T Nation

Diet/Training (Meal Timing) and Shiftwork?


Hey folks,
I have been a shift worker for about 14 years and training for about the last 3 years. I work 12 hour shifts on a modified DuPont schedule (work 4nights off 3, work 3 days off 1, work 3nights off 3, work 4 days off 3, work 4 days off 7 then repeat cycle). I read a lot on T-Nation and other sites trying to educate myself to get the best results possible from my training, but everything seems to be written for the folks working 9 to 5 Monday thru Friday. My goals are the same as most I suppose, gain as much muscle as my body will allow while gaining as little fat as possible. I have not yet however even come close to mastering the proper nutrition plan to facilitate this on my schedule. Flip flopping back and forth so much my body never really gets in a pattern so meal times are difficult to keep constant to say the least. I am currently 6’ tall 195lbs @ 13-15%BF, I am looking at shaving off enough BF to get me in the 8-10% range but just can’t seem to get there and feel that my diet or meal timing I should say is what’s holding me back. I have a good training plan that has been producing gains and I always work out at the end of my day whether it be at night when I get home after working days or in the morning when I get home after working nights. This brings me to another concern I have though, in that I always end up training having my post workout meal/shake and going straight to sleep; not sure what negative impacts that may have. If there are any of you guys in the same boat as me or any of the experts out there that have some insight into the proper diet/training plan especially as it relates to meal timing for a shift worker I would appreciate the help.

Thanks in advance…ew


it’s impossible to help with your diet if you don’t actually tell us what your diet is


Sorry, I guess the intent of my post is a little misleading. I know what to eat how much of it to eat and I know how to train, my question is more toward with my crazy schedule when should I be doing them? For example, I just rolled off of a set of 4 nights and just woke up 30 minutes ago (1300 here) and it happens to be a rest day for my training program. Normally I would treat this time just like breakfast and get up and eat, and if it were a training day I would train tonight around 8 O’clock. Is this the right thing as far as meal timing goes? Or does it really matter as long as I get the proper amount of nutrition in a 24 hour period?


Sounds like things are kinda funky, but just arrange your days (“days” in the 24-hour sense) based on: wake-up, eat something, eat something before training, have training shake, eat after training, eat again before sleep.

To avoid confusion, maybe steer away from the concept of traditional breakfast/lunch/dinner. This could be a decent reason to use the generic bodybuilder terminology “meal 1, meal 2, pre-workout meal, post-workout meal, meal 3”, etc.

No major problem, and it’s certainly better than not eating after training.

If you say so. It still wouldn’t hurt to lay out your nutrition (and training), to make sure it’s actually dialed in. A lot of the time, when guys say “No, no, everything else is fine. This is what I need to fix”, everything is not fine and “this” is not all that needs fixing.


Thanks for the help Chris. I will work on changing the way I look at the meals and try to refrain from falling into the breakfast, lunch dinner thing. As far as my diet/training this is what is current:

2900 calories/day @ 40/40/20 split Most carbs consumed Meal 1 and pre and post training on training days and carb consumed as early in day as possible on non training days.

Training: 5 day program

Day1 chest/back

BP 4X6-8 85% 1RM
BB Row 4X6-8 85% 1RM

Incline DB Press 3X8-10 75% 1RM
Cable Lat PD 3X8-10 75% 1RM

DB Fly’s 3X MAX Rep 65% 1RM
DB Row 3X MAX Rep 65% 1RM

Day 2 Light Cardio

Day 3 Bicep/Tricep

BB Curl 4X6-8 85% 1RM
Close Grip BP 4X6-8 85% 1RM

DB Hammer Curl 3X8-10 75% 1RM
DB Tricep Ext. 3X8-10 75% 1RM

Preacher Cur 3X MAX Rep 65% 1RM
Tricep Pushdown 3X MAX Rep 65% 1RM

Day 4 Legs

Back Squat 4X6-8 85% 1RM
Front Squat 4X6-8 85% 1RM

Stiff Leg DL 3X8-10 75% 1RM
Leg Extension 3X8-10 75% 1RM

Lying Leg Curl 3X MAX Rep 65% 1RM
Seated Calf Raises 3X MAX Rep 65% 1RM

Day 5 Shoulders/Chest

Standing Press 4X6-8 85% 1RM
Incline BP 4X6-8 85% 1RM

DB Shoulder Press 3X8-10 75% 1RM
DB Fly Incline 3X8-10 75% 1RM

Overhead Plate 3X MAX Rep 65% 1RM
DB Lat Raise 3X MAX Rep 65% 1RM

Thanks again for the help