The Skinny on “Dirty Keto”: Everything You Need To Know

Losing weight is challenging. Losing weight quickly while maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be even more challenging. The keto diet is one option to consider as you embark on your weight loss journey.

The ketogenic (or keto diet) is a rigid eating routine that is an extremely low carb, high-fat diet. The keto diet has recently increased in popularity due to its health benefits.

The classic (or clean) keto diet restricts your carbohydrate intake to only around 4% of the food you eat daily. The extreme cutback of carbohydrates pushes your body to use stored fat as its primary energy source instead of carbohydrates, leading to quicker weight loss.

This reliance on fat for energy triggers ketosis, a metabolic condition in which your body utilizes fat and ketones rather than glucose as its primary fuel source and where the diet earns its name.

The keto diet, designed in the 1920s to help manage epilepsy in children, has become a very effective and practical way to lose weight quickly in today’s modern world.

What Is Dirty Keto?

So what exactly is a “dirty keto” diet? Whether you’re a die-hard keto dieter or just beginning to learn about keto, you’ve likely heard the term “dirty keto.” 

While the classic keto diet restrictions are rather strict and straightforward, a dirty keto diet allows a little wiggle room. And the way you follow a “dirty keto” diet will look different from how almost everyone else follows it.

The phrase “dirty keto” is not specific, but typically, it entails eating less than 10% of total carbohydrates daily.

It also usually has higher amounts of vegetable oils and processed meats and is lower in nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and fiber than the “clean Keto” version.

So, What’s the Difference Between Dirty Keto and Clean Keto?

Is there that big of a difference between following a clean or a dirty keto diet? Yes! 

Although dirty keto is still low in carbs and high in fat, its food sources are often not as healthy. When following a clean keto diet, you avoid all processed foods; your focus is only on whole foods and healthy fats. 

In contrast, a dirty keto diet does not concentrate as much on whole foods but instead aims to monitor only the macronutrient ratio – that is, the proportion of fat, protein, and carbs – of the diet.

That is why “dirty keto” occasionally is referred to as “lazy keto.” You don’t have to focus on too many aspects of your eating at a time.

For example, if you are tracking a clean Keto diet, you might have baked chicken with broccoli and butter as a meal.

But if you are following a dirty keto diet, you might have fried chicken tenders (using anything but flour-based breading) with sugar-free BBQ dipping sauce.

Pros and Cons of the Dirty Keto Diet

Like any diet, there are pros and cons to following the requirements, and the keto diet is no exception.

The Pros of the Dirty Keto Diet

There are several advantages to following the dirty keto diet as opposed to a clean keto diet.

  • Less complicated to follow: Following a dirty keto diet is more straightforward and less complicated than following a clean keto diet.

Since many of the foods you eat on the diet are processed, you aren’t required to spend hours prepping meals in the kitchen.

In many circumstances, it’s as easy as ordering from your favorite restaurant or popping something in the microwave.

  • Less expensive than clean keto: Another great advantage of dirty keto is that it is more affordable than the classic or clean keto diet.

Eating clean keto requires you to go grocery shopping and buy higher-quality food, increasing your grocery bill.

  • Fewer restrictions: One of the most significant advantages of the dirty keto diet is that it makes going out for dinner and drinks with friends a breeze.

Eating and following a clean keto diet is restrictive even in social gatherings or when going to a restaurant. There is no give and take with a clean keto diet.

However, you can consistently find something to eat (and drink) on a dirty keto at nearly any restaurant or event.

  • Less wait time for weight loss: Finally, while you are probably eating more processed foods on a dirty keto diet, as long as you stay within your carbohydrate allotment, you can lose weight by still eating the foods you love.

Talk about the perfect scenario! You get the most substantial weight loss during the first days of a keto diet.

Most of that initial weight loss is due to water, but a click down on the scale is a click down. However, you can get a constant 1-3 lbs weight loss per week if you keep your calorie and macros balanced.

The Cons of the Dirty Keto Diet

While there are several advantages to following a dirty keto diet, you should also consider some disadvantages.

