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Clean Bulking vs. Dirty Bulking – The Pros and Cons


If you're interested in building muscles and gaining weight, we're pretty sure that you've heard about clean bulking and dirty bulking. And of course, you've probably also noticed that the opinion of avid gym goers about these two approaches is divided.

“Clean bulking is the healthiest way to grow muscles!”

“Dirty bulking is simply the best if you want your muscles to build quickly!”

Now, before you decide for yourself which among the two is the best for you, here's everything that you need to know:


Clean Bulking

Also known as lean bulking, this approach focuses on consuming caloric surplus but not greater than 500 calories above your total daily energy expenditure. In other words, clean bulking is a calculated method to overfeeding with limits to follow. Apart from a limited calorie surplus intake, clean bulking focuses on healthy eating too. Practicing this method means you don't just pay attention to your calorie consumption, you also take the time to know if the food that you are taking is healthy and beneficial to your body.   

Among the foods recommended on this method are chicken, brown rice, tuna, sweet potato, broccoli.


* You gain less fat since your caloric surplus is calculated and not as aggressive

* You'll eat healthier food (since your diet excludes processed food)

* Your caloric intake and macronutrient breakdown is calculated and concise


* It's strict - you have to fight off your cravings to follow your recommended caloric intake

* Progress is slow since you are following a restrictive diet. This will test your patience to wait for the results.

* Since you are extra careful with the macros you consume, meal prep is important. If you have a hectic schedule, this means need to squeeze time to prepare your food.

man eating veggies

Dirty Bulking

Another approach to gain weight and build muscles is called dirty bulking and compared to clean bulking, it requires less calorie intake calculation and it's also less restrictive with the food that you eat. This diet aims to put the body into a caloric surplus from 800 to 2,000 calories above the total daily energy expenditure. And since it's a little hard to consume this calorie requirement daily by simply eating clean food sources, dirty bulking allows you to eat any kind of food in order to obtain the goal.

In case you don't know, the GOMAD diet is one type of dirty bulking diet.


*No need to fight cravings because you'll be enjoying a large number of food daily

*You don't have to eat the same type of food and portions every day

*Strength gains are quicker since you're taking large caloric surplus


*Your body requires lots of hours digesting all the food that you've eaten, so you'll definitely feel sluggish all day long even when doing your bulking workout

*You are spiking your insulin with all the unhealthy carbohydrates and high sugar that you consume.

*You'll have to work more during the cutting phase since you've gained a lot of weight.

nordic lifting prism dumbbell

Which is which?

Both clean and dirty bulking results are positive –  they give you strength gains and they help you achieve your muscle building goals. If you are quite conscious of what you eat and you still want to incorporate a holistic approach with your weight gains, then clean bulking is the best option for you. And if you are in a hurry to gain weight in a short amount of time, then you should consider dirty bulking. Just remember that with dirty bulking, you'll have to do extra gym sessions to burn all the fats away during the cutting phase.

To help you out with your clean or dirty bulking efforts, it's always best to know how to count macros. Learn all about it here


Weigh the pros and cons and see for yourself which of these two approaches will work best for you. And when it comes to your bulking workout, make sure to wear quality gym gears like our knee sleeves.

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