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Health and Nutrition

5 Reasons For and Against Dirty Bulking

6 min read

I want to be frank, nine out of ten times always pick clean bulking; it’s the smarter, healthier, and better option that focuses on the long-term. For that rare one time, only use dirty bulking if you’re at least being tactical in your approach (that is, you know it’s not a long-term solution and you’ll have to replace it with a more sound, healthier alternate plan).

Reasons For Dirty Bulking

1. You Gain Weight Quickly
Gaining weight and losing it is all about calories in vs calories out (quantity), after this comes the matter of “quality”, which has to do with what kind of nutrients are you taking in (good nutrients vs bad nutrients), because they affect how the weight gain/loss will proceed.

With dirty bulking, you throw the matter of “quality” out of the window as you’re more result-driven than process-driven. This means, instead of eating a balanced diet, you’ll likely tip it in the direction that provides more calories (for example, when drinking milk or adding it to any cuisine, you opt for full cream instead of skimmed to increase the number of calories).

2. Mass Gainer Supplements Actually Become Useful
A lot of supplements are shit, and useless on top of that, and mass gainers are exactly this; they cost a lot and if you follow their directions, you’re actually meant to finish them in less than two weeks.

Aside from the arguable contaminants found within some supplements, the worst part about mass gainers is that you’re filling yourself up with sugars and fats. What this means is that your “gains” are actually not you putting on muscle but fat, and on top of that, because these come as processed powders, you’re more likely to lose these “gains” quicker. However, if you’re OK with all this, then go for it.

3. Can Be A Confidant Booster
If you can weather feeling crap due to all the low-quality nutrients you’re putting into your system, dirty bulking can help with your self-image. The sight of packing on weight can do a lot for your confidence and keep you committed in whatever pursuit you have that’s causing you to pack on the weight. You just have to be very aware that this is largely fat you’re putting on, not muscle, so there is still a lot of work to be done.

4. It’s A Simple Lifestyle Change
Unlike clean bulking which still incorporates being mindful of what you eat and put into your body, dirty bulking can be a passive engagement; a “see food” diet approach, if we want to be crude.

5. You Understand That It’s Not About The Food – It’s About The Calories
If you’re going to dirty bulk, it’s advisable that you know what you’re doing beforehand. Some people think dirty bulking means stuffing yourself; that you have to eat two pizzas instead of one just for the sake of that weight gain. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth!

Weight gain is all about calories in vs calories out. If you don’t know what you’re doing then you will likely end up force-feeding yourself two pizzas just for the sake of weight gain, but if you understand the principles of calorie surplus vs deficit, then you know it’s about choosing the ONE pizza that is jam-packed with calories, as opposed to suffering through trying to chug down two or more pizzas.

Realizing that it’s not about how much you’re eating, but what you’re eating is a real game changer.

Reasons Against Dirty Bulking

1. The Weight Gain Is In Fats
You want lean muscles? You want that six-pack ab? Well, this isn’t how you get it. Dirty bulking actually sabotages your path to lean muscle and abs because your size gain is in excess fats.

Effectively, if your long-term goal is to be lean, fit, healthier, or whatever, this method of gaining weight will make it harder and take longer to reach that eventual goal.

2. You Have To “Cut” At The End Of The Bulk
Unlike clean bulking where you’re making the ideal progression with your weight gain, this type of weight gain directs you away from your end goal as you pick up weight. This means when you finally get your desired weight, unless you just wanted to be heavier you’re then going to have to start cutting to turn that fat into muscle, instead of having been producing muscles from the start by eating clean.

And don’t think quitting before you hit the mark will help you in your pursuit. You still went off the path and you’ll have to take another path (cutting) to get back on the road to your fitness goal. Think of it as a road journey from A to B where on your way to B you decide to take a pitstop at C; once at C you still need to go to B, and if you stop halfway to C, you still deviated off course and have to redirect yourself back to B. It sucks, but that’s dirty bulking in a nutshell.

3. The Labor Is A Slippery Slope (for sliding into a bad (eating) habit)
Eating everything and anything can nurture an unhealthy relationship with food, and when the time will come to quit this relationship (like any bad relationship) it may be very difficult to leave it behind. You don’t need to cut out the foods you love when it comes to dieting, you just need to moderate them. However, with dirty bulking moderation goes out of the window and this is a recipe for disaster.

4. It’s An Unhealthy, Draining Process (you feel shit through it)
Your body is an engine, and food is its fuel. Now, when it comes to dirty bulking a good chunk of the weight gained from it comes from processed foods and junk foods. If your body is an engine that powers you through the day, and food is the fuel, then processed food and junk is the equivalent of stuffing your engine with the wrong sauce and (like with cars) you’re gradually killing and damaging the engine and, in the process, denying it from performing optimally.

5. It’s Not A Sustainable Habit/Lifestyle To Get Into
Touching back on the fifth reason for dirty bulking, if you understand the dynamics of calories in vs calories out, you can potentially navigate yourself around the pitfalls with the lifestyle. However, if you don’t, you can easily get caught up in a habit that isn’t sustainable to your health or your wallet; eating more, regardless of the food, isn’t easy or fun, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. It may promote a yo-yo cycle of dieting, and once a yo-yo diet enters the conversation, you’ve begun something problematic.


A writer, gamer, geek, and gym rat all packaged into one. I'm a certified personal trainer who writes about the things he loves and I enjoy sharing them with others all on MXFitness.