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Aiming for a Clean Bulk


Hey there,

I started bulking on clean food recently again and decided to totally stop cheating (at least like I used to, e.g. pizza + fries), and perhaps when the need will feel, increase the amount of healthy food ponctually.

Now my question is, am I not missing something? I know that a well planned cheat as many positive effects while cutting, I just want to make sure I don't lack information concerning them while bulking.

In my head, there's really no point when attempting to gain weight except putting on more fat right (pseychological effect perhaps for those for which its hard to eat clean all week)?

If I'm wrong and you have references, please let me know, I browsed a bit the article, but it always came to cheat while cutting.



what will determine how much fat you put on while bulking is primarily caloric surplus, not how "clean" you eat.

while it's important to get in quality nutrients, the MOST important thing when gaining muscle is to make sure you're eating enough food (it doesn't matter if it's "clean" or "dirty")

however, there's only so much muscle your body can put on over a day, so overeating by TOO much will put on fat faster than you like.

don't limit yourself by trying to stay lean all the time, but also know when to cut back on the food when you start to look to soft.


I really feel this is too oversimplified and a limited way of looking at things. As we all know, a caloric surplus will lead to weight gain...but whether or not that weight gain is more fat gain or muscle gain can be dependent on your macronutrient count, macronutrient timing etc.

So to say striclty calorie number will decide how much fat you gain is not true. Eating a clean 3500-4000 calories a day with a good amount of it coming from protein will be handled very differently by your body than eating 3500-4000 calories of mcdickheads and dingdongs.

Eating clean calories will be better utilized by your body to gain weight in terms of muscle instead of storing it as adipose tissue. This should be common sense and common knowledge.


If you look at what Bauer eats in his thread in the T-Cell you can see he eats clean and so does Caveman. Both of them have their pics posted and both of them know what works.

and Thibs is a clean eater and he has a great build.

check out Bauer's thread, the Bauer Chronicles, in the T-Cell, and Caveman's. They both post what they eat.

Also Prisoner, who competes, also eats clean.

And you probably know a calorie isn't just a calorie.

If it was, you could just eat sticks of butter.


Eating large amounts of clean food is no fun. Enjoy your food while you're not on a calorie restricted diet.


Facko I totally agree with you, in my head I'll have a larger margin bulking with clean food (instead of dirty ones) before my body makes fat from it (which appears as common sense just like you said).

OctoberGirl you got a good point, I never wandered into the T-Cell section, will take a look asap! Thanks.

I'm sorry if I was not clear enough, but my point concerned real cheat (e.g. an eve dirty pig out) while bulking on clean food.

It would have no purpose hormone wise right? (I wanted to verify this point)

Or I could put it this way:
"I think its kinda ironic that a well planned cheat can have such positive effects while cutting, and on the other hand will just increase fat gain while bulking" <- basically is this sentence rubbish or am I right?


a "dirty pig out" as you put it NEVER helps, bulkiing OR cutting.

a proper refeed (low fat, high carb, lasting at least 24 hours) can help reset various hormones during prolonged caloric restricted periods. however, purposefully going out of your way to stuff yourself with "junk food" will do nothing but offer mental relief, but it won't help reset your metabolism.

Also, I'm not recommending you eat sticks of butter and soda all day. I'm recommending that in the CONTEXT OF A PROPER DIET (enough protein, good amount of fruits + veggies for health) you can include "junk food" to help meet your caloric needs without fear of getting fat as long as you don't go hog wild and OVEREAT by thousands of calories.

even the "guru of clean eating" himself John Berardi said in an interview (check the fitcast episode 100 at www.thefitcast.com) that one of his athletes tops off each meal with a liter of chocolate milk to meet his caloric needs.

he goes on to talk about the irrationality of people who categorize some foods as "good" and others as "evil". and goes on to say that ANY food (pizza, McDonalds etc.) can be INCORPORATED into a sound diet without fear (read: not made up ENTIRELY of junk)

anyways, OP just eat enough protein, don't neglect fruits and veggies, take some fish oil and a multivitamin, and then just eat what you like in the appropriate amounts and your bulk will go fine (assuming you're working hard in the gym)


Thanks JM (can I call you that :p?)

The thing is that I currently meet my requirements with only lean food (this is the origin of my inner struggle xD).

