16 Best Foods for Weight Loss on Night Shift


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Weight loss on night shift is generally a phrase commonly followed by an enormous eye roll, a “pfff” noise and a throwing of the arms in the air. Most deem it impossible not to gain weight on night shift let alone lose it.

This article is all about providing you with 16 healthy food choices which keep you full, prevent overeating and excessive snacking overnight to ultimately improve the state of your waistline.

Just as a heads up, most of these foods will not be found in a vending machine or from the take-out store. They require a little preparation, but not too much and likely need to be bought from home.

As shift workers, we need to carry our meals and snacks in containers. We love glass ones as they don’t smell, warp, and can be heated repetitively. These are the best onesOpens in a new tab. we have ever used and you can find them on Amazon.

1. Almonds

Almonds may seem bland at 3am, but they are packed with fiber to keep your gut happy. About a quarter-cup handful of almonds gives us about 3 grams of fiber which is a good start to the 25 grams we should be eating every day. (source)

They are also very high in protein to keep you fuller for longer, making pigging out on your break, when you finally get one, less likely.  

Yes, almonds do have a lot of fat in them, but it’s healthy fats that can help you lose weight and lower cholesterol.

Almonds are counted as a low GI food which basically means the food is digested and absorbed more slowly, not giving that blood sugar rise.

This is important as research has shown the pancreas doesn’t work as well during the night, which is where insulin is produced to manage or blood sugar levels.

Meal suggestion for weight loss on night shift:

Simply a handful of unsalted almonds will do the trick or even a small tub of trail mix is a good choice. But if you’re looking for something a little tastier try this no-bake Coconut Fruit & Nut Bar recipe.

Portion control is key here. Don’t bring in the whole bag from the grocery and instead bring in a small container so you don’t overeat.

How much is an average serving size? 23 almonds.

15 Best Foods for Weight Loss on Night Shift _ theothershift.com _ almonds

2. Zucchini

Hydrating foods like zucchini, watermelon, strawberries, rockmelon, cucumbers and cantaloupe are all full of water.

These foods are great while on night shift because they help to keep us hydrated, fighting fatigue and preventing unnecessary snacking.

Meal suggestion for weight loss on night shift:

Making a fruit salad with watermelon, strawberries, rockmelon, cantaloupe and even a dollop of yogurt can help decrease the chance of dehydration.

Zucchini noodles now commonly called “zoodles” are also a great addition to a night shift lunch box.

Using the Spiralizer 5-Blade Vegetable SlicerOpens in a new tab. (as pictured) make this process super easy! There are thousands of reviews on Amazon for this nifty kitchen device which is worth checking out here, plus you get a free recipe book!

Check it out on Amazon HERE
Dark chocolate | 16 Best Foods for Weight Loss on Night Shift

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3. Avocado

Here are those healthy fats again. Avocados have a particular one called monounsaturated oleic acidOpens in a new tab., and no you don’t have to remember this. These ‘healthy fats’ are used by your body as fuel and to help reduce insulin resistance.

They help support our heart, aid in healthy aging and also support weight management.

My favorite thing about avocados (besides the taste!) is they boost the nutrient intake of other veggies. Don’t be scared to add avocado to your smoothies or salad for an extra health kick!

If you’re sick of getting avocado all over your hands, try this OXO Avocado SlicerOpens in a new tab.. So simple, yet super effective.

avocado peeler-toast 15 Best Foods for Weight Loss on Night Shift _ theothershift.com
Get it on Amazon

If you have gall bladder issues or food intolerances, avocado could set you off due to the high histamine levels (2) so consume with caution…

Meal suggestion for weight loss on night shift:

Throwing together a salad with avocado and a fat-free dressing is super tasty, but sometimes I don’t feel like a salad at 4am.

For something different, you could try a slice of wholemeal toast with vegemite (see on Amazon) and avocado. For our non-Australian readers, try it, it’s delicious! I often eat this after finishing a late shift when I’m a little peckish. 

