3 Reasons Shiftworkers Struggle to Lose Weight

Do you have a hard time losing weight? You’re not alone. In fact, many people have a difficult time shedding pounds, regardless of how much they diet or exercise. 

If you’re a shiftworker, the struggle is even harder. Believe it or not, there are several reasons why shift workers can’t lose weight the same way most other people can. 

Keep reading to understand why you have to deal with the additional hurdle and what to do about it! 

Table of Contents

1. Sleep

As a shiftworker, it’s likely that you’re not getting enough sleep. Shiftworkers are often sleep-deprived because they are working odd hours and don’t have a regular sleep schedule. This leads to weight gain because when you’re tired, your body craves energy-dense foods that will give you a quick boost of energy.

On top of that, shiftworkers are also more likely to snack late at night because they’re working odd hours and may not have time to eat during the day. Due to the mindless tone in which late-night snacking occurs, it often leads to overeating. 

Sleep is when your bodies work on recalibrating which is hugely impacted by sleep disturbances.

My favourite study to demonstrate this is from Nedeltcheva’s lab where they investigated how 10 overweight adults with a mean age of 41 went on a 14-day diet with sleep either 5.5 hours or 8.5 hours. Both groups lost weight as they were eating a 30% deficit of calories. 

The results: 

  • The 8.5-hour group losing an average of 2.9kgs (6.38lbs) and the 5.5-hour group losing an average of 3kgs (6.6lbs) of weight. 
  • The 8.5-hour group lost 1.4kgs (3.08lbs) of fat and 1.5kgs (3.3lbs) of non-fat mass and the 5.5-hour group lost 0.6kg (1.32lbs) of fat and 2.4kg (5.28lbs) of non-fat mass. 
  • After just 2 weeks of sleep deprivation, these adults substantially altered how much fat they lost. 

This shows how important sleep is to our body, especially when you are dieting.

Unrecognizable person sleeping under blanket

2. Stress

The second biggest reason shiftworkers struggle to lose weight is because of stress. When you’re stressed, your body produces the hormone cortisol, which can lead to a shift in how your body uses energy and leads to weight gain. Shiftworkers are often under a lot of stress because of the nature of their job. They may have to work long hours, deal with difficult patients, and manage rotating shift changes.

3. Diet

The third reason shift workers have a hard time losing weight is because of your diet. When you’re working odd hours, it’s difficult to eat healthy meals. shift workers often rely on fast food and processed snacks because they’re easy and convenient. 

However, these foods are often high in calories and low in nutrients, which can lead to weight gain. There is also some evidence to show that your body’s digestion system isn’t optimised to break down and use foods during the night as well as during the day.

What to do next?

There are also few things you can do to overcome these obstacles. 

First, try to get enough sleep by establishing a regular sleep schedule. 

Second, manage your stress by taking breaks during your shift and participating in stress-relieving activities. 

And finally, make sure you’re eating healthy meals by planning and packing your own food. 

If you’re still struggling with how to make a change that works for you and see results, hit the menu and Contact me. 

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