In order to gain size you have to eat food; Most people will agree with this sentiment. Unless you’re on performance enhancing drugs, you won’t be able to add muscle mass without consuming enough calories to support muscle development. 

A traditional bodybuilding protocol for increased caloric intake is referred to as the bulking phase. A bulk phase is considered successful if your scale weight increases without regard for your aesthetics. 

There are two types of bulking: The clean bulk and dirty bulk. Definitions for each vary based on who you talk to. Let’s take a closer look at these methods.

Clean Bulk vs Dirty Bulk

Clean Bulk

When people reference a “clean” bulk it usually doesn’t refer to the types of foods consumed. More or less, a clean bulk is when you’re consuming just enough calories and nutrients to support muscular development. 

However some folks will say that a “clean” bulk is just eating healthy foods and lean proteins. This simply isn’t true as you can “dirty” bulk on “clean” foods simply by overeating. At the end of the day a calorie is a calorie and gaining weight is a matter of having more calories consumed than are expended. For instance a donut and a piece of chicken: One may be more nutritious but we aren’t talking about macro and micro-nutrients of food, we’re just discussing calories.

People that are following a clean bulk will do so in a controlled manner to avoid gaining unwanted fat, which will lead to weight gain. Fat that is gained too fast will result in fat cell hyperplasia and result in extended cutting periods.

These are the main advantages of a clean bulk:

  1. You can gain roughly 1.5 lbs of muscle each month with far less fat. 
  2. Minimize cutting phases
  3. Usually results in eating more nutrient dense foods

Dirty Bulk

Similar to a clean bulk, most folks will believe that a dirty bulk involves eating copious amounts of junk food. As we said above, you can dirty bulk on clean foods but it’s significantly harder to eat thousands of calories of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.

This is usually why a dirty bulk will involve the “see food” diet where-in you eat whatever you want. As long as you reach your protein requirements for the day, you are free to eat what you want. Peanut butter, pizza, ice cream, fast food, it’s all fair game as you can consume ample calories through junk food.

A dirty bulk will add a lot more weight to your frame, however it comes with some drawbacks:

  1. You’ll gain more fat that’s harder to cut later due to Fat cell hyperplasia
  2. If you care about the way you look, dirt bulking isn’t optimal
  3. This form of bulking provides you can excuse to eat bad food. Plain and simple.

Which is Best?

In terms of different bulking styles, a clean bulk is ideal because of the drawbacks of a dirty bulk. Unless you’re on performance enhancement drugs (PEDs) like thyroid hormones, DNP, hGH, etc, you won’t be able to accelerate fat loss.

These steroids also prevent muscle loss while dieting, something an un-enhanced person can’t do. Folks who use PEDs are able to alter their biochemistry and can bypass the body’s natural state. This is why an enhanced athlete can dirty bulk, then cut and keep all their muscle. 

Another thing to keep in mind about fat loss is that it isn’t a linear process. Our body’s are amazing in that they can adapt quickly and stall your fat loss making the process even longer.