When it comes to bulking, there are mixed opinions on just how bad ‘dirty bulking’ is for you. Sure, we all deserve a cheat meal now and then, but is guzzling that double cheese, bacon burger actually going to help you achieve your goals? There’s the school of thought that you’ll gain more lean tissue overall with a dirty bulk vs clean bulk.

It’s true that dirty bulking gives you a truck-full of calories and what could be better than eating a load of food in the name of building muscle and fitness? Sorry, it’s not quite that straight-forward, so put that steak down and read on as we give you the low-down on whether those calories are helping or hurting your gains.


What’s a dirty bulk vs clean bulk?

Clean: You’ll focus on avoiding processed foods while eating a specific number of nutrients from natural and healthy sources. Aims to limit the amount of body fat gained.

TRAIN score: 1

Dirty: The goal is to imbibe as many calories as possible while trying to broadly focus on keeping a high protein intake. Whether pizza or steak, you just need to overeat to tip the scale. You’ll be on a see-food diet: you’ll see food, you’ll eat it.

TRAIN score: 0


What are the outcomes?

Clean: You’ll focus more on remaining healthy, which can be costlier and time-consuming to prep your meal. However, that means you’ll add around the same amount of muscle and less fat than the dirty bulk. Potentially, you’ll blunt your ability to build more muscle after you reach a certain level of body fat according to some studies.

TRAIN score: 1

Dirty: Results will come extremely fast but you’ll gain more fat, making it tougher to get leaner and, depending on your food choices, you can stress your organs and increase your risk of diabetes. You’ll also give yourself a false sense of size and weight. It’s easier to track your exact muscle-building progress when it’s not covered in a sheath of fat.

TRAIN score: 0


dirty bulk vs clean bulk



What supplements should I be using?

Clean: You may want to add powdered spuds or oats to your protein shakes to ramp up the carb intake that’s vital to gaining. Take all the usual supplements such as whey, creatine, casein and amino acids.

TRAIN score: 1

Dirty: You can get commercially available weight gainers, which are often loaded with maltodextrin, dextrose or sugar if you’re dead set on just adding mass. These are nutritionally barren so you’ll need to supplement with vitamins.

TRAIN score: 0


How do I cheat?

Clean: Fill a shooter glass with olive oil and slam that a couple of times a day to get a massive 800+ calorie fix that’s full of healthy fats. You need to be at 10-15% body fat to optimize muscle gains. Not much a cheat if you ask us…

TRAIN score: 0

Dirty: Try a new type of 5:2 diet where you eat clean Monday to Friday, then splurge on the weekends by eating all your favorite meals. This strikes a balance that isn’t as tough on your internal system.

TRAIN score: 1


Dirty bulk vs clean bulk: the winner?

Ultimately, the question is a silly one that placates the extremes that are so prevalent in the fitness industry. There are obvious benefits to eating “clean” (which doesn’t really have a definition) like eating more nutritionally dense, more satiating foods that contain fewer calories. But, eating chicken and

But, eating chicken and broccoli from meals 1 through to 6 will have you driving yourself head first into a brick wall to end your suffering.

Ultimately, you can be healthy by following the 80-20 or 90-10 rule. Eat clean, minimally refined foods for the most part, but don’t feel bad about filling your spare calories up with foods you enjoy on the odd occasion.

Remember that the most important thing for building muscle is consistency. Consistently eating a nutritious diet also makes a healthy one, funnily enough.

A dirty bulk vs clean bulk is the wrong question. The question you need to ask yourself is what’s the healthiest diet you can stick to consistently for your lifestyle? Finding that answer is the key to successful muscle building and fitness over the long term.

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