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Clean Keto vs Lazy Keto vs Dirty Keto: What You Need to Know

It’s not an overstatement to say that ketogenic diets have rapidly transformed the health world.

Just a decade ago, many people (and medical professionals) would’ve scoffed at anyone who said they only eat 50 grams of carbohydrates per day.

Now, keto is backed by science, and many doctors recommend it for weight loss, and even some celebrities (like Tim Tebow and Halle Berry) swear by the benefits.

It’s so popular, in fact, that many subsets of the original keto diet have appeared in recent years.

Modified low-carb approaches like ‘lazy keto’ and ‘dirty keto’ have become mainstream as well, which may lead to confusion if you’re new to this way of eating.

Here’s everything you need to know about clean keto, lazy keto, and dirty keto, the benefits and drawbacks, and which type of keto might be best for you.

What is Clean Keto?

‘Clean keto’ is the term used to describe the standard ketogenic diet, where you eat lots of low-carb vegetables, lean and fatty meats, and healthy fats, like nuts and coconut oil.

It’s called “clean” because the majority of your food comes from whole-food sources. 

To be considered ketogenic, it’s recommended that you eat 20 to 50 grams of net carbs per day [1]. 

This number is low enough to induce ketosis, which means your liver releases ketones that burn stored body fat for energy instead of glucose.

The major benefit of clean keto is that the food you’re eating contains lots of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients like fiber, which can promote weight loss and is important for overall health. 

What is Lazy Keto?

Lazy keto is a spin-off of the traditional ketogenic diet.

This eating philosophy doesn’t worry about counting calories. And dieters aren’t too worried about the amount of nutrients they get. Instead, they focus on one simple metric: eating less than 50g of carbs per day.

Because there is less emphasis on clean foods, you’re free to eat other low-carb foods that you might only have occasionally on “clean keto.” 

While you still try to eat clean foods, you don’t have to all the time.

For example, foods like cheese, pork rinds, and keto-friendly ice creams are more commonly consumed on a lazy keto diet. 

What is Dirty Keto?

Dirty keto is occasionally lumped in with lazy keto. While the two are similar, there are some differences.

Basically, there are no requirements on dirty keto other than restricting carbs to induce ketosis. 

Once again, you don’t have to count calories on dirty keto. But you’re also free to eat anything you want, so long as you stay under 50g of carbs per day. 

In theory, you could eat Slim Jims (which only have 3g of net carbs per stick) or bunless cheeseburgers from McDonald’s all day and that would work fine, so long as you keep your carbs low [2].

What are the Benefits of Each Type of Keto Diet?

Obviously, these three nutritional approaches are quite different. Here’s what you’ll stand to gain from each type of keto.

Benefits of Clean Keto

Benefits of Lazy Keto

Benefits of Dirty Keto

What are the Potential Drawbacks of Each Type of Keto Diet?

Each nutritional approach comes with a few drawbacks, too. Here are some to consider.

Drawbacks of Clean Keto

Drawbacks of Lazy Keto

Drawbacks of Dirty Keto

What’s the Best Type of Keto?

In short, the best type of keto diet is whatever works best for you and your lifestyle needs. Whatever helps you make the keto lifestyle sustainable for you is the best type. 

At certain times, you might be able to really dial in and stick to clean keto. But if you need to lean on a lazy keto or dirty keto diet approach for a few days because you’re busy, that’s okay, too.

Ultimately, being healthier is the end goal and the keto diet will help you reach that goal. Sticking to your nutrition plan, however you decide to do that, is an individual decision. Experiment and see what works best for you!

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