Weight loss tips for shift workers

When it comes to losing weight, there are roadblocks that can often get in your way.

When it comes to losing weight, there are roadblocks that can often get in your way. If you’re one of the many who do shift work, figuring out a schedule that works can be tricky to figure out.

Here are a few tips that can help you lose weight while working shifts.

1. Plan your overnight snacks.

A must-do tip for shift workers is meal planning and timing of meals. If you are doing an overnight shift, you will certainly have to have a snack while working. Overnight snacks should be light, easy to digest and quick to grab. Options include yogurt, fruit, nuts, bars, lean proteins and protein smoothies.

2. Pack, don’t buy.

There are too many tempting, unhealthy choices for eating when you’re working shift work. Avoid all packaged and processed foods, as the salts and sugars will leave you feeling foggy and tired. Invest in some good plastic food containers and be sure to pack fresh salads with lean proteins, soups, kale chips and other snacks mentioned above.

3. Try to stick to schedule.

For many, work schedules change from week to week (e.g. three days on, three days off). This makes it very tricky to stick to a set schedule. Whenever possible, try to stick to the routine of having three meals and one or two snacks. As a general rule, when it’s later in the day (i.e. 7 p.m.-7 a.m.), avoid grains and stick to lighter options. Your body is already taxed from doing shift work; overeating or eating hard to digest food will only cause more unnecessary stress on the body.

4. Work it out.

It is not uncommon for shift work to cause elevated cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone secreted by the adrenal glands. An excess of cortisol in the body tends to lead to excess fat storage around the belly. Regular exercise (three to four times per week) will help to lower cortisol response, thereby leading to weight loss and less stress. Even 30 minutes of brisk walking can help!

5. Sleep in the dark.

Whenever you’re able to sleep, it’s important to try to get as much deep sleep as possible when you’re not working (especially during the hours of 2 a.m.-4 a.m.). Sleeping in the dark will help relax your body into a deeper sleep, allowing you to secrete the hormone melatonin. If you must sleep during the day, you can spray lavender on your pillow to help you relax, drink some chamomile tea and/or use a sleep mask.

Courtesy Dr. Joey Shulman