If you’ve recently started a muscle-building meal plan, you might be seeking clean bulk diet ideas to break up the monotony and pack on lean muscle rather than body fat.

Choose a clean bulk diet over a dirty bulk diet, or cheat diet, by using the six simple steps below.

Specifically, in this article you'll learn:

  • What a clean bulk diet is.
  • How to make a clean bulk diet grocery list.
  • How to calculate your daily calorie goals.
  • What clean bulk diet macros are.
  • How to use a clean bulk diet meal plan.
  • How to put together a 7-day clean bulk diet menu.
 

#1 Know What a Clean Bulk Diet Is

A clean bulk diet is a way of eating that helps you gain lean muscle mass rather than fat to achieve the muscular physique you desire, feel great, and keep chronic disease risks low.

A dirty bulk diet, on the other hand, involves eating the greasy or sugary junk foods you love just to get in extra calories.

Clean bulk diets consist of whole foods. They limit dietary fat, are rich in protein, and contain moderate amounts of carbohydrates.

Steer clear of animal fats in favor of oils, nuts, seeds, and avocados. Choose fiber-rich carbs over refined grains and avoid sweets and drinks containing added sugar.

#2 Make a Grocery Shopping List

A clean bulk diet often contains the following whole foods you can add to your grocery shopping list:

FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

  • Apples, bananas, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, kiwi fruit, grapes, pineapple, pears, peaches, and other fresh fruits
  • Leafy greens, bell peppers, cucumbers, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and other non-starchy veggies
  • Sweet potatoes, squash, corn, green peas, chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans, lentils, and other starchy vegetables

PROTEIN FOODS

  • Skinless grilled chicken, turkey, or duck
  • Bison or very lean, organic beef
  • Salmon, tuna, tilapia, cod, halibut, catfish, and other non-breaded fish
  • Shrimp, scallops, crab, and other seafood
  • Eggs
  • Tofu

DAIRY FOODS

clean bulk diet

  • Low-fat milk
  • Protein-fortified almond milk
  • Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Low-fat Greek yogurt
  • Plain kefir
  • Protein powder shakes

WHOLE GRAINS

  • Brown rice
  • Wild rice
  • Quinoa
  • Oatmeal
  • Whole-grain pasta
  • Whole-grain bread
  • Whole-grain cereal

FATS

  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Nut butter
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Hummus
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Other plant-based oils

What a clean bulk diet ISN'T is refined grains like white bread, sugary foods and drinks, baked goods, other highly processed foods, fried meats, other fried foods, processed meats, fatty cuts of red meat, regular cheese, and fast foods.

#3 Know Your Daily Calorie Goals

As a rule, aim to eat about 350 more calories than your usual intake for lean muscle building. Many active adult men require about 2,400-3,000 calories to maintain their weights so if you’re active and seeking muscle gains shoot for about 2,750-3,350 calories daily.

TargetYour personalized calories needs vary based on your size, metabolism, and daily calorie expenditure.

To get a good idea of your clean bulk diet calorie requirements, add 350 calories to your weight maintenance calorie needs, which are usually about 16-18 calories per pound of body weight daily if you’re moderately active or active.

You can use the following formula:

Muscle building calorie needs = 350 + (body weight in pounds x 16-18 calories)

For example, if you weigh 170 pounds you’d need about 2,720-3,060 calories daily to maintain your weight and about 3,070-3,410 calories per day for lean muscle gains, depending on how active you are.

#4 Learn About Clean Bulk Diet Macros

The number of grams of each macronutrient you require for a clean bulk diet depends on your personalized calorie needs for muscle building.

Aim for the following when eating 3,200 calories daily:

  • A minimum of 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight daily = at least 175 grams of protein if you weigh 175 pounds
  • About 45% of your calories from FIBER-RICH CARBOHYDRATES = 360 grams of carbs for 3,200-calorie diets
  • Approximately 25% of your calories from FAT = 89 grams of fat for 3,200-calorie meal plans
  • About 30% of your calories from PROTEIN = 240 grams of protein with 3,200-calorie diets

Your individual calorie and macronutrient needs are based on your size, goal weight, and activity level but you can use these guidelines as a general rule.

#5 Use a Clean Bulk Diet Meal Plan

A clean bulk diet plan, based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 but modified for lean muscle building and ease of use, includes the following:

clean bulk diet

  • 8 cups of non-starchy vegetables
  • 3 cups of fruits
  • 4 cups of cooked whole grains or starchy vegetables
  • 3 cups of dairy, whey- or casein-based protein shakes, or plant alternatives
  • 20 ounces of protein foods
  • 4 tablespoons of healthy fats
  • At least 16 cups of water

Aim to eat about 6-7 meals or snacks, every few hours, to avoid muscle breakdown when you're clean bulking.

