Dirty Bulk vs. Clean Bulk: What is the Best Muscle Building Diet?

dirty bulking

Eat whatever your heart desires; an amazing concept, right?

Whether you are a bodybuilder, an actor preparing for a role, or just need to gain some weight, develop lean muscle mass, it is understandable that you are considering the dirty bulking approach.

Many persons prefer to lose weight for various reasons, while others will need to gain weight through muscle building.

Dirty bulking is a valid and commonly used approach by many.

In this article, we will explore the intricacies of dirty bulking, its effectiveness, its potential downsides, how to do it right, and much more.

Dirty Bulking: Why You Need To Know The Dirty Truth!

What is Dirty Bulking?

Dirty bulking is essentially eating more calories than one can burn.

The intention behind this practice is to increase one’s body mass.

In addition to eating whatever they want, engaging in the dirty bulking season means eating a calculated calorie surplus and integrating it with a significant amount of extremely high-intensity workout to ensure that the bulk of food that one eats contributes to muscle growth and not fat gain.

When following a dirty bulk to build muscle and increase body mass even faster, foods are often supplemented with high calorie shakes and mass gain powders to ensure that the target calorie surplus is met daily.

The bottom line is, with dirty bulking, there are no dietary rules or restrictions.

Dirty bulking does have its benefits; however, there are some negative effects.

So, do the benefits outweigh the risks? Are the risks greater than the benefits? We’ll provide the details and allow you to decide?

How does dirty bulking build muscle mass or cause weight gain?

When you dirty bulk, the excess calories you consume is basically a surplus of building material for bulking up your body.

Whether this extreme calorie intake bulks you up with more body fat or increases your muscle mass is entirely up to you.

If you consume high-calorie foods and do not go to the gym to get in some high-intensity workout, this means the calories will remain unused.

After all, the extra calories should give your extra strength.

Unused calories will cause weight gain, and considering the extreme amount of food you’ve eaten, those will certainly bulk up your fat cells in no time.

People who dirty bulk

There are several categories of people who dirty bulk to promote weight gain for varying reasons. Here are the most likely persons to dirty bulk:

  • bodybuilders
  • actors
  • weightlifters
  • powerlifters
  • the average gym-goer
  • other athletes

What to Eat when Dirty Bulking

Protein consumption is vital for adequate muscle growth, and as such, there is only one standard rule when it comes to the dirty bulk practice.

You must eat at least 1.5 grams of protein per pound of your body weight every day. So, if you are a meat lover, then you will love dirty bulking.

Of course, you can also get protein from other sources, such as legumes.

Additionally, when dirty bulking, ensure that your food sources are providing you with your daily requirement for vitamins and minerals in those extra calories to help keep your body healthy.

So, don’t just eat fast food, junk foods, and processed foods. You should also try to include whole foods and healthy fats to help with your muscle gain.

Foods to eat during dirty bulk season

  • food high in protein, for example, red meat, fish, poultry, dairy, tofu, tempeh
  • cereal bars
  • trail mix
  • protein powders
  • baked goods
  • doughnuts
  • high-calorie mass gain powders
  • pasta
  • breakfast cereals
  • various kinds of nut butter
  • avocados
  • fruits and vegetables
  • high carb dishes
  • pizza
  • whole milk
  • chocolate milk
  • fried chicken
  • whole eggs (yolks included)
  • nuts
  • cheeses
  • fast food
  • full-fat dairy products
  • ice cream

Foods to avoid during dirty bulk season

Although you technically have a permit to eat anything during dirty bulk season, there are a few items that it is best to stay away from or eat very little of.

The overconsumption of these foods is likely to cause negative health effects. These include:

  • low-calorie foods
  • trans fats
  • diet foods
  • vegetable oil
  • sugar-free foods
  • eat less liver
  • Brazil nuts
  • mercury-containing fish

Is Dirty Bulking Effective?

Dirty bulking is certainly very effective in helping you to gain weight in the form of muscular gains short term and very quickly.

It is especially helpful for those persons who struggle with weight gain, as it provides them with enough calories to promote muscle growth.

1) Promotes muscle growth and muscular strength

Dirty bulking, especially with huge amounts of protein intake helps to fast-track programmed weight gain. The amino acids that you get from the protein intake are the vital elements that will build and repair your muscles.

However, dirty bulking must be done right to ensure muscle gains, so that means for muscle gains to occur, a sufficient calorie surplus is required.

Dirty bulking is great for this since it certainly exceeds the recommended calorie increase daily by a caloric surplus of 10–20%.

Another step is combining the necessary workout to bulk muscles and reduce your body fat content.

2) Ensures a calorie surplus

The intake of a surplus of calories for many may be something they need to really make an effort to do, as there are people who have great difficulty in gaining weight because they do not intake as many calories as they burn.

Consuming this significant amount of calorie surplus will lead to weight gain that can further be converted into lean muscle mass through consistent and intense resistance training.