Or lastly, prepare x2 hard boil eggs with spinach on wholegrain toast, avocado and some prosciutto. YUM!

avocado-toast 15 Best Foods for Weight Loss on Night Shift _ theothershift.com

4. Tuna

According to Dr. Axe, an online health expert, “tuna fish is high in protein but low in calories, making it an excellent addition to a weight loss diet.”

For bodybuilders and professional athletes, tuna is a must-have staple item. Why? 

It’s low in calories but is loaded with an excellent amount of protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acidsOpens in a new tab. in each serving.

You’ll also find antioxidants and important micronutrients to keep you satisfied when the night is dragging on.

Tuna has copped some slack in the past due to its high sodium and mercury levels, partially found in canned tuna. If you’re wanting to make canned tuna part of your night shift meal routine, choose one in spring water rather than oil.

Also, consider rinsing off canned tuna fish first to reduce the sodium content by up to 80 percent.

Also, don’t forget the chewing gum! 

Meal suggestion for weight loss on night shift:

Try this delicious quinoa, tuna and avocado salad and make the tea room jealous of food envy!

Mix the following and enjoy: 

  • 1/3 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 can tuna
  • ½ Tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup chopped cucumber
  • 1 Tbsp dried cranberries
  • ½ cup fresh baby spinach
  • ½ Tbsp slivered almonds
  • a sprinkle of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste 

If canned tuna is not your style, salmon is also an incredible source of protein and iodine which is required for proper thyroid function and essential for a happy metabolism.

Pre-prepare a hard-boiled egg, a few slices of salmon and some avocado on toast, for a delicious healthy snack. 

tuna-salad - 15 Best Foods for Weight Loss on Night Shift _ theothershift.com

5. Chia seeds

Dan once asked me while we were doing our meal prep shop for the week, why was I buying bird seed.

Chia seeds may not seem like much, but they pack an almighty nutrient punch!

Often labeled a ‘superfood’, they’ve got 4 grams of fiber per teaspoon, which is over twice as much as a serving of cooked broccoli! Fiber is something most Americans don’t get enough of, particularly when working nights. (source)

Where the weight loss benefits come into play, is that these tiny seeds turn into a gel-like substance in your tummy, making us feel full and saying no to a second helping, easy.

Meal suggestion for weight loss on night shift:

Sprinkle them on pretty much everything! Smoothies, salads and even your oats after a night shift. 

Take five minutes before your next night shift and prepare this delicious chocolate chia pudding. You won’t be disappointed.

Ingredients:

Method:

  1. In a mason jar or container with a lid, add the chia seeds, soy milk, protein powder and cinnamon. Give it a good stir, cover, and place in the fridge overnight.
  2. Once you’re on your break, top with freshly sliced strawberries, chopped almonds and cocoa nibs.

Find the full recipe here.

chia pudding - 15 Best Foods for Weight Loss on Night Shift _ theothershift.com

6. Dark Chocolate

Sick of snacking on almonds all night? I’m hearing you.

Swapping to dark chocolate sounds like a much nicer choice, right? But to get the weight loss and health benefits, make sure it’s the right kind of chocolate and remember, everything in moderation.

Dark chocolate is made from the seeds of the cocoa tree and is one of the best sources of antioxidants.

The research concluded that dark chocolate can improve our health and lower the risk of heart disease by helping to relax the blood vessels and improve blood flow, thereby lowering blood pressure and weight loss.

Look for varieties that are at least 70% cacao, yes it’s generally the more expensive ones and take a second look at the label to make sure there are no added sugars. A great, delicious choice is Ghirardelli Chocolate Intense Dark Squares.Opens in a new tab.

Dark chocolate - 15 Best Foods for Weight Loss on Night Shift _ theothershift.com

7. Beans and Lentils

Beans and lentils are packed with fiber and protein, which take longer to digest, making us feel fuller for longer and stops us from eating too much. 

Lentils also help the body to burn fat and are an excellent source of folate and magnesium.

