Coach Kelly Wright and Kate Eli here to give you our best tips for maintaining (some) nutrition normalcy while working the night shift.
Because night shift… IYKYK. And if you DON’T know, you REALLY don’t know (and probably don’t wanna know either).
Handling the challenges of night shift work can be complicated, and nutrition is only one small piece of that. The good news is if you can optimize your nutrition on your shift, you will also likely see improvements in a bunch of other areas, too (:
Tip 1: Eat Your Main Meal Earlier
Reframe your work day and try to maintain your circadian rhythm the best you can. One way to do this is to eat your largest meal either before your shift starts or as your first meal on shift, rather than in the middle of the night.
Pro-Tip: avoid labeling your meals as breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and just think of them as meal 1, 2, or 3 to make this an easier mindset shift.
Tip 2: You Still Need to Eat
A lot of people try to avoid eating overnight when working night shift, but you still need fuel for what you’re doing. Try to get that main meal in as soon as you can (see #1), and then have some lighter meals throughout your shift.
Front-loading your workday with a large meal packed with protein, fat, and fiber will have you fueled and feeling ready to take on the challenges of your shift, right from the start.
Tip 3: Breakfast for Dinner
You likely wouldn’t go to bed for a normal 9-5 or day shift if you hadn’t eaten some sort of dinner.
We recommend a light meal at least an hour or two before bed as part of your normal sleep routine.
Since sleep is already suffering, try not to stay up too late once you get home. If you aren’t able to eat your last meal at work, have a quick and small bite to eat on your way home or as soon as you get home, and start getting ready for shut-eye.
Tip 4: Consistency Wins
Your eating schedule is going to look different than day shift, but it doesn’t have to look that different.
Set an eating schedule throughout your shift and set alarms on your watch to remind yourself to eat. If you eat consistently, you’ll have more energy and your digestion will function more effectively.
Eating multiple smaller meals every few hours will keep your energy levels high, and prevent any weird digestive issues.
Tip 5: Don’t Get Hangry
Don’t wait until you’re too hungry to eat. Nothing good ever happens in the presence of hanger. Be sure to keep easy grab-and-go options with you in case you aren’t able to eat an actual meal.
- protein bar (we love Built Bars & Barebells)
- protein shake (FairLife, Premier, OWYN)
- hard-boiled eggs or sous vide egg bites
- bagel with nut butter
- Alyssa’s Healthy Oatmeal Bites
- jerky or deli meat roll-ups
Where to Start
At @paragontrainingmethods, we believe that strong and confident looks good on everybody and every BODY, no matter what your job or schedule looks like (:
We have a pretty sick list of nutrition coaches here that work directly with Paragon Members and can help you with your individual journey. 1:1 coaching is often a great place to start if you’re a new or advanced athlete, and we highly recommend hiring a coach to help you find freedom in food and exercise. Check out the crew here!
Or, find them on social media:
Alex Maclin: @alexqmaclin
Kelly Wright: @kellywright.co
Kate Ernst: @kate__eli
Laura Savino: @laurajustinesavino
Erin Linderman: @the_erin_linderman_