Night Shift Eating Schedule
Eating healthy working the night shift isn’t always easy but I can help with that.
By: Robert Eilers | NightOwl.FIT Community | July 24th 2017
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A night shift eating schedule doesn’t have to be complicated but with so many unhealthy options available meal planning and proper timing can give you a leg up on your health and fitness goals. Of course, where to start with it all can be a bit daunting. With so much information geared toward working the day shift, it can be quite daunting to take it all in. Or you could simply find a health-obsessed blogger who has used his body as a human guinea pig for years to find the best night shift eating schedule.
Just the Highlights
In the interest of saving you time if you wish to just get the headlines, eat healthily, eat 3-5 times, and make sure you get plenty of sleep. I used to think this was just common knowledge, but what is healthy, how often should you eat, and how does food affect us on the night shift, and is there a perfect night shift eating schedule?
Simple answer for any question related to diet is that the best diet is the one you are willing to follow. And once you are willing to follow one then you can begin to listen to your body to see whether or not what you are doing is really working for you. But just being able to stick to some sort of night shift eating schedule is more than half the battle already. If you somehow manage to avoid a bag of chips and an energy drink then you are doing better than most of the people I see at work nightly.
Let’s dive into some basic information first that will help you get started. How much you eat, how often you eat, and the types of food you eat are largely determined by your body type and your goals. If you honestly want to just start being healthy your meal plan will be different than someone who is working out 5 times a week. So keep that in mind. This article, however, is more about when to eat and less what to eat. I have already posted a few articles to get you started on what to eat if you want to go back through the blog to review those.
However one key takeaway that should be noted is that you need to pay attention to foods that are raising your insulin levels, this seems to be the constant standard these days in healthy eating. Which is an almost universal concept, especially with the raised risk of diabetes that working the night shift can cause. You can find a complete list of insulin raising foods here. It is best to avoid foods with a high glycemic load as they will raise your insulin levels and cause you to store fat easier. My article on glycemic load explains more about insulin, glycemic index, and blood sugar which all go hand in hand.
But I am Different
Which night shift eating schedule you follow largely depends on the hours you traditionally work. Nurses, first responders, clerical workers, we all have different hours and work varying degrees of shift work which will largely determine what you eat and when. That said there are some constants that I have found work best.
Regular Night Shift Eating Schedule
Most of the time this is the night shift eating schedule I have found works best for me. I do occasionally vary what I eat and when but I found consistency helps with the mental aspect of overeating or eating the wrong kinds of foods.
Snacking before Bed
Any proper night shift eating schedule has to take in mind your goals you hope to accomplish but any of those goals will eventually run up against when you decide to workout. I honestly wish I could say I work out as soon as I get up which would eliminate the need to consume anything right before bed. But with my schedule, the only time to workout is right after my shift so I always have a protein shake right before bed with no other carb source.
Dispell the Myths
I have come across many websites that push consuming carbs right before bed, let me tell you the science really doesn’t back this. Consuming a high glycemic load carb source right before bed will cause a rise in your blood sugar, and just like gravity what goes up must come down. When your blood sugar eventually comes down it has the potential to wake you. Which if you worked days wouldn’t be horrible. But if you work nights the last thing you want is to be woken. So if you wish to implement a proper night shift eating schedule your best option is to avoid carb sources before bed.