Consider the following meal plan for men if you require 3,200 calories per day:

Meal #1: 1 cup of cooked starches, 5 ounces of protein foods, 2 cups of non-starchy vegetables, and 1 tablespoon of healthy fats

Snack: 1 cup of fruit with 1 cup of dairy foods or 1 scoop of protein powder

Meal #2: 1 cup of cooked starches, 5 ounces of protein foods, 2 cups of non-starchy vegetables, and 1 tablespoon of healthy fats

Snack: 1 cup of fruit with 1 cup of dairy foods or 1 scoop of protein powder

Meal #3: 1 cup of cooked starches, 5 ounces of protein foods, 2 cups of non-starchy vegetables, and 1 tablespoon of healthy fats

Snack: 1 cup of fruit with 1 cup of dairy foods or 1 scoop of protein powder

Meal #4: 1 cup of cooked starches, 5 ounces of protein foods, 2 cups of non-starchy vegetables, and 1 tablespoon of healthy fats

#6 Keep a 7-Day Clean Bulk Diet Menu on Hand

Adopted from the clean bulk diet meal plan above, the 7-day muscle-building menu below gives you an  idea of what effective clean bulk diets for men (containing about 3,200 calories) look like:

Day 1

clean bulk dietMeal #1: 1 cup of cooked oatmeal, 5 scrambled eggs mixed with 2 cups of sauteed mushrooms, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Snack: 1 cup of mix berries with 1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese or 1 scoop of whey or casein protein powder

Meal #2: 1 cup of cooked quinoa, 5 ounces of grilled chicken, 2 cups of steamed broccoli, and 1 tablespoon of hummus

Snack: 1 banana with 1 cup of low-fat Greek yogurt or 1 scoop of whey or casein protein powder

Meal #3: 1 cup of cooked corn, 5 ounces of a very lean ground turkey burger, 2 cups of cooked zucchini, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Snack: 1 grapefruit with 1 cup of protein-fortified almond milk or 1 scoop of whey or casein protein powder

Meal #4: 1 cup of cooked black beans, 5 ounces of grilled salmon, 2 cups of sauteed bell peppers, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Day 2

Meal #1: 1 cup of cooked quinoa, 5 ounces of tofu or lean ground bison, 2 cups of fresh tomatoes, and 1 tablespoon of avocado

Snack: 1 cup of cantaloupe with 1 cup of low-fat milk or 1 scoop of whey or casein protein powder

Meal #2: 1 cup of roasted sweet potatoes, 5 ounces of baked turkey breast, 2 cups of spinach leaves, and 1 tablespoon of oil-based salad dressing

Snack: 1 cup of grapes with 1 cup of plain kefir or 1 scoop of whey or casein protein powder

Meal #3: 1 cup of cooked brown rice, 5 ounces of grilled shrimp, 2 cups of cooked cauliflower, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Snack: 1 orange with 1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese or 1 scoop of whey or casein protein powder

Meal #4: 1 cup of cooked pinto beans, 5 ounces of shredded chicken, 2 cups of sauteed bell peppers, and 1 tablespoon of oil or avocados

Day 3

Meal #1: one small whole-grain bagel, a 5-egg omelet with 2 cups of cut-up asparagus, and 1 tablespoon of avocados

Snack: 1 cup of sliced apples with 1 cup of plain low-fat Greek yogurt or 1 scoop of whey or casein protein powder

Meal #2: 1 cup of cooked wild rice, 5 ounces of baked tilapia, 2 cups of cooked Brussels sprouts, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Snack: 1 cup of honeydew melon with 1 cup of plain kefir or 1 scoop of whey or casein protein powder

Meal #3: 1 cup of cooked whole-grain pasta, 5 ounces of crab, scallops, or shrimp, 2 cups of sauteed zucchini, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Snack: 1 cup of fresh pineapple with 1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese or 1 scoop of whey or casein protein powder

Meal #4: 1 cup of cooked lentils, 5 ounces of duck, 2 cups of cooked green beans, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil or avocados

Day 4

Meal #1: 2 slices of whole-grain toast, 5 ounces of a very lean turkey patty, 2 cups of vegetable juice, and 1 tablespoon of avocados

Snack: 1 cup of fresh blueberries with 1 cup of plain kefir or 1 scoop of whey or casein protein powder

Meal #2: 1 cup of cooked whole-grain pasta, 5 ounces of grilled chicken breast, 2 cups of sauteed mushrooms, and 1 tablespoon of oil-based pesto sauce

Snack: 1 cup of fresh cherries with 1 cup of low-fat milk or 1 scoop of whey or casein protein powder

Meal #3: 1 cup of cooked squash, 5 ounces of lean organic steak, 2 cups of cucumbers with greens, and 1 tablespoon of oil-based salad dressing

Snack: 1 cup of applesauce (no sugar added) with 1 cup of plain low-fat Greek yogurt or 1 scoop of whey or casein protein powder

Meal #4: 1 cup of cooked brown rice, 5 ounces of grilled shrimp, 2 cups of sauteed red and green bell peppers, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Day 5

