Staying Within Calorie Limit on LONG days?

Hello,
I work in Corrections and we work long, sometimes VERY long days at my department. My typical shift is 12 hours, and sometimes that turns into 16 with hardly any notice. I have an hour long commute, and I usually wake up even earlier to go to the gym.
I'm typically awake from 230am till about 10 pm on days that I work. I would go to bed earlier, but my husband doesn't get home until about midnight and I usually can't get our toddler to sleep until 9 or 930, if I'm lucky.
That leaves a lot of time to be hungry. My biggest issue is that I like to snack at night, when I get home, and that's when I am most likely to cave and eat something I am craving and go over my calorie limit. But...how do I save my calories for later when I'm spending SO much time awake? I've tried to hold off and not eat anything until 9 or 10am even, and by the time it rolls around (if I've succeeded with not eating anything yet,) I am shaky and feel like I am going to throw up from hunger.
Anyone have any tips, any friendly advice?
Even any satisfying, but low calorie, snacks for the end of a long day?

Replies

  • JBanx256
    JBanx256 Posts: 1,269 Member
    LEO with 12-hr rotating shifts & commute here too so I feel your pain! I am typically at the gym lifting before 2a so that I can also walk the dog before getting ready for work and heading to the PD. I budget in what I call my "bedtime meal" each night (or morning, if I'm working night shift) - for just before I crash out. Luckily it's rare that I'll have to stay over too long (more than an hour or 2) after the end of shift, but it's not unheard of.
  • 88olds
    88olds Posts: 4,181 Member
    How many days are you working per week?
    Can you revamp your plan to allocate your calories over the entire week. If you have a daily target of say 1450, can you set up a couple of days at 1300 and use the extra 300 on the long days? Our bodies don’t know what day it is.

    I learned counting on Weight Watchers. WW was just calorie counting dressed up for copyright protection. But something they did that I found helpful was we started every week with what they called flex points. It was like an account to draw down over the course of a week. It made life easier and worked fine so long as I was within my numbers at the end of the week.
  • JustaJoe00
    JustaJoe00 Posts: 776 Member
    I try hard to find something thats filling if i'm really hungry but not full of tons of calories...like an apple or carrots, celery. I don't if thats helpful, but just a thought.
  • Xellercin
    Xellercin Posts: 878 Member
    I personally do intermittent fasting, which I find ultra convenient when I have a crazy schedule. It's perfect if I have a long day, because once I adapted to IF, I have more energy when fasting than when eating.
  • brittanystebbins95
    brittanystebbins95 Posts: 560 Member
    JBanx256 wrote: »
    LEO with 12-hr rotating shifts & commute here too so I feel your pain! I am typically at the gym lifting before 2a so that I can also walk the dog before getting ready for work and heading to the PD. I budget in what I call my "bedtime meal" each night (or morning, if I'm working night shift) - for just before I crash out. Luckily it's rare that I'll have to stay over too long (more than an hour or 2) after the end of shift, but it's not unheard of.

    That is a very good idea, just to budget it in right away. I may have to try that, thank you!
  • brittanystebbins95
    brittanystebbins95 Posts: 560 Member
    88olds wrote: »
    How many days are you working per week?
    Can you revamp your plan to allocate your calories over the entire week. If you have a daily target of say 1450, can you set up a couple of days at 1300 and use the extra 300 on the long days? Our bodies don’t know what day it is.

    I learned counting on Weight Watchers. WW was just calorie counting dressed up for copyright protection. But something they did that I found helpful was we started every week with what they called flex points. It was like an account to draw down over the course of a week. It made life easier and worked fine so long as I was within my numbers at the end of the week.

    I work a 3-2-2-3. So I work three days, have two off, work two days, have three off. Every other week I either work Wednesday and Thursday, or have those two off and work the rest.
    That is a great idea, though! I could easily do that on my days off.
  • brittanystebbins95
    brittanystebbins95 Posts: 560 Member
    JustaJoe00 wrote: »
    I try hard to find something thats filling if i'm really hungry but not full of tons of calories...like an apple or carrots, celery. I don't if thats helpful, but just a thought.

    Thank you! I need to get back to eating more fruit.
  • brittanystebbins95
    brittanystebbins95 Posts: 560 Member
    Xellercin wrote: »
    I personally do intermittent fasting, which I find ultra convenient when I have a crazy schedule. It's perfect if I have a long day, because once I adapted to IF, I have more energy when fasting than when eating.

    I'm currently trying that now by trying to wait until 10 am to eat anything... My only issue is that when I'm awake for 18 or 19 hours out of a 24 hour day, an 8-12 hour eating window is no bueno. I get dizzy.
  • nanastaci2020
    nanastaci2020 Posts: 1,072 Member
    Can you try eating a little less on off days, and move those calories to your work days? Also evaluate if you have the right activity level selected - if not your calorie goal could be too low for your lifestyle. On your 12-16 hour work days, I would assume you are not sedentary. (Many people choose sedentary - not all of them ARE sedentary.)
  • brittanystebbins95
    brittanystebbins95 Posts: 560 Member
    Can you try eating a little less on off days, and move those calories to your work days? Also evaluate if you have the right activity level selected - if not your calorie goal could be too low for your lifestyle. On your 12-16 hour work days, I would assume you are not sedentary. (Many people choose sedentary - not all of them ARE sedentary.)

    I am going to try that. I think I have it set to lightly or moderately active. It depends on where I am stationed. If I am running controls, I average 3000 steps that day, if I am running on the floor, then its usually 8000-12000.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,027 Member
    88olds wrote: »
    How many days are you working per week?
    Can you revamp your plan to allocate your calories over the entire week. If you have a daily target of say 1450, can you set up a couple of days at 1300 and use the extra 300 on the long days? Our bodies don’t know what day it is.

    I learned counting on Weight Watchers. WW was just calorie counting dressed up for copyright protection. But something they did that I found helpful was we started every week with what they called flex points. It was like an account to draw down over the course of a week. It made life easier and worked fine so long as I was within my numbers at the end of the week.

    I work a 3-2-2-3. So I work three days, have two off, work two days, have three off. Every other week I either work Wednesday and Thursday, or have those two off and work the rest.
    That is a great idea, though! I could easily do that on my days off.

    With that schedule I would consider experimenting with calorie cycling. Figuring out average maintenance calories for a given week and eating maintenance on your long work days and keeping a good deficit on your non work days. Could be worth a try.
  • Xellercin
    Xellercin Posts: 878 Member
    Xellercin wrote: »
    I personally do intermittent fasting, which I find ultra convenient when I have a crazy schedule. It's perfect if I have a long day, because once I adapted to IF, I have more energy when fasting than when eating.

    I'm currently trying that now by trying to wait until 10 am to eat anything... My only issue is that when I'm awake for 18 or 19 hours out of a 24 hour day, an 8-12 hour eating window is no bueno. I get dizzy.

    IF can take adjustment, that's for sure. But most of us who adjust don't get the dizzy, crappy feeling when we don't eat. That said, I slip into ketosis extremely easily, so my adjustment was pretty rapid. I now aim to be fasted if I know I'm going to have a long, demanding day because I'm way more energized fasted now than I am when I'm eating. I actually have to plan now that I not do anything after eating, because that makes me dizzy and tired.