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Intermittent Fasting For Night Shift: Benefits, Types, And How To Do 2024

intermittent fasting for night shift
This article will provide the best practices for IF while working overnight. Photo: Thanh Pham

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Intermittent fasting (IF) has many potential health benefits, but adhering to fasting periods can be challenging, particularly if you are a night shift worker.

You may wonder how to do intermittent fasting on a night shift, if it’s possible for a night shift worker to lose weight doing IF, or if you can combine IF with other dietary approaches, such as keto and intermittent fasting. Healthy weight loss and combining dietary approaches are both possible and for those who want to explore this further, you may be interested in the best keto diet pills.

Therefore, this article will cover some of the best practices for IF while working overnight, such as adequate planning, making adjustments, and getting proper medical oversight.

Tips For Successful Intermittent Fasting On The Night Shift

Doing IF can be challenging. Working night shifts can also be challenging. So, it’s no surprise that practicing IF while working night shifts can be particularly challenging, especially if proper planning is not done in advance. This article will discuss the following seven tips to follow when combining IF with night shifts:

  • Plan your meals.
  • Prioritize protein, fat, and fiber.
  • Hydrate.
  • Adjust your eating/fasting windows as needed.
  • Adjust your sleep schedule as needed.
  • Get medical oversight.
  • Listen to your body.

How To Intermittent Fasting For Night Shift

intermittent fasting for night shift
Intermittent fasting for night shift workers takes careful planning. Photo: Juan Ci/Shutterstock

Plan Your Meals

Don’t leave anything to change. Inadequate meal planning can leave you without a nutritious meal when it’s time to eat. Plan out your meals so that you’re not left stranded when your feeding window opens. It’s also helpful to have a list of healthy late-night snacks you can eat during your feeding windows.

Prioritize Protein, Fat, And Fiber

IF places emphasis on when to eat and fast; not much emphasis is placed on what to eat during feeding windows. Take advantage of feeding windows by eating well-balanced, satiating meals. This means getting enough protein,[1] fat,[2] and fiber, which will help sustain you during fasting periods.


During fasting periods, assuming you’re awake, it’s crucial to stay hydrated. Improper hydration can lead to an electrolyte imbalance[3] and other health consequences. Moreover, staying hydrated can help ward off hunger during fasting periods.

Adjust Your Eating/Fasting Windows As Needed

Don’t be afraid to change things up. Just because one IF method or schedule seems good on paper, doesn’t mean it’ll work for you in practice. Give your body time to see if the method you chose agrees with you, and if not, adjust your eating or fasting windows to one that suits you better.

Adjust Your Sleep Schedule As Needed

As it is, anyone who works nights has to adjust their sleep schedule so that they can be awake during the evenings. If you’re also practicing IF, you may need to further adjust your sleep schedule so that you’re able to practice IF comfortably. If your goal with IF is to lose weight, make sure you’re getting enough sleep because poor sleep quality is directly tied to weight gain.

Get Medical Oversight

Don’t take it upon yourself to start IF without consulting a qualified healthcare provider. This is particularly important for night workers balancing sleep schedules, eating schedules, and nutrient intake. They may need professional guidance in establishing a fasting schedule and meal plans.

Listen To Your Body

IF has many health benefits, and many people, day and night shift workers alike, can benefit from the practice. However, it isn’t for everyone and may be particularly challenging for night shift workers to make adjustments to their eating habits. 

Let your body tell you what it likes and doesn’t like, and let it guide you toward what feels best for you.

What Is A Night Shift?

A night shift refers to any employment-related work shift that takes place overnight, as opposed to during the day. Some common professions that require night shifts are medical, transportation, emergency services, law enforcement, and security.   

Type Of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting[4] is the practice of regularly alternating between periods of fasting and periods of eating, however, these periods can be divided up in several different ways. Let’s look at some of the most common methods of IF:


intermittent fasting for night shift
16:8 is one of the most popular IF methods for weight loss. Photo: Juan Ci/Shutterstock

In this intermittent fasting method, you choose a 16-hour fasting window and an 8-hour feeding window each day. Many people prefer to fast overnight. This is easily achieved by having a late breakfast as your first meal of the day and an early dinner as your last meal of the day.


In the 5:2 method, you eat normally for five consecutive days and then fast for two consecutive days. For example, eating normally Monday through Friday and then fasting on Saturday and Sunday. During fasting days, you’re encouraged to have limited calories (around 500 kcals).

