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3rd shift overnight workers how do you eat?

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I work overnight and have done so for 6 years. My eating habits rotate depending if I am off or not. Breakfast might be the most important day to some but that would be bedtime for me. I may eat at 2pm (breakfast)  7pm (lunch) and 3am (dinner) when I am working, and if I am off my day gets flipped around and I eat at 9 am/1pm/7pm. And where do you slip in workouts when everywhere is closed when your up?  just looking to hear where the success lies for those who don't work average hours. a little help please?
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I work third shift, too, but only part-time, on the weekends.  I am up from 8am on Friday, until about 6am on Saturday, and I eat over in calories for that day, but any calories I consume after midnight, I then count toward Saturday.  I also got a treadmill, so I don't have to work out at a gym.  I don't know if I would want to go to a 24-hour gym at 3am, you know?

On my "catch-up" sleep days, I just begin eating when I wake up, and usually end up eating less calories on those days, about 1300.  Actually, if you figure out something that works for you, I believe you will have an advantage.  You know how everyone says that sometimes you have to change things up so your body doesn't get used to the same routine all the time?  Well, we automatically have that advantage.  I would just keep logging your calories, and go back and analyze, and see what works best, then stick with it!

Good luck!


I worked night shift for the last 3 years, been on days for a couple months.

You are out of sync with a lot of places, for me cooking has been the answer. I usually would eat "dinner" at breakfast time, as that's when I had time to cook. Packed something for "breakfast" and "lunch" at work. I never got hungry at night like I do during the day and had to actually remember to eat a couple times a shift. Night shift is hard on your body clock no doubt!

The only really bad thing is that I found I couldn't walk (my preferred exercise) in the morning after work as that much sunlight made me unable to sleep after and. As I work 4 on-4-off, the way I dealt with it was just to do 2 to 3 long walks on my days off, about 4-6 miles depending on weather. During the work week I just focused on diet by avoiding fast food (the only thing open after 10 pm in my area is greasy spoons and fast food like taco bell). So cooking healthy on my days off, or buying healthy convenience (lots of precut veggies or steam-in-box veggies, garbanzo bean salads, that sort of thing to add to a sandwich or grilled chicken meal)

Getting plenty of sleep is crucial, I focused more on setting up my day to allow that than exercise during the days I had to work that night. When you only have 11 hours between shift to do everything plus sleep (and you need 8 hours a night like me), then it was all about figuring how to rev down enough to be able to go to sleep a couple hours after getting home. That was a constant struggle.

You may be able to find a 24 hour gym, but I'd watch out for a lot of exercise and light right before trying to sleep as it revs you up. Never could manage to get up early enough to slip in exercise before shift, so that's why exercise turned into a "weekend" thing.

Lack of sleep predisposes you to gain weight, makes you crave carbs, and stresses your immune system. My system was sleep first, clean diet next, exercise distant third during the work week, and reverse it on the weekends when you can take a nap if needed ;)

when i had a steady schedule, go in at 11pm and get off at 7am, 5 days a week, this is how my schedule looked:

2-4pm wake up, breakfast
6-8pm work out (not the whole 2 hrs tho!)
drink a protein shake after the workout
11pm go into work
midnight- snack
2am - lunch
4am - snack/light dinner
730-8am - go to bed

now i'm on 12hr shifts so i go in at 7pm and get off at 7am, 3-4 days a week. on the days i work i do this:

2pm wake up, breakfast
3pm walk the dogs
4-5 light workout
protein shake after workout
7pm - go to work
9pm - snack
midnight - snack
3-4am - lunch
730am - go to bed.

on my days off i work out harder and run the dogs vs. walking them but still try to eat every couple of hours and not eat 3hrs before bedtime.

hope this helps!
When I worked nights I was working 10-6:30. I would usually get home from work by 7:00a at which point I would do anything and everything that had to be done for the day. I would crash between 2p and 3p, and wake up at 9:30p, quick shower, and off to work. I'd grab something breakfast-like and eat while on the clock :). So my meal times were 10:15p - 2:00a - 7:00a usually.

i work night about 3 times a month, otherwise i am 9 to 5 with ocassional extra/freelance wotk in late evenings.

when on a night shift (midnight to 6 am), i usually pack something like an apple, cereal, yogurt, cheese etc. i usually eat that at 3 am. i sometimes eat at home before the shift, but not every time.

when i come home i really feel like eating. i used to have a big breakfast after my night shifts but that wa before diet. now i tr not to eat such a short time before sleeping or i eat one hard boiled egg, which satisfies me and is full of protein.

i love my jobs so i am not going to change my schedule, although i know that night shifts are not the healthiest thing to do-but i think the mindset - ie loving what i so-is a bit more important. at least for me

I used to work graveyard shift (1am to 9am) for 2 years, and during work I was not allowed to leave the premises.

Basically my day would go like this:

10:30 pm: Wake up and shower, make up, get ready

12:30am: Drive to work

2:30am: 20 mins break, eat sth like for breakfast ie: toast with jam, a bowl of cereal, and a cigarette( this is bad)

4:00am: 20 mins break, eat an apple, or an orange, or anything I bring from home.

7:30am: 20 mins break, eat nothing, just smoke

9:00am: Get off work, greet the sun, and go breakfast. My breakfast is always huge, as I consider this the most important meal of the day. I would eat pancakes, oatmeal, or crepes, along with eggs, ham, sausage, OJ, etc.

I had been like that for those two years and I didn't gain any weight.

Oh I miss my graveyard days.....

Thank you for all your comments. It looks like in general everyone flips there eating schedure backwards from the normal person... Still working on getting real sleep, aahhh and exercise. 

I just started a new job which I LOVE. I work over nights at a group home.  Midnight to 8am 7 nights on and 7 nights off.  Today marks my first full week of nights. 

Since Nov I have been taking much better of my body and have lost 33.1 pounds.  I usually weigh myself every 3 days on the Wii early in the morning.  Now today I finally stepped on the scale. I was worried. I've been feeling bloated and my tummy kind of hurts. Of course, I've gained 4 pounds since last Monday night.  This has totally thrown me for a loop.   I actually reweighed myself hours after I first weighed myself. I had slept for 4 hours and I was down 2 pounds?  So what is the gain?  Water? 

I've been planned with my food. Carrots, celery, cucumbers, for snacks. the worst thing I ate this week was Nilla wafers for late night snack. Usually at 3am I have peanut butter and honey sandwich on low fat bread.   I've been drinking lots of water and 2 cups of coffee only.  So I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong? I have noticed I have been more lax in my fast food intake. I did have a fish sandwich this week. But I still charted my food for the day and I was in limit even with that.

I only did my running/walk routine one time this week. So I know this is one area I need to work on.  It's just hard to find the time and energy when I'm sleeping so little.  I'm only averaging 5 hours per day for sleep. I have 5 kids so it's a little rough right now. Next Sept all my kids will be in school so then I can sleep during the day my 8 hours. but until then I have to find a way to make all this work. HELP!

I've worked so hard.

Any advice

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