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  #1  
Unread 11-28-2018, 02:30 PM
AlphaBettor AlphaBettor is offline
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Default Dieting and Shift Work

How would you advise a shift worker on how to diet? By shift work, I mean a schedule that switches every week. In addition, these are 12+ hour shifts, so one week the person would work 3-4 days a week from 8am to 8pm. The next week, it's 8pm to 8am, and so on.

Some issues that come up:

- Chronic fatigue. The constant shifting is a major stress on the body. In dieting terms, it seems to increase appetite and worsen partitioning, not unlike what happens in sleep deprivation. Possibly because there's inherently a degree of sleep deprivation going on, especially in the days following the switch.

- No regular eating schedule. It's easier to build a diet framework for someone with a typical 9-5 type job because it's usually easy to at least slot in a breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the case of shift work though, these times get messed up very easily.

- Long, busy shifts (which sometimes go over), plus a commute both ways. All things considered, this could mean a 14+ hour eating window, if one were to do a traditional breakfast/lunch/dinner setup. Multiple leisurely meals on the job probably isn't going to happen. Lunch while working is usually about the best that can be done.

Curious to hear some ideas, especially from those who have had a schedule like this. How do you manage your eating, workout, and sleep schedule?

Last edited by AlphaBettor : 11-28-2018 at 02:56 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 11-28-2018, 02:52 PM
AlphaBettor AlphaBettor is offline
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Another issue is that people constantly bring in sweets and treats for family and workers. It is a hospital.

It's easy to say have some willpower and decline, but a little bit more difficult when the person is overworked, sleep deprived, and hasn't eaten for much of the day. How do you even deal with that, aside from doing your best to have filling meals with a protein and fat source, vegetables, and things along those lines?

This would a good time to mention how much I hate how hospitals and other employers do this to their workers. It so obviously and negatively affects those that have to do it. The thing is, most of the time it doesn't even have to be done-- the employees just rotate these shifts with each other. They have little or no say in the matter.
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Unread 11-28-2018, 03:33 PM
w1cked w1cked is offline
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No personal experience but I've listened to a good amount of podcasts on the matter from sleep researchers. Their main point is you gotta accept shift work is not optimal because your circadian rhythm will be outta what. Across the board all the guys recommend NOT eating (at least heavy) during night time hours. Check out sigma nutrition podcasts, as well stuff by Dr Dan Pardi and Dr Amy Bender. Sorry not much help but can point you to those who specialize in it.
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Unread 11-28-2018, 05:47 PM
Milkman Milkman is offline
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It's a challenge that's for sure.

I haven't been on shift work in a number of years, but when I was the worst cravings was midnights.

My advice. Plan to space your meals out and eat every 3-4 hours. Set your foods up to be variable, but on your diet. Never eat a cheat meal at work. That will just make it easier to do later. Inform your crew of what you are trying to do and they may help you. (I had help and even had one of the guys join me in trying to lose a few pounds) I found my best "mates" was when I was on shift work. We were all in on just about everything together.

I wouldn't do it around the holiday time since there is so much challenge and people bringing in lots of sweets and stuff for the holidays.

Like all diets drink lots of water and do your best to sleep 7-8 hours. I never got that on midnights, but work at it because when you're sleeping your not eating.
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Unread 11-29-2018, 08:16 AM
AlphaBettor AlphaBettor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by w1cked View Post
No personal experience but I've listened to a good amount of podcasts on the matter from sleep researchers. Their main point is you gotta accept shift work is not optimal because your circadian rhythm will be outta what. Across the board all the guys recommend NOT eating (at least heavy) during night time hours. Check out sigma nutrition podcasts, as well stuff by Dr Dan Pardi and Dr Amy Bender. Sorry not much help but can point you to those who specialize in it.
Thanks for the references. I'll check them out. I have read some of Piotr Wozniak's compendium of sleep research as well as Sara Mednick's work on napping, specifically. Those were helpful. Also Borge has emphasized circadian timing and how it relates to training. He may have actually been on one of Sigma nutrition's podcasts though I can't remember for sure off the top of my head.

Last edited by AlphaBettor : 11-29-2018 at 08:20 AM.
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Unread 11-29-2018, 08:20 AM
AlphaBettor AlphaBettor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Milkman View Post
It's a challenge that's for sure.

I haven't been on shift work in a number of years, but when I was the worst cravings was midnights.

My advice. Plan to space your meals out and eat every 3-4 hours. Set your foods up to be variable, but on your diet. Never eat a cheat meal at work. That will just make it easier to do later. Inform your crew of what you are trying to do and they may help you. (I had help and even had one of the guys join me in trying to lose a few pounds) I found my best "mates" was when I was on shift work. We were all in on just about everything together.

I wouldn't do it around the holiday time since there is so much challenge and people bringing in lots of sweets and stuff for the holidays.

