How to Stay In Shape Despite Working Weird Hours

The Nerd Fitness Rebellion is an eclectic group of nerds.

From teachers to computer engineers, rocket scientists to brain surgeons (not even kidding), we pretty much have a representative from every field and from background.

Now, a lot of these jobs require some crazy hours:

  • Nurses and doctors are often on-call for long stretches or working 12+ hour night shifts, and then have a few days off.
  • Night responders get to work just as everybody else is heading home for the day.
  • Supermarket employees or construction workers are up and done with work before others have had lunch.
  • Rebel Alliance members are on night shifts spying on the Empire, etc.

I receive a few emails a week from people who are working these weird hours and are struggling to find a way to stay in shape.  Whether you work slightly off hours or have a completely backwards schedule, this article is for you.

If you happen to work a more typical 9-5 or set your own hours, keep reading: I promise you’ll learn something today too!

Weird hours be damned, I’m gonna help get you healthy.

Diet is still the most important thing

Belief in Taco

Now, whether you work weird hours or normal hours, diet is still responsible for 80-90% of your success or failure when it comes to staying healthy.

80-90 PERCENT.

This is both a blessing and a curse.  It means you don’t need to freak out if you miss a workout after a long night shift, but it also means you gotta take care of yourself while you are working.

I’m still a big supporter of Paleo Diet principles to help people lose weight, but I realize this can be tough: the only thing available late night may be Taco Bell or whatever you can get out of a vending machine.

This means you need to become the master of preparation.

“But Steve I don’t have time to prepare food!” you say.  Yeah, I heard you.

What you’re REALLY saying is, “But Steve, preparing food ahead of time isn’t a priority for me.”

If you are working overnight shifts, you’re gonna need to bring in your own food.  Want to know how easy it is?

  • Purchase a bunch of chicken breast on Sunday Night (or whatever night you actually have off).  Cook them on a tray in the oven, ALL of them.  Put them in separate containers or bags in your fridge.
  • Purchase a bunch of $1 steam fresh bags of frozen veggies.  Stick them in the fridge at your workplace.
  • Need more calories/carbs in your diet? Buy some sweet potatoes. Microwave one and put it on your plate.

In about 3 minutes and minimal effort, you know have a well balanced meal.

“But that’s boring!”  Sheesh, I have to do EVERYTHING, huh? Welp, get creative, sucka!

  • Chop up the chicken and put it in a big salad with whatever you prefer (and keep in your fridge).
  • Make stir fry, put some in containers in your fridge, and then heat it up on your break.
  • Google “chicken paleo marinade” and mix up how you prepare chicken. Or steak. Or pork. Or salmon.

YES, this does require effort. YES, this does require preparation. YES, it does work. YES, you will find your rhythm with it.

Again, it comes down to two things: priorities and excuses:

Do you REALLY not have time?  Or are you using “I don’t have time” as a crutch to eat poorly and feel sorry for yourself?  I’m currently playing the world’s smallest violin for you. And it sounds terrible, because I haven’t played the violin since second grade.

Is your job REALLY stopping you from being healthy? Or is it a convenient excuse to use when you go to Taco Bell or the vending machine?

I’ve seen single mothers who work three jobs find a way to prepare a healthy meal and stay on the ball.  If they can do it, so can you.

Remember: nobody believes your excuses except for you.

Bad liquid calories


Let’s talk about liquid calories, the good, the bad, the ugly.

Whether you’re at a desk or up stocking shelves or making your rounds, you probably deal with a few key things:

  • Exhaustion: Let’s be honest, when you work a night shift or early shift, you never get as much sleep as if you were sleeping during the night with normal hours.
  • Lack of “time.”  If you’re working long days/nights and trying to raise a family/have a social life, food preparation probably doesn’t figure into your schedule.  You need convenience, even if you have to pay a bit more for it.
  • Hunger: If you forgot to pack your “meal” or “meals,” your only option is to eat what you can find, which is unlikely to be healthy at that time of day.
  • Boredom: If you are making rounds or stuck at a desk during the middle of the night, there may be more periods of down time than if you were working during the day.

