5 REASONS WHY A DIRTY BULK IS A BAD IDEA
For hard gainers — those bodybuilders who have difficulty gaining weight and muscle mass — the notion that you can eat as much as you want of whatever you want in order to facilitate growth is very attractive. Ice cream? Soda? Pizza? Burgers? Go right ahead and pack those calories in, no matter where they come from.
This is the thinking behind the so-called dirty bulk. But before you ditch your healthy dietary regime and embrace this anything-goes method, it’s worth taking a closer look at the negative effects the dirty bulk will have upon your body, especially when compared to those of a clean bulk which relies on a similar excess of calories — but on calories derived from healthy rather than junk foods.
“Once your body’s cells become used to storing fat, they will cling greedily to any new fat gain.”
Will you see weight gains as a result of a dirty bulk? You will indeed. But the bulk of this growth will come through an increase in body fat rather than lean muscle. The muscle will grow too, but it will now be obscured beneath a layer of fat. If you’re planning on a cutting phase (a process of reduced and healthy eating at the end of the bulk, in order to shed fat and emphasize musculature) you will find that this new fat is difficult to lose. Once your body’s cells become used to storing fat, they will cling greedily to any new fat gain. Because of this, it is thus much easier to stay lean in the first place than it is to lose fat after a gain.
Secondly, the dirty bulk is not an efficient way of ensuring muscle gains. The junk foods which constitute a dirty bulk are low in the nutrients necessary for muscle growth. The absent minerals and vitamins can, of course, be taken in as supplements, but these lack the range and diversity found in real food. Nutrients also work best in combination rather than as single supplements. Our bodies are engineered to make the most of nutritious whole foods.
Thirdly, the dirty bulk can, in the long term, lead to adult-onset/type 2 diabetes. The foods associated with the dirty bulk are generally high in processed carbohydrates and these are known to cause insulin spikes. Over time this cycle can encourage insulin resistance which is a leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance also inhibits the distribution of nutrients to muscle cells, thus obstructing rather than encouraging the desired muscle growth.
Fourth, A dirty bulk is also bad for your heart. The saturated and trans-fats which predominate in junk foods will, over time, clog your veins with arterial plaque leading to an increased chance of both hypertension and heart attacks. The foods associated with a clean bulk, on the other hand, contain healthier fats which actually inhibit the dangerous forms of cholesterol while encouraging the beneficial types.
Finally, the dirty bulk is bad for your discipline. Viewing unhealthy foods as staples rather than treats can shift your entire way of thinking. Eating large amounts of simple carbohydrates can be habit-forming. When it comes time to return to a normal diet or to a cutting phase, you may have a hard time reverting to smaller meals and healthier foods.
“If you are seriously considering a dirty bulk it is certainly worth researching these alternatives.”
So what are the alternatives to the dirty bulk? As stated already, the main alternative is the clean bulk in which you eat more than usual but you stick to healthy, whole foods. Another popular alternative is the method known by the acronym IIFYM (if it fits your macros) which focuses on meeting your nutritional needs first and using whatever calorie allowance you have left over to treat yourself to less healthy foods. If you are seriously considering a dirty bulk it is certainly worth researching these alternatives. It is possible even for the hard-gainer to increase their size in a healthy manner without the long-term risks associated with the dirty bulk.