Like all diets drink lots of water and do your best to sleep 7-8 hours. I never got that on midnights, but work at it because when you're sleeping your not eating.
This is not for me but rather someone I'm trying to help. Unfortunately I agree that it's not going to be optimal, but we're trying to do the best we can given the situation. Agreed about having some teamwork and avoiding the cheat meals at work. It can be easier said than done - far moreso than it would be with a consistent schedule.
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  #7  
Unread 12-03-2018, 01:12 AM
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muki muki is offline
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As others have said, you gotta accept that under these circumstances you will be working in sub optimal environment for your body to recomp and there is nothing/ very little you can do about it, so it is better to set up your expectations right.

This is both due to practical difficulties with your daily schedule and food access making it hard to reach your target macros and meal composition, as well as your hormonal state and stress levels coming from lifestyle like described

I wish i could tell you something positive but the best you can do is stay calm and dont stress yourself additionally about it because it will just worsen the situation. Plan meals in advance as much as you can, have some protein shakes and other supplements around you to make sure you dont reach out to junk food once hungry, and dont push yourself too much in the gym when you are already fatigued from work

I had similar situation (actually much worse) when i got my twins when for a period of 3-4 months it was really hard to make any progress in the gym while being busy around the babies all night long and being unable to get 4 hours straight sleep through the night day after day, week after week. Plus the work in the daytime. The only thing i could notice is my belly gotten bigger/ water being retained regardless of how clean i try to eat and how much effort i would put in the gym. Just too much stress and cortisol i guess...
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Unread 12-05-2018, 01:28 PM
holly70 holly70 is offline
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If I had to do it (sure as hell wouldn't be voluntary) I would try to do one meal a day, or a short eating window of some kind around 8 PM. Of course it would be before 8 PM or after 8 PM depending on day shift/night shift.

For me eating early in the day seems lead to eating more overall throughout the day. Eating in the evening so long as it isn't too over the top helps me sleep more soundly.

Moving to a smaller eating window is definitely an adjustment, but if you can tough it out it does get better...entrainment I believe is the word.

Bonus: This should work with a "no food at work" rule. Have/take some low calorie/no calorie beverages. If you get an actual "lunch" break maybe you could find a quite spot to nap, meditate, read, etc.
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  #9  
Unread 01-26-2019, 01:48 AM
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BEATMEOUTTAME BEATMEOUTTAME is offline
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I know berkhan isnt a popular figure around here but i will simply say this...

Ive done several runs with intermittent fasting and i have really poor insulin sensitivity... the problem i run into in your scenario is that if i start eating the types of foods that are available "on the go" then i simply CAN NOT STOP eating them... i cant eat half a bag of skittles, or chips, or 1 bowl of cereal, etc... so first and foremost i want to make sure my diet is grounded in complex carbohydrates vs simple carbohydrates as this gives me control over my ravenous hunger and uncontrollable pop-up desires to eat .

my 2nd priority is establish a guideline for my eating window... let's say i eat everyday at noon and stop at 10 pm... or 2 pm and midnight... or whatever it may be.... that is what i would strive to have AS MY GOAL... now im not neurotic and if i get hungry as crap an hour before my desired start time, im gonna eat...likewise if im busy and not hungry i dont mind starting an hour later....but im going to have a GOAL in mind each day ... that framework is helpful.... that keeps me from being all over the map and hitting up terrible options like mcdonalds for bacon egg and cheese at 9 AM one morning and taco bell at 3 AM for a combo the next...

Next, i try to condense my eating into 2 meals per day. I eat one at work and one away from work. My aim is that my "at work" meal is a little more flexible as far as being a healthy selection and comprises about 1/3rd of my daily intake of calories and my "at home" meal is more rigid in macro content and is about 2/3rd of my daily intake of calories.

This has a dual purpose.

1) I dont have as many options at work... this allows me to eat something reasonably healthy and tasty like a turkey club sandwich without being neurotic and feeling "deprived" everyday while im at work... i may allow bacon, light mayo, and provolone cheese on my sandwich in this scenario and just forego chips and drink water rather than soda...

2) At home I can spend time adding spices, dry rubs, etc and using lean meats, fibrous veggies, etc and cook a very healthy meal that I enjoy and helps me balance out my daily macros to account for my less stringent "at work" meal...

This way if i ever "cheat" at work or am forced into a less than ideal selection (like say there is pizza at the office or everyone is going to a chinese place) I can still recover by counteracting my big lunch by eating something extremely stringent at home that evening like chicken breast with broccoli to help offset my "at work" meal.

ALso lastly i would use some sort of appetite suppressant and select a diet that is high in fiber. 50-100 mg of caffeine before heading to work helps greatly to supress appetite and nothing works better than a bottle of psyllium husk in your desk that you can pop a few pills intermittently throughout the day or with your meal.


Im not saying intermittent fasting is magic for weight loss. I do think it helps greatly with adherence and establishing some sort of routine, guidelines, etc... it seems to put you on the right side of the 80/20 rule.
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Last edited by BEATMEOUTTAME : 01-26-2019 at 01:58 AM. Reason: q
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