Getting Ripped Without Cardio By Eating Your Carbs At Night

Get shredded the easy way! Russell Branjord shows you how to rely on nightly carb feedings to lose fat and get that six pack.

Author Russell BranjordGetting ripped without cardio is a great title for my article because that was my goal this summer. Actually it was more than just a goal, it was also my challenge. I am the Spike Diet guy. I have lost over 100lbs with a combination of low calorie days and one amazing “spike day” a week to indulge with a surplus of calories to spike metabolism. The Spike Diet is my dream lifestyle, one where I can have fun and eat the way I want, and still be in great shape.

This summer, I decided I wasn’t satisfied with my physique and I wanted to have a single digit body fat percentage and a real six-pack. So the first thing I did was talk to my bodybuilding friends. Since I wanted to look like a bodybuilder, I thought they would be the ones to talk to.

I was given the same answer by all of them, do lots and lots of cardio! This was just not an acceptable answer for me. I hate, I loathe doing cardio. I also knew that if I had to do cardio to get my six-pack, I wouldn’t maintain it, and as soon as I quit doing cardio, I’d lose it. This summer I had a theory of how I could increase fat burning without adding cardio or starving myself.

I feel like metabolism is the key to fat burning. The Spike Diet keeps my metabolism strong while I am losing weight. Another important factor for fat burning is carbohydrates. I love carbs but I also hate them, because while they are beneficial for muscle building, they are also a hindrance for fat burning.

During times when we are not active our body burns both carbohydrates and body fat for basic energy needs. When we exercise our body mainly burns carbohydrates and glycogen for energy. So my idea was if I limited my carbohydrates during the daytime hours, my body would be forced to burn more body fat for energy while my metabolism was at its peak, kind of like doing cardio in the morning on an empty stomach. Then with extra carbohydrates at night I would be able to re-store my glycogen for my exercise the following day, and provide my body with glucose while I fasted for several hours sleeping.

I have been known to go against “mainstream thinking”, but then again the mainstream is nearly 70% overweight in America, so maybe it’s a good thing to try something different. Instead of stopping my carbohydrate consumption at night I did the opposite and had 90% of my daily carbs after 5pm.

During the day hours, which I called my “Fat Burning Window” I snacked on protein snacks like; beef jerky, string cheese, low-carb shakes, and chicken. Then at night I had the majority of my calories and carbohydrates for dinner and a late night snack. I loved it! I was able to enjoy a “normal” dinner with my family while dieting, and it was fantastic.

Spike 84 - 12 Week Diet and Exercise Program

The results were even better, when I combined this diet plan with my “Failure and Burn” workouts I lost 20lbs over 12 weeks. I hit my goal when I got down to 201lbs and my body fat was down to 9%. I maintained my strength, because my glycogen provided great energy for my workouts and I ate plenty of protein to stay anabolic and promote recovery.

This plan works, I know it’s not the only plan that works but this is a great option for both men and women that don’t want to spend hours a day doing intense cardio DVD’s and for those that love to eat. For more information you can check out my blog or my website at

About The Author
Russell Branjord is a Certified Personal Trainer, and the author of the Spike Diet. Learn more about the Spike Diet at

105 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Thu, 01/20/2011 - 12:13

Carbs at night and eat healthy during the day? I am in!!!

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Posted Thu, 01/20/2011 - 19:49

Glycogen is the "buffer" for body fat. When we have excess carbs our body stores it in short-term energy first(glycogen) we only have to worry about long-term storage, body fat, when or glycogen is full. Since we still have an overall calorie deficit, glycogen is never fully re-stored and gaining fat is a non issue.

Plus the benefits of sleeping in the "fed-state" are very important for muscle gain.

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Posted Tue, 01/25/2011 - 17:14
Chuck Green

What would you consider "good-carbs" to eat before you went to bed?.. I've always heard the oppisite and am quite interested.