Alternate-Day Fasting

Alternate-day fasting is just that–fasting every other day. This means you also eat normally every other day, also. During fasting days, all food should be avoided.


This method requires you to fast for 24 hours once or twice a week. You can choose when this 24-hour period starts. For example, you may wish to eat breakfast and then not eat again until breakfast the following morning.

One Meal A Day (OMAD)

As the name indicates, the OMAD approach means you eat one meal a day and fast for the remaining 23 hours of the day. You may choose when to have this single meal, as long as you’re fasting for 23 hours before you break the fast.

Warrior Diet

The warrior diet method involves fasting for 20 hours daily with a 4-hour eating window sometime in the evening. During the fasting window, small amounts of low-calorie foods, such as raw fruits and vegetables and small snacks, are permitted.

How To Choose The Right Weight Loss Strategies For Night Shift?

You have to know your body and choose an IF method that suits you. This is especially true for those who work night shifts. Know the different IF methods, pick one that makes the most sense for you, and allow yourself the flexibility to adjust as needed.

For example, the warrior diet method might be the most agreeable for your work schedule, because it allows a 4-hour eating window in the evenings, a time when you’ll be awake and working. However, if you find that four hours is not enough for you, you may want to switch to the 16:8 method instead.

Night shift workers may wish to fast during the day when they’re sleeping, and move their eating window to nighttime, when they’ll be awake and working.

Another possible IF method for night shifts is the 5:2 method: eating normally for five consecutive days and fasting for two consecutive days. Consider scheduling it so that your fasting days/nights are not the same as your work nights.

Planning Your Intermittent Fasting Schedule

Choose an IF method that suits your work schedule, then map out how this will look.

For example, if you choose the 5:2 method, it might be easier to make your overnight hours the times you eat normally, rather than fast. Save your two days of fasting for your days off.

Or, you may feel that the 16:8 method is most suited to you, and find it easiest to make your 16-hour fasting window between 6 am and 10 pm, when you’re sleeping rather than working.

These are just a few suggestions, however, the important thing is to plan ahead and be prepared. Take your time conceptualizing the various IF method restrictions for eating and fasting before taking action and use the intermittent fasting app to help you.


Doing IF can be challenging for many people, especially those on a night shift work schedule. 

Before starting IF, it is important to understand the different IF methods and choose one that feels doable and safe for you. It is just as important to be flexible and adjust your feeding and fasting windows as needed.

Night shift workers must also consider nutrition, hydration, and sleep as part of their overall health, to ensure that they are doing IF safely and effectively. Whether you want to lose weight or achieve other health benefits, consult your healthcare provider before starting IF. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best IF method if you’re on a night shift schedule?

Choosing an IF method is highly individual. However, people who work night shifts may find the 5:2 or 16:8 method particularly easy for their schedules.

If I work night shifts, do I have to shift my sleep schedule to make IF work?

It depends. Not always but you might in some cases. Eating and sleeping patterns may need to adjust for you to get all the necessary sleep you need, but also adhere to a specific feeding window and fasting period.

What should I eat during my feeding windows if I am a night shift worker?

The food you choose is up to you, however, it’s best to make the most of your feeding windows by eating nutrient-dense, whole foods with enough protein, fiber, and fat to keep you satiated.

+ 4 Sources

EHproject has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We work mostly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure accurate information. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  1. Roberts, J., Zinchenko, A., Mahbubani, K.T., Johnstone, J., Smith, L., Viviane Merzbach, Blacutt, M., Banderas, O., L. Villaseñor, Fredrik Tonstad Vårvik and Menno Henselmans (2018). Satiating Effect of High Protein Diets on Resistance-Trained Subjects in Energy Deficit. Nutrients, [online] 11(1), pp.56–56. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11010056.
  2. Rania Abou Samra (2023). Fats and Satiety. [online] Nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK53550/.
  3. Medlineplus.gov. (2016). Fluid and Electrolyte Balance. [online] Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/fluidandelectrolytebalance.html#:~:text=The%20levels%20of,much%20water%20(overhydration).
  4. Mandal, S., Simmons, N., Awan, S., Karim Chamari and Ahmed, I. (2022). Intermittent fasting: eating by the clock for health and exercise performance. BMJ open sport and exercise medicine, [online] 8(1), pp.e001206–e001206. doi:https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjsem-2021-001206.


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