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Down and Dirty or Clean and Mean?

Down and Dirty or Clean and Mean?

One of the most basic choices you will face when you first start into the ketogenic lifestyle is how healthy you want your food choices to be. Dirty Keto is much easier to follow, it allows a much greater range of foodstuffs to be consumed. Clean Keto, on the other hand, is far stricter and consequently feels a little more restrictive. This is especially the case if the person choosing this option has few cooking or preparation skills.

What is ‘Dirty Keto’ ?

Dirty Keto is sometimes also referred to as ‘Lazy Keto’, although this latter term is somewhat ambiguous (it can also refer to those who are not overly concerned counting macros but just use their own judgement instead). The term ‘Dirty Keto’ refers to versions of the ketogenic diet which allow the practitioner to stick to the basic notion of a low carb, high-fat diet but without being too concerned with the health implications of what is consumed.

Basically, with Dirty Keto, any foodstuff, no matter how processed, no matter how lacking in nutrients, no matter how harmful in other ways, can be consumed as long as it allows the consumer to keep their intake of carbs below 50 grams per day.

This sort of diet suits individuals who are only concerned with weight loss or who choose a ketogenic diet for reasons of vanity alone. Thoughts of underlying health outcomes or the long term results are not for them. As far as they are concerned, food comes wrapped in foil, a tin or some other packaging, preferably with a loud and obvious label that proclaims it is ‘keto friendly’ or ‘low carb’.

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dirty keto book

What is ‘Clean Keto’ ?

Clean Keto is the polar opposite of Dirty Keto. Its focus is on a diet consisting of whole low-carb foods, fresh meat and fish, organic vegetables and dairy products, and free-range eggs. Shopping on this sort of keto diet is often quite simple. Basically, you will be sticking to the first few aisles of the supermarket. Few, if any, of the processed foodstuffs in the centre aisles qualify for Clean Keto.

Of course, such an emphasis on wholefoods presupposes some measure of basic cooking and food preparation skills. Not that much though. A large range of perfectly decent ketogenic meals can be created with some pretty elementary cooking skills. To be honest, if you are an adult and still cannot cook an omelette or fry up a simple steak then it is high time you learnt!

This style of ketogenic diet suits both those who wish to lose weight and those who wish to improve their health and well being. It may not be ‘lazy’, but it is still pretty easy to understand and to execute. It also has the major benefit of ensuring that you only consume good quality, highly nutritious and healthy fare. This would seem preferable to pre-packaged, highly adulterated, chemically altered products … but each to his (or her) own.

clean keto lifestyle book

Which type of Keto should you choose?

I think it will be obvious from the above which camp I place my tent in. Whilst supporting people’s intention to lose weight if needed, I would much rather they do it in such a way as to protect their underlying health as well. I tend to be a function over form person – for me, it is more important what something actually does rather than just how it looks. Happily, with clean keto, both these aspects can be satisfied; you can be both slimmer and healthier simultaneously, without the need to sacrifice one to the other.

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keto diet book by josh axe


Dirty and clean keto denote two possible attitudes to the ketogenic diet. In practice, even the cleanest of clean keto practitioners probably has some aspect where they are less than perfect. I certainly am not always a ketogenic angel in this way. Occasionally, I slip up by accident, or even give way to temptation and eat something less than completely wholesome. In general, though, I try to keep it clean and would suggest you do the same. Ask yourself this simple question: would you rather be slim and fit or merely slim?


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