You may be wondering if pursuing an intermittent fasting protocol while working night shifts is at all feasible and how to pull it off. If you pick the right approach based on your type of work, you can find a great deal of success doing IF as a night shift worker.
Night shift workers can absolutely practice intermittent fasting and in some cases it may be extremely beneficial due to the often tricky and unpredictable demands of such work. There are some recommendations and best practices to be aware of in order to select the right intermittent fasting protocol for your type of shift work.
Why Intermittent Fasting Is Often A Good Idea For Night Shift Workers
Integrating intermittent fasting with your work schedule does not have to be a nightmare.
In fact, if you do it properly, it should make life a lot easier. Following an intermittent fasting protocol as a night shift worker all boils down to convenience.
With the often unpredictable nature of certain night shift schedules, not having to worry about when you’re going to eat is going to allow you to focus on getting your job done properly.
Let’s take a look at the important things to consider to make it work for you.
How To Determine The Best Intermittent Fasting Protocol For My Type Of Shift Work
There’s a number of factors that will influence exactly how long your fasting/eating window should be as a night shift worker, as well as what sort of diet you’re going to want when you are eating.
Assess The Physicality
How physically taxing is your job?
You’re probably on your feet all day. Are you working as a nurse or doctor in a hospital? Are you working in a factory? Are you doing any heavy lifting or laborious tasks?
If you have a physically taxing job, you will probably want to go for a more generous eating window (such as 16:8 or 18:6) so that you can get plenty of calories and protein in to offset the amount of energy you’re burning at work and to ensure your muscles are able to recover.
You will also probably want to eat a diet with a decent amount of carbohydrates so you have plenty of energy to complete the physically demanding tasks.
If you aren’t doing a ton of hard manual work, you could consider a narrower eating window such as following a 18:6 or 20:4 protocol or even OMAD. Implementing a keto diet could also be a decent idea for you as your energy requirements are lower.
Assess The Duration Of Work
How long is your typical shift? 8 hours? 12 hours? Generally the longer you’re working for, the more likely you’re going to have to include a meal break during your shift.
For instance, if you’re a nurse working a 12 hour shift, and you’re doing a 16:8 IF protocol, then you will need to eat on shift because there’s not enough hours in the day to keep your eating window purely after work hours.
If you have a relatively easy office-type job and are only at work for 8 hours, you could go your entire shift without eating. Simply split your day into 3 equal parts: 8 hours sleep, 8 hours work, 8 hours eating window.
You could also do a 20:4 or OMAD protocol depending on whether this makes sense based on your fitness and weight loss goals.
How Switched On Do You Need To Be?
Maybe you’re a surgeon who when in the operating room needs focus and a clear head.
Maybe you’re doing relatively unskilled labor that is more repetitive than anything, and doesn’t require a high degree of precision.
In the former case, perhaps you don’t want to go into surgery right after having a high carb meal because you’ll get drowsy (think food coma). So maybe a keto diet would work better, if you don’t have issues with brain fog.
Maybe it would be better to eat after surgery, so you can reap the benefits of increased cognitive capacity from the fasted state.
What Are Your Weight Loss Goals?
If you’re doing intermittent fasting in the first place, chances are you’re doing it to maintain or lose some weight.
Is you’re the surgeon, are you sure you want to be in a huge caloric deficit? Maybe you want to take things more slowly with a more relaxed protocol.
Maybe your work is relatively simple and you’re more concerned about losing weight fast. In which case, any protocol from 16:8 up to 20:4 or even alternate day fasting could be an option for you.
Try Different Things
You’re probably not going to get it right the first time.
Maybe you started out trying 18:6 and found that completing your work was simple, but you weren’t satisfied with how much weight you were losing. So you switched it up to an OMAD keto protocol and tried that for a while.
But then you noticed you were lethargic at your relatively physical job where you’re on your feet all night.
In the end maybe you landed on a 20:4 plan where you ate before work and had plenty of carbs to get you through the day. Maybe that’s the plan you decided to stick with.
Achieving weight loss and living a healthy lifestyle while practicing intermittent fasting is not impossible as a night shift worker.
It will take some getting used to. It will take some experimentation to get it right. You’ll probably have at least one shift where you’re pretty hungry at some point.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attempt it. Because eventually, it could make your work schedule more manageable than it was when you were eating a ‘normal diet’.