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Posted Thu, 01/27/2011 - 13:46
Russ Branjord

My carbs before bed are mostly all low GI carbs, like high-fiber bread and fruit. I do mix in some protein bars that are a bit higher in sugar and I will make "treat shakes" Chocolate protein, with low fat ice cream, and malt powder. Basically at night with my calorie personal calorie goals I have room for about 1,200 calories and around 100-120 grams of carbs. I log all of my food so I know exactly what I can have.

It is totally against the grain, but i look at it like this.

Most people who are dieting that eat 6 meals a day and focus their carbs early in the day and stop eating carbs at say 7pm are missing out on 2 huge opportunities.

#1 Our metabolism is what burns the most body-fat, and during the day our metabolism is at it's peak because we are active. So when we wake up from a 7-8 hour fast chances are our body is already in a good fat-burning state(it's why so many people swear by morning cardio before breakfast) Our body's fuel of preference is carbs, so as soon as we eat something with carbs our body switches from fat-burning to carb burning. Once the carbs are used up it has to go back to burning fat, BUT then they have another meal high in carbs and the process repeats its self over and over, because we are told to eat every 2-3 hours. This limits our daily fat-burning when metabolism is peaking.

#2 Our brain alone needs 100 grams of glucose daily, and while we are sleeping our brain is at it's most active and needing the majority of those carb calories. When we go to sleep in an "un-fed" state we are causing stress and cortisol release. Going to bed in a "fed-state" gives our brain and body what it needs while we are fasting for several hours.

For losing weight the mainstream has it all backwards, we have plenty of energy stored in our body, in the form of fat and glycogen. My goal is to make my body use it's reserves during the day and then re-store at night and on my Spike Day's

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Posted Mon, 02/14/2011 - 21:19

Everything this guy says is absolutely 100% true. I used to eat carbs gradually during the day and NEVER past 7 except for greens. My workouts sucked so bad and were actually depressing and furstrating to achieve a "pump". Now every morning I take my NO on an empty stomach and my muscles are hard and full!!!!

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Posted Tue, 02/15/2011 - 11:08
Russ Branjord

Hey Dave funny as I'm reading this, I just drank my NO Extreme on an empty stomach as I'm about to do an arm workout.
I love it, my body has plenty of reserves for energy and IMO carbs just get in the way. I use carbs as a tool to re-store glycogen but not as immediate energy.

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Posted Mon, 01/02/2012 - 13:24

where this you got that info. about the 100gm of glucose for the brain ? i've head that i was 50gm, but i haven't found any reliable source about that.

anyway, i've also head that low gi carbs can be stored for 48hs before they start to transform into fat, and again can't find any source who can confirm that.

thanks for your info. man, i'll give it a try next weak.

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Posted Tue, 05/22/2012 - 22:33

So are you saying not to have that meal every 2-3 hours then Russ?

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Posted Sun, 08/10/2014 - 17:49
Rob Newbury

The brain only requires glucose when its glucose dependent.

Once the body is keto-adaptive (high fat, minimal carb diet), the brain does not need glucose and functions quite happily via other means, such as gluconeogenesis.

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Posted Mon, 01/24/2011 - 23:06

Sounds good, Russ. Did you still have to consume 500 less calories from your BMI? Also, how much carbs did you eat at night?

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Posted Tue, 01/25/2011 - 10:13

Hey Irving,

My calorie goals for 6 days were based off of my bmr, and one day a week I doubled my cals to ensure a surplus. For Spike84 I created 3 different 4 week phases that are different enough to keep the body guessing. At night I ave between 100-125 grams of carbs.

It's daily depletion and re-loading with one day week to spike metabolism.

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Posted Wed, 01/26/2011 - 11:50

This is very interesting! Could you possibly tell me what your average day of eating would consist of? I'm 5'10" 170lbs with about 14% bodyfat.. I hope to be around5% at some point. I don't want to get bulky at all just cut with good definition. Thank you very much!

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Posted Wed, 01/26/2011 - 12:07

Sorry to ask another question so quickly but what about the carbs you need after a workout? just eat protein right after and not carbs? I will be working out either in the morning or mid-morning/noon.. thanks

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Posted Thu, 01/27/2011 - 13:26
Russ Branjord

This is actually a great question and one that I went back and fourth on. I have 2 normal workout times, one at 11am and the other at 4pm, depending on my training schedule.

