Have you heard of dirty keto? Wondered what it’s all about and how it differs from ‘clean’ keto? You’re not alone. In fact, we get so many queries on this issue that we’ve decided to lay it all out in this comprehensive article. We’ll explain the differences between dirty and clean keto to help you decide which route you should take in your quest for ultimate weight loss combined with maximum health benefits.
What is Dirty Keto?
Dirty Keto is an off-shoot of the original keto diet. However, it focuses on the macronutrient content of the foods you eat rather than the specific type of food that makes up those macros. For example, the 70 percent of fats that you eat on dirty keto can come from any fat source, including processed foods like pies , takeaways and pork rinds. On the traditional keto diet you would be trying to get your fats, vitamins, minerals and proteins from more healthy sources such as avocados and coconut oil.
There is not much of an emphasis on vegetables or other sources of healthy nutrition on dirty keto. So long as you keep your macros on point you are good to go.
The macro breakdown on dirty keto for weight loss is usually the following . . .
- Carbs: 5 percent
- Fat: 70 percent
- Protein: 25 percent
The overriding goal of dirty keto is to get your body glucose free so that it switches to the ketogenic state where it is burning fat rather than glucose for energy. How you get in that state doesn’t matter. This is a classic example of the ends justifying the means. On the dirty keto diet the ultimate goal is producing ketones, so how you get there doesn’t really matter.
In contrast to dirty keto, clean, or lazy keto involves getting your fats from moderately healthy sources, such as avocado, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil, and your proteins are coming from grass-fed meats and grass- fed dairy.
Is It Healthy?
So, is the dirty keto route going to be good for your long term health? The answer is pretty obvious – NO!
When you focus solely on the macro numbers, you leave yourself open to putting all sorts of crap into your system. It would be like a person following the typical western diet saying, ‘It doesn’t matter where I get my carbs from – ice cream or butternut squash – I’m still getting the carbs my body needs to thrive. ‘
Clearly those two sources will affect your body very differently.
One of the most important things that we get from our foods are vitamins. Yet, on a dirty keto meal plan, you will struggle to get the vitamins you need to maintain your health. This is especially true with regard to the fat-soluble fats that you get in abundance on a clean keto diet. One of these is vitamin E, which cuts the production of what are called cytokines. This will, in turn, help to reduce inflammation. When you are on the ketogenic diet, you are trying to modulate inflammation as much as possible. If you are getting a good amount of vitamin E, then you are, in effect, able to double the anti-inflammatory effect of keto.
Vitamin E also limits the amount of lipid peroxidation. This is when fats that you consume go rancid in your body. Fats that you consume, that do not get properly utilized, go through lipid peroxidation, where they go rancid. Once this happens, they create free radicals which end up making you sick and fatigued. Vitamin E helps to stop that process. The more fats that you are eating, such as when you are taking in 70 percent of your calories from fat on keto, the more susceptible you are to the process taking place. That makes getting a good amount of vitamin E in your body even more important.
Vitamin E also decreases the adhesion of monocytes to the endothelium. This helps to prevent white blood cells from triggering an inflammatory response.
A dirty keto diet is probably not going to give you the amount of vitamin E that you need. Avocado is a great source of vitamin E, which you probably will not be consuming on dirty keto.
When you are on a keto diet, be it the clean or the dirty version, your body will be losing a lot of water. Along with that water, you will also be losing minerals and vitamins. This makes it very important on a ketogenic diet to be consuming a good amount of the vegetables that are building up your vitamin and mineral stores. If you don’t, you will become depleted very quickly.
Fat-soluble vitamin K is very important when it comes to keto. It increases what is called the Matrix GLA, which is a series of proteins that help to promote fat loss in the body. It also ushers calcium into the bones. This gets the calcium out of the arteries which relieves stress and helps to alleviate the development of plaque. Getting your vitamin K from grass-fed dairy and clean meats is the smart way to go. You will not find it in the processed cheese that is sitting on top of your Burger King beef patty.
Minerals are just as important as vitamins on keto. The most important one is magnesium. This is one of the minerals that we are most deficient in. When you add the keto diet factor we lose even more magnesium. Dirty keto makes the situation even worse.
Magnesium binds to receptors in your brain to keep you calm. If you are doing dirty keto and simply eating whatever you want, so long as it fits your macros, you will soon become stressed out, fall off the wagon and not want to do it anymore. The reason will be, largely, that, there is not enough magnesium in your diet to keep you calm.
Magnesium also plays an important role in the digestive system. It allows for the relaxation of the smooth muscle tissue within the digestive system. If we have that relaxation, this will stimulate healthy bacteria in the gut. But, if the muscle is not relaxed, the digestive system will get blocked up. We will have difficulty going to the bathroom and all manner of problems will ensue. In order to promote healthy digestion, then, we must get in a good supply of magnesium. The best way to get it is through the consumption of green leafy vegetables. On a dirty keto diet, you will not be getting them.
Another important factor to consider in the whole ‘is dirty keto healthy’ debate is with regard to the omega 3 to omega 6 healthy fats ratio. The ideal ratio for weight loss and overall health is 1:1. Yet, for most Americans, it is more like 16:1 in favor of omega 6. A big factor in that difference is the quality of the foods we eat. Take eggs for example. There can be between a two and a forty-fold difference between the levels of omega 3, depending on whether the eggs were from free-range or caged chickens. So, taking it at its most conservative value, free-range eggs have at least twice as much omega 3 healthy fats as caged eggs do. But if you are only worried about your macros on keto, you are not going to be buying free range eggs.
Omega 3’s will help you to control inflammation, which is the whole foundation of the keto diet. It is the reason you want to get into ketosis and will help to boost your weight loss. As a bonus, free -range eggs have also been shown in clinical studies to have twice as much vitamin E as caged eggs.
Many people think that eating clean on keto means no dairy foods. But this is simply not the case. It’s all about where you get your dairy foods from. Dairy foods like cheeses and yogurts vary widely in their make-up. Where it was sourced and how the animal was raised are the key factors. Low quality dairy has a high degree of what is called A1 caseins. These contain BCM7, which is a bioactive opiod. It affects opiod receptors in your brain, which can lead to addiction. That is why you need to select good quality organic dairy with A2 caseins. Grass-fed dairy products will also have a good amount of CLA, which will be less inflammatory and better for your overall health. In fact, grass-fed dairy products will have an astounding 500 percent more CLA .
On a dirty keto diet, you are not getting very much fiber. Fiber intake, though has been shown in study after study to help us lose weight, have a far more efficient digestive system and generally promote good health. You will not find very much fiber on processed foods.
Dirty keto is a modified version of the keto diet that allows you to eat processed foods and fast food like burgers as well as pork rinds and other high fat but low health quality foods just so long as it fits your macros. One problem with this is that you will end up deficient in your vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. You will lose weight but not as much as if you were on a healthier diet.
You can use the dirty keto diet when you are on holiday or otherwise in a compromising situation. But you should not use it as your foundation plan to lose weight. If you do, not only will you fail to lose weight in the long term, you will end far less healthy and far less happy!