Lazy Keto vs. Dirty Keto

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Written by Rahul Malpe, Certified Nutritionist and medically reviewed by Jennifer Olejarz

Imge of Lazy Keto vs. Dirty Keto



In order to achieve your health goals, you can choose from a variety of different eating plans. In this article, we'll compare two variations known as lazy and dirty keto. You may be wondering how these two diets compare, and which one would be the best choice for you.

As a point of clarification, although the ketogenic diet is very low in carbohydrates, not all variations may be healthy. What is the difference between the two and which one is healthier? Now let's take a closer look!


What is lazy keto?

It's a way to follow the ketogenic diet that doesn't involve as much work on your part to calculate and track the macronutrients you’re consuming. 

The main idea behind the lazy approach is that you follow the general rules of the ketogenic diet, but only keep track of your carb intake so you don’t go over your daily limit. This means that you don’t have to worry about counting calories, protein, or fat.

It is a more relaxed approach to the diet that still allows you to enjoy the benefits of ketosis. 

As with regular keto, you focus on eating clean, whole foods (vegetables and leafy greens, nuts and seeds, fresh cuts of meat and fish) and avoid or limit highly processed food (bacon, packaged products).

Learn more about how to do lazy keto


What is dirty keto?

This is yet another variation of the ketogenic diet that involves eating foods that might not necessarily qualify as health foods, provided that you adhere to the proper macronutrient breakdowns of the strict ketogenic diet. 

On the dirty version, it does not matter where you obtain your calories as long as you adhere to the high-fat low-carb rules. As long as the food contains a low carbohydrate content, you are allowed to eat unlimited amounts of unhealthy food, including highly processed food.

It is important to note that this way of eating does not qualify as a healthy lifestyle. Although it is okay to indulge in processed food once in a while, consuming this on a regular basis can lead to health problems in the long term. There are certainly some health risks associated with this diet, despite its convenience.


Similarities between lazy vs dirty keto approaches

The similarities between the two approaches are that both allow for a more relaxed approach to the ketogenic diet while maintaining an emphasis on achieving ketosis. This flexibility can make them more sustainable in the long term for some people.

However, each version is flexible in its own way:

  • Lazy is relaxed in its approach to tracking macronutrients. 
  • Dirty is relaxed in terms of food quality.


Differences between lazy vs dirty keto

There are a few key ways in which these two approaches differ.

  • Lazy: people on these diets do not carefully measure their intake of calories, fat, or protein. Instead, they eat clean food they know is good for the ketogenic diet and focus on staying below their carb limit. 
  • Dirty: someone following this approach doesn’t worry about eating fresh, whole food. For example, they can eat lots of processed and fried meats, while someone on a standard ketogenic diet would avoid them. 

This means that people with a "lazy" approach may need to cook more meals from scratch, while those following "dirty" guidenlines may be able to rely more heavily on convenience food.


Benefits of lazy vs dirty 

There are no specific benefits of following either of these approaches. 

The keto diet, in general, has been shown to have beneficial effects on appetite regulation as foods high in fat trigger the satiety hormones quicker than carb-rich foods. This is particularly helpful for people seeking to lose weight as the constant cravings for food can make it difficult to achieve your health goals.

One of the advantages of either of these eating plans compared to a standard ketogenic one is that they might be easier to follow. This allows people to feel less restricted and enjoy the diet more.


Side effects of a lazy keto vs dirty keto

A dirty or lazy approach may sound appealing, but each has some negatives.

For dirty ketoers, regularly indulging in processed foods can cause any one of these negative effects:

  • Problems with digestion
  • Problems with the skin
  • Constipation
  • Inadequate micronutrient consumption
  • Increased sweet cravings
  • Increased risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and other health conditions

So while you have much more freedom with what you eat, you could also be potentially putting your health at risk.

For lazy ketoers, not tracking calories, protein, or fats can lead to:

  • Weight gain
  • Inadequate or excessive protein intake
  • Difficulties entering ketosis 


Lazy keto vs dirty keto foods  

In the following chart you'll see which foods are allowed or not allowed in both these eating regimens.

Beans and legumes In moderation In moderation
Condiments and sauces Yes Yes
Dairy Yes Yes
Sugar-free drinks Yes Yes
Sugar-sweetened beverages No No
Alcoholic drinks Yes Yes
Eggs Yes Yes
Fish and seafood Yes Yes
Fruits Yes
(in moderation)
(in moderation)
Grains and starches No No
Herbs and spices Yes Yes
Meat and poultry Yes Yes
Nuts and seeds Yes Yes
Oils and fats Yes Yes
Processed foods No Yes 
(in moderation)
Sugar-free sweeteners In moderation Yes
Natural sweeteners In moderation, low-carb only In moderation, low-carb only
White and brown sugars No No
Starchy vegetables In small amounts In small amounts
Non-starchy vegetables Yes Yes


The biggest difference between these two eating styles is that dirty does not limit processed foods or low-carb sweeteners. However, the end goal of both these eating regimes is to achieve ketosis, so carbs are always limited.

Check if a certain food is keto-friendly


Which is cheaper?

Cost is often one of the most important factors, as some diets can be quite expensive to follow. So, which is cheaper?

Since lazy keto is a type of ketogenic diet that is less restrictive in terms of what foods are allowed. This means that it is generally cheaper to follow than a traditional ketogenic diet, as you don't need to purchase high-quality, expensive foods. However, it still requires you to count macros, which can be time-consuming and difficult to do on a budget.

Dirty keto can be cheaper than lazy keto, as you have more options for what you can eat, and don’t need to purchase high-quality expensive foods like organic, grass-fed, etc. However, as stated in previous sections, dirty keto is not a healthy way to eat, so the cost to your health is important to consider.

Since you don’t have to track all your macros, lazy keto saves you time, which is very precious. While it may be harder to eat out at a restaurant, this can be good for your wallet since you may cook at home more often. Finally, while it’s nice to purchase organic, grass-fed foods, you can still eat clean, healthy foods without investing in these special products.


Which one is healthier?

Lazy keto is generally considered to be the healthier option. This is because it encourages followers to eat whole, unprocessed foods and to focus on getting their nutrients from natural sources. 

In contrast, dirty keto allows for a greater intake of processed foods, which can lead to health problems in the long term.

Therefore, if you're looking to follow a healthy ketogenic diet, lazy keto is the better choice.


Bottom line 

You may be wondering what ketogenic diet version to try if you are interested in starting one. Until you are familiar with the new way of eating and are comfortable with how your body will respond, it is recommended that you start with a traditional strict keto diet. 

As you become more familiar with keto-friendly foods and which foods make you feel the best, you will be able to determine which are keto-friendly. You may then choose to skip some macronutrient calculations and go for a more relaxed approach. 

Nutrition-dense low-carbohydrate foods that will fuel your body best are the most important thing you should include in your ketogenic diet. This means veggies, berries, nuts and seeds, meat and fish, olive oil, and lots of leafy greens.