Is the Night Shift Making Me Fat? : 6 Weight Loss Tips for Nurses
We’ve all heard the stories of a night shift nurses’ weight gain woes. Trying to lose weight can be a daunting task for even the average person. However, for the nurse especially the night shift nurse, it can seem almost impossible. My first nursing job was a night shift nurse positon. As someone who has always struggled with my weight, I was determined to not gain weight and to continue on my healthy weight loss journey. Here are some tips to keep the pounds off while working night shift.
1. Cut Back on the Caffeine
I was never a big coffee drinker until I started working night shift. Most night shift nurses will say they can’t get by without it. Don’t get me started with the amounts of mountain dew bottles that you’ll see at the nurses station. Of course, caffeine is okay in moderation but too much can suppress your appetite and slow down your metabolism. It’ll also interfere with getting good sleep. Keep the coffee consumption down to one cup and drink it before 11:00pm at the latest (for the “7PM-7AM”ers). More power to you if you can drink it black but at the very least cut the sugar.
2. Plan out your meals
Being unprepared for your meals, makes it VERY easy to pick the fastest thing to eat during your shift and when you get off work. Unfortunately, fast foods are usually the worst types of meals to eat. Always have plan for what you’ll be eating at work and for when you get home. The hospital cafeteria is not your friend. Although they may have some healthy options, it can be hard to walk past all the french fries and pizza. Also, having prepared meals at home tugs at your conscience, make it less likely to let the prepared food go to waste.
3. Get More Sleep
I know you’re probably thinking…yeah right! Night shift nurses can’t get a good nights’ rest or well a day rest really. However, there a few ways that can improve your quality of sleep. You ever notice how you get the best sleep of your life in a hotel room? It’s probably because of the blackout curtains. Installing a blackout curtain in your room can keep the bright sun from ruining your sleep. You can also get a sleep mask as a quicker option for better sleep. Remember melatonin is your best friend! You can find it at any grocery store in the pharmacy section over the counter.
4. Sneak in a Workout
Even with a 3-day 12 hour shift work week, there doesn’t leave much time to work out. For those who don’t have time for one hour moderate intensity workouts, circuit training may be more beneficial because it can be completed in half the time. It only requires 30 minutes and the results are just as effective if not more. During your cardio exercise, alternate from short bursts of high intensity exercises with frequent repetitions followed by another high intensity exercise on a different muscle group. Alternating between 3 minutes of high-intensity exercises on particular muscle groups allows the body to burn more fat and calories, which will overall increase weight loss.
5. Watch When You Eat
Most of the information on weight loss will tell you not to eat after the sunsets…or something else really really early. However, this is when our day is just getting started. For the night shift nurse, realize that it does make a difference on what TIME you eat. Try to eat your larger meal towards the beginning of the shift to give you energy to get through. If you need a boast of energy around 3-4am, trying eating something light like soups or a handful of cashews.
6. Eat a balanced diet
Many look to “get slim quick schemes” in order to shed the extra pounds, which can have some damaging effects. Crash diets can cause a lack of essential nutrients that the body needs in order to be healthy. They especially do not work for night shift nurses once they back into old habits. There is a greater chance that the weight that was lost will be regained after the “diet” is completed. Watch your sugar and carbohydrate intake, as these can bring on the pounds. Ensure you are getting enough protein and increase your fruits/vegetables. The best and most efficient way to lose weight is through exercise and a healthy balanced diet.