When I workout at 4pm I have no issues as I eat like an animal at around 5pm anyway, even when I'm losing weight.

Now my 11am workout was a different story , I honestly feel a bit sacrilegious not having carbs post-workout, but when I was cutting, I had some but a limited number. I still stayed under 20 net carbs until 5pm, even when I worked our earlier in the day. This was for the first 2 phases of my program. In the 3rd Phase I more than doubled my day-time carbs, that I would use immediately post-workout.

Now do I think this is the best way to build muscle? Of course not. This was a way for me to drop my body-fat into single digits without doing loads of cardio. My hope was to at least maintain my strength which I did.

For an 11am workout my food looked like this.

Wake up-
small pure Protein shake
One hour later-
Egg Beaters, center-cut bacon, and 2% cheese

Jack3d and 20 grams of pure whey
Post workout:
5 grams of glutamine and a 40 gram whey drink

I still had very strong workouts without carbs because my body had enough glycogen from my nightly carb-loading.

Now this Winter I have adapted this plan for "bulking" my goal has been to gain 15lbs, and I've gained 10lbs and have had massive gains in strength. Starting mid-February I will go back to my 12-Week Cut and go into the Summer at ripped 210lbs. For bulking I have about 75 grams of carbs in the one hour post-workout window. 25 grams of sugar with my whey shake immediately post-workout and 50 grams of a lower GI carb with slower digesting protein within an hour of my workout. Example, turkey on an oatmeal sub roll. Then I go back to carb fasting until 5pm again.

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Posted Fri, 01/28/2011 - 02:15

Wow! Thank you so much for your time, this really helps! I will be starting this tomorrow so I can eat what I want on Saturdays! Thanks again

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Posted Fri, 01/28/2011 - 02:10

so all this stuff about having carbs before bed is rubbish then? that it will get stored as fat? or does this work bercause you use low GI foods? I need some understanding here :)

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Posted Fri, 01/28/2011 - 10:26

It is rubbish!
We have 2 types of energy storage in our body
Fat and Glycogen
Fat is long term reserves and Glycogen is short term reserves

Our body stores excess carbs as glycogen first, because short-term is a greater need than long term energy. Excess carbs are stored as fat when glycogen storage is full, but when we are dieting our glycogen is never full becaus it's being used all day long.

Another huge benefit to bodybuilders is you can actually train your body to increase glycogen storage capabilities by depleting and re-storing. Some athletes have this down to perfection.

So the whole point is, no body fat will be stored. Your excess carbs at night will go to your glycogen storage, which will allow you to have a killer workout the following day without pre-workout carbs.

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Posted Wed, 02/09/2011 - 18:21

How long can i saty on this kind of diet? So my ratio is now going to be what for my protein, carbs, and fats for each meal?

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Posted Sat, 02/12/2011 - 20:25
billy clegg

sounds good i have had a stab at this befor, but found that with the carb intake late at night i had issue's with sleeping
any help with that ???????????????



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Posted Mon, 02/14/2011 - 11:56
Russ Branjord

Your not having an extreme amount of carbs. The daily goal for calories is your basal metabolic rate, and carbs are 25% of your daily calories, so for example my goal is 125 carbs a day, but I have 100 of them at night, which is typically spread over dinner and a snack. I never go to bed hungry but I'm also never full.

I actually sleep much better in this state as compared to how I would on normal diets going to bed hungry most nights. If you are having issues with the carbs I would cut down on the fat-burning window and begin your carb loading a bit earlier like 3pm instead of 5pm.

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Posted Mon, 06/27/2011 - 07:38
Lain Cubert

25% CHO is way too low as a DRI. Its more near 50-60% while FAT are about 30 and PRO are about 20-30. These levels are obviously fluid given the range of %. I understand that if your trying to gain muscle these numbers change considerably with an increase in PRO, but the increased PRO at say 50%, gets a % dumped by your body since you can only take in so much at a time. I like the CHO loading idea at night and this seems to make some sense in terms of utilizing the muscle glycogen in the morning workouts. Pretty neat idea for sure.

