What is Dirty Keto
Keto Diet

What is Dirty Keto & Why Should I Avoid It?

A dirty keto diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet. No thought is given to the quality of the food you eat. People who follow this diet don’t pay attention to where their food comes from or whether it’s rich in nutrients.

Dirty keto (also known as lazy keto) is not about a holistic approach to overall health, but about lax eating habits as long as they stick to your keto macros.

This “quick and dirty” approach to ketogenic diets replaces the meal prep, cleanup, and “hard work” of a ketogenic diet with foods that may be harmful to your body in the long run. Despite this, some people still believe it is good enough and sufficient for weight loss.

What is Dirty Keto?

Dirty keto is a lot like the keto diet, but without much regard for the quality and nutrient density of the food. People following these diets can consume fast foods, cured meats, and sugar-free diet products as long as they meet their macronutrient ratios.

Since the goal of a regular ketogenic diet is simply to get your body into a ketogenic state, a dirty ketogenic diet can technically lead to weight loss. That’s why it’s common for people who just want to use a ketogenic diet as a quick way to lose weight. You can go into ketosis, a metabolic state where you burn fat instead of glucose for fuel, by simply reducing your carbohydrate intake enough.

However, just being in ketosis doesn’t mean you’re healthy. True, sustainable weight loss and health depend on where the nutrients you digest and use come from. According to the Dirty Keto commandment, as long as your daily carbohydrate intake is below 20 grams, you can:

  • Eat fast food all the time. Dirty ketogenic dieters find it easier to stick to their macro instructions if they don’t have to prepare, cook and clean up after all their meals and snacks. They find it easier to order fast food keto and continue to eat their favorite foods with just a few low-carb tweaks (like skipping the bread and switching to zero diet soda).
  • Eat pre-made packaged foods instead of fresh, natural foods. This includes everything from low-carb snacks to ketogenic-friendly frozen dinners and protein bars. The ingredients don’t matter as long as you stick to your macros.
  • Replace sugary drinks or carbohydrate-rich foods with sugar-free drinks. Dirty ketogenic dieters don’t care about artificial sweeteners. Sugar-free chocolate, ice cream, protein bars, drinks, etc. are all acceptable as long as your net carbohydrate content is under 20 grams a day.

But can you really eat this junk food every day and still be healthy and even lose weight?

Dirty Keto and Weight Loss

By limiting your net carbohydrates to less than 20 grams per day, you’ll allow your body to start producing ketones, so you can burn fat instead of sugar for energy. This will lead to weight loss. While this shortcut to weight loss may work, you won’t feel many of the positive health benefits a clean ketogenic diet offers, such as mental clarity and better physical performance. Many people lose weight on a dirty ketogenic diet. But it’s not sustainable in the long run, and frankly, it makes the regular ketogenic diet look bad.

Why Should I Avoid Dirty Keto

5 Reasons to Avoid Dirty Keto

This dirty diet may seem like an easy way to lose weight without giving up greasy fast food, sugar-free soda, and candy. But are these trade-offs more important than your long-term health? Here’s what these diets give you:

Highly Processed Foods

Fast foods and snacks, including healthy-looking protein bars, are more likely to contain bad fats, sugar alcohols, and artificial ingredients. Studies show that consuming highly processed foods can increase your rate of:

  • Obesity
  • Cancer
  • Food into cancer
  • Depression
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Indigestion and gastrointestinal disorders
  • Asthma and allergy symptoms

Many of these negative results come from sugary drinks and carbohydrate-rich staples such as hamburgers, fries, ice cream, and cookies. But despite this, studies have not yet shown whether eating fast foods and processed snacks in a ketogenic state is better for you. Eating low-quality, ultra-processed foods usually means you’re also consuming harmful additives and hormones.

Lack of Essential Micronutrients

While your macro-directives get all the attention, don’t neglect your micronutrients. Vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals from whole food sources are essential for your body to function optimally.

Found in meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds, micronutrients are vital to your body and do important things for you, such as

  • Strengthen your immune system
  • Contribute to proper cell function and maintenance
  • They help your hair, skin, and nails shine
  • Boost your energy levels (especially the B vitamins)
  • Protect your cells from environmental damage

While you’ll have to cut out a lot of fruits and vegetables when you switch to a ketogenic diet, you’ll get fewer micronutrients on a voyage-dirty ketogenic diet. Eating meat and cheese will only make you deficient in certain vitamins that you can only get naturally from fruits and vegetables.

That’s why ketogenic dieters often eat a wide variety of foods. Eat nutrient-rich keto foods, or make a point of supplementing with the right micronutrients to meet your intake. Since fast food and takeout options don’t have all the vitamins and minerals you need, you can also be left out of the keto flu.

The Possibility of Endless Keto Flu

The keto flu is a temporary side effect of entering ketosis. Most people who start a ketogenic diet will experience a few days of fatigue and other problems before moving into a fully ketogenic state. These symptoms are the result of your body adapting to a different ratio of macronutrients (more fat and protein, fewer carbohydrates).

As your body uses up all the glycogen (stored glucose) it has accumulated on a high-carb diet, it begins to lose water rapidly. This is because each gram of glycogen is stored along with 2-3 grams of water. As your cells break down glycogen, they also lose water and electrolytes. This can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

Lack of Fiber

The only rule about carbohydrates on a dirty keto diet is that you must stay under 20 grams per day. But there are no rules about where these carbohydrates come from.

If you “save” all your carbs for the day for a beer or a few bites of bread, you’re still technically below your carb limit. But your health will suffer. Instead, if you eat 20 grams of low-carb, high-fiber vegetables, you’ll experience a variety of benefits. Low-carb dietary fiber is a friend of the classic ketogenic diet because it can help your body too.

  • Increase stool volume and boost digestion.
  • Feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut
  • Improve insulin sensitivity
  • Control your appetite by keeping you full for longer periods of time
  • Reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease

Not Very Sustainable

If you’re traveling or can’t cook for yourself soon, voyaging dirty keto is a temporary solution. However, it’s not a good strategy for improving health and long-term weight loss. These are just a few of the reasons why:

  • Keto doesn’t really change your lifestyle, especially if you can blame fast food restaurants and junk food for your initial weight gain.
  • It gets expensive quickly. The average American spends more than $3,000 a year eating out. Since you can usually make a typical $5 restaurant meal at home for only $15, you’ll waste more money eating lower-quality ingredients.
  • You’re more likely to eventually quit. Never having to cook or wash dishes again sounds like a dream, and you might be happy to dine out at your favorite drive-thru while still maintaining a ketogenic lifestyle. But the novelty will eventually run out. Without practicing a clean ketogenic diet, you’re more likely to fall back into your old habits and gain the weight you’ve lost.
  • You won’t feel great, and if you don’t have the energy and weight loss, you won’t continue on the low-carb path.