What Is Dirty Keto? Everything You Need to Know

The ketogenic diet is becoming more and more popular every year … and plenty of adaptations to the keto diet have been popping up because of it! Dirty keto, lazy keto … what are they? Are they even really keto at all?

Whether you’re new to keto or just looking into changing up your diet, you may have heard about dirty keto but not quite known what it means. Today, we’re dipping our toes into dirty keto and learning all about this new low-carb option.

We’re getting into some of the key details on what dirty keto is, who can benefit from eating a dirty keto diet, and how dirty keto differs from clean or general keto diets.

The Standard Keto Diet Plan for Beginners

The Standard Keto Diet Plan for Beginners

The ketogenic or “keto” plan is a type of diet that puts an emphasis on low carbs and high fats in order to get your body to a state of ketosis. This is the ultimate key when it comes to clean or standard ketogenic diets! 

When your body does not have enough carbohydrates at its disposal to use for fuel, you go into a state of ketosis. Ketosis is when you burn ketones (fats) for energy instead of the usual carbohydrates. As a result of this fat-burning process, there will be a reduction in insulin and blood sugar levels. (If you are seeking to manage your diabetes, there is evidence that low carb or keto meal plans can help with losing weight and improving your long-term health.)

So, What Is Clean Keto?

When you stick with a clean keto diet, the focus is put on eating food quality and eating whole foods. The wide opinion on clean keto is that you maximize your high-quality whole food intake and minimize processed foods like keto snacks and keto-friendly junk food. 

Though processed foods can still be a part of your diet in moderation, keeping fats high and carbs low is the name of the clean keto game. When it comes to dietary fats, the goal is to find sources of naturally occurring healthy fats such as:

  • Avocado
  • Olives/olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Nuts
  • Eggs
  • Grass-fed Beef
  • Butter or ghee
  • Non-starchy vegetables

These are just a few examples of naturally occurring high-fat foods in a clean keto diet.

What Does Dirty Keto Mean?

The Standard Keto Diet Plan for Beginners

This version of the keto diet aims to achieve the same goal that all other types of keto diets do — usually to lose weight by eating low-carb meals — but with a difference in food sources. It’s not just low-carb vegetables and grass-fed bunless cheeseburgers on dirty keto. Processed foods have found a comfy spot within the dirty keto diet space, especially when those snack cravings hit. But does dirty keto really work?

Dirty keto allows the flexibility for you to try keto recipes that include more processed ingredients. You may find it empowering to have the freedom of allowing yourself to eat any kinds of foods that loosely fit into your macros. With dirty keto not being nearly as rigid of a diet as clean or standard keto, this could make it easier to follow, too.

What Is IIFYM?

BRB, LOL, OMG … We all know what these acronyms stand for. Well, here is a new one to add to your repertoire: IIFYM.

This acronym stands for If It Fits Your Macros, which is a portion of the dirty keto concept.

While you should make sure that you are eating no more than 30 grams of carbs per day (sometimes as low as 20 grams of carbohydrates), you can eat more processed and convenient foods, just as long as it fits within your daily macros.

You can basically eat whatever you want while on dirty keto, with the low-carb caveat still in place. Easy peasy!

Sometimes, the food choices you have available to you while livin’ a dirty keto lifestyle can be a little less nutritious than foods you’ll find while following clean keto. 

A dirty keto diet can be an easy way to start transitioning into keto, eventually becoming a stepping stone to clean keto eating. Or maybe dirty keto is the end goal for you — it is totally up to you whether this approach and macronutrient balance works for you and your needs! 

How Do You Follow a Dirty Keto Diet?

Here is a helpful trick for ensuring that you are staying on the right track in regards to dirty keto: Track your calories for about a week, and observe what the average is. Adjust accordingly to your goals, such as weight loss needs. 

Follow your dirty keto diet for a couple of weeks, and pay attention to how you feel. Have you noticed that your pants fit a little more loosely? Perhaps you are feeling sluggish and not 100%. Modify your diet as needed! 

If you find that you are achieving your weight loss goals, keep at it. If you aren’t feeling great from eating more convenience foods, maybe you can incorporate other aspects of the clean ketogenic approach (hello, whole foods!) and create a hybrid diet that may work better for you and your body.

Clean Keto vs. Lazy Keto vs. Dirty Keto

The Standard Keto Diet Plan for Beginners

All ketogenic diets are inherently low-carb diets — dirty keto included. The rule of thumb for every keto approach is to consume no more than 20 to 30 grams of carbohydrates per day. The difference in diets boils down to your carb sources, as well as additional macros that make up your meals.

