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What is Dirty Bulking, and Should you do it?

What is dirty bulking?

Everyone wants to build a shredded body as quickly as possible without any diet restrictions. While you can’t magically have a good-looking body in an instance, you can have freedom of whatever you want to eat with dirty bulking.

Every bodybuilder has to bulk up at least once on their way to getting the body shape they desire as it radically increases the macronutrients in your body, giving it a boost to recover and make muscles.

Now there are two main ways to bulk up. One is lean bulking (or clean bulking) and the second is dirty bulking – the topic of discussion.

Dirty bulking is a weight gain method that involves increasing your calorie intake by eating high calorie foods. People usually go for junk foods, sugary snack or other calorie dense food options. You pretty much have the freedom to eat whatever you want.

Have I confused you? Because I’m sure you’ve heard plenty of fitness influencers telling you that you have to focus on your diet and eat healthy foods to get into your dream shape. So what on earth am I talking about?

To understand the concept of dirty bulking and why it allows you to eat anything and in any quantity, you will first need to know the main goal of bulking. 

What is Bulking? 

Bulking is a method that has been used for decades by bodybuilders and athletes who want to gain muscle mass. 

It is the act of gaining muscle mass by increasing your calorie intake, putting you in a calorie surplus. 

So how many calories do you need to consume per day during the bulking phase? Well, an average man needs about 2000-3000 calories per day and a woman has about 1600 – 2400. Hence, to bulk up, you need to consume more calories than your daily requirement.

This includes eating large portions of food that are filled with protein, carbohydrates and fats. Many people find it easier to consume large amounts of calories through protein shakes or protein bars as well.  

Why does Bulk Work?

When you exercise and go through intense weight lifting, your muscles get micro tears; these tears get filled up with newly produced muscles from protein synthesis. Now, this process isn’t immediate and requires a lot of protein. When the amount of protein synthesized exceeds that which is degraded, then net protein accretion is positive, and hypertrophy can occur.

Usually, during the bulk period, bodybuilders go through more extreme exercise regimes to tear as much muscle as possible so more muscle mass can be gained. This extra workout routine also helps to cut body fat as well that is gained from extra consumption of calories.

Hence, bulking aims at eating large amounts of food to gain enough proteins and nutrients to build new muscles.

Now that we are familiar with bulking let’s discuss what to eat when bulking:

What to Consume During a Bulking Phase

bulking foods

Your bulking diet should be focused on three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. In Dirty bulking, the ratio of macronutrients in the diet doesn’t matter; you can get these macros from any meal.  

Here are some recommended meals to include in your bulking food plan:

  • Lean sources of protein include seitan or tempeh if you’re following a plant-based diet, as well as chicken breast, white fish, egg whites, low-fat Greek yogurt, and egg whites if you’re trying to develop muscle.
  • Beans, lentils, quinoa, rice, sweet potatoes, whole-wheat pasta and cereals, fruits, and vegetables are all good sources of complex carbohydrates that will help you recover from your exercises and restore depleted glycogen levels.
  • Avocados, olive oil, seeds (such as chia seeds or flax seeds), and nuts are examples of healthy fats that aid in the body’s absorption of vitamins and nutrients (like almonds, walnuts, or macadamia nuts).

Dirty Bulking

Dirty bulking is not a new concept. It’s been around for years, but the internet has made this method more popular than ever.

Dirty bulking is a method of gaining muscle mass by eating tons of high calorie foods. It involves eating big meals daily, with plenty of extra calories from junk food, fast food, or sugary snacks in order to gain weight. Generally, people dirty bulk without really keeping any check on your calorie intake and macros.

With the increase in calorie consumption, you must also perform high-intensity training.

By eating carbohydrates, protein, and lipids, users of a dirty bulk increase their energy supply. So, you gain muscle mass and strength faster, but you also gain some body fat along the way.

While weight gain is an issue, the strength increase it provides is better than any bulk.

Benefits of Dirty Bulking 

Dirty bulking has both its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at the advantages first.

1. Anabolic State

An abundance of proteins and carbohydrates promotes muscle growth and keeps the body well-fueled for exercise. This is so because protein promotes muscle growth while carbs serve as the body’s primary energy source. When combined, these macronutrients have anabolic benefits.

2. Macros

Developments in strength and muscle require macronutrients. Therefore, muscle and weight gain are significantly impacted by inadequate nutrient intake. Simply put, prolonged periods of catabolic state reduce body mass because both skeletal muscle and fat mass are lost. Increasing macronutrient intake reduces the likelihood of entering a catabolic state and promotes muscular growth.

3. Increase in Strength

Dirty bulking readily increases the person’s strength and, with proper training, can double the weight that you have been lifting previously. This is because of the extra lbs that it puts in the body, which becomes the source of higher fat-free mass compared to normal-weight people. People with a higher fat-free mass are stronger and are better at strength exercises.

4. Uncomplicated

It’s a rather straightforward process: eat, and then eat some more. Dirty bulking allows freedom in nutrition and excess calories. With dirty bulking, meal preparation and calorie calculation are less strictly regulated. However, this may vary depending on your objective. 

The general opinion among individuals who are doing a dirty bulk is to emphasize eating more frequently and in larger quantities to improve muscle and mass gains, which translates into more energy available for physical activity. 

Dirty bulking is a dream come true for many of us, but unfortunately, this technique has some caveats. 

