How To Stay Fit As A Night Shift Nurse

You have 24 hours in a day, and are usually awake for 12 of them. Say you eat 2000 calories in that 12 hours. Now you have to work a night shift, which is another 12 hours. So you eat another 2000 calories. In 24 hours, you consumed 4000 calories. Hypothetically, you work two night shifts in a row. That’s 8000 calories in 48 hours. Thats 4000 extra calories per week.


3500 extra calories = 1 pound of body fat, again hypothetically. 




This process can happen slowly over time with a smaller excess in calories, or faster with a larger excess in calories. Now, I am not saying that this is the case for everyone. There are ALWAYS exceptions. But, if you ask a nurse if they have gained or lost weight while working night shifts… my guess is most of them will say they have gained.


So what can you do to reduce unwanted night shift weight gain?


1. Eat regularly during the day, and fast during the night- just like as you would if you were asleep. This may be harder because when you are tired, hormones ghrelin and leptin communicate to the body that you are a hungry hippo. 


2. Balance your total calories between the day and night, eat consistently, but reduce your food intake to half during the day, and half during the night. 


3. Fast during the day and eat at night- if you prefer working with food in your belly!


4. AVOID THE SNACK DRAWER, like the plague- every workplace has a secret candy stash… don’t do it!


5. Stay hydrated- this will keep your belly full and reduce that empty tummy rumble that you feel around 3 am.


6. Chew gum- some may argue that it stimulates hunger, but i’ve always found it reduces my cravings and sweet tooth at night.


7. Snack on vegetables instead of dense carbohydrates- you’ll get your micronutrients and fibre!


8. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT eat the entire contents on the fridge when you get home from work- I know how tempting it is to bite into the block of cheese at 7 am, but it’s not worth it!


9. Limit your caffeine intake- this can lead to disrupted sleep, further confusing your hunger hormones.

The lack of sleep already puts you at risk for weight gain, so controlling diet while working night shift can help you maintain a weight you LOVE, while working the job you LOVE. Homeostasis am I right?