What’s Dirty Keto and Should You Be Doing It?

What’s Dirty Keto and Should You Be Doing It?

  • Dirty keto is the latest version of the high-fat, low-carb keto diet.
  • It follows the same macronutrient-breakdown as regular keto, but with one key difference — it doesn’t matter where those macronutrients come from.
  • What you’re missing on dirty keto are micronutrients (like vitamins, minerals, and enzymes) — vital to your overall health, too.
  • You can still lose weight with dirty keto, but in return you’ll get inflammation, bloating, cravings, and rebound weight gain when you go off the diet.
  • Dirty keto is OK when you’re in a pinch or traveling, but it’s always better to cook from scratch when possible.
  • Regular keto doesn’t have to be all steak and salad — you can indulge in a clean way with keto breads, fat bombs, and keto pancakes.

What if you could eat fast food all day and still lose weight? That’s what dirty keto promises — go ahead and eat that sausage, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich, minus the bun. While you’re at it, wash it down with a sugar-free Slurpee. It’s the latest version of the high-fat, low-carb keto diet, but is it good for you in the long-term? And can you still burn fat while eating processed foods? Read on to find out how dirty keto works, and if it can really help you lose weight fast.

RELATED: Download our free Keto Diet Recipes for Beginners Cookbook

What is “dirty keto”?

On a regular keto diet, you focus on fats (75% of your daily calories), some protein (20%), and a very small amount of carbs (less than 5%). Restricting carbs puts your body into ketosis — a metabolic state where you burn fat, not glucose, for fuel. The result? Rapid weight loss and reduced inflammation.[1] 

Dirty keto follows the same breakdown of fats, protein, and carbs, but with one key difference — it doesn’t matter where those macronutrients come from. Instead of choosing good fats like wild salmon and avocado for lunch, you might reach for a bunless double bacon cheeseburger and diet orange soda.

Clean keto diets like Bulletproof focus on organic vegetables, grass-fed meat and butter, and healthy fats like coconut oil and olive oil, while dirty keto lets you wallow in pork rinds and Cheez Whiz.

Related: Keto Results: How to Get the Most Out of Your Keto Diet

“Dirty keto is a pithy way of referring to the ‘fast and dirty’ practice of using premade, packaged foods instead of homemade food crafted from whole food ingredients,” says Stephanie Pedersen, holistic nutritionist and author of “Keto Lunches: Grab-and-Go, Make-Ahead Recipes for High-Power, Low-Carb Midday Meals.”

The idea has caught on — numerous dirty keto groups have cropped up on Facebook. One has the tagline “No shaming, no judgement, no negativity.”  On a page called “The Dirty Keto Life,” a user posted an image of their morning snack — Powerade Zero and packaged bacon BBQ cheese crisps.

Drawbacks of dirty keto

Dirty keto is tempting — you can quickly scan a nutrition panel on a package to see whether a product will work with your daily macro counts. But what you’re missing are micronutrients (like vitamins, minerals, and enzymes) — equally as important to your overall health, says Pedersen.  

“[Micronutrients] help keep your immune system strong, help your skin look great, help your body systems function, help fight off oxidants that lead to aging and illness, help with everything from healthy vision to preventing weak bones,” she says.

Dirty keto and weight loss

So will you lose weight this way? Probably, but here’s what you’ll get in return:

  • Inflammation
  • Bloating
  • Cravings
  • Rebound weight gain once you go off the diet

Processed foods tend to contain a lot of sodium to add flavor and as a preservative — this can cause bloating and puffiness. It can also exacerbate dehydration, constipation, and other symptoms of the keto flu.

“Can you ‘do keto’ relying on fast food, convenience food and packaged food? Yes,” says Pedersen. “But your skin may not look as good. Your hair may not look as good. You may not feel as good. And, in the long run, you may run into some deficiencies.”

Related: How to Start Keto and Why Cyclical Ketosis is Better

But dirty keto is convenient…

If you’re choosing dirty keto for its convenience or you don’t like to cook, you have other options, says Pedersen.

“If you downright despise cooking, look into keto boxed meal-prep services or reach out to a healthful private chef in your area and hire him or her to make a few keto-compliant meals and snacks to help you reach, and maintain, ketosis,” says Pedersen.

Or, do what Bulletproof Diet founder Dave Asprey does while traveling or in a pinch: order sushi.

Cleaner ways to indulge

Now, eating keto the Bulletproof way doesn’t have to mean salads and steak all the time — there are clean ways to indulge. You can still enjoy bread and sweet treats on occasion. Start with these keto apple pie fat bombs, almond flour pancakes, or this white chocolate and raspberry keto cake. They’ll keep your body, and your tastebuds, happy.


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