Clean Bulking: Overview, Guide, and Best Foods

Posted byCharlotte Cremers Posted onJuly 4, 2023 Comments0
Clean Bulking Overview Guide and Best Foods


Clean bulking is a method of gaining muscle mass and increasing strength while minimizing the amount of fat gained in the process. Unlike traditional bulking, where individuals consume excess calories without much regard to the quality of the food, clean bulking focuses on consuming nutrient-dense foods to support muscle growth while maintaining overall health. This comprehensive guide will provide an overview of clean bulking, a step-by-step guide to clean bulking, and a list of best foods to incorporate into a clean bulking diet.

Overview of Clean Bulking

Clean bulking involves following a structured nutrition and training plan to optimize muscle growth while minimizing fat gain. The primary goal is to consume a moderate calorie surplus to provide the body with the necessary nutrients for muscle repair and growth, while avoiding excessive fat storage. By focusing on nutrient-dense foods and maintaining a balance between macronutrients, clean bulking allows individuals to build a lean and muscular physique.

Step-by-Step Guide to Clean Bulking

Set Your Goals

Before embarking on a clean bulking journey, define your goals clearly. Determine how much muscle mass you want to gain and set a realistic timeline for achieving your objectives. Having specific goals will help you tailor your nutrition and training plan accordingly.

Calculate Caloric Surplus

To initiate clean bulking, you need to consume a moderate calorie surplus. Start by calculating your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE), which represents the number of calories your body needs to maintain its current weight. Add approximately 250-500 calories to your TDEE to create a slight surplus. This surplus will provide your body with the necessary energy for muscle growth without excessive fat gain.

Optimize Macronutrient Intake

The macronutrients in your diet—protein, carbohydrates, and fats—play crucial roles in clean bulking. Aim to consume around 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight to support muscle repair and growth. Include complex carbohydrates for sustained energy levels and to fuel your workouts. Healthy fats are essential for hormone production and overall well-being.

Prioritize Whole Foods

To ensure you’re getting a wide range of nutrients, focus on whole, minimally processed foods. Incorporate lean protein sources such as chicken, turkey, fish, tofu, and legumes. Choose complex carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, and whole grain bread. Include healthy fats from sources like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.

Monitor Portion Sizes

While clean bulking, it’s essential to maintain portion control to avoid excessive calorie intake. Use measuring cups or a food scale to accurately portion your meals. Pay attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues to prevent overeating.

Eat Sufficiently Pre- and Post-Workout

Proper nutrition around your workouts is crucial for maximizing muscle growth and recovery. Consume a balanced meal containing protein and carbohydrates before your workout to provide energy. Afterward, have a post-workout meal or protein shake to replenish nutrients and support muscle repair.

Stay Hydrated

Hydration is often overlooked but is vital for overall health and muscle function. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to maintain optimal hydration levels.

Track Progress and Adjust

Regularly monitor your progress by taking body measurements, assessing strength gains, and evaluating body composition changes. If you’re not making progress or if you’re gaining too much fat, adjust your calorie intake or macronutrient ratios accordingly.

Best Foods for Clean Bulking

Lean Protein Sources

  • Chicken breast
  • Turkey breast
  • Fish (salmon, tuna, cod)

Plant-Based Protein Sources

  • Tofu
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Quinoa
  • Greek yogurt

Whole Grains and Complex Carbohydrates

  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Oats
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Whole wheat bread

Healthy Fats

  • Avocado
  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews)
  • Seeds (chia seeds, flaxseeds)
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil

Fruits and Vegetables

  • Berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries)
  • Leafy greens (spinach, kale, Swiss chard)
  • Broccoli
  • Bell peppers
  • Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits)

Dairy and Alternatives

  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Almond milk
  • Coconut milk


  • Whole eggs
  • Egg whites


  • Water
  • Herbal tea
  • Coconut water

It’s important to note that this list is not exhaustive, and there are many other nutritious foods that can be incorporated into a clean bulking diet. Additionally, individual dietary preferences and restrictions should be taken into account when selecting foods.


Clean bulking is a methodical approach to gaining muscle mass while minimizing fat gain. By following a structured nutrition and training plan, individuals can achieve their muscle-building goals while maintaining overall health. Incorporating nutrient-dense foods, optimizing macronutrient intake, and monitoring progress are key components of a successful clean bulking journey. Remember, consistency and patience are essential, as clean bulking is a gradual process that requires dedication and commitment.

Charlotte Cremers