A standard keto diet is the most rigid approach. You will be counting and tracking all of your macronutrients, putting emphasis on high-quality whole foods, and ensuring that you remain in ketosis. 

As far as lazy keto is concerned, this keto diet spin-off takes a more relaxed standpoint. You can sometimes think of lazy keto as being in between the clean and dirty keto diets. There is usually some focus on health and macro tracking, but not as disciplined as clean keto … and not as laidback as dirty, either.

How does dirty keto stand up to both clean and lazy variations of the ketogenic diet? Fast food, diet sodas, sugar-free candies … on a keto diet? Absolutely, with dirty keto.

Dirty keto is best for those of us who prefer flexibility with our eating habits and schedules. While you may not make it to ketosis — since ketosis requires you to more accurately track your macronutrients, you will still be able to gain the advantages of a low-carb lifestyle.

Differences Between Low Carb Keto Diets

Clean or standard keto is typically best for individuals who find it easy to be self-disciplined, have time to meal prep, and are able to stick to the goals they have in place. 

Lazy keto seems to suit those who prefer to keep it simple and find tracking every macro a little too stressful. Where does dirty keto fit into this low-carb picture? 

If you’re someone who gravitates towards flexibility, someone who maybe doesn’t have as much time to devote to meal prepping in the kitchen, or just find that adhering to a stricter version of a low-carb diet doesn’t vibe with your busy life: the dirty keto diet welcomes you with open arms.

Who Should Follow a Dirty Keto Diet?

If you find yourself spending a lot of time traveling or dedicated to working, there just isn’t time to prepare meals. Places like fast food restaurants, convenience stores, and the prepared food sections of grocery stores have many dirty keto offerings — and sometimes, they’re our only options when we’re on the road. 

Simple modifications at the drive-thru can turn a carb-covered hamburger into a quick dirty keto meal! Ask for no bun, and you’ve just eliminated many of the carbs you’re avoiding. 

Convenience stores carry tons of snacks and drinks that are also appropriate: Pork rinds, sugar-free soda, most packaged snacks, and lots of pre-packaged foods. Grocery stores also now have a wider variety of meals marked as keto. You can find plenty of prepared frozen meals, the same snacks (and more!) that are available at convenience stores, as well as meal replacers. 

As always, remember to be mindful that you don’t go over 30 grams of carbs on dirty keto! Refer to the ingredients labels on boxes and packaging or check the nutritional information of your favorite fast food restaurant online.


Foods Allowed on a Dirty Keto Diet

Where clean keto takes whole foods, dirty keto would use ingredients like:

  • Sugar-free sodas
  • Potato chips
  • Vegetable oils
  • Hamburgers with no bun
  • Pre-packaged meats
  • Pork rinds
  • Condiments
  • Packaged snacks
  • Nuts
  • Low carb veggies
  • Low carb fruits
  • No sugar added chocolates

Is Dirty Keto Good for You?

Due to the nature of processed, pre-packaged, or fast food sources, there is usually a hard-to-avoid increase in sodium intake with dirty keto. It is also easier to miss out on some key micronutrients or fiber while on a dirty keto diet. 

While it may be easy to get focused on maintaining a high fat intake with a low carb intake, vitamins and minerals are essential. Just remember to include a variety of low-carb fruits and vegetables into your diet when you can, and everything should fall into place.

When you stick with a dirty keto diet, you usually won’t prioritize whole foods as much as you would on a standard ketogenic diet. There’s nothing wrong with this style of low-carb dieting, as long as you don’t have any extenuating health concerns that may make it not the best option to eat a little more unhealthily.


Don’t let the numerous different ketogenic diet possibilities overwhelm or confuse you! Clean keto, lazy keto, and dirty keto are all great options, depending on the individual. All of these ketogenic choices have been shown to promote weight loss and contribute to other types of health benefits. 

So, whether or not you want to track all of your macros, just keep an eye on your carbs, or head to In and Out for a lettuce-wrapped burger — any of these low-carb diets are a viable option for you. 

Which ketogenic diet do you think you’d prefer? Maybe you’ve tried one but are curious about the others and how they would fit into your lifestyle! With standard keto, lazy keto, or dirty keto, don’t forget that low carb, no sugar added chocolate from MiiRO is always welcome. Heck yes!


Ketogenic Diet | PMC

Get Smart On Carbs | ADA

Low-Carbohydrate Diets Lead to Greater Weight Loss | PMC

Vegetables and Fruits | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published