Posted on April 17 2021
It is so often that I have sleep- deprived, frustrated clients, desperate to make changes in their lifestyle. 'But this is only for a few years' they say, 'Soon I will find a better job where I no longer have to work late nights'.
Before I get into Indian Weight Loss Diet Plan For Night Shift Workers , let's understand few facts.
A healthy lifestyle is on every person's radar during these present challenging times. A balanced diet and routine have become increasingly necessary to combat all kinds of illnesses.
However, this standard of living is far from achievable for shift workers all around the world.
With globalization, about 26 to 38 million adults perform shift work, whether for a night job or rotate shifts during the week. As per American and European studies, around 15-30% of adult workers engage in some shift work, where 19% of the European population seemingly worked at least 2 hours between 22:00 and 05:00.
While, for some, it's a rite of passage in their careers, it's merely a financial obligation for others. However, shift work in a growing sense is taking a severe toll on their health.
Especially for a night shift worker, it is essential to have a well-balanced diet to sustain a grueling routine of night shift work.
Who constitutes a night shift worker?
Night shift generally refers to the last shift at any given business, although the exact hours referred to can vary from place to place. If a business is open 24/7, the night shift or the third shift usually goes after midnight, like the 11 pm to 7 am shift or the 5 pm to 2 am shift.
The length of a particular shift can vary anything from 8 to 12 hours. Examples of night-shift workers include emergency industry workers such as police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, dispatchers, doctors and nurses, and other healthcare support staff, flight attendants, air traffic controllers, bartenders, servers and other food service employees, security guards, truck or taxi or rideshare drivers, retail store workers, manufacturing and production workers, etc.
Does working the night shift affect your health and weight?
The interest in the effects of shift-work, especially night shift, on people has developed because several experts have blamed rotating shifts for the occupational health issues and 'human error' connected incidents such as air crashes and other catastrophic accidents.
Here is a study showing the number of accidents by truck drivers based on their shift times. The peak in accidents is past mid- night.
The rise of epidemiological and scientific studies on this issue verifies this risk factor's gravity on human health and well-being at both social and psychophysical levels.
According to Frank Scheer, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, "There is strong evidence that shift work is related to several serious health conditions, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity."
Other issues such as disruption of biological circadian rhythms and sleep-wake cycle and several psychosomatic troubles, including depression that further extend to impairment of work performance and family and social life, are also proven to be related to night shift cycles.
Night shift workers are sleep deprived, and when you lack enough good quality sleep, your health begins to suffer, leading you to issues such as obesity.
The data from a 2015 health survey showed that 30% of shift workers were obese compared to 24% of men and 23% of women working regular hours. It is because working night shifts disrupt your body's internal clock or circadian rhythm.
What are the long-term impacts on the circadian cycle?
Almost all human physical functions lead in a daily rhythm or a 24-hour cycle. This cycle is called the circadian rhythm. It regulates many essential aspects of the human body like sleeping, waking, temperature, blood pressure, digestion, secretion of adrenalin, and body pulse.
These cyclic processes usually are coordinated to allocate high activity during the day and low activity at night. However, shift work tosses this cycle off balance along with your body's metabolic and hormonal stability, including the critical hormones that regulate hunger and satiety.
A disturbance in your circadian cycle intensifies your risk for weight gain as it decreases your resting metabolic rate. It releases the stress hormone cortisol, making you feel more stressed, less energetic, craving for high fat and sodium, and it all directly correlates with weight gain in the abdominal area.
Other adverse side effects of a disrupted circadian cycle are depression, anxiety, gastrointestinal discomfort, inflammation, ulcers, and so on.
What are the psychological impacts of someone who works shift?
Staying up throughout the night and sleeping entire day is not a physiological condition for diurnal beings such as humans, who force to adjust their psycho-physiological state.
According to surveys, health professionals who worked night shifts displayed more psychological and mental health problems than day workers. These include irritability, interpersonal sensitivity, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and paranoid disorders, which were significantly higher. These data signify that shift work harms the workers' psychological health and social life.
What role does Vitamin D play?
As per the European Food Information Council, the night shift work links to increased risk of health issues like obesity, Type 2 diabetes, severe heart disease, and much depression. These workers have barely any opportunity for regular sun exposure, which is essential to get Vitamin D. The fat-soluble nutrient works with calcium to promote strong bones, cell production, immune functions and prevent osteoporosis and inflammation. Researchers have also found a connection between night shift work and increased rates of skin, breast, and gastrointestinal cancers in women and lung, colon, bladder, pancreatic, prostate, and rectal cancers in men.
