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The Difference Between Clean Keto and Dirty Keto Diets

The Keto diet has grown in popularity over the last few years, focusing on consuming low amounts of carbs and foods high in fat to kickstart weight loss. It’s so popular, that nearly 13 million Americans follow it each year. 

The diet can easily feel “glamorized” on social media platforms like TikTok, with diehard followers posting pictures and videos of fatty bacon, thick steaks, and runny fried eggs. However, there are different forms of Keto some people swear by. 

The two most popular (and possibly controversial) are “clean” and “dirty” Keto diets. 

While the underlying principle is the same, these diets take two very different approaches, and if you’re not sure how the differences could impact your health, you could run into some problems. 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the differences between clean and dirty Keto diets, and why some health experts have concerns about “going dirty.” 

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What is the Clean Keto Diet? 

Whether you’ve been on a Keto diet for a while or you’re trying to decide if it’s right for you, it can sometimes be hard to find a clear line between clean and dirty choices. 

The easiest way to determine if a Keto diet is “clean” is to look at the quality of the food. Can you still have steak and eggs on a clean Keto diet? Absolutely. Should you be going to In-n-Out every day for a protein-style burger? Probably not. 

When most people refer to clean Keto, they’re referencing the traditional Keto diet. If you’ve done any research on the diet plan itself, the information you’ve seen likely refers to the clean approach. Clean Keto focuses on whole, high-quality, nutrient-dense foods. Some of the most common items you’ll see in a clean Keto diet plan include

  • Grass-fed beef
  • Wild-caught seafood
  • Free-range eggs
  • Olive oil
  • Organic vegetables

While the clean Keto diet can seem more restrictive, it tends to focus on your overall health and well-being, rather than only trying to jumpstart weight loss. Clean eating has been linked to lower blood sugar, and it can even reduce your risk of developing certain diseases. 

What is Dirty Keto? 

The basic principles of a “dirty” Keto diet are the same. Most of what you consume each day will come in the form of protein and fat, and you’ll restrict your carbohydrate intake. However, the food sources typically aren’t as nutrient-dense. That’s also why dirty Keto is sometimes referred to as “lazy” Keto. 

It can take a lot of time and effort to do Keto the right way. Clean eating isn’t always easy and requires planning and preparation. For some, it might not even be financially possible, which is why dirty Keto has become more popular. These are often the images you see on social media of someone ordering a double bacon cheeseburger with no bun or having a giant Tomahawk steak with butter dripping on top. While it’s still technically “Keto,” these meals tend to lack other nutrients, and are often associated with problems like heart disease and high cholesterol. 

People who follow a dirty Keto diet are also more likely to reach for processed foods like deli meats, cheeses, and other low-carb meals and snacks with additives. Even things like high-fat salad dressings are commonplace in this approach. While they’re technically still “Keto,” they can lead to a variety of other health issues. 

Is Dirty Keto Safe? 

For people who don’t have a lot of love for carbs, the dirty Keto approach can feel like a dietary dream come true. You can eat everything from cheeseburgers and ranch dressing to fried foods and glistening bacon. However, some concerns might make you think twice about the dirty approach. Dirty Keto can help you reach your macronutrients for the day, but it lacks micronutrients that your body needs to function properly, including

  • Zinc
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium

Depending on how you indulge in this type of diet, you could also be doing more long-term damage to your health. Consistently eating fried foods, for example, can lead to heart failure and stroke. Highly-processed foods tend to have added sugars, which can contribute to cancer or type 2 diabetes. 

Is the dirty Keto diet easier? For most people, yes. Is it more convenient? Absolutely. However, it blurs the lines of what Keto really is. Clean Keto doesn’t just help with weight loss. It can give you more energy, boost brain health, and reduce inflammation. On a dirty Keto diet, you might feel more sluggish and fatigued, with more inflammation and a difficult time focusing. 

While these two approaches to the same diet have the same underlying goals and principles, it’s easy to see how vastly different they are. If you want to go on a diet for weight loss, it’s still important to focus on your overall health and well-being, and dirty Keto doesn’t do that.

Read More: Custom Keto Diet Review – Lazy Keto Diet

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