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Posted Wed, 03/02/2011 - 23:50

So for me, my gym is packed and I usually wait till about 7:30pm to go. Would this work me seeing that I normally eat dinner at 5pm? I can wait till after to eat dinner, but that only leaves me with a little over an hour tops before I normally crash.

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Posted Thu, 03/24/2011 - 17:01

Hi guys!

Apart from the fact that gyms might be packed during the day hours, doesn't anyone have a job that starts in the morning, or even worse, working on shifts?

Unfortunately I work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, starting most days in the morning. When I finish i am usually exhausted (physical job), and so i go to the gym at about 9pm after getting some afternoon rest. Are my efforts really hopeless? I mean there is no way that carbs will suffice from my night-meal till next night. Does anyone who works like that figured out a descent diet??


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Posted Wed, 03/30/2011 - 22:58

What an innovative article, thanks for making this available. I will be starting this program net week as my no carb late night routine has not been showing many results.

One quick question; what would you consider to be great late night high carb foods? You mentioned fiber bread and fruit, anything else?

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Posted Tue, 05/10/2011 - 14:28

What If I workout at night? I'll start around 9:00
Pm till 10:00. What would I have to do

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Posted Tue, 05/10/2011 - 15:55

This is a great program for a nighttime workout routine. I would just have some protein pre-workout with around 20 good carbs, like a banana. Then I would eat like an animal post-workout.
Even though it's late, I'd try to have my largest meal after the workout to boost recovery.
There are many hormonal benefits to late workouts, I just don't have the time to do it.

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Posted Thu, 06/02/2011 - 13:01

This really does sound like a great diet plan to go with my work out especially since i'm in a zone of cutting weight. Just curious though, if you don't mind, could you go over the basal metabolic rate and how that works? Also, what is your Failure and Burn w/o? Thanks.

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Posted Sun, 06/12/2011 - 00:59

Thanks man,

With my workouts I focus on heavy compound movements with one working set to failure.
For example I warm-up on bench and then complete one set to failure for both flat and incline in the 6-9 rep range.

Then I burn-out with a giant set of cross-overs-dips-push-ups with no rest for 3-4 sets. When I'm done i can't do a single push-up.

I do it because it's a short and intense workout, only about 30 minutes.
I can really put a lot of energy and focus into the one working sets.
The burn gives me a boat-load of lactic acid, which drives my natural growth hormone up post workout. Plus the I get a huge "pump" which brings more blood flow and aminos to the muscles for recovery.

I've been doing this for over a year and I've had major progress.

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Posted Wed, 06/08/2011 - 18:03

wooo...this idea is really great totally in it. im planning to shred fat for sometime now using low fat diet and cardio. its not paying as much as i expect. im sure im gonna try this carbs at night thing of yours bro...
thanks a lot....:):)

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Posted Sun, 06/12/2011 - 01:01

In my experience the fat intake isn't that big of a deal as long as your are within your calories goals. Carbs are a benefit for muscle building because of glycogen but they definitely impede fat burning which is why I avoid them until evening.
I feel it's the best of both, I can store glycogen and I can force my body to burn fat all day long when my metabolism is peaking.

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Posted Mon, 06/20/2011 - 04:31

All of you guys who are saying that you are starting tomorrow..

Did you buy the program or are you hoping to make it work from the info he gave out?

I am assuming it's reasonably detailed for 70 bucks.

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Posted Mon, 06/20/2011 - 14:50

It is pretty detailed
Use the code: MB and get it for $49

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Posted Fri, 03/23/2012 - 08:25


I realize this code was posted 9 months ago but it no longer seems to work. Is a new code available to received the discounted price?

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Posted Sun, 06/26/2011 - 00:02
Nick Brown

Russel I have already lost over 80 and am now at a plateau. i would say I'm in pretty good shape at around 7% body fat but i still have a little pudgy belly and cant seem to get rid of it. Is this "diet" good for someone like me. Im a Electrician(construction worker) so i work mon - fri and im so tired after work. what should i do to get the energy i need to workout.

my ultimate goal is to be 185 and just crazy ripped
currently 160.