So you’re tired, hungry, bored, and struggle with time management. Where do you turn? Caffeine!  Now, I have no problem with Caffeine. I wake up every morning and drink a few cups of green tea while sitting at my desk to write.  We’ve even covered caffeine extensively on this site already. The short version? Don’t get caught in bad liquid calorie trap:

  • Empty liquid calories are the devil.  If you are drinking soda, energy drinks, or lattes for the caffeine, understand that you are also probably consuming hundreds of calories and 50+ grams of sugar.  And sugar is what makes you fat.  So read the labels or do the research before you drink six Monster drinks, a case of coke, or a Coffee Coolata.  
  • If you’re going to get caffeine, get it from a healthy source: Black coffee, green tea, and as a last resort, a no calorie or low-calorie energy drink.  Try to wean yourself off the gallons of caffeine and work your way over to black coffee/green tea as time goes on. Hopefully, once you start exercising, you’ll have more energy and need less caffeine to survive your shifts.

Avoid the drinks that don’t give you any nutritional value and are full of sugar.  See if you can get your caffeine from better sources. Speaking of better sources of calories…

Good liquid calories!


Low on time? Need a meal?  Make yourself a smoothie!  

Depending on what you put into it or where it comes from, a smoothie can be an incredibly healthy option for meals during the night or as you’re running out the door to your shift.

A few tips on making smoothies: Buy yourself a cheap blender (or, a ridiculously nice one). Have one at home, or in the break room at work.

Give this recipe a shot:

  • Organic frozen fruit (I usually go with the strawberries or berry medley from Trader Joe’s).  
  • A cup of unsweetened almond milk or unsweetened coconut milk.
  • A scoop of protein (I use Optimum Nutrition Vanilla, but I hear the Chocolate is delicious).
  • A few ice cubes if you want to ‘thicken it up’ a bit
  • (Optional) Organic frozen spinach.  Doesn’t change the taste, but gets you a serving of veggies.
  • (Optional) Tablespoon of raw almond butter.  More calories, more healthy fats.

I drink a smoothie similar to the one above for a meal almost on a daily basis (though I add in extra carbs and calories because I’m attempting to pack on extra weight).

Can’t bring a blender to work?  Stick a scoop of protein in a shaker bottle, and BAM – there’s 25 g of protein prepared in 60 seconds.  Add a bag of mixed veggies from the microwave and you’ve got yourself a really weird meal that is pretty damn easy to prepare and pretty damn good for you.

A word of caution: Smoothies from Smoothie King don’t count, as they have more sugar than two cans of Coke.  Neither do Naked Juices.  They might look healthy, but they’re not.  LOOK AT THE LABEL AND PAY ATTENTION TO THE SUGAR CONTENT!  

Empty Calories


Now, along with empty liquid calories, let’s talk about empty food calories.

When you are at your desk, are you eating snacks while answering the phone or while on your rounds through the hospital?  

Personally, I’m a big fan of No Snacking, as I find I tend to eat more calories than I need during the day, simply because I’m not paying attention (check out the research in that snacking article for more).

Bring some healthy snacks with you if you’re going to be snacking.  My personal favorite would be apple slices with almond butter.

If you struggle with overeating, look at your snacking at your night job.  Are you eating because you are bored?  Are you eating because you’re not paying attention?  Are you eating because you’ve trained your body to expect food every 5 seconds?

If it’s any of these things, try the “No eating AND _________” strategy.  No eating and surfing the internet. No eating and watching TV shows.  No eating AND _____.  If you’re going to eat, that’s the only thing you’re going to do.

At the end of the day, it comes down to one thing: ACTUALLY taking an active role in your health.  As they say, “Don’t sacrifice what you really want for what you want RIGHT NOW.”  That candy bar won’t make you feel better long-term. Neither will those chips. If you want to change your life, you need to stand up for yourself and decide that you are going to make better decisions.

Exercise: Strength Training Wins.


Let’s move onto the other 10-20% of the equation: exercise!

It’s no surprise around these parts that I’m a HUGE proponent of strength training.  Guys like Joe (above) travel two weeks a month and yet still manage to have tremendous transformation because they are smart with their time.

From an efficiency standpoint, no other type of exercise gives you as much bang for your buck (aka: the most results with the least amount of time spent exercising).

You can get an incredible workout that exhausts all of your muscles and burns a crazy number of calories (not just during the workout, but in the hours afterward as your body tries to rebuild all of the muscle). Just reference any Nerd Fitness success story, all built with strength training and healthy eating.

