so i will have either a meal or yoghurt and fruit and count it as my breakfast. that way once i get home i can just go to sleep when i'm ready.

well that's it from me, i hope it is of some help ...


Edited by: BLACKBIRD311 at: 12/16/2009 (08:45)
SARABUT09 Posts: 3
12/16/09 6:02 A

I work nights and was wondering since everyone saays you shouldn't eat late at night. Will this affect my weight loss? I usually work out right after work then have a healthy snack and go to bed. When I get up I eat my breakfast then lunch/ dinner at 3 AM. Any suggestions about weight loss or eating if you work nights

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