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Posted Mon, 06/27/2011 - 11:07

Hey Nick, I think this program is great for burning that last bit of belly fat. For a few years I was in the 215-225lbs range at around 12-14% bodyfat. Once I flipped my carbs to later in the day I burned off the last 20lbs, especially around my gut to get down to 8% bodyfat.

In your situation since you are at a plateau and you ultimately want to gain weight, I'd recommend a nice clean bulk period.

I did it this past winter/spring. What I did was eat my maintenance level calories throughout the week, this was an estimate of my BMR + exercise calories and then I spiked over the full weekend. I had between 250-300 grams of protein daily and I lifted very hard after my spike day's.

During the week I still had most of the carbs after 5pm, I just wasn't as strict. The main purpose of having carbs late while "bulking" is the glycogen storage which makes your following day workout amazing.

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Posted Mon, 06/27/2011 - 03:42

Hi Russ,

I'm a vegetarian ( pescitarian really) with celiac sprue, so is it possible for the Spike diet to work for me? I eat beans and lean fish for protein, as well as a lot of veggies. I try to limit white grains as much as I can. I also work night shift three days a week, so my sleep schedule is a little off. Is it worth trying? I'd like to lose about 20 pounds.

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Posted Mon, 06/27/2011 - 11:11

Hi Janice,

I believe it works with all diet types because it's really just a calorie based diet. The protein makes it better it easier to lose weight, but ultimately what really matters is the calorie goals.

Your sleep schedule makes it tougher but you can still do it. It just takes some creative meal planning.

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Posted Tue, 04/03/2012 - 12:38

wow your a vegitarian and you eat fish? fish is a meat you know.

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Posted Tue, 09/06/2011 - 09:24
Bryan Baker

I dont understand. How is it you got your body to burn bodyfat throughout the day and during exercise without the aid of muscular or protein breakdown? The body has a tough time breaking down fat, so when energy is call for, muscle or protein is more readily available than the necessity for the body to breakdown fat?! I have no doubt in this worked for you, but I'd alos like the see how much muscle mass was lost during this diet plan

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Posted Tue, 09/06/2011 - 10:39

Well actually protein is the last thing our body wants to convert to energy. Look at a true famine state, the last thing to get catabolized is muscle proteins because once we lose enough of it we are dead.
No doubt some muscle gets used as energy because of cortisol. Cortisol peaks after stress, like post workout and when we go to bed without enough calories to get through the night. By having protein and BCAA during and post-workout we limit the impact of cortisol and by going to bed with some carbs in our stomach, we feed our brain through the night and reduce cortisol levels.
I think this one of the reasons why it works so well, we force our body to burn fat during the day and we limit the use of muscle for energy by reducing cortisol at night.
There are studies that show in an equal 24-hour period, if you eat more calories at night, you will lose a higher percentage of fat pounds versus eating more calories early in the day.

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Posted Sat, 09/10/2011 - 11:31

Hey Russell

Carbs at night fits in with both the scientific and instinctual sides to the fat-burning argument.

I have done Atkins for 4 months, lost 20, brought body fat down under 17% **I am a 50 year old female in throes of menopause--try losing weight with those parameters!** But those last 6 to 8 pounds are sticking fast.

I do light weight training and low intensity aerobics (walking 1 hour and a stationary bike).

All day I stick to a no or extremely low (less than 10)-carb Atkins Inductgion diet. Then at night, I have "clean" lower-GI carbs up to 90 or 100 grams. Whole grains of some kind or a starcy vegetable with some fiber-rich protein (like pistachios) first. I did this on instinct to support the cardio work, sleep better and to see if I could jump-start something in the weight loss dept.

Sure enough, I started losing again at about a 1/2 pound every 4-5 days. I'm now within 5 pounds of goal. Sleeping great. Energy to walk longer. Glad to find you on Google to bear out with your own results what I'm discovering on my own.

Keep up the good work!

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Posted Tue, 09/13/2011 - 15:16


I am not able to workout until almost 8pm every night. What would be the most effective way to eat my carbs and large meal? Is there a "better" time of day to work out vs another? My only other option would be 5am! And I know people do it...I just don't know how!