Meal #1: 1 cup of roasted potatoes, 5 hard-boiled eggs, 2 cups of spinach (sauteed), and 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Snack: 1 cup of watermelon with 1 cup of protein-fortified almond milk or 1 scoop of whey or casein protein powder

Meal #2: 2 slices of whole-grain bread, 5 ounces of canned light tuna, 2 cups of celery, and 1 tablespoon of avocado oil mayonnaise or sliced avocados

Snack: 1 grapefruit with 1 cup of plain kefir or 1 scoop of whey or casein protein powder

Meal #3: 1 whole-grain hamburger bun, 5 ounces of very lean ground beef, bison, or veggie patty, 2 cups of tomatoes or cucumbers, and 1 tablespoon of avocados

Snack: 1 medium pear with 1 cup of plain low-fat Greek yogurt or 1 scoop of whey or casein protein powder

Meal #4: 1 cup of cooked wild rice, 5 ounces of baked turkey breast, 2 cups of cooked green beans, and 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds or walnuts

Day 6

Meal #1: 1 cup of cooked oatmeal, a 5-egg omelet made with 2 cups of artichokes, and 1 tablespoon of olives

Snack: 1 cup of blackberries with 1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese or 1 scoop of whey or casein protein powder

Meal #2: 1 cup of roasted sweet potatoes, 5 ounces of baked cod, 2 cups of steamed broccoli, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Snack: 1 cup of sliced peaches with 1 cup of plain kefir or 1 scoop of whey or casein protein powder

Meal #3: 1 cup of cooked black beans mixed with quinoa, 5 ounces of very lean ground turkey or bison, 2 cups of a vegetable salad, and 1 tablespoon of oil-based salad dressing

Snack: 1 cup of sliced bananas with 1 cup of plain low-fat Greek yogurt or 1 scoop of whey or casein protein powder

Meal #4: 2 slices of whole-grain bread, 5 ounces of sliced chicken breast, 2 cups of fresh pea pods, and 1 tablespoon of avocados or hummus

Day 7

Meal #1: 1 cup of roasted potatoes, 5 ounces of uncured turkey bacon or meatless sausage, 2 cups of sauteed mushrooms, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Snack: 1 cup of strawberries with 1 cup of low-fat milk or 1 scoop of whey or casein protein powder

Meal #2: 1 cup of cooked green peas, 5 ounces of venison, 2 cups of cooked carrots, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Snack: 1 cup of kiwi fruit with 1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese or 1 scoop of whey or casein protein powder

Meal #3: 1 cup of cooked brown rice, 5 ounces of shredded chicken, 2 cups of cooked beets, and 1 tablespoon of olives, avocados, nuts, or seeds

Snack: 1 cup of orange slices with 1 cup of plain kefir or 1 scoop of whey or casein protein powder

Meal #4: 2 slices of whole-grain bread, 5 ounces of canned light tuna, 2 cups of cucumbers, and 1 tablespoon of avocado oil mayonnaise, hummus, or avocado slices

Other Consideration for Muscle Building in Men

Exercise, especially strength training, is just as important as a clean bulk diet to effectively build muscle rather than fat when you boost your calorie intake.

bodyweight exercises for menCombine strength training with aerobic exercise to achieve desirable results and avoid body fat gains while you bulk up.

For example, combine 1520 minutes of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) by jogging, rowing, cycling, stair climbing, walking uphill, or using an elliptical machine with 30 minutes of heavyweight training.

Or, try a men's circuit training workout for maximum fat-burning results while you bulk.

Make sure to drink plenty of water, get at least 7 hours of sleep each night, limit or avoid alcohol, and keep stress levels low to achieve the most desirable outcome.

To get started with some of the best muscle building workouts for men including personalized strength-training routines, consider the Fit Father Project's Old School Muscle program.

Your friend & coach,

Erin Coleman

Erin Coleman, B.S. – Nutritional Science, Registered Dietician, Licenced Dietician

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as a Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.

Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife, and a Mom to two beautiful children.

 
If you’re interested in a proven and completely laid out “done-for-you” weight loss meal plan & workout routine – designed for you as a busy man…

ff30xI’d recommend you read the program overview letter for our Fit Father 30-Day Program (FF30X).

Inside FF30X, you'll receive:

  • The simple & delicious Fit Father Meal Plan
  • The metabolism-boosting Fit Father 30X Workout (under 90 min/week)
  • VIP email coaching where I'll personally walk you through the program


Read the FF30X Program overview letter here to see how our plan can help you lose weight – without the complication & restriction of normal diets.

 

*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on clean bulk diets.

References

  1. The National Center for Biotechnology Information: Achieving Optimal Post-Exercise Muscle Protein Remodeling in Physically Active Adults through Whole Food Consumption
  2. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines
  3. Harvard Health Publishing: Dietary Guidelines and Caloric Percentages
  4. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Protein and Exercise
  5. Mayo Clinic: Water: How Much Should You Drink Every Day?
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Sleep Do I Need?