If the aim when you dirty bulk is weight gain, insufficient caloric intake will not promote weight gain at an increased pace.

Typically, it can take several months and even years to gain the desired muscle mass or weight.

This process is in part dependent on the individual’s starting point.

Consequently, opting for dirty bulking combined with a good workout routine that includes exercises, such as lifting weights is highly beneficial.

Downsides of Dirty Bulking

While dirty bulking can help you to gain muscle mass in a shorter time span, it does have some potential negative effects that may make the benefits seem less attractive.

For one, when you eat, your body needs time to digest whatever it is that you have consumed.

This means that the large quantities of food and beverages you need to consume daily will need several more hours than normal to become fully digested.

This will cause you to feel tired, drained, or sluggish for most if not all of the day even if you have consumed mostly nutritious foods.

This also makes gaining fat easier, since a lot of times feeling tired can cause you to forgo that very essential workout session needed to burn all those calories.

Secondly, eating junk food that consists primarily of sugary foods and carbohydrates will increase your blood sugar levels and insulin levels, putting you at risk for many chronic illnesses, including diabetes.

According to a 2016 study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, prolonged intake of excess simple carbs can induce the symptoms of depression.

The reality is, you will get fat before you get fit, especially if you were not fit, to begin with.

According to the human body composition, it is only natural that your fat cells will begin to get bigger and also multiply in number.

Therefore you will get fat because your body will store excess calories in your fat cells, as you can only use a specific amount of calories and this will happen for every day that you dirty bulk.

This makes it harder for you to lose weight because you develop new fat cells daily and this is also why you must do resistance training to ensure you grow muscle as much as possible.

Dirty Bulking the Right Way

Dirty bulking may seem like an easy concept, the only thing is, it’s not.

In order to achieve the results you want, you have to dirty bulk the right way. Below we should have some tips to make this happen.

1) Eat as much food as possible

Though this means eating as much as you can to support muscle building, the best approach is to formulate a dirty bulking meal plan.

This will ensure that you do not ignore the basic dietary requirements that are meant to help your muscle growth.

For example, you do not want to eat a diet high in too much fat due to the potential negative effects that can have.

A meal plan will help you to structure your eating so you can still have a balanced intake though you will be bulking.

Include a lot of nutritious foods in your plan, such as those you would eat in offseason; that is when you aren’t bulking.

2) Workout matters

We can’t begin to stress enough how essential it is that you incorporate a rigorous workout regimen to complement your dirty bulking.

As explained earlier, if you eat in excess, you need to get into the gym to start building muscle mass with all the calories you get. If not, your body will begin to make and store fat with all that food.

Don’t just go to the gym and do the bare minimum because that won’t cut it for dirty bulking. First of all, you need to hit the gym at least five (5) days per week.

Incorporate more reps and weights into your weightlifting routine. You should also do some more cardio.

3) Rest is essential

Just as it is important to exercise, it is important also to rest. Getting adequate and good quality sleep helps with muscle gain, as it aids with muscle growth and repair.

Try to get at least eight (8) of sleep with as few interruptions as possible.

Is Clean Bulking Better than Dirty Bulking?

Yes, in case you have never heard of it, there is a little something called clean bulking and it is exactly what it sounds like.

When you clean bulk, it means you are eating clean but in calculated bulk.

This form of clean eating allows you to gain weight from a clean diet that is very nutritious. It is actually pretty popular and some people prefer it.

When you clean bulk, it also means eating nutrient-dense foods as opposed to processed foods that have more calories than nutrients.

Clean bulk foods

Clean bulk foods include many heart-healthy options, such as:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • sweet potato
  • lean meat, like chicken
  • tuna
  • nuts
  • brown rice
  • protein shakes with almond milk
  • natural mass gaining protein powders
  • healthy fats like olive oil


  • You gain more muscles than fat because you are using a strategic and more organized approach for gaining weight than the dirty bulk method.
  • No processed foods, which means you are not at an increased risk for developing certain illnesses.


  • Eating clean in bulk is not for the faint-hearted because there will be moments of craving that you must ignore on this rather strict diet.
  • Food prep is time-consuming but quite essential to your success, so it must be done.
  • Unlike when you dirty bulk, progress is slow with the clean bulking plan.

Final Thoughts

There is no doubt that the dirty bulk approach is beneficial in boosting your body weight through increased muscle growth.

However, this approach means consuming all types of foods, which may not be the healthiest option, and as such, you could end up getting sick.

Also, if you dirty bulk, you must exercise rigorously to prevent fat gain because the surplus calories that you consume will contribute to your body fat significantly.

If you decide to dirty bulk, remember, the responsibility is yours to do it right. That includes making a plan, incorporating nutritious foods, a good protein powder, and intense resistance training.

A dirty bulk regimen can be rather beneficial, get the benefits and not the side effects!