Now some people don’t digest beans and lentils very well, blaming them for serious night shift bloating and gas. Not awesome in the quiet halls of a hospital!

But if you soak the beans before packing them into your lunch box and you should be fine. 

Read What Causes Night Shift Nausea And How To Finally Beat It for more information.

Meal suggestion for weight loss on night shift:

Taco bowls are my go-to meal before a night shift.

Avocado, corn, black beans, lettuce, salsa, sour cream and mince/chicken together in the bowel is SO delicious and pretty healthy too.

Add some gluten-free, unsweetened corn chips make for a nice crunch.

I tend to not take this meal to a shift because all the containers drive me nuts. So instead, I make a burrito or simply have it in a big bowl before I leave. But the choice is yours depending on the time and level of organization.

Mexican Salad - 15 Best Foods for Weight Loss on Night Shift _ theothershift.com

8. Whole Eggs

We often get warned to stay away from whole eggs because of their negative effect on our cholesterol levels. But at the same time, health experts constantly tell us to eat them because of their high protein levels. 

Confused much?

Research has now suggested that eggs have a, “relatively small effect on serum LDL-cholesterol and Cardiovascular risk (CVD), in comparison with other diet and lifestyle factors”.  

When talking about weight loss, eggs are very low in calories and are super versatile adding excitement to your night shift lunch box. 

Meal suggestion for weight loss on night shift:

Have you tried deviled eggs?

This delicious snack is typically made with egg yolk, mustard, mayonnaise, and spices. But by swapping the whole egg mayonnaise with greek yogurt, it boosts the protein intake and wipes out almost all of the fat content.  

This is a seriously tasty night shift snack for weight loss.

Eggs - 15 Best Foods for Weight Loss on Night Shift _ theothershift.com-min

9. Lemons

It may not be nearly as sexy as coffee but lemon juice works a treat to improve digestion, keep us focused and increase energy levels. 

Adding lemon into your water can help you stay hydrated and aids in lowering water retention. It has also shown to make us feel more full meaning we eat fewer calories at meal times.

We start each day (which could be in the late afternoon) with a large glass of water with half a squeezed lemon inside.

It’s the perfect pick-me-up before our first workout and get’s our metabolism off to a great start.

It is also MUCH nicer on our waistlines then coffee with milk. Containing just six calories when you squeeze the juice from half a lemon into the water. 

Meal suggestion for weight loss on night shift:

Squeeze half a fresh lemon into your water and enjoy it on an empty stomach or simply add it into your water bottle overnight.

Just remember to put the bottle in a place you can see it to remind you to drink up. 

Lemon Water - 15 Best Foods for Weight Loss on Night Shift _ theothershift.com

10. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is an incredible source of protein and can help transport important nutrients between your cells.

Just watch out for the added sugars as some brands use to overcome the ‘tart’ flavor, leading to unsuspecting weight gain.

Depending on the brand, I sometimes find greek yogurt too tangy on the pallet, particularly overnight, so I often settle for no-fat plain yogurt. 

However, an interesting research study did suggest that eating full-fat yogurt “is associated with a reduced risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes over time.” (source)

Do you get affected by lactose intolerance? You may also find Greek yogurt easier to digest because of the bacterial breakdown of the milk’s sugars.

Meal suggestion for weight loss on night shift:

We mentioned in our healthy night shift snacks post, how much we love dipping raw veggies into hummus.

Well, how does a spinach and greek yogurt dip sound? Amazing right? 

Check out the recipe here.

If that doesn’t suit your pallet, throw in a large dollop of Greek yogurt into your smoothie or onto your granola for the added health benefits.

11. Grapefruit

Wouldn’t you like to eat food which made the “Foods that Fight Cancer” list by the American Institute for Cancer Research? I do!

For so long I misread grapefruit for another orange, not making it part of my nursing lunchbox.

But grapefruit gives adults almost half of their daily vitamin C requirement and is packed with essential vitamins giving you a kick after midnight. 

This study concluded that eating half a fresh grapefruit before meals were associated with significant weight loss possibly by improving metabolism and glucose uptake.

