There are many words you can use to describe the ketogenic diet, but easy is not one of them.
For this reason, it is no surprise that some people would want to find the most convenient way to follow the lifestyle.
On the traditional ketogenic diet, it’s important to eat mostly whole minimally processed foods. This is already a challenge for many people, even without sticking to a low-carb diet.
Some keto eaters have found that they are able to stay under their daily carb limit, but consuming only whole foods is a bit much. As a result, dirty keto was invented.
This guide will give you the details on what a dirty ketogenic diet is, how to do it, and more. You will also get to see what a sample meal plan looks like.
A dirty ketogenic diet is a low-carb high-fat eating plan that allows you to eat whatever you want as long as you stay within your macros.
As long as you eat 70-80% fat, 20% protein, and 5-10% carbohydrates, you are good to go.
This is different from a traditional or clean ketogenic diet, in which eating whole nutritious foods is just as important as eating high-fat low-carb foods.
Take bacon, for example. It’s a keto-approved food: high in fat and low in carbs.
The problem is that bacon is highly processed, with loads of sodium, some unhealthy fats, and additives. Bacon is allowed on a clean keto diet only once in a while, but on a dirty one, you could technically eat it every day.
However, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
In fact, dirty keto eating should only be done in moderation. It can be a good way to stay on track and maintain ketosis during challenging times — like when traveling, out with friends, or experiencing intense cravings — but it’s not a healthy way to eat in the long term.
The “anything low-carb goes” mentality should be temporary, either as an occasional treat or as a stepping stone on your journey to a cleaner, healthier ketogenic diet.
The dirty ketogenic diet has one main benefit over clean keto: convenience.
It allows you to enjoy some of the benefits of eating low-carb (such as weight loss) without fully committing to food that may be too expensive or time-consuming to acquire.
Due to this added convenience, you will allow yourself more freedom on the diet, for example:
The goal of most diets is to eat in a healthier way. However, this is not the main focus in this case. For this reason, the style of dirty keto itself is a drawback.
Other side effects include:
For those coming from a clean ketogenic diet, the transition will be much easier as you will have more freedom with the types of foods you can include.
However, those with no experience with low-carb eating will have to make adjustments to their lifestyles. Just because dirty keto is more convenient doesn't mean it will be a breeze.
For a smoother transition, follow some of these tips:
On a clean ketogenic diet, you eliminate or limit processed and high carb foods like:
In addition to healthy ketogenic foods like meat, dairy, fish, and eggs, you can enjoy processed and junk foods that are low in carbs:
How dirty your diet gets is up to you. It is best to seek a balance between convenience and nutrition by including healthier foods.
The only thing out of bounds on dirty are high-carb foods. Otherwise, you can shop for anything else that is high-fat, low-carb, and moderate protein.
A week’s shopping list for dirty keto would look something like this:
A dirty keto menu should not be difficult to design. Below is an example of what a day could look like:
Calories: 1,791 | Macros: 31.1 g net carbs, 84.5 g protein, and 140.7 g fat.
|BREAKFAST||Ingredients||Serving Size||Calories||Net Carbs(g)||Protein(g)||Fat(g)|
|Olive oil||1 tablespoon||115||0||0||12.8|
|Avocado||Avocado||Half a medium fruit||114||1.3||1.4||10.5|
|373||1.3 g||13.8 g||33.3 g|
|MORNING SNACK||Ingredients||Serving Size||Calories||Net Carbs(g)||Protein(g)||Fat(g)|
|Kiwi||Kiwi fruit||1 fruit (75 g)||44||8.3||0.8||0.3|
|44||8.3 g||0.8 g||0.3 g|
|LUNCH||Ingredients||Serving Size||Calories||Net Carbs(g)||Protein(g)||Fat(g)|
|Hot dogs with buttery green beans and tomato||Beef frankfurters||2 pieces (97.2 g)||302||2.8||11.4||27.2|
|Canned green snap beans||1 cup||34||3.7||1.7||0.7|
|Grape tomatoes||1 cup||47||5.2||1.3||1|
|531||11.7 g||14.4 g||45.3 g|
|EVENING SNACK||Ingredients||Serving Size||Calories||Net Carbs(g)||Protein(g)||Fat(g)|
|290||1 g||2 g||30.6 g|
|DINNER||Ingredients||Serving Size||Calories||Net Carbs(g)||Protein(g)||Fat(g)|
|Steak, avocado, and cabbage||Beef||1/2 a steak (180 g)||382||0||49.2||20.5|
|Avocado||Half a medium fruit||114||1.3||1.4||10.5|
|553||8.8 g||53.5 g||31.2 g|
|DAILY TOTALS||1,791 cal||31.1 g net carbs||84.5 g protein||140.7 g fat|
If you still have questions about this style of eating, keep reading as we answer some of them.
No, they are not the same.
With lazy keto, you only keep track of your carbohydrate count, but you still focus on eating healthy foods. Dirty keto gives you more freedom to eat unhealthy foods, but you track your intake of all three macronutrients: carbs, protein, and fat intake.
Yes, you can.
As long as you eat in a calorie deficit, you should see a change in your weight. However, your body will not be healthier if you are eating lots of low-quality food. It’s better to focus on health rather than weight loss.
Ideally, you shouldn't do dirty keto at all. However, if you find yourself having a rough week or couple of days, it can be a safety net for a short period of time.
Yes, bacon is highly processed with high sodium and other disease-promoting compounds like nitrates. It should therefore be considered a treat rather than a staple.
KFC grilled chicken and the side of green beans are okay for dirty keto. However, at the end of the day, KFC is a fast food chain, and any dish served there is very likely to contain a high amount of unhealthy fats and sometimes hidden carbs.
Yes, in small doses. The best approach is to allow yourself to occasionally have a dirty day or meal, for example when travelling or during an especially busy week, but not to make it a habit. This way of eating is not ideal for sustaining good health.