The 16:8 Diet
By PW Nutritionist Steph Evans
Is your job making it hard for you to lose weight? We all know losing weight is hard, and with shift workers much more likely to struggle with their health and weight than the rest of us, it’s no wonder you may be wondering why you are struggling to shift the pounds. This is because night shift work often lacks structure, leading to late night eating, sleep disruptions and a reduced opportunity to exercise! Trying to stick to a diet plan can be difficult when your meals don’t fit in to the conventional time frames. Also, with less food options available at night you are more likely to reach for unhealthy carb-based snacks to get you through the night contributing to your weight gain. So, what IS the solution?
Have you tried intermittent fasting?
The popularity of Intermittent fasting has increased dramatically in recent years, and with researchers focusing on time restricted eating for shift workers, the backlog of adequate scientific research is increasing. These days, there are many types of intermittent fasting diets out there, and if you’re unsure which one to approach, check out our article: “is intermittent fasting right for you?” But for those in shift work we are referring to the 16:8 diet.
What is the 16:8 diet?
This is not your regular diet plan that focuses on which foods to eat or the quantity of them. Instead, this diet revolves around WHEN you can eat – also known as a time restricted feeding diet. Specifically, for 16:8 diets you will spend 16 hours of each day “fasting” with consuming nothing but water (or non-caloric beverages such as coffee and tea – our IBCAA pre-workout is also fasting friendly!) which leaves only an 8h period for you to consume all your meals and snacks. For example, if your working schedule is 4pm-3am then you may want to start eating at around 3pm and finish at 11pm. If possible, try and separate this out into 3 meals with your first meal consisting of the most carbs and the last meal being predominantly protein. Eating the right foods which are nutrient dense and protein rich will help keep you full and help prevent sugar cravings. Maybe you find it hard to fit in proper meals throughout your shift; maybe you are used to snacking whilst you work and don’t take official “lunch” breaks, then this is where The Slender Blend comes in handy! A meal-replacement shake, formulated with all essential vitamins and minerals to replace those lost in food to ensure you are fuelling yourself adequately whilst working. It is high protein and low calorie which means it can help keep you full, as well as assist in your weight loss goals!
Example diet plan for 4pm-5am shift work:
*Based on an average woman on a weight loss diet
2pm: Wake up – IBCAA and fasted workout
3:30pm: High carb meal: Slender Porridge, berries and peanut butter
8pm: Main meal consisting of 400-600kcal: 30% lean protein, 30% complex carbohydrates, 35% vegetables and 5% healthy fats. This would be a great meal to prep beforehand in bulk to have throughout the week to take to work. We have some great recipes on our website or a whole article on how to meal prep here; Why Meal Prep?
11pm: High protein meal: 40g Slender Blend + 400ml almond milk + 1 banana
11:30pm – 3:30pm the following day: fasting period.
Why is time restricted feeding beneficial for shift work?
Despite the 16:8 diet not focusing on reducing your calories, ultimately if you have less hours a day to eat then the likelihood is you will automatically eat less - therefore easier to lose weight! In reality, most shift workers find maintaining a regular diet plan/schedule difficult, which is why intermittent fasting can help take away the difficulty in planning a healthy routine. At the beginning you may struggle with feeling hungry, especially if you are someone who normally snacks 24 hours of the day! However, over time your body will adjust during your “fasting” period to not expect food meaning you will become less hungry than you would think – if you are fuelling yourself well in your 8h refuel period then your stomach rumbles will easily fizzle out. To make this transition easier, opt for our Hunger Buster capsules to take with your final meal of the day to prevent any hunger pangs rolling in before it’s time to sleep. These capsules are made from Konjac Gluccomannan which is designed to retain water in the gut to keep you feeling of full!
Not only does time restricted eating help with weight loss, but there has also been research into many other health benefits including; reducing risks of type 2 diabetes, improved digestion and boosts in productivity and energy levels! You may even find yourself sleeping better too!
If you’d like tailored advice on your shift work routine, drop us an email! firstname.lastname@example.org we’d love to help!