I do shift work and don’t work during normal daytime hours. How does this affect my weight?

Shift work can affect your energy, mood, diet, and weight. A study of night-shift nurses and security guards showed they gained an average 7 lbs. during their late-shift tenure, while day shift peers lost an average of 1 lb, according to researchers at St. Luke’s Hospital Center in New York City (1).

Following are some tips that can help you deal with the effects of shift work.

– Eat a high protein snack before you go to work. Most people feel like eating more carbs, especially sweets, later in the day. Protein produces energy longer than do carbohydrates do, however.

– Sleep when you can. Recent sleep research suggests that sleep is like a bank you can make small deposits or withdrawals from. Like exercise, it’s the total amount of sleep in a week, not necessarily how much people get in any one day.

– Avoid large meals which can make you sleepier, whether they are high protein or not. Eat smaller, regularly spaced meals that are a balance of protein and complex carbohydrates.

(1) Weight gain on the night shift. Tufts University Diet and Nutrition letter. October 1996.