  • Lower micronutrient content: Nutrient intake is one of the most prominent health worries about the dirty keto diet.

Since most foods you consume are processed, a dirty keto diet increases the risk of nutritional deficiencies. You run the risk of becoming deficient in specific vitamins such as zinc, calcium, vitamin C, and vitamin D, to name a few.

Your body needs these vitamins to strengthen your immune system, support the health of your skin, hair, and nails, and transform the food you eat into functional energy. 

While you can solve this problem by supplementing with a multivitamin, we all know that natural vitamins are always better.

  • Higher chance of constipation: Non-starch-based vegetables are usually one of the first food items to disappear from a dirty keto diet menu.

Since these specific vegetables furnish you with vitamins and minerals, they are also generally your direct source of fiber. Processed foods you eat more of on a dirty keto diet tend to be insufficient in fiber.

The lack of fiber consumption can lead to increased constipation since fiber is responsible for helping you go to the restroom. Fiber is also crucial to aid in keeping your gut microbiome nourished.

Without a nourishing gut, you risk impaired immunity protection.

  • Increased sodium consumption: Processed foods contain high levels of sodium. The extra sodium is needed to help maintain the foods and add extra flavoring.

The FDA recommends ingesting no more than 2,300 mg of sodium daily. However, one slice of deli meat has around 362 mg of sodium.

Those sodium numbers can add up quickly if you are not paying close attention.

  • Dirty keto is not sustainable: Ultimately, while devouring processed foods all day might sound appealing, it is not bearable every day.

It doesn’t create a healthy or beneficial lifestyle and doesn’t guide you to the best foods you need to ingest to keep your body happy.

Eating out for every meal might sound fantastic initially, but that might ultimately wear off. Getting bored with following the diet’s requirements might increase your chance of regressing to your old eating habits.

Common Dirty Keto Foods

Since the “dirty keto” method permits you to eat just about anything your heart desires, as long as you satisfy your macros for the day, your options for food choices are nearly unmeasurable. 

Examples of Dirty Keto Foods

  • Diet sodas
  • Most fast food
  • Sugar-free jello
  • Packaged keto snacks
  • Store-bought keto bread without wheat-based ingredients
  • Sugar-free sports drinks, diet soda, or juice drinks
  • Sugar-free coffee syrups
  • Most packaged sugar-free candy
  • Most store-bought keto ice cream
  • Deep fried foods
  • Whipped “toppings”
  • Dairy, corn, and potatoes (in limited amounts)

Does Dirty Keto Work?

The short and straightforward answer is “yes.” Dirty keto does work if weight loss is your primary goal. 

While both clean and dirty keto can help your body burn fat instead of carbs for energy, which leads to an increase in weight loss, the diets are vastly different in design and nutritional value. 

The clean keto version concentrates on nutritional, whole foods like nuts, fatty meat cuts, chicken, seafood, and leafy green vegetables. In contrast, the dirty keto diet encourages processed foods like deep-fried foods and juice-style drinks.


If you’re still wondering what dirty keto is, here are the answers to the most common questions about the diet.

Can you lose weight on dirty keto?

Yes, much like losing weight on keto, you can lose weight on dirty keto because you’re replacing carbs with fat as your primary source of energy.

How many carbs can you eat on dirty keto?

Dirty keto doesn’t mean you can eat a lot of carbs. You should aim for 20 to 50 grams of carbs a day, similarly to how many carbs you can eat on clean keto.

Final Thoughts

The soundest overall choice would be to follow the clean keto and avoid processed food items. 

Since both the clean and the dirt keto diets aid in weight loss, you should also focus on keeping your body as healthy as possible.

Overall, fans of a dirty keto diet hail it as a “loss weight fast method” or the “lazy person keto,” Even though this statement isn’t false, a dirty keto diet won’t put you on a lifelong journey to optimal long-term health and fitness results.

A dirty keto diet overlooks food quality and benefits to your body to expedite your weight loss goals.

Even though you may shed a few pounds quickly, the likelihood of those pounds staying off is low on a dirt keto diet.