So, if your time is limited, and your focus is staying healthy/losing weight, you need to be strength training.

When’s the best time to work out? When you will actually do it!  If you find yourself too exhausted after your 12 hour shift (and I don’t blame you), then get your workout done before you go to work, even if you only have twenty minutes!  Yeah, it might require you cutting your nap a bit shorter, but you’ll actually do it!

As far as the workout itself...

You don’t need to be going to a gym (though if you do, big lifts like squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, and pull ups are going to get you the best results – ask Staci), you can work out at home before your shift starts with a simple workout like the Beginner Bodyweight Circuit.  

We also have the Rebel Strength Guide which gives you more body weight routines and gym routines if you’re looking for specific instruction and exercise demonstrations.

If you are somebody that works a few days on (for long shifts) and a few days off, try this: a really intense strength building routine on your first day off from work and again on your last day. Two strength training days combined with walks and proper eating (on your work days) is more than enough to get you quality results.

Still no time? Spread out the workout

pull ups in australia

Don’t be afraid of simply exercising here and there, when you can.

Check out the Angry Birds Workout and split up your workout throughout your shift:

  • Do squats in the supply closet. Weirdo? YUP. Who cares?
  • Push ups and planks in your cubicle.
  • Pull ups on the bus stop overhang waiting to go to work? I’ve been there.
  • Dumbbell rows with your desk and briefcase/backpack.
  • Walking up the stairs on your break. Why not.

It all adds up, and every little bit is better than nothing.  The strength training benefits are key, but there’s one other key benefit to exercising throughout the day.

Just stay Active


Along with strength training, just staying active will help you think healthy.  

I actually have a timer (FocusBooster) on my laptop that goes off every 15 minutes to remind me to get up, walk around, stretch, do some push ups, etc.  Your phone can do the same thing! Technology, amazing.

Stand up at your desk if you can – mix up standing and sitting.

Go for a walk around the office. If you are a nurse or doctor you are probably already doing a considerable amount of walking to make your rounds, so keep it up.

The reason staying active is so important is two-fold:

  1. Every little bit counts.  That push up, those squats, that extra mile walked…they all add up!
  2. Your brain keeps thinking “I am active.”  Because it has to work more when you move! Remember, diet is 80% of your success or failure. When you exercise and constantly stay active, you are consistently reminding yourself that you are making healthier decisions, and these should carry over to your eating decisions too.  Exercising and eating poorly is kind of like paddling a row-boat with one oar – you’re just spinning in circles.  Work both together and dominate!
  3. Exercising can make you smarter and more alert at work.  Detailed incredibly well in the book Spark, studies have shown that exercising can increase brain activity and performance.  Healthier on the outside, smarter on the inside = NERD FITNESS WIN.

Take an active role in your health

stay active

Remember,  it comes down to one thing: taking an active role in your health.

1) Don’t use the job as an excuse, and instead remind yourself that you are in control.  You don’t need anybody’s permission to get healthy.

2) It adds up.  Every little change. Every meal you switch up. Every minute of exercise.

3) Plan out your day.  Spending 5 minutes identifying what you’ll eat and when you’ll work out makes you WAY more likely to actually follow through with it.

Leave a comment and share your story and struggles with the Rebellion. I’d love to hear from you:

Do you work a night shift or have funny hours?

Have you had success and want to share your tips and tricks?

Have a REALLY funky job and need more help (Deathstar operator, daytime student/nighttime superhero)?  Post below and I’ll see what I can do.

Let’s get weird with it.



Photo source: cross-eyed owl, taco bell sign, red bull, smoothies, chips, catdog

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  • Alexa

    I work at a warehouse and I work 2nd shift (swing shift) 6:30pm to 2am plus the 30 to 45min commute I have to do there and back. At first I was eating a lot of fast food because it was fast and I was constantly on the go. I started cutting back a lot and I still see no change. I’m on my feet, walking, lifting boxes, and pushing carts full of freight my whole shift. So I’m pretty active already. I’m just not sure what else to do? I’ll give your meal plans a go though.

  • Workout Programs For Men

    Everyone is busy. There is always a way to get your workout in. If you are dedicated to this lifestyle you will get it done. Just my thoughts!

