The Secret to Losing Weight While Working Night Shift

Losing weight is hard. Losing weight while working the overnight shift is even harder. Background story is that I’ve worked night shift my entire nursing career. It is probably the major factor why I gained weight because of the late night eating, donut runs, and epic potlucks. Most importantly, the lack of sleep and the “zombie hangover” feeling after working a night shift is not really the greatest foundation for working out and eating right. After years and years of attempting to lose weight on night shift, I finally mastered a way to work the night shift while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Two words: Intermittent Fasting.

Intermittent fasting has gained popularity throughout these past couple of years, and I have truly become an advocate for this cycle of eating especially working night shift. There are many avenues to tackle intermittent fasting, but the avenue I chose to pursue is the 16/8 method, which is you pick an 8 hour window (ex. 12pm-8pm) to eat and fast 16 hours after, and restart the 8 hour window the next day.

time lapse photography of city road at nighttime
Photo by zhang kaiyv on

At first, it was difficult to adapt to this new schedule because I would get hungry late at night and start snacking, but as you discover the foods that make you fuller longer, it starts becoming easier and easier to fast during the 16 hour window. I stick to three meals a day, making sure my last meal is filled with lots of protein and fiber to get me through the rest of the shift. Most importantly, I drink plenty of water throughout the day because dehydration can mask itself as hunger.

I worked the 7:30 PM- 8:00AM overnight schedule and currently work the 3:30PM-0400AM, so I will explain a typical schedule I committed to help me lose weight.

My Night Shift Schedule 7:30PM-8:00AM

4:30PM Wake up and Workout

5:00PM-5:30PM Eat Breakfast (The meal with the most carbs)

5:30PM- 6:00PM  Get ready for work

6:15PM- 7:00PM  Commute to work

7:00PM  Eat lunch

7:30PM  Start Night Shift

Between 10:00-11:30PM  Eat Dinner (Make sure this meal is high in protein and fiber)

Last snack should be before midnight 

If you get hungry throughout the shift, try drinking black coffee, water, and if that does not work, eating sliced veggies.

8:00AM  Shift Ends

9:00AM- Arrive Home and Shower

9:30AM  Go to sleep

My Night Shift Schedule 3:30PM- 4:00AM

12:00PM  Wake Up

12:15PM-12:45PM  Exercise

12:45PM-1:30PM  Breakfast (Most Carb filled meal)

1:30PM-2:15PM  Get ready for work

2:15PM-3:00PM  Commute time

3:00PM-3:30PM  Lunch Time

3:30 PM  Start Night Shift

7:30 PM  Eat Lunch

Last meal or snack should be before 8:45 PM

If you get hungry throughout the shift, try drinking black coffee, water, and if that does not work, eating sliced veggies.

4:00 AM  End of Shift

5:00AM  Arrive Home and Shower

5:30 AM Go to Bed

On my days off, I like to meal prep because it makes it easier to have grab and go meals ready for the the work days.  For example, I always have boiled eggs, peanut butter, veggie sticks, protein shakes, and ready made salads with some sort of protein (fish, steak, or chicken) on hand for work days. I try to maintain the same eating schedule on my days off as well.

Yet,I know life happens, so my rule of thumb is 4 days a week, I commit to intermittent fasting.  And like I emphasized, make sure your last meal is high in protein and fiber to last you through the rest of your work day. 🙂

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