Meal Times for Night Shift Workers
These days, finding a job means making a few compromises. While you might find a position in the field you want to work in, that doesn’t always mean you’ll earn the salary you want. It also doesn’t mean you’ll have the opportunity to work the shift you want. Going to work from nine o’clock in the morning until five o’clock in the evening isn’t a luxury everyone has. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that now, more than ever, Americans are working the night shift.
For workers trying to achieve their weight loss goals, this can be quite a problem.
How The Night Shift Affects Your Weight Loss Goals
While some individuals seem to be able to adapt easily to working through the nights, humans are diurnal animals by nature. This means our bodies were made to sleep when it is dark outside and be active during the daylight. Interfering with the natural pattern can result in negative consequences, especially when it concerns your body weight. How?
- Less Exercise- Night shift workers generally exercise less than day-shift workers because when they wake up in the evening before work the gym is closed and it’s too dark outside to go jogging or go for a walk. After their shift is over, they tend to be more exhausted than day shift workers as well and don’t feel like getting out an exercising.
- Lack of Nutritious Food- Weight gain is more prominent in night shift workers, especially those who don’t think ahead and pack nutritious food to eat during their shifts. This leaves them dependent on fast food restaurants that are open and vending machines full of candy and soda.
- Eating Patterns- Because the majority of us are so used to following certain eating patterns, we often don’t believe they should change when we work nights. The problem is, your body reacts differently at night. Its natural instincts tell it that you should be sleeping; because this your eating habits have to change to help your body adjust to the new schedule.
Practical Meal Planning for Night Shift Workers
If you have to work nights, you don’t have to sacrifice your health or nutrition because of it. However, you do have to find a meal schedule that will work with your lifestyle. Here are a few tips for planning meals while working the graveyard shift.
- Eat Your Largest Meal First- Most workers normally eat a small breakfast before they start their day, but when you work night shift, it should be the other way around. Your first meal should be the largest of the day and should include plenty of protein from lean meat or fish.
- Eat Small Meals- To keep your body going throughout the entire shift, don’t just plan your “breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” Instead, plan to eat several small meals frequently throughout the night. This will not only help keep hunger at bay, but will ensure you have the energy you need to stay awake and do your job.
- Go for Protein- From the time you wake up and throughout your shift, avoid carbohydrates as much as possible. Sweets and sugary products will only make you feel drowsy, so opt for healthy protein options instead, like eggs, milk, and chicken.
- Brown Bag it- The vending machine isn’t going to provide you with the healthy options you need to stay alert throughout your shift, and fast food should be avoided if you want to maintain your weight loss. Because of this, brown bagging it, or preparing your own meals to take to work is a much better option. Choose protein rich foods that are easy to pack, like hard-boiled eggs, string cheese, peanut butter, and tuna.
The Morning After
While most people eat breakfast as soon as they get up in the morning, you can actually benefit from ending your day with this type of meal. The best time to eat breakfast is after your shift, and a few hours before you intend to climb into bed. This will allow the food you eat to digest when your metabolism is still running at full speed. If you eat too close to bedtime, you are forcing your body to digest food when it’s at its least efficient.
One of the healthiest options to consider for your before-bed breakfast is cottage cheese. This food not only contains casein protein, a protein that releases slowly helps fight off hunger in the body, but also has a supply of amino acids that help with muscle recovery and muscle building while you’re asleep. Eat a tablespoon of natural peanut butter to speed up digestion.
Are you worried that working the night shift will prevent you from reaching your weight loss goals? Svelte Medical Weight Loss Centers in Orlando can help. We are dedicated to helping you become healthier and lose weight. Contact Svelte Medical Weight Loss now and let us show you how our experience can help you achieve weight loss, no matter what shift you work.