Clean vs. Dirty Eating- What Works Best For Muscle Building?

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Clean Foods Vs Dirty Foods, the battle has been going ever since both the concepts hit the healthy eating market, but, what actually they both mean? and how they affect your muscle building goals?

We all have heard a lot about clean vs dirty food, but both these terms have always been surrounded by a certain kind of ambiguity, which comes from the fact that none of them really have a definition. 

Both these terms are often explained from the point of view of two opposing groups working for the same goal, i.e. Muscle building. Herein, while one group advocates clean foods, the other one pitches in for the dirty food options as the most favored foods for muscle growth. Through this article we will try to clear the mental debate about both the food groups without keeping any bias. 

What Are Clean Foods?

Clean foods are usually the ones you find on the front covers of fitness magazines with glorifying titles that say ‘Foods that help you build muscle’ or ‘What you should eat to build muscle’.

Jokes apart, they are basically colorful vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats and high quality cooking oil, which people label as clean because of their high nutrition content. While there is no harm in consuming these foods along with your regular dose of whey protein for muscle building, relying completely on them can lead to severe deprivation of more enjoyable food choices and in some cases under-eating for ectomorphs. Also, eating only healthy foods forces the feeling of dissatisfaction as you are not satisfying your taste buds. 

Clean Food for Muscle Building

What Are Dirty Foods?

Anything and everything that you can relish and satisfy your taste buds with receives the tag of ‘dirty foods’, even if they are far from being bad for your health. In fact, many of the so called dirty foods are so good that you be eating them in place of your clean foods to gain the muscle mass you have been aiming for. 

Sadly, people are clinging to the misguided concept of dirty food largely because of the diet and weight loss myths that we all have been believing in for a very long time. 

As a result of this misconception, people are still entrenched in the clean and dirty foods battle and deprive themselves of several nutritious and delicious food sources. Due to this, they also miss out on several key nutrients required for muscle building, despite spending extra money on clean foods. 

To explain both the food groups in a nutshell, one can say that clean foods are real, organic foods, which are close to nature. On the other hand, dirty foods are processed and packaged foods that contain a number of other ingredients with less natural nutrient content.

Dirty foods for bodybuilding

Muscle Building: Clean Vs Dirty Foods

It is a known fact that muscle building requires a caloric surplus diet combined with exercise and muscle building supplements. This means, you need to eat more calories than you are burning off to maintain a calorie surplus, and if you fail to do so you wont be able to build mass. 

Most of the time, hard gainers face problems with this as they have high metabolic rates. A hard gainer needs to consume 4000 to 5000 calories per day to gain weight, which in all probability is not possible with relying only on clean foods. 

To consume that many calories through clean foods only, you will need to feed on an entire vat of sweet potatoes, along with a farmyard worth of chicken breast and plenty of olive oil. However, throwing an odd bit of dirty junk food here and there can make your calorie target a lot more manageable. 

You will be surprised to know that dirty foods typically digest faster than clean food, while giving you less instances of bloating and discomfort. This allows you to get enough food required for mass building.

Clean Vs Dirty Foods

The Bottom Line

Moderation, like any other diet, remains the bottom line here as well. Dirty food, if taken in moderation, will pose no harm to your health and goals, instead it may actually help you in achieving your muscle building goals both physically and mentally. 

RELATED ARTICLE— Fat Loss: Why Its Good To Cheat On Your Diet


Second important thing is your budget, if you are bulking then your dirty food budget needs to sizable too. Same ways, if you are aiming to lose fat and gain muscle, then you can keep the portion small. You should aim to get 80 to 90% of your calorie requirement from nutrient dense clean foods and only 10 to 20% should be coming from dirty foods. 

The only thing that you have to keep in mind here is the moderation and balance that you must maintain while dividing your calories between clean and dirty foods. Be sensible and avoid sacking dirty foods as possible progress saboteurs. 

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