  • MsPeleHerself

    I work nights as a water treatment operator. Normally there is SOME physical activity, but it comes in spurts. The past couple of months, however, the plant has been down so I literally have nothing to do but read or mess around online (like I’m doing now). I do get up about every hour and walk around the plant or go up and down stairs, but it doesn’t feel like enough. I also work a week on/week off schedule which means 12 hr shifts. My work week is my zombie week. My week off, I run, lift and cycle. It’s like being bipolar where fitness is concerned. 🙁
    I DO manage to bring in food so I won’t snack on crap. Seaweed has become my new potato chip substitute! I may have to learn how to do yoga in the bathroom or something to feel more in control. Anyway….. great article. Thanks for the tips!

  • Michela

    I work as a paramedic on a rotating roster of 2 x 10 hr days and 2 x 14 nights which usually finish late (can’t just get up from CPR and walk away) with a minimum half hour commute. Meal breaks are supposed to be half hour long at branch, but with the work load increasing exponentially we are being told to eat at the hospital cafeterias (which are either greasy fried things and/or expensive) hours after our meal break window. We’re not supposed to carry food in the truck due to contamination and lack of refrigeration. My colleagues and I are struggling with BMI’s around 30, we know that going long times without food has negative connotations for our bodies, we have a constant sleep debt, struggle with balancing work with our responsibilities at home, and struggle to fit in excercise for 5 out of 8 days. This has been a topic of discussion and experimentation for the past 12months with little success. Any suggestions are welcome.

  • starax

    Not sure if this will help…but i do know some people who work in awkard conditions similar to this, and they get an understanding friend/family member to bring in food for them.

  • Juan Carlos Suarez

    Hello I am a full time student and that is Monday thru Friday 8-1 and then I work 2-midnight help!!!

  • AJNalder

    Hi. I’m a paramedic. Along with shift work I find it difficult when it comes to meals for work. My meal times are all over the place, if that’s if I even GET a meal when I’m at work. I find myself nibbling continuously throughout my shift, tuna, nuts and dried fruit. Any healthy, quick meal suggestions? I need to get some routine into my eating habits at work.

  • Brad Chaney

    Full time retail worker with a really inconsistent shifts and guaranteed 40 with two off days.any ideas . May the force be with you

  • Natasha

    A special needs daughter means I have extremely inconsistent days/nights. We can be up all night until 6am before sleeping for a couple hours. Then the next night she’ll sleep from 11-2am then be awake for 4-5 hours before sleeping again. We’ve never managed to find a rhyme or reason to it. Anyway, this leads to crazy, unpredictable hours and constant sleep deprivation.

    While I’ve decided that, screw it, I’m tired anyway I might as well go for the exercise and be tired for a good reason. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated!

  • Jeff Brown

    I’m an RN working nights and it seems that my boss, my patients, and my coworkers are all trying to destroy me. It is candy, cake, cookies, sweets, chocolates, processed junk all around me. I got to work last night and at the station I usually occupy there was 3/4 of a costco buttercream sheet cake. How am I supposed to resist that? I feel like I smelled it, got a cavity and developed diabetes. Then I proceeded to try to rid myself of the temptation by removing it to the break room, but I should have had someone else do it; I had a piece or 2 before I left the break room. But I’ve been thinking about NF a lot and so I didn’t go back.

    I should have brought a “lunch.”

  • Combaticron

    “we know that going long times without food has negative connotations for our bodies,”

    Not necessarily. Read up on intermittent fasting if you care to. That said, I would bring a cooler bag with pre-made meals (and don’t advertise it). How about doing some bodyweight exercise during your downtime?

    I see it’s been a few months since you posted. How’s it going?

  • Emma

    I’m a mostly graveyard shift security guard and spend a good chunk (usually at least half) of my shift just killing time alone watching the cameras which makes it very tempting to snack, and so far my best thing I’ve found is to pack berries or cherries to eat so I get that snacking activity while eating something that’s not terrible for me. Considering bringing a yoga mat in so I do a bit of sit-ups etc on the floor too but I’m self conscious that a coworker will check the camera and give me a hard time about it.