But you are right, as long as I don't pig out I should not get too guilty if I stuff down a pizza a week for instance (and not pizza+ fries + 2L coke + some Ben& Jerry's at the same meal), as long as its thought in my diet (and even if it makes an extra 1000kcal once in a while it should be manageable).

I will however try to limit those as muche as possible.


Changing eating habits like this is as much a mind game as anything else.

If your gonna eat a ton; you gotta get past the "taste" factor of some foods and just eat.

I don't even spend time seasoning my chicken anymore when I cook it; it just adds to prep time. Maybe I'll toss some hot sauce on it after; but not much.

Some people see pizza/icecream as a cheat...that's another perception you have to get past.

Stop thinking of it as cheating and use "refeed" instead. It helped me steer away from junk and instead have some healthy pankcakes or some stuffing instead. And maybe a Coke Zero...oohh!!! lol


If he is worried about fat accumulation then he does need to worry about where his calories are coming from. If he's only concerned with packing on as much muscle as possible with no regard to composition then it becomes less important. The degree of fat accumulation during a bulk is not only determined by how much of an excess of calories you put yourself in.

Caloric surplus will obviously impact your weight but the ratios of macronutrients impact your composition which is obviously just as important as weight if not more so. If you were to eat above your caloric maintenance level but 100% of your calories came from carbs and fat you're going to weigh the same from a thermodynamic perspective as if your calories came from mainly protein and fats limiting your high GL carbs.

The difference? Body composition. You will have to work harder and potentially eat more but, bulk clean, and reduce fat accumulation. Bulk dirty, potentially gain more weight with less effot but expect your next cut period to require more effort and perhaps be more difficult.



I agree with most of what you said, but doesnt JB recommend eating "clean" 90% of the time in his 7 habits article? He could have changed it, since. Just asking.

Also, prof X's definition of clean food is going to be different than Shugarts definition of clean food.

I used those two as an example because I think both of them have a pretty good ideas on what clean should be. Prof X doesnt eat anything thats "pure crap" and Shug's said he tries to decrease carbs, increase protein, and decrease overall calories (or something similar... Chris, correct me if I'm wrong.)

Once I get as lean as I'd like to be, I'm going to incorporate this "no pure crap" and "improve food" theory and see how it works out.

Also, my cheat meals still dont contain pure crap like some peoples do. If I eat pizza, I make sure there's a fuckload of chicken on it so I'm getting protein. If I'm getting a big ass burrito, I get extra meat so I'm getting protein. If I eat sushi, I'll take a couple fiber tabs beforehand to slow the digestion of the white rice.

I also make sure I have some sort of workout before I have one of these meals, too. This way my body will be in need of nutrients when it's getting fed a lot of them.

Also read about JB's G-flux. I've been incorporating more calories, but more effort in the gym, and it's been working extremely well.


As a sidenote, the only thing I think this is a good example for is G-flux. By one of his athletes, I'm guessing he means an athlete that is competing at a high level. He needs it for his caloric needs, again, I'm guessing because he's got an extremely high level of energy output.

It's similar to Michael Phelps' diet. If any normal person ate his diet, they'd balloon up. Phelps can eat like that because he's swimming all day long, every day.

Not everybody can handle "crappy" calories.


sigh please read my posts more carefully people. show me where I said "eat 100% of your calories from fat and carbs."

As a matter of fact, I specifically stated NOT to take my suggestion as an excuse to eat nothing but little debbie cakes.

once again for those who missed it: IN THE CONTEXT OF A PROPER DIET (read: sufficient protein, plenty of fruits and veggies, fish oil + multivitamin supplementation) then eating so called "junk food" will NOT make you get fat AS LONG AS calories are kept under control.

furthermore OVEREATING "clean food" (more than your body can use for recovery / muscle growth) WILL lead to fat gain.


And as for Berardi's 7 habbits he has stated that they are a good begining point for nutrition, but in no way are etched-in-stone laws. For example, his seven habits say no starchy carbs outside of the post workout period. However for people who are active and/or need more calories to gain/maintain weight, eating carbs (yes, even from "unclean" sources) is perfectly acceptable.