As per the National Academy of Medicine, ideally vitamin D level is a daily intake of 600 IU for all adults. Therefore, to protect your health and on-job performance, visit your doctor for a blood test and dosage recommendations.
How can you lose weight as a night shift worker?
If you are looking for a weight loss meal plan, here are a few blogs to checkout:
Losing weight is a long-term process, especially for someone with a unique schedule. Finding a balance of what- when to eat while working the night shift is the key to this process! Following listed are steps that you can adopt for this process.
- Create a log by writing down what you eat and drink and how long you sleep and exercise to maintain a balanced lifestyle. It will help you to decide if you need to work on your diet, schedule, or focus on exercise.
- Focus on protein intake and attain the habit of eating before you start your shift. Ensure a high protein meal with healthy fat, fruits, and vegetables as well as complex carbohydrates.
- Pre-plan your meals according to your schedule beforehand. Additionally, eat smaller, low-fat snacks throughout your shift instead of one large meal. Also, opt for local, fresh, organic foods and seasonal fruits and vegetables as much as possible. It will help your body to retrieve the benefits of natural cycles.
- Get your regular intake of Vitamin D with supplements and diet.
- Take out some time to work out to increase your resting metabolic rate for the following working schedule. You can try any exercise such as resistance training, whether at the gym or home, and yoga. If nothing, try a simple 'radio calesthenics' video. Radio calesthenics is a concept started in japan where 10 minute guided exercises are broadcasted over the radio. Here is a simple video for you to have a look:
- Hydrating yourself is vital. Make sure to have a tea- pot close to your work station and keep sipping on herbal tea's. This way, you are not only staying hydrated, but also get the benefits of the herbs. Stay away from milk- chai and coffee ofcourse.
- Create a sleep routine to help yourself fall asleep quicker. It is highly essential for weight loss and to maintain your metabolism. Do what you can to control your sleep environment and avoid foods such as chocolate, coffee, dried fruits, alcohol, spicy and high-fat foods, etc., to increase your sleep quality.
- Invest in a good pair of blue- light blocking glasses while working late on your computer.
- Avoid unplanned snacking and oily foods and eat more nuts to have a more balanced diet.
- Avoid excessive use of antacids, tranquilizers, or sleeping tablets. It is better to watch what and when you eat and use relaxation techniques to aid sleep.
- Take a ten minute walk every fifty minutes to boost cardiovascular health and keep joints lubricated.
What is the Best Diet for Night Shift Workers?
Here make a sample meal plan with timing for someone who works from 6 pm to 3 am.
Eat the 'big meal' an hour before the night shift, preferably between 4-5 pm. It will help you to power up throughout the night with energy.
Carry additional snacks to munch on during the shift. Protein-rich small snacks that will keep you alert throughout your shift. Some of the favourite snacks for night shift workers include:
- Hummus and vegetable munch sticks.
- Dry roasted chickpeas.
- Fruit popsicles (for the warm weather).
- Easy homemade granola bars or energy bars.
- A protein shake or a smoothie (with nuts and seeds).
- A mix of nuts and barley flakes.
- Rice cakes with baked bean spread.
Here are a few good recipes to explore:
Avoid caffeine 4 hours before your shift ends. Stick to naturally sedative herbal tea's instead.
Make sure to sleep before sunrise and sleep in as much darkness as possible. Once you wake up around noon, have your lunch. You want to keep your lunch high in whole foods, with complex carbs, cruciferous vegetables, one protein source and a handful of nuts and seeds. Resist the urge to have anything between lunch and your 'big meal' which is an hour before your shift. Here is a sample meal plan for reference:
An overdose of caffeine leads to the distortion of the sleep and body cycle, which is severe if you are working night shifts. Stick to chamomile OR lemon balm tea towards the end of your shift, these act as natural sedatives. watch this to know more:
As such, water is the way to go! Drinking plenty of water will help you be alert, stay awake, ward off dehydration, constipation, bloating, gastric and keep you feeling good.
Healthy Habits for Night Shift Workers Leads to Weight Loss.
- Stay away from soda's and artificial sweetners.
- Invest in a slow cooker and prepare your meals in advance.
- Clear your home of unhealthy snacks.
- Dedicate 15 minutes to stretching your body per day.
- Work on a sleep schedule.
- Explore oil- free cooking methods.
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