  • kawigirl

    I work 730-530 in an oral surgery office, run a graphics business, and have a toddler. WE get up at 530, get her and i ready and fed. leave by 630 to drive across town to her grandmothers and then to work by 730. I try to go to the gym at lunch. I am able to get 30 minutes, starting with a row machine, and then moving thru 7-9 weight machines. by the time i get home after i am off, its 6 at the earliest. have to unload from that day, load for the next day, husband and i to shower, and get dinner before baby goes to bed at 8. once she is in bed, i am designing or printing graphics until midnight, or i fall asleep while working. kind of at a loss. I cant go before work… i would have to go at 4am, drive all the way into town, drive all the wway back home, get ready again, get baby ready. that would be working 20 hours a day with 5 hrs of sleep. If i go after work, then i pretty much dont get to see my kid. I get 2 hrs with her at most as it is in the evenings. frustrated!!!

  • Justin

    I work at a gym on the overnight shift which is 9p-7a. I work 7 days straight and then get 7 days off. I’m usually taking z quil to get to sleep and I want to stop that as well as the constant coffee. I always end up taking a nap an hour or 30 minutes before work which usually puts me in a bad mood, but I do get over it and actually like my job.

  • Nicki

    Thanks for this post, I’m a nurse and frequently work overtime be ause of short staffing. My shifts range from 12 to 16 hours. I started meal prepping and dropped 3 lbs this week. I’m still struggling with the exercise portion because I value the sleep I get and time with my son so much. I figure averaging 10 miles of walking (I swear my pedometer is accurate) makes up for that. Hopefully my work hires more staff and my husband finishes school soon freeing up valuable time for strength training/cardio

  • Daniel Lawrence Edens

    I work 7p-7a 4 nights a week at a hospital and have class from 4p-7p two nights a week. If I go to be as soon as I get home at about 8 and get 7-8 hours of sleep I wake up at 3-4 and have to immediately run off to class and then off to work right after. At the end of my shift I am incredibly drained and can barely pick up my feet. I know that working out when I first wake up is the most beneficial and before this job (but still working nights) I would get up at about 3, and immediately go to the gym and after a couple of weeks felt great, but now to do that I would end up having to lose a few hours of sleep to be able to get up in time to workout before class. Roughly my current schedule is:

    Sunday-Monday 7p-7a
    Monday-Tuesday 4p-7a
    Tuesday-Wednesday Free
    Wednesday-Thursday 7p-7a
    Thursday-Friday 4p-7a
    Friday and Saturday Free

    The days like Monday and Thursday are the ones that have me scratching my head, I want to go to the gym every other day and walk a few extra miles each day but the times I have class I would have to lose sleep but that’s also negative, and I know if I miss too many days in a row working out then it’s going to be harder for me to get back again. What should I do?

  • Fatih

    I work 2 days in a row and off for 2 days. Work starts at 9 in the morning and finishes at 9 in the evening which is 12 hours of work shift. The 2 days im off, i go gym. I dont work out on the days i go work.
    I eat healthy all the time and my body seems in shape as well. But i do require little more muscle mass. So those two days i hit the gym, which muscle groups should work on and how often? Do you think 2 days working out and 2 days not is ok for getting little bit bigger?

  • Antony

    I find that eating and exercising at similar times really helps. I set up windows of exercising and eating throughout the day with large amounts of time without either. This really helps the transition between day and night shifts. For example I always work out sometime between 5am and 10am and eat the bulk of my food around my workout. My only other feed time is dinner. This means I’m not woken by hunger when sleeping during the day and also helps me to nap effectively when working days. It means my energy levels remain similar every day as well.

  • Sunil Reddy

    My shift ends at 2.30 in the morning, so is it for me to workout at that time. Well if you ask me, I’d prefer after the shift. What’s your opinion

  • James

    I work at a casino from 0200-1000 and I’m training for special forces. This site made me realize yeah i can really do this.

  • Tamara

    I work a rotating shift. One thing I do on night shift (can’t on day shift, though), is do laps around the floor at the same time every hour, when I’m between tasks. By the end of the shift, I have walked anywhere from 2.5 to 3.5 miles! I also go on the treadmill soon after I wake up. Unfortunately, there’s no real solution for day shifts yet, but since I’m exercising 28 out of 35 days, I figure it isn’t that bad.