I see there are lots of opinion on the matter, and thanks for all your input guys,

I'm indeed not looking to gain weight at all cost while neglecting body comp. But on the other hand I psychologically need a "refeed" from time to time with 'regular' people's food :stuck_out_tongue:

I guess I'll just have to try and see how my body reacts to it, like Chris would say I should think less and do more; I'll have my answer in 1 or two months..

So, I come back to what I said before, keep it clean most of the time but allow some kind of planed cheat (controlled, enough prot at least/ on a lifting day) from time to time and see how it does on my body.

Once again, thx for the advice.


a more accurate statement would be "not everybody can handle that many calories. this is because the lower your caloric needs, the less "wiggle room" you have to fit in the fun stuff.

for example, when your on a diet, your calories will be so low that after you eat your protein, fruit and veggie requirements for the day, you won't be able to "fit" any more calories in.

however, those who are looking to build muscle, or if you are simply an active person, you have much more room in your caloric totals. whether you fill up the rest of your caloric totals with grilled cheese sandwiches or simply more sweet potatoes and oatmeal, the outcome will be the same.


I think you misunderstood a couple things from my post JM. #1 I wasn't responding to your post, sorry if you felt targeted. #2 Also, I now see that you are misinformed after reading your post in response to mine.

In the context of body composition, were I to take someone eating at maintenance and a typical diet of an average person and then modified their diet's macronutrient ratios to still be within maintenance but obtaining the majority of those calories from protein and fats, limiting their carb intake, their weight would NOT change but their body composition would.

So NOW referring to what you said, calories control weight and to a degree composition, however in the context of composition, macronutrient ratios are more important.

"IN THE CONTEXT OF A PROPER DIET (read: sufficient protein, plenty of fruits and veggies, fish oil + multivitamin supplementation) then eating so called "junk food" will NOT make you get fat AS LONG AS calories are kept under control."

^^ This is NOT true in the context of composition (lean mass and bodyfat percentages), but is true in the context of weight. A surplus or defecit of calories only determines that biomass accumulation or loss is going to occur but does NOT specify in what manner (whether it is fat or muscle lost or gained). Sorry if this is news to you but I have tested and proved this point time and time again while training clients. Hopefully you just learned something if you kept an open mind. Probably not right? :slight_smile:

The proof is in the pudding as Octobergirl pointed out. So if you don't want to believe me that's fine, I probably wouldnt either, but believe the people she cited. All calories are not equal and you're even oversimplifying eating at maintenance let alone bulking which is what the OP is looking to do anyway.


I disagree with this. shuffling carbs and fat around (while keeping protein and total calories the same) will no nothing to improve body composition.

I also disagree with this. the 4 factors that determine body composition are (in no particular order):
1) whether one is in a caloric surplus / deficit
2) whether one is weight training or not
3) genetics
4) drug use

macronutrient ratios (i.e. shuffling around fats & carbs) are basically a non-issue with regards to body composition.

I never said all calories were created equal so please don't put words in my mouth. what I am saying (in this thread) is that, given equal calories and protein, getting the rest of your calories from "dirty" food won't make you any fatter than "clean" food. (health is a separate issue, however.)

I've stated my position in other threads and I have no intention of turning this thread into another one of those.


3) Genetics

-> Isn't that where macronutriments ratio take a role? Some guys would not tolerate carbs as much as others for instance, that's a fact.


while it is true that carbohydrates aren't tolerated as well in some, the fact is that it's widely overstated. The stuff you read about how only "25% of the population is carb tolerant" is utter bullshit. basically, if you didn't tolerate carbs well, you would know. these people are the type II diabetics, the people with major blood sugar control issues, etc.

if you are a moderately lean, exercising, healthy person, then your carb tolerance is fine.

on the other hand, if you experience large mood/energy swings after a carb heavy meal (and you would know by now if that's you) then you may need to moderate your carb intake.

you can still get away with a good amount of carbs, but they should be combined with fat and protein to slow digestion and moderate blood sugar levels.

Again, i dont want to get too off track here, you got your answer on how to do a "clean bulk". It's called don't stuff your face and keep adding weight to the bar. and give it time.


Actually that's sadly the case, after a carb meal I tend to be sleeply and feel real heavy...
That's why I take all my carbs now as fruits (either fresh or dried, since then I don't have this issue anymore).

Yup got my answer I should just be patient (sorry to have intigated some debate at a point :p).