It also improves insulin resistance often discussed as a major night shift issue in regards to weight gain.  

If you suffer from heartburn or reflux…
The high acidity levels of grapefruit and other citrus fruits can worsen your symptoms so take caution.

Meal suggestion for weight loss on night shift:

You can toss grapefruit into your smoothies, salads or even simply eat them raw on their own. If they taste a little ‘tarty’ drizzle some honey onto it. 

Another option is to make a weight loss juice by adding: 1 grapefruit, 1 cucumber, 1 apple and ½ cup of peppermint leaves or 2-3 drops of peppermint essential oil into a blender. (Dan and I think you can’t go past the Nutribullet)  

See the full recipe here.

15 Best Foods for Weight Loss on Night Shift _ theothershift.com _ grapefruit

12. Leafy Greens

Think kale, spinach, rocket, collards.

Leafy greens are an amazing way to ‘bulk up’ your meal while providing an excellent source of fiber and protein. Consuming these nutrients is where the magic happens in terms of weight loss, as it makes us feel full meaning we eat less.

If you don’t like the taste, don’t automatically jump for the blender and juice them because the pulp is what you really want.  

Meal suggestion for weight loss on night shift:

Try this tasty high protein paleo bowel.

You could also try mixing quinoa or brown rice, which is packed with protein with your leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage for the perfect, filling night shift meal. 

Word of warning…

Cruciferous vegetables contain a high amount of insoluble fiber which, especially when consumed raw. This can cause digestive upset including gas, bloating, and cramps which we don’t want.

Try roasting, sautéing, or steaming your veggies in olive oil and diving this paleo bowel into different containers to stop eating too much in one sitting.

13. Hummus

This thick, creamy, spread made primarily from mashed chickpeasOpens in a new tab., is one of the most widely consumed Middle Eastern foods in the U.S. today.

According to Dr. Axe, an online health expert, hummus helps support bone and heart health, decreases inflammation and boosts your energy. But it also aids in weight loss!

Due to its high protein, fiber and low burning carbs, it makes us feel fuller for longer and why pack it almost every shift!

Just don’t eat too much...

One cup of hummus has around 15 grams of fiber, which is 59 percent of the recommended daily consumption. I have felt first hand what it feels like to have too much hummus – hello stomach issues and diarrhea! (source)

Meal suggestion for weight loss on night shift:

Cut up as many raw veggies as you can find in your fridge. Think carrots, snow peas, radishes, celery and peppers and divide these into small reusable bags/containers and a small tub of hummus.

Tasty, filling snack, low in calories and high in nutrients – one of my favorite night shift snacks!

Don’t waste time peeling those veggies either! According to the Washington Post, simply brushing off your veggies using OXO Good Grips Vegetable BrushOpens in a new tab. make them safe to eat. Plus, by peeling the carrots you’re throwing away so many nutrients!

If you’re fond of a spicy pepper or jalapeno dipped into hummus, just be careful about the reflux on nights. It may hit you a little harder than during the day when your digestive system is functioning at full capacity.

But the funny thing about spicy foods containing chili peppers is they may reduce your appetite temporarily and even increase fat burning. You may have to try what works best for here. (source)

15 Best Foods for Weight Loss on Night Shift _ theothershift.com _ hummus

14. Lean Protein

Protein from meat gets a bad rap in the health and food industry but the truth is, unprocessed lean beef, chicken and fish are very supportive of weight loss.

Why? Lean proteins are super high in protein, are nutrient-rich and stop cravings we so often feel full overnight. 

The key is to pick un-processed meats to minimize the risk associated with developing heart disease and diabetes commonly associated with processed, fatty meats.

When shopping, pick lean meats about the size of your palm. Yes, these are the more expensive varieties before you ask…Going to a butcher, local market or checking out Crowd Cow instead or a large grocery chain maybe a good option to explore.

Meal suggestion for weight loss on night shift:

Slow-cooked casseroles are a minimal burden on the digestive tract because it’s food that’s partially broken down. When doing your meal prep, just remember to use smaller containers to not over-do the serving size.