    I also do what you suggest…I bake a bunch of chicken up, I steam some brown rice and then I can make mexican bowls (adding salsa, cheese and black beans), Asian bowls (slaw, peanuts and thai curry sauce or soy sauce and broccoli), and even a form of Italian bowl with marinara. I try to limit my carbs but I don’t go crazy with it, just choose carefully – especially at breakfast time, which is where it is the toughest to avoid. Sometimes I cook quinoa and use it like I would rice or pasta. I also keep a container of unsalted peanuts for emergency use when I’m hungry. I often have a green smoothie when I wake up (whenever that is). It really is about doing the prep work…

  • Mike Ignash

    I see this is an old discussion, hopefully someone still monitors it. I work 15.5-17 hrs DAILY, 7 days a week (averaging 100-105 hrs a week (oilfeilds in west texas)). I have a girlfriend here with me and our dog. Between spending time with her when I can, sleeping, and working, there really is no time to spare. Thankfully my girlfriend helps out with preparing lunches for me but even then its not always “healthy calories” since she is able to work out shes ok with eating more unhealthy foods then what I need. All that being said, any ideas of the type of vitamins/metabolism boosters I can take? I’m not saying I need to shed 100lbs, just a few here and there, but staying tone is my issue. Yes the work I do is manual labor so i’m constantly moving but not in the ways I need to stay in shape.

    Sorry for the lengthy comment, just wanted to make sure everything was covered haha.



  • obeydiskitty

    This guy a genuis

  • Blake Presley

    Loved this, I will have no trouble following through with any of this. The only reservation I have is being able to do an effective workout that won’t wake up my family in the wee hours when I get home.

    Any advice or recommendations?

  • Bentstrider Francesco Nittoni

    I’ve been working the past, four years as a truck driver.
    Especially with the gig I’ve held for the past, three of those years, the hours are never quite the same AND change quite frequently due to it being a dairy related thing.
    There’s plenty of times where I’ve only got about between 6-10 hours of free time for sleep and whatever exercise I can cram into it before heading off to work again.
    While getting the eating part down is a chore on its own, the workout/weight training sessions can be a big time consumer if I don’t want to injure myself horrifically while getting it done.
    Lift 5-6 reps on any given muscle exercise, rest about 3-5 minutes between sets in order to ensure I don’t crash out on the next set.
    Doing 5-6 sets of a given exercise, this tends to stretch the workout to between 1.5hrs-2hrs easily if I’m doing something like the “5×5”.
    I seriously want to get and keep the weight back down.
    But now I’m also starting to realize that the money in these 12-17 hour shifts isn’t really worth the efforts any more.
    Time to scale everything back if I want to get sane and in shape permanently again.

  • Pingback: Your Most Popular Diet Questions Answered | Nerd Fitness()

  • จรัญ จอมวงศ์

    I am interested in building muscle จีคลับ . This article is very useful to me .

  • Michael Geoffrion

    I work 11:30pm to 7:30am, would working out be ok after work before I go to bed? That would be the best time for me

  • Whit Dizzle

    I cannot express how awesome it is that you have all these tips just for shift workers! I’m an Emergency Room Doc and its terrible working on swing schedules (some night some days all at random) to get the sleep and to pre plan workouts. I REALLY appreciate these tips. Preplanning meals is never a problem for me, its just getting a chance to for me to eat them. and then having the energy to give up some sleep to go for a workout.

  • Sarah

    I know this is an old article but I’ve just found it and it’s very helpful for me thanks! I work 30mins from home starting at 3am, then finish at 8 and drive a further 45mins away to med school, have class all day til 5, drive the 1hr15 home in peak traffic, get home exhausted and have to study until bedtime at 8. Also fit in being a wife and stepmum so needless to say I have become queen of the drive thru and am seriously struggling with my weight! This article gives some great tips and wake up calls that I need 🙂

  • Bridget

    I work as a swim instructor, a lifeguard and for a catering company. Sometimes this can mean that I’m working from 9:30am until 2am the next day and I’ve found that recently I’ve been packing on the pounds. Wondering what I can do to try help this, as I am more often than not just looking forward to sleep by that stage.
    I teach toddlers swimming so there isn’t much movement involved, more mental alertness.