Thanks for any help- LOVING the Spike program! On my 3rd week!

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Posted Tue, 09/13/2011 - 23:55

Hi Kelly,
I'm glad you're loving the Spike!

The best time to workout is is honestly whenever you feel best, and you can do it.
If you can't workout until that late I would try to eat around 5 or 6 to give food time to digest and then have another meal after you workout. It would be difficult to get in all of your calories after your 8pm workout so just spread the carbs and calories around your workout time. You really can't go wrong.

Good job keeping to a program even when your schedule makes it difficult. This is most people"s excuse for not exercising, but you're doing it!

Enjoy your Spike!


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Posted Wed, 10/19/2011 - 11:25

One of the best article i have ever seen ,because i also hate cardio >A body sculpted with loads of cardio will not be there forever,because it is impossible to perform such an amount of cardio for life long.

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Posted Wed, 10/19/2011 - 15:47

Thank you!

I was always told I HAD to do cardio to be ripped, and I really dislike doing cardio. So this plan is like a dream come true for me.

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Posted Mon, 10/31/2011 - 21:11

I came across this because my personal trainer told me to eat carbs for dinner, and not as much protien. I couldnt understand that because I have always heard that thats a way to gain fat. So I do my weightlifting for 30 to 45 min then a session of 20 to 30 min of cardio after that every other day. Then the rest of the time I run out doors.
Could you please explain this whole carb thing in more detail. I know you said this is if you wanted to bulk up. I am a woman and i know I will not bulk up but with all the cardio I am doing will this method of eating carbs at night help me loose the body fat? Or is it specifically designed for just building muscles.
BTW, i really do like cardio.

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Posted Fri, 11/04/2011 - 11:51

Actually this isn't for bulking up. Any plan can be easily converted into a bulking plan by simply eating more calories. This plan, eating more at night, can help us burn more fat for energy by forcing our body to use fat for energy through the day. When we eat less carbohydrates from morning to the evening, when our metabolism is peaking, we stabilize our blood sugar and allow our body to release a hormone called glucagon that converts fat stores to energy.

Also this way you won't go to bed hungry, you will sleep better, feed your brain, and store glycogen for your workouts the following day.
It's a Win-Win.

If you like cardio, then do it. I'm just trying to break the myth that you have to do it to get ripped.


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Posted Fri, 11/04/2011 - 20:41

Does this program work for 'skinny-fat' people? I'm 173 lbs and my body fat % is 14-15. I have loose-hanging fat around the stomach and chest areas. (Most noticable if I bend over or am sitting down). I seem to be at a plateau because I haven't been able to get my waist below 35 inches for several months now. I take in 2200 calories a day of mostly healthy food with a 30/50/20 protein/carb/fat split. Is this program for me?

(The bf % is an estimate. I average what a body fat test says and what a BIA scale gives me. I've had Doug estimate it also and he usually has me at a little higher).

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Posted Sun, 11/06/2011 - 12:26

Absolutely Jacob,

After I lost over 100lbs several years ago, I hovered around 220-230lbs with a bodyfat of around 15%. It was pretty good for someone my size, but I was kind of stuck there. I became bored of the status quo and I wanted to be ripped.
I didn't want to do hours of cardio, and I didn't want to starve. That's when I had the idea of flipping my meals around and gradually increasing my calories and carbs until dinner, which I wanted to be my largest meal of the day. It made sense to me that if I limited carbs during the day, while my metabolism is peaking, then I'd burn more fat as energy.
My results were fantastic as I got my weight down to just over 200lbs and my bodyfat was professionally measures at 8%.

So yes, I do think this program is perfect for you, I know of many people who are in "pretty good shape" that this program brought them to ripped status.

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Posted Fri, 11/11/2011 - 22:58
Jason Fowels

Hi Russ, many bodybuilders talk about cycling carbs ( low carb days followed by high carb days). i was wondering how having no carbs during the day and a lot during the night would affect your metabolism? Would it speed it up at all ?