A Practical Weight Loss Guide for Shift Workers
Who out there is a nurse, security guard, bouncer, police officer, flight attendant, or works long gruelling ‘red eye’ hours while the rest of the world is…. sleeping?
If you have ever wanted to lose weight as a shift worker, you need to read this article.
There is no denying the challenge associated with losing weight and building a great body while watching the clock tick away at 2 am in the morning, while your fellow colleagues are downing doughnuts, cakes, biscuits, and any other ‘treat’ brought into the break-out room.
Or you are so run-off-your-feet that you don’t have time to stop and eat carefully cooked nutritious food because, as a nurse, you just don’t get breaks away from the ward. This makes those doughnuts and cakes a very attractive quick fix.
Or you are a police officer eating on-the-road between jobs or a security guard that stares at computer monitors for 12 hour intervals.
You might think: It’s easy for a yoga teacher or a personal trainer to stay in shape because they work in an environment conducive to health and fitness and quite frankly, get their eight-hours-of-sleep-everyday.
Does this mean shift workers are doomed? That we can never have the body of our dreams for as long as we slave against the back end of the clock?
Think again. A breath of fresh air is about to pass you…
My Background: The King Of Night Shift
I don’t know about you but I find it really hard to take advice from a diet guru or a well qualified practitioner who has no freaking clue what it is like to work night shift.
The common advice I have received over the years is the same: ‘prepare your own food to bring to work,’ ‘avoid the workplace vending machine,’ or be reminded that night shift is unhealthy for me due to a suppressed immune system and reduced basal metabolic rate.
I know that night shift has inherent health risks and yes, there is clinical research out there that is in favour of the ‘suppressed immune function’ and ‘reduced metabolism’ theories. Regurgitating the same problem and offering no real solutions is not helpful to us night owls.
This sent me on a path of absolute determination to learn everything I could about fat loss, muscle gain, proper nutrition and training, and come up with strategies for sculpting a great body while travelling and doing night shift. I had no role models except everyone telling me it was impossible and to do it properly, I had to quit my job and become a nine-to-fiver like everyone else.
I have been in the night shift game for 6 years now. As I (electronically) pen these words, the clock strikes 2 am. I have 5 hours to run before I clock-off. I will get home and rest for 7 hours, wake-up to an efficiently timed social life, train my body, and return to work for a 2030 start tomorrow night (I mean, tonight!). This cycle repeats for 7 consecutive shifts before I am given 7 days off to travel somewhere; either locally or overseas.
This is where I am affectionately known by my colleagues as the king of night shift.
I do more night shift than anyone else in the office but by their standards, I am also the fittest and strongest. Actually, my physique has allowed me to receive offers to participate in a Mr Tourism competition, film an infomercial as a model for a protein product, and receive countless other offers to play ambassador for different fitness products.
Remember, I am nobody special and I don’t have special genetics. I am an ordinary guy that is very passionate to find answers and try everything. I sincerely believe that if I can do it, you can do it too.
I mean that.
To sum it up, I can do between 3-4 months of night shift a year, with another 3-4 months of overseas travel every year. The remaining months is spent in the office doing variable morning and afternoon shifts. The body I have now was produced (and maintained) almost exclusively while doing night shift or backpacking overseas.
I have worked hard to ensure this article and the attachments contained herewith will get you the body you've always wanted.
I have watched every YouTube video dispensing advice for ‘weight loss for shift workers’ along with every article I could find on Google (it took a while, but got there in the end!).
Conclusion: every single source of advice was incomplete.
My best guess is the author with their best of intentions, has never worked night shift and is rattling off textbook verbatim. Or, they work night shift but offer fuzzy, vague, and unstructured advice for effective and safe fat loss while working night shift.
The rules that govern fat loss and muscle gain do not change between someone who works day shifts or night shifts. What changes are the strategies!
To be really truly successful in losing weight, specifically, fat, while working as a shift worker, there are three pillars that must be implemented. There is no other way around it. This is not airy fairy stuff, either. The concepts I am about to show you are a culmination of my experience as a shift worker and my success in helping regular ‘nine to five’ workers achieve great physiques.
Open the Action Guide and start from Section 1: Getting Started on Page 3. The Action Guide breaks down the process of creating a great body (in 90 days or less) by focusing on and implementing the three pillars; mindset, nutrition, and training.
Mindset is the most important pillar and must be taken seriously as it creates the foundation for everything else—nutrition and training. And if your mindset is not in the right place—no amount of strategies I give you as a night shifter will work.
As a night shifter, once you have thoroughly worked through those two attachments—it is time to then learn some of the strategies specific to night shifters, that you can apply so you can succeed in creating a great body. They are listed in point form at the end of this article.
Night Shift Specific Strategies for Fat Loss
- Meal plan tips
- Include low-calorie fibrous foods in your meal plan (pears, apples, broccoli, bananas, oranges) as snacks. I prefer apples and bananas. Usually a single apple from my meal plan can keep me satiated for 2-3 hours!
- All meals and snacks must be prepped and brought in from home.
- As a nurse that rarely gets breaks and eats-on-the-run. Structure your meal plan be a series of snacks (as opposed to ‘lunch’ and ‘dinner’)—ensure snack 1, snack 2, snack 3 and so on hits your daily macro requirements.
- Define your day so you know when the meal plan resets to the ‘new day.’ My meal plan resets at 7 am every day (which is when I go to bed!).
- Unplanned snacking from break-out rooms, vending machines is totally not acceptable. The keyword is “unplanned.’ Of course you can have sweets, treats, cake, biscuits and so on… but they must be scheduled into your meal plan!!!!
- Your snack foods should be highly fibrous (keep you fuller for longer) and low in calories (so you can ensure you nail your calorie and macro targets each and every day)
- Brainstorm how you will include training or exercise into your night shift lifestyle. I am signed up to a 24/7 gym.
- Minimal coffee. Herbal teas are much better. Why? Because caffeine will make it difficult for you to reach deep sleep after you finish night shift. It is already a challenge as a night shifter because you are not getting quality sleep—don’t compound the problem with caffeine.
- Drink lots of water as it will keep you satiated. I always have a 1 litre shaker next to me throughout my night shifts.
- Ensure you try and get really good rest (as you will most likely be sleeping when the sun is up). Ensure you invest in a good pair of ear plugs, eye mask, and can minimise as much noise as possible). Invest in a good pillow and mattress. Failing to get good rest will mean it will effect muscle recovery and your desire to go to the gym or do exercise.
As a night shifter with a meal plan designed for you to maintain a calorie deficit, you must ensure that you apply whatever strategy necessary, to stick to your meal plan! I cannot stress incorporating highly fibrous snack foods into your meal plan enough!! And drink A LOT of water! I sincerely hope you can begin your own journey for creating a great body whilst working red eye shifts.
Please share with me your personal success stories and before and after photos—I want to hear (and see) them!
You can do this! Don’t let anyone tell you it cannot be done!
Author Bio: Brad Newton is a shift worker and student of life who has spent the last 10 years educating himself on correct training and nutrition techniques that have allowed him to lead a fit and healthy lifestyle despite his demanding and changing work schedule. Brad is based in Melbourne, Australia where he maintains a community for people that are Seeking Fitness for Life.
Yours in health,
P.S I love talking about health and wellbeing so drop me a line to discuss any of the above. I'd be happy to support you or your business with their wellness objectives.
Contact me directly with any questions you may have: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Low Down
Don’t miss out on updates or announcements by signing up to the newsletter below.