  • Kelsea Jessica

    I love that this is actually do-able for people who work crazy hours. I typically work 16 hour shifts Thursday’s from 5pm-9am on Friday, then do 9pm-9am Friday night- Sunday morning, then do an 11 hour shift Monday from 10am-9pm. These are things that I can actually accomplish even with a weird, rotating schedule. This is the first article I’ve read on this site, but consider me hooked.
    That being said, I typically eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at “normal” times (breakfast in the AM before I leave work, lunch at noon-ish when my kids eat, and dinner at 6-ish with my family) and simply don’t eat when I’m at work. I’m hungry, sure but a lot of will power has pretty much eliminated the binge-eating-at-work problem .Should I consider switching it up and eating a meal at work instead of at home? If so, how can I continue to balance my calorie intake but still be able to enjoy meals with my family? Thanks for an awesome article.

  • Paul Fearnhead

    I work in a service station with rotating shifts so one week night shift then one week day shift and then one week of split shift with early start and come back for a late finish. I find it extremely hard to motivate myself to eat healthy or even attend the gym. Wish they’d hurry up and invent the weight loss pill haha

  • Shantrese Harris

    I work 3am to 3pm as a press operated, up at 1:30 cause of carpool of another coworker, at work by 2:30. I have 2 teenagers that gets home at 4 to dinner that’s ready, then back out the door to their boxing practice from 5:30-7:00. Shower and in bed by 7:30/8:00 to do it all over again. I need help to lose weight but can’t seem to find time.. Single mother blues

  • Katie Darling

    I work one week on-call 24/7 and then have one week off. It’s easy to catch up on the week off doing workouts, but then I feel like it all goes to waste when I do nothing the next week. There are definitely down times when I’m on-call to do a workout, but I’m always worried that I’ll get a page mid-workout or right after when I’m drenched in sweat. Any tips?

  • Ame Anderson

    Ok so work 3rd shift as an cna. 7:30p-8a. I recently stopped smoking. I’m eating just because the phone rings! I fear all I have done is replace smoking with eating, and I smoked a pack and a half a day! Help!!

  • Talmid of Yeshua

    Well, I am a little late in “joining the discussion,” but, for what it’s worth, I have learned to eat my “dinner” meal just before I head out to work my third shift job. At 3 a.m., when everyone else is grabbing out heavy duty sandwichs, pizza’s, burgers, heavy duty pastas, etc., etc., and cramming them into their mouths within the 30 mins allowed, finished off with a candy bar or some other kind of surgary snack (this is their “dinner” time, after all), I reach into my lunch bag and pull out some fruit. Apple slices with cinnamon powder all over them, and/or, oranges, I peel and eat, I even bring chunks of watermelon, yum!!! Anyway, I am looked at as wierd, but, I stay healthier this way. Can’t stand the thought of a HEAVY meal at 3 a.m. in the morning. Great article. Good fitness, everyone!

  • Bobbi M

    Great Article Steve –
    What would you recommend for a woman looking to lose BF% – working 14 hours/day -7 days on/7off rotating days & nights?
    7 days off is not a problem for workouts, but my shifts on, I hardly get 6 hours sleep as it is – do I sacrifice even more sleep to prioritize a workout, and become a Bear at work by the end of my shift? I enjoy strength training and cardio – but can never find a constant BALANCE!

    Any input is appreciated!

  • Susana Maria

    I work a very weird shift… 9pm to 5am! This means that I work from sun down to sun up! I’m hoping to implement some of these techniques since I’ve only been at this job for a little over a month and have been having trouble adapting! My work has an employee gym that opens when I get out so I’m thinking I’m going to pack a bag and either leave it in my car or somewhere that it’ll fit (lockers are small but perhaps the automated coat carousel will work) but that would only work if I’m getting out at 5am. I was thinking of getting the 24-hr gym close to my house too (both work and gym are super close) so I would have somewhere to go if I got out of work earlier than 5am. I want to try working out before going home first since I’m more of an unmotivated zombie going into work and the fresh morning air is nice compared to the horrid hot weather from when I wake up. I know it’s air conditioned when I get there regardless but I think I would rather try and get it done when I didn’t have to rush to get ready after and am already out of the house (I’m one of those “once I get home I don’t like to leave again” types).

    I also like the idea of preparing the meals since even though I have pretty good food available to me at work, I still like to eat something before I go in since I need to maintain a calorie base since staying up all night really makes me aware of how hungry I am if I am hungry. I will usually snack twice during my shift and drink water at every break (I am on my feet during my shift and get a 20 minute break every hour) which equals to 2 hours of break for 8 hours.

