Following a weight loss plan when you're a shift worker isn't always the easiest task.
Diets are generally based around traditional work hours, with the assumption that you are awake during the day and asleep at night.
When you're a shift worker this can be intimidating because it isn't always apparent how to adapt these diets to suit your lifestyle. Should you eat dinner as breakfast and breakfast as lunch? How do you avoid snacking overnight when you're working a long shift? What should you do when you come home late and don't feel like cooking?
We've put together a collection of tips to help you smash your weight loss goals - whether you work 9-5 or all night - and we've asked some of our most successful shift working members to share their top tips too!
Sit down and plan out what you're going to eat for the next few days, what you need to buy from the grocery store and what you need to prep. Plan when you will eat your meals and what time you will have your snacks so that you feel in control of each day. If you know what you will be eating, and when, you will be less likely to reach for a quick energy fix or chocolate bar.
When you have time, or time off, try making some of our meals in bulk portions and freezing them in portions. That way you only need to move a serving of this frozen food to your fridge for when your shift is over – saving you time and money.
A stir fry takes next to no time to prepare if you already have frozen chicken fillets and microwavable veggies on hand.
Even though you might feel ravenous, shift work does not affect your body’s energy needs as far as calorie requirements are concerned. But, to get through those late nights or irregular work patterns, you might find that you want to eat more on work days to give you a boost. So, on rest days, make up for the extra food units you ate by eating less. For example, you could opt to eat an extra 1-2 snacks or meal on work days or if you are working a long shift. Then, on rest days, cut down by eating one less snack or smaller portions.
Our Food and Exercise Tracker is available anytime, but sometimes your job will mean that you can’t be near a computer for much of the day. If this is the case, try using our mobile companion app (iOS only), accessing our mobile friendly website (Android) or printing the menu plan and ticking it off throughout the day. Alternatively, you can print sections of this blog and others on our site to leave as tips and reminders for yourself.
Try to fit in three meals each day plus snacks to prevent you reaching for unhealthy options like vending machines or fast food. And remember to have a good balance of all major food groups. For example, if you need a healthy and light meal choice, opt for a tuna and egg or chicken and salad sandwich with fruit or yoghurt.
Take healthy options with you to work for munching on during your shift. Also, make sure you have some tasty, healthy snacks ready for when you finish your shift as well.
Related: 10 quick afternoon snack ideas
Be careful with having too much caffeine or sugar and make sure you drink plenty of water.
A home workout DVD may be a good option if you find it difficult to get to a gym. Our 12 week program includes a variety of easy to do exercise plans, so choose one that suits you!
Looking for more tips to help you succeed? Get 12 top tips from our members.