If your training and nutrition are dialed in, don't think you have to be stuck in fat loss mode forever. Doing some kind of cardio each week is a good way to have "damage control" when training/eating for size.
I would add that it can do more damage to be too restrictive in the long run. I actually think it a commonly seen mindset for some people to lose weight and then gain a fear of it returning so they go overboard on the "dieting" from that point on.
It takes a much more expansive understanding of what makes certain foods "bad" instead of labeling the foods themselves at all times.
I think he's being overly conservative out of fear of regaining the fat he lost.
OP, as stated before, I would suggest not looking at particular foods as good or bad. There are very few things that can be categorized this way at present (which is not to say that that public opinion on them may not change over time), like trans fats. Some foods are deemed as bad because they are calorically dense and people tend to overeat them, like pasta. Others are labeled as bad because they don't have a lot of micronutrients (vitamins and mineral). Yet, other are considered bad because they have nutrients that can cause problems for some people, like gluten.
Yet, these drawbacks don't make a particular food bad. It's the use people give the food what can be a good or a bad call, given a specific set of goals. For example, in the context of a fat loss diet, I believe there is nothing inherently wrong with eating some pasta, given that one tolerates gluten well and that the portion size is adjusted to meet one's nutrient requirements for the day. Some may disagree with this, but, in my experience, dealing with starchy carbohydrates, meeting macronutrient requirements takes precedence, given that one eats plenty of nutritious food throughout the day.
^This. To me, I would label a 'good' carb as something that you can eat easily without it giving you 'issues'. Oats make me groggy, but one of my friends eats them in about every shake he makes and looks/performs awesome. Sweet potatoes just aren't that good to me. So I get carbs from rice, pineapple, whatever bodes well on my stomach. Don't get 'stuck' to a certain food just because someone told you it's the key to fat loss or it's 'clean'.
Also, unless you are a REALLY advanced natty (and no offense, but judging by your OP you're probably not) 3-5 lbs over 12 months is awfully slow for gaining. 3-5 lbs over 12 weeks is slow lol. I mean, I'm probably labeled in more of the 'lean-gains' crew, and I've gained probably 10-15 lbs in the last 2 months. If you take the time to learn how your body reacts to certain foods, different amounts of macros, and overall calories (that last part being key) you'll be able to find a sweet spot where you can gain a solid ratio of muscle to fat. But none of this happens over night, and it takes time to learn and tweak things to your personal needs.
I'm on a lean bulk right now. Nah I don't eat like this every day.
But I like to live by the 90/10 rule. 90% clean 10% dirty I guess. 100% whatever the fuck I feel like eating. If I want white rice I'll eat white rice. If I want potatoes, noodles, bread, wraps, I'll eat those too. If I have any food allergies they are minor and go unnoticed.
Don't eat things that hurt you or make you feel bad.
I am the same way when I hear people order non-fat iced coffee "frappuccino" drinks at coffee shops. All I hear in my head is, "I would like 125 grams of sugar blended with ice, but hold the fat I'm on a diet".
how many calories? what do the macros look like? how many meals are you breaking it down to currently? 1/2 of the carbs could come from fruit and the other 1/2 should come from foods that could be stored as glycogen more readily such as white and brown rice, potatoes, oatmeal (could blend it up and make oat flour to use in such recipes as oatmeal bars pre work out), occasional bread wouldnt hurt as long it doesnt have diglycerides, trans fats, and other shitty ingredients.
Im currently loving a healthy'ish rice pudding post work out. be sure to get some sort of sugary carbs such as dextrose, maltodextrose, karboload, potato starch and mix it with some gatorade powder with some bcaa for during your work outs.