een jonge blonde vrouw die uit bed stapt op een weegschaal

Female shift workers

The best food choices for female shift workers

Women and men are equal in many areas, but there are still some factors here and there where women differ from men. These factors make nutrition around shift work slightly more challenging for women than for men.

Here are some differences:

  • It takes longer for women to digest food. For women this is approximately 47 hours, while for men it is 33 hours.
  • Women have a longer colon. This means that there is a greater chance of chronic constipation and an urgent need to go to the toilet.
  • In women, the colon is located near the uterus and ovaries. It walks around itself, making passage sometimes more difficult.
  • Schommelingen in hormonen tijdens de menstruatiecyclus kunnen zorgen voor meer waterretentie, een opgeblazen gevoel, constipatie en een tragere vertering van voeding. 

All these factors can put women at a higher risk of digestive problems. These unpleasant effects can be resolved by making a number of simple adjustments to their diet.

What to do:

  • Eat lots of different fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat foods high in fiber such as oatmeal, beans, lentils,…
  • Choose lean animal proteins and/or vegetable proteins.
  • Choose unsaturated fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds,…
  • Do not eat between midnight and 6am.
  • Placing meals at normal meal times during the day.
  • Drink enough water.
  • A structured eating schedule, even during shift work.
  • A more even distribution of calories/nutrients over the different meals.
  • Keep the body in sync with a normal biorhythm as much as possible.

What not to do:

  • Eating carbohydrates during the night shift.
  • A high intake of added sugars.
  • Eating saturated fats.
  • Eating carbohydrates with a low fiber content.
  • Eating during stressful situations.
  • Eating large meals right before bedtime.

Your biorhythm plays a major role in how you feel. Shift work disrupts this rhythm. That is why anchor points are important to make this happen as naturally as possible. For example, a meal is an anchor point. Eat your breakfast at a normal breakfast time, lunch during the afternoon,…

Working in shifts is a major challenge for both men and women, especially if you want to lose weight or build muscle. Don't misunderstand this. It is certainly possible and the tips above can be a great help in achieving this.

Good luck!

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