Try Christine Manfield’s chicken turmeric soup to aid in digestion and keep your tired taste buds happy!

Soups or foods with a significant portion of water, are shown to make us feel satisfied. These foods are called low energy density foodsOpens in a new tab., which means they have fewer calories so you can eat more of them.

Soups. “They’re all a form of liquid nutrition so they’re going to place a minimal burden on the digestive system because they’re kind of already broken down,”

The Healthy Shift Worker

15. Apple Cider Vinegar

If I’m totally honest, I didn’t know much about apple cider vineger for weight loss until recently. I know the word ‘cider’ well but for a totally different reason…

According to Dr. Axe, apple cider vinegar (ACV) is, “made from apple cider that has undergone fermentationOpens in a new tab. to form health-promoting probiotics and enzymes, giving it significantly less sugar and fewer calories than apple cider or apple juice.”

Acetic acid is the vinegar’s main active component which has been linked to weight loss through aiding in better regulation of blood sugar levels, improved metabolism, suppressing your appetite and burning fat. 

If you suffer from gastroparesis, take it easy on the apple cider vinegar. It can prolong the time food stays in your stomach making you feel fuller longer. Sounds great but it can have harmful effects on those battling the condition. 

Meal suggestion for weight loss on night shift:

“Drinking 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 ml) of apple cider vinegar each day for several months may increase weight loss in people who are overweight”. (source)

Throw together a delicious apple cider vinegar salad dressing, complimenting your leafy greens we discussed earlier.

Put some olive oil, raw apple cider vinegar, garlic, dijon mustard, lemon juice and honey into a small container adding salt and pepper as required. 

See the full recipe here.

If that all sounds too hard, grab this popular cider from Amazon.

As a different alternative, gave you tried Goli Gummies? Use “theothershift” at check out for 5% off. Click here to read more about Goli apple cider vinegar gummies.

16. String Cheese/Cottage Cheese

Eating foods high in protein is what we want overnight and cottage cheese will give us just that. 

Cottage cheese is mostly protein with very few carbs and very little fat. It may be a little odd in texture but it’s really satisfying to our digestive system.

String cheese is also a loved snack by night shift workers because it is already pre-portioned meaning we can still enjoy some dairy and not go overboard.

Meal suggestion for weight loss on night shift:

My go-to cheese for protein and taste is, “The Laughing Cow” cheese. Made from a blend of whey, milk, semisoft cheese and other cheeses such as mozzarella, cheddar or Swiss. They come individually wrapped meaning you don’t pig out. 

Add them to your ‘dip platter’ with hummus, raw veggies and almonds.

15 Best Foods for Weight Loss on Night Shift _ theothershift.com _chef

Bonus Tip: Eating on Night Shift

It may be no surprise to hear that our bodies are programmed to sleep during the night and be awake during the day time hours. Unfortunately, we haven’t evolved into shift working machines just yet…

So what this means, is if we eat food which is outside of the normal sleep/wake cycle it disrupts our bodies normal circadian rhythm potentially leading to sleep disturbance AND digestive issues.

But “complete avoidance of food at night is unrealistic for many shift workers.” (1)

Our bodies seem to respond to the same meal very differently during the night as it does during the day.

Our lipid and sugar stores go crazy, storing calories as fats, rather than burning it as energy, leading to potential cardiovascular issues and obesity

According to the Washington Post, “Night-shift workers tend to overestimate how many calories they need to stay awake while on duty.”

Most people believe that salty, sugary type food will give us a kick when we’re tired and fatigued in the middle of the night. When really, all we’re doing is placing our bodies in a state where weight gain is potentially increased. 

The bottom line to eating night

Our bodies don’t really like being fed outside the ‘normal’ times set by our body clock. Everything, from a metabolism perspective, slows down at night making foods harder to digest.

But in order to stay focused and productive, we need fuel. Healthy fuel.