    I also like the idea of “going in with a plan”… I think I’m going to print this article so I can read it more often. I need focus (I have ADHD since I was in middle school and never outgrew it) and over-information tends to paralyze me so the simpler the routine and knowing how it will help me progress toward my goal (which I need to get specific with, right? and reasonable… with a time frame from what I gather) will help me. I need all the extra motivation I can get!

  • beth Saunders

    I work in a busy kitchen and it takes me 25 -35 mins to cycle to work, and I feel like I have too much belly fat but I’m not eating enough calories sometimes and when I am home I won’t eat and I do snack as during service you can’t go and have a 10 mins food breaks so help me?

  • Cory Hodge

    I’m a Locomotive Engineer for the railroad. I’m on call 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Generally working 12 hours at a time with 12 hours off in between. Never starting at the same time, never off at the same time. On the railroad we say it’s always morning and it’s always Monday. I spend half of my life on a train and the other half is split between a hotel room and home. In short, it’s literally killing me. I don’t have a place to heat or refrigerate food. I carry a huge lunch cooler and try to stock it with healthy food but extreme fatigue often lends itself to weakness to get that spike of energy. There’s no adequate place to exercise at or around the hotel especially during the late night hours or early morning hours of the day. Hot food sources are usually fast food or gas station stores. Please help, I’ve tried but I can’t do it.

  • Samantha Mascott

    Hi! I work swing shift and night shift right now. I’ve done really well at planning my meals so I’m not scrambling at work. But my biggest struggle lately is finding energy to work out and eating when I come home after swing shift. Right around midnight, I’ll start arguing with myself at home, “you’re not hungry, just get some water and go to bed” then i head to the kitchen to unload my lunch box and apparently lose all control. Is it best to try to regain control and not eat anything or pick at something while I lay in bed? Help, my body is changing and not in the right ways.

  • Maxx George

    Shavasana is the best yoga poses for night shift employees who want relaxation, stress busting and improving concentration.

  • James

    I work at the plants loading railcars. 12 hour shifts rotations from day to night weekly 5 days a week 60 hrs a week minimum. I wake up and hit push ups then squat in the cold shower. Protein shake while driving an hour to work site and then I’m running all day. I eat oatmeal throughout the shift with a daily vitamin

    Being healthy is easy. Having the willpower is not

  • Jazzlyn Meyers

    I’m a single mother of a 1 year old who works 3rd shift. I leave for work at 7pm and I get home around 7am everyday. I normally get to fall asleep around 8 but I have to pick up my daughter at 1pm, so I only average like 4 hours of sleep a day. When I have my daughter, she normally only takes one nap while with me, which I have to take the time to shower and get ready for work during then (she won’t let me get ready if she’s awake). I have 3 days off for every weekend but those are the days for me to do laundry, go to the store and let’s not forget I have my daughter all day on these days . . . . HELP! I notice that I’m beyond unhappy with myself because I’ve let me get to this point but something needs to give.

  • Kendra Bordelon

    Hey there!, just got a full time job at a grocery store and my first thought was “whats going to happen to my health and fitness routine? I want maintain my current state, keep multiplying and improving all the efforts I put in to become better and better, the best i can possibly be here, theres got to be a way to make a living and stay fit. What are others doing?” So i google, cause I realize my time to eat healthy and workout are changing and i wanted to be prepared. People ask What I am training for I say My Life! If its survival of the fittest, I want to be as fit as possible. Carpe Diem.

  • Drumartist

    Wow! You really must be a superhero!
    If you can keep your diet good and exercise sometime in the day (before or after work maybe?) anytime. Drink water, sleep 8 hrs if you can. (ya that takes up the about 10 hrs already) But taking care of yourself is important, how else can you keep up with doing good work in life? Good Luck!

  • Edith Kaye

    I recently start working in a factory doing 12 hour shifts over night… before this I had only ever worked desk jobs. So by the end of every night my feet are killing me and if I tried to work out before work I’d never make it to the end of the night! I bought inserts for my steel toe work boots and that helps slightly and I am waiting on the foot spa I ordered to come in in hopes that makes it better however until then or until I adjust to being on my feet lifting 50 pounds and pushing carts with 600-800 pounds of food for 12 hours a night I am just going to have to do my best with eating healthy and not having actual workouts. Though with everything I do at work I am sure I get a nice workout! 😂😂😂