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How Clean to Eat on a Clean Bulk?


I just finished a transformation/long term cut, and I'm now about 140 lbs @ 5'7 at around 10% bodyfat, possibly slightly below. I have extremely low bodyfat right now and just need to pile on some serious size for quite some time before I cut again. All I ate while cutting was chicken breasts, lean beef, eggs, wheat bread, protein shakes, rice cakes. That is literally all I ate, nothing else.

Now that I am bulking, do I need to eat as insanely clean as I was on my cut, or can I eat clean within reason? (like eating some reduced fat wheat thins as a snack even though on a cut I'd never do that, or having breaded chicken a few times a week?)

I am just thinking that if I only eat insanely clean foods, I'm goign to have to be eating a lot more vs. if I ate mostly clean but used other things to boost calories, like breading and stuff?

If I don't eat 100% clean on my bulk, but I take that into account and just eat less than I would if I was eating as cleanly as I would on a cut, do you guys think it will still work out without a lot of fat gain?

Also, I am NOT a hardgainer/ecto. I only have very low bodyfat because I purposely lowered it, but I am by no means a hard gainer, I am probably a combination of meso/endo.


With a proper peri-workout nutrition plan, I don't think it would be hard to gain muscle mass while staying fairly lean.


what is a "peri-workout" nutrition plan? At this point I'm honestly not even counting macros/calories. While cutting I counted nothing,and just kept doing trial and error until I figured out how much I could eat without losing too much weight per week while still losing weight.

Now I am basically doing the same thing, I know I need to eat a ton of carbs, and slightly less protein and also keep my fats up, so I am just trying to get fats/protein/carbs in every meal and eating a normal portion and seeing if I can gain muscle from this.

If in a few weeks my lifts are not going up at the gym, or if they are going up but I am gaining too much weight, I'll just eat less.


Peri-workout nutrition is the 30 min time frame after you have worked out to get your carbs and protein. look it up in the the articles to get a better idea of what you need to eat.

I would use the formula 16X BW plus 20% for the amount of calories you should consume while bulking. Its not a good idea to consume P/F/C in each meal. You should split them up into P+F and P+C.


Why is it not a good idea to eat all three in the same meal?


The reason you should not have all 3 is because you will have a CHRONIC increase in insulin and your body will absorb more fat at a faster rate.

Insulin is what shoves the nutrients into the muscle and fat. If you have a constant spike in insulin your muscles will become less tolerant to it, and will have a harder time taking in the protein. However, your fat cells will always want to absorb the extra fat from the insulin spike.

Im not the brightest mofo on this website. To get a better idea of this, read the first couple of paragraphs of John Beradi's Massive Eating 2 article. He will go into more detail of the science behind this.


Not to confuse the OP, but I remember CT saying a while ago that the P+F, P+C thing isn't that important "and even John Beradi is starting to move away from this idea." Can anyone possibly expand on this as I've been meaning to ask? Although, I haven't seen any articles saying it's not important, and so maybe John Beradi moved back to the idea, lol.


It's not vitally important you eat totally clean - in fact, in many cases it can help that you do have "cheat meals". It depends how well you can handle it. You sound like the concept of trial and error doesn't frighten you to death, which is good. So if I were you, I would probably employ that tactic.

Add in a few cheat meals a week and you should be fine, and it will probably even help. Adjust as necessary.


I was never planning on an actual "dirty bulk" eating fast food and stuff like that, but more like a mostly clean but not 100% (mostly eating lean meat, wheat bread, natty pb, but also eating things like nutragrain bars/low fat wheat thins/wheat rolls throughout the day as well.

Teechnically you wouldn't eat those things if you are doing a 100% clean bulk, but I am thinking of having it mostly clean but not 100% clean, like you would on a cut. I'm just worried that I won't get enough calories if I just eat the same stuff I was eating during my cut.

I also will have to bulk for a very long time, probably a few years, and I'd rather find a balance between clean/dirty, then torture myself and have to hold my nose while I shove down a million chicken breasts all day long


Lol, yeah, I understand. I can't remember if it was previously mentioned, but try and keep eat more carbs and less fats in the first half of the day, and in the second half have less carbs and more fats. You don't have to eat crappy/boring food to bulk.

I personally like sweet potatoes and brown rice, so I eat a lot of that. I've mostly cut out pasta and bread, but I still eat it occasionally. Always eat protein with every meal.

Eating a few McDonalds is not going to kill you, or set you back. I probably eat 4 or 5 a month at the most, but they're all in the same day or split over 2 days (traveling sucks), and it doesn't really hurt me at all. Once I ate around 12 pizzas over 7 days, that's probably a little overboard, lol.

Word of warning though, something that claims to be low-fat is usually full of sugar to make up for it, which is worse. So I would just stay well away from anything like that, but it should be fine in moderation.


sugar is the thing that is confusing me the most right now for my bulk. I know on a cut you want to keep your sugars low, which I did. But even though I know I need to watch my sugar intake while bulking, I'm not sure if that means to keep it as close to zero as possible while getting complex carbs, or just keeping the sugar level under a reasonable amount per day?

I think one of those nutra grain bars has about 15 grams of sugar in it, and I was assuming to just keep the sugar intake like 50 grams or below during the day while bulking?


How long was your cut and how much weight did you lose? Sounds like you did it sensibly, good job.

I believe that for people who tend to gain excess fat with overfeeding, workout nutrition is very important. You want to get a lot of your excess calories at the time when they are preferentially used to build muscle. That's around the workout -- before, during, after.

I also believe it's better to eat more in conjunction with a reasonable amount of cardio done separately from training and on off days. Cardio improves nutrient partitioning for awhile after it.

I also believe that reasonably separating carbs and fats (not obsessively to a ridiculous degree) is very helpful for people who easily gain fat. When carbs are present, fats are stored, not burned. When you're dieting, on average in a deficit each day, it doesn't matter, because stored body fat is eventually tapped for energy anyway.

But when you're in an average surplus for most days, I don't see how it's good to eat a bunch of carbs and fat together when the fat is going to be preferentially stored. When are you going to burn it off if you're on average eating a surplus all the time?

Regarding clean vs dirty, you've got to be clear about what "clean" means and the purpose for what you're eating. If clean is about 1) health, then I'm avoiding trans fats, poly-6 heated fats, nitrates, etc. If clean is about 2) separating carbs and fats, then pizza and Haagen-Dazs are out, except for cheat meals.

If clean is about 3) slow-digesting, filling foods with low calorie density, which is very helpful for dieting, then I'm eating high-fiber carbs, lots of veggies, etc. In my opinion, 1) health always matters, 2) avoiding high carbs+fats matters for endos for the reason stated above, but 3) the latter definition of clean (filling) doesn't matter unless you're dieting.


It was mostly a transformation/cut. I did it for about 8 months and lost around 50 lbs or so. The background is I have been lifting on and off for the past several years, and last time I was "into it" I weighed 160 ish after bulking/maintaining.

Then I stopped lifting for over a year, and piled on fat, and ended up at 190 something. I then got back into it and did a cut for about 8 months. Now I am 140 lbs and around 10% bodyfat at 5'7.


BTW these were taken yesterday which was the last day of my cut, in case pictures might help with me getting advice.

5'7 140 lb. No idea what my bodyfat is, but based on feedback on forums and in real life, I decided I have to switch to bulking and need to put getting a full 6 pack on hold until I can do that without looking anorexic, which I can't now.