Making food choices that don’t spike our glucose and insulin stores, that give us the energy to be productive and focused is key. 

How Dan and I get around the eating conundrum is to drink HumanTONIK green and/or red juice depending on our moods. It’s a powered thing you add to water (or a smoothie if you wanted) to give you a boost. We love this stuff. Mental clarity and better sleep are very obvious. We did a whole review on this product and talk about why we use it daily. Check it out here.

You can also jump straight to the HumanTONIK website and read about it for yourself.

Here are a few more takeaway messages:

  • ALWAYS bring your food with you to work. Use resealable bags or small containers (see our favorite here) so it’s easier to keep track of how much you eat. Remember, more protein, fewer carbs and don’t forget about the fiber
  • Try and establish a set time to take breaks. If you normally eat three set meals a day, then do the same at night, but stick to snacks rather than big meals. Read: When Should I Eat on Night Shift?
  • Avoid sugar, lollies, cakes, biscuits, donuts and pasta while on shift. Your metabolism and pancreas slow overnight and these foods skyrocket your blood sugar.
  • Exercise (or just move your body) every day. We recommend doing it immediately after waking. Stuck for time? A quick, effective workout of 30 minutes can be just as effective as a 2 hours long session. 
  • Don’t buy the junk because if it’s there, you’ll eat it.

Next…

Weight loss on night shift is possible – with a little self-control, a solid sleep after night shift and knowing what’s good and not so good for our waistlines overnight.

Along with eating a healthy diet and avoiding carbs and sugars overnight, getting adequate sleep is a HUGE factor in weight gain on night shift. Check out this post, watch this video and take the time to get your sleep routine down pat! 

If you enjoyed this article on the 15 best foods for weight loss on night shift or have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below!

Cheers, 

Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links, meaning we receive a commission if you decide to make a purchase through our links, but this is at no additional cost to you. Please read our disclosure and privacy statement for more info.

Are you wanting to lose weight on night shift? Here are 15 foods which you should add into your lunch box to stay healthy while working the graveyard shift | theothershift.com | #nurse #nightshiftdiet #nightshifttips #nightshiftmeals #shiftworktips
Tape measure around belly with bowl of salad
Lose weight on night shift | 15 best foods to eat during the grave yard shift to stay full and avoid the dreaded weight gain. It is totally possible to work the night shift, stay healthy and NOT put on weight! | theothershift.com | #nightshiftweightloss #nightshifttips #nightshiftmeals #nightshiftdiet

Emma @ The Other Shift

Hey there! I'm Emma Smith a passionate, Registered Nurse from Australia. Together with my husband Daniel, we run The Other Shift. Our sole aim is to help shift workers and those on unusual schedules find balance between work and life. I understand the challenges of fitting in exercise, maintaining relationships and getting enough quality sleep, but I'm excited to show you that it’s possible to do shift work and still thrive. Read more about us and our story here.

3 thoughts on “16 Best Foods for Weight Loss on Night Shift

  1. This article is very informative. I started night shift from 6:30p to 6:30am and I struggled in the beginning. Feeling bloated, tired, getting sick easier and managing already existing symptoms of Fibromyalgia. I started minimizing what I ate during the night. I try to walk for 12-15 min periods 1-2 times thru the night and I now sleep 7-8 hours at the same time when I get off work. I try my best not to schedule errands on the days I work. I even had to change the time I take my medicine. Things are getting better. I still have a lot of weight to loose, but I am finally on the right track. Very interested in exploring more tips.

    1. Hi Phyllis,
      It sounds like you are really taking control of your life as a night shift worker. You should be proud of yourself! Feel free to explore our other blog posts about night shift through the home page. Please let us know if you have any further questions. Cheers, Em

  2. I want to convey my admiration for your kind-heartedness supporting those individuals that need assistance with this particular topic. Your personal dedication to passing the message all through ended up being wonderfully useful and have made people just like me to reach their goals. Your new informative useful information indicates this much a person like me and extremely more to my colleagues. Thanks a ton; from each one of us.

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