Disadvantages of Dirty Bulking 

Now before you grab the leftover pizza from the fridge, let’s take a look at the disadvantages of dirty bulking.

1. Significant Fat Gain

Dirty bulking readily increases body fat and overall fat percentage in the body, which for some people is a huge let-down because it can start to hide the shape of your muscles, making you look chubby. Moreover, when you try to lose fat, you will also lose muscle because of the diet restrictions you will have to go under. 

2. Bad Eating Habits

Dirty bulking

This diet tends to ruin your relationship with food, making it very hard to return to your normal routine once you are done with the bulking stage.

Instead, having a healthy diet and increasing your calorie intake with healthy foods will keep you in check after you finish your bulking stage and enter your cutting phase. 

Plus, I don’t know about you guys, but I feel much better if I eat quality foods that are high in protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats after my gym session instead of eating a burger or pizza.

3. Loss of Track

Throughout your bulk, your calories must come from three nutrients. Carbs, fats, and protein. According to research, 50 – 60% of your calories must come from carbs. 20 – 30% must come from fats and 30 – 35% must come from protein. 

Now obviously, if you’re dirty bulking, you’re not going to keep track of your carbs, protein, and fat consumption. This can lead you to exceed your bulk, making it harder for you to cut. 

You may have also guessed that it is easy to lose track of time. Bulking is usually a lengthy process however if you dirty bulk, it’s just a matter of weeks. Of course the length of your bulk varies from person to person. 

The other problem with dirty bulking is that the majority of your calories are going to come from fats and these aren’t healthy fats. They are saturated fats which can cause serious health problems. This brings me to my next point.

4. Overall Health Conditions

As we mentioned above, we need to source our calories from carbs, protein and fats. Actually, let me rephrase that. We need to source our calories from COMPLEX carbohydrates, QUALITY protein, and HEALTHY fats. 

Unfortunately, dirty bulking is the complete opposite. Because you’re eating pretty much anything. Hence, you’re likely to consume a lot more processed carbohydrates and saturated fats.

These highly processed foods will increase the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes. 

5. Poor Mental State

Poor eating habits and more fat cause laziness in the body. According to CBS, A new study finds eating too much junk food doesn’t only make you fat, but it may also make you mentally slower or less motivated.

On top of this, dirty bulking will result in excessive fat gain which can be highly demotivating for some. 

If these downsides are a turn down for you, then don’t worry; there’s an alternative to dirty bulking, which some gym enthusiasts believe to be the holy grail. 

Alternative to Dirty Bulking: Lean Bulking 

Lean bulking is a sort of bulking when the emphasis is placed on “eating clean” while having an excess of calories. This indicates that people should try to eat nutrient-dense whole meals that don’t contain a lot of extra calories from added sweets or fats.

This is a healthier way to increase muscle mass and bulk up because you will be consuming quality foods. You will be taking in more complex carbs and healthy fats. 

Now, this is a harder way to bulk and will take more time however is much more effective in the long run compared to dirty bulking. You will be consuming healthier food options such as Greek yogurt, olive oil, avocados, oats, wholemeal bread, eggs, chicken, fish etc.

With this type of bulking, you must calculate your maintenance calories and eat an extra 200 to 300 calories, known as a calorie surplus. The amount of calories you have extra can vary depending on your fitness goal. While also keeping track of your macros with a general ratio of – 

  • 2 to 2.5 grams of protein per kg of body weight
  • 4 to 7 grams of carbohydrates per kg of body weight
  • 0.5 to 2 grams of fat per kg of body weight.

Lean bulking restricts overeating and junk food, which emphasizes only consuming healthy products, unlike dirty bulking.

Lean Bulking VS Dirty Bulking

Lean BulkingDirty Bulking 
200 – 300 Calorie Surplus (Could be more)Large Calorie Surplus
Follows a Structured PlanNo General Plan 
Takes 6 to 8 Months to Show ResultsTakes 1.5 to 2 Months to Show Results
Controlled Amount of Fat GainLarge increase of Fat 
Slight Increase in Strength InitiallySignificant increase in strength in a shorter time frame
Makes Cutting A lot Easier Makes Cutting a Lot Harder

Winner – Dirty or Lean Bulking?

Fitness is such a hot topic and there are so many different ideas and theories which can confuse a lot of people. With this topic of dirty bulking, you might have heard opinions saying dirty bulking is an effective strategy, however personally, i would recommend going with lean bulking.

From both bulking methods, while dirty bulking is easier, lean bulking is healthier and more trusted, making it a better option. Yes, lean or clean bulking takes longer, but what’s the rush? Gradually progressing in your fitness journey and noticing those small changes is the most motivating thing. At least for me. 

Does that mean you should never dirty bulk? Absolutely not. Definitely include those tasty meals in your diet from occasion to occasion. Dirty bulk is actually really effective for some as long as you stop the bulk before you notice that extensive fat increase.

For the short term, you could potentially go with dirty bulking however in the long run lean bulking is the way to go. 

If you are considering bulking, I strongly recommend you check your doctor or nutritionist before you make any changes to your diet. Especially if you’re going on a dirty bulk cycle. 

Key Takeaway

Like most things, the optimum bulking method certainly depends on the individual. Both techniques of bulking provide distinctive advantages. Lean bulks, however, are probably your greatest option for gaining more lean muscle and positioning yourself for longer-term success. 

We hope this article’s answer helped you gain a better understanding of dirty bulking and stay tuned for more upcoming content. As always, stay Fit & Healthy!

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