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Article by
Paola Cornu
Kick off a lifetime of healthy habits through keto
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LearnEat: A complete Keto diet guide for beginners
Grocery list builder
Go ahead, move one step to your goals
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Let’s start with the basics. The keto diet is an eating pattern that seeks to drastically limit the percentage of carbohydrates in the diet. The classic version is composed of 70-80% healthy fat, 20-25% protein, and just 5-10% carbohydrates, which forces the body to use fat as its primary source of energy. This triggers a biochemical process called KETOSIS. This may lead to several potential health benefits, including weight loss, reduced blood sugar levels, and even a lower risk of certain cancers.

If you’re following the classic keto diet, it means you’re following a clean keto diet.

What is clean keto? 🍓 🥬 🍗

Clean keto focuses on whole, nutrient-dense foods, and it puts more emphasis on food quality, avoiding processed foods.

A properly-formulated, standard Ketogenic diet:

  • Recommends consuming healthy fat sources like olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, and avocados.
  • Recommends protein from healthy sources like salmon, steak, and eggs.
  • Encourages large amounts of non-starchy vegetables.
  • Recommends high-quality dairy products.
  • Encourages low-carb, high-fiber fruits (berries).

The concept of eating nutritious food sounds pretty obvious when we are trying to be more healthy and lose weight.

But believe it or not, there’s a diet out there that suggests you can eat fast food all day and still lose weight.

It’s called the dirty keto diet, and it’s essentially a “shortcut”–a low-carb diet where you can eat fast foods, and other chemically altered products, instead of prioritizing healthy ingredients.

But as we all know, taking shortcuts rarely gets us where we want to be long-term.

A diet like this might seem tempting, but there are several reasons it’s not a good idea.

What is dirty keto? 🍔 🍟 🍕

“Dirty” is a loaded word when it comes to food. And for the keto diet in particular, “dirty keto” is open to interpretation.

For some, it means eating fast food when the craving strikes but making choices to stay within low-carb keto macros – like ordering a bunless bacon cheeseburger and diet soda. For others, it means occasionally breaking ketosis to include non-traditional keto ingredients.

What we can use as a common definition is that it is still low in carbs and high in fat, but the food sources included are often not as nutritious. This is important, because you may miss out on several key nutrients and increase your risk of disease.

Here’s why dirty keto doesn’t work ❌

  • Processed foods are likely to have far more additives and fewer of the micronutrients your body needs. What’s more, they are associated with several negative health effects, including weight gain, diabetes, overall mortality, and heart disease.
  • Certain additives, including monosodium glutamate (MSG) and trans fats, are linked to adverse conditions like cancer, obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
  • Moreover, the added sugars in many processed foods may prevent you from reaching and maintaining ketosis.
  • As we mentioned before, dirty keto foods are lacking in vitamins and minerals that your body requires. By choosing processed foods over nutritious, whole foods, you may become deficient in micronutrients like calcium, magnesium, zinc, folic acid, and vitamins C, D, and K.

Perhaps the most important reason why dirty keto doesn’t work is that it’s an extreme measure that isn’t even that necessary to get results. After all, there’s no “rule” in the standard variation of the keto diet that states you can never eat processed meat or use sugar-free sweeteners.

True, they aren’t encouraged at every meal, but there’s no reason you can’t add some of these technically keto-friendly foods into your routine each week, as long as you’re eating clean most of the time.

Why you shouldn’t try dirty keto 🙅🏼‍♀️

The truth is, people using the dirty keto diet are relying on a “crutch,” or a technicality, to lose weight. And by doing that, they’re depriving themselves of the greatest result of all: The freedom to make empowered choices about what you put into your body. Not because they’re “banned” and it’s a cheat day, but because you enjoy them and have decided you’ve earned them. Dirty keto simply can’t offer that type of freedom.

  • In the short term, dirty keto isn’t ideal because your body isn’t going to feel healthy, and you’re much more likely to get sick or experience side effects from nutrient deficiencies.
  • In the long-term, you won’t develop the strong psychological framework that people who lose weight and keep it off, earn from their hard work. In all likelihood, the shortcut you took will just lead to you gaining back that weight.

But if you choose the harder path, you’ll be rewarded with the body and brain that’s capable of losing weight for good. 🏆