muscle building nutrition mistakes

Anyone who follows my posts regularly knows that I’m a huge advocate of the “clean bulking” approach when it comes to packing on muscle.

As opposed to the “dirty bulking” route, clean bulking involves maintaining only a small, tightly controlled calorie surplus and focusing on making gradual increases in muscle size while keeping body fat gains minimized.

This type of approach is healthier, keeps you more motivated, minimizes the amount of time you need to spend dieting later on, and does all of this while still allowing you to still build muscle at or very close to your maximum potential.

However, the problem a lot of guys run into is that although they start out with the intention of implementing a clean bulk, this gradually transforms into a dirty bulk along the way without them even realizing it.

The mistake I’m specifically referring to is increasing overall calorie intake at too fast a pace.

I see this mistake being made over and over again, and I myself am even liable to fall into it if I’m not careful.

Yes, if you’re currently in a bulking phase and are aiming to maximize muscle growth, you need to be eating in a calorie surplus…

And yes, as you gain more and more muscle mass over time, your calorie intake must be continually bumped up to meet the increasing energy demands of your body…

However, most guys end up increasing their calories far more frequently than is necessary, and by too large a margin.

They get excited and perhaps a bit over confident as a result of their initial gains, and slowly but surely their “nutritional discipline” begins loosening further and further as they become tempted to “speed up the process” by eating more and more calories.

They begin liberally increasing their portion sizes and adding in extra foods they might have otherwise not eaten, telling themselves that it’s fine since they’re “bulking and need the extra calories”.

This happens not only out of the desire to pack on muscle at a quicker rate, but it also just becomes a flat-out excuse to enjoy more food, period.

muscle building nutrition mistakes

Ultimately, what started out as a clean bulk ends up transitioning into a full blown dirty bulk, the final result being that the individual ends up gaining far more body fat than they originally intended to.

Always remember: eating more calories doesn’t automatically mean gaining more muscle.

Your body can only build so much muscle in a given day, and once you go beyond the caloric limit of what can actually be used for muscle growth, all you’re doing at that point is piling on additional body fat.

For that reason, it’s crucial that you understand your individual calorie intake for muscle growth and stick to it without going overboard (200-300 calories above maintenance is a good guideline), and that you only increase your calories when it’s absolutely necessary to do so.

You don’t need to be constantly re-adjusting your calories every single week and adding more food into your plan unless you have a very good reason to do so.

Calorie surplus figures will never be 100% “perfect”, and your body weight will fluctuate from day to day depending on all kinds of different factors.

For that reason, you should only increase your calories once you can clearly see that your rate of weight gain has either stalled or significantly slowed down.

Once you reach that point, apply a small increase of 100-150 calories and then re-assess to see how your body is responding.

If you want to stay relatively lean throughout your bulking phase, you need to go about it in a patient, gradual manner, rather than jumping the gun and constantly adding more and more food when it isn’t even necessary to do so.

clean bulking

Keep in mind that you’ll never lose body fat while being in a calorie surplus, and any fat you gain during your bulking phase will be stuck with you for the duration until you consciously shift gears and begin dieting for fat loss.

If you end up putting on an amount of fat that you aren’t happy with while bulking, it can easily de-motivate you and throw your entire plan off track.

This is also what leads to the typical “yo-yo” approach between constant bulking and cutting that so many guys fall into.

They bulk and put on a large amount of fat along with only a small amount of muscle, quickly go back to cutting, and in the end make very little to no progress in either direction

By keeping your calorie surplus controlled and only increasing your intake when your weight gain begins to plateau, you will:

  • Still build muscle at or near your maximum potential.
  • Feel better both physically and mentally throughout the process.
  • Reduce the amount of time needed for fat loss dieting later on if you decide you want to lean down.

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