Dirty Keto vs. Keto: What's the Difference?

Don't fall prey to dirty keto.

By now, everyone has heard of the keto diet. It's the trendy weight loss plan that somehow allows you to eat bacon — or so you might think. This diet has taken the Internet by storm because it produces fast and impressive results. But recently the term "dirty keto" has surfaced, indicating that there might be a darker, unhealthier side to this diet. So dirty keto vs. keto: what's the difference? 

The concept behind the keto diet is a high-fat and low-carb eating plan that kicks your body into fat-burning mode. So by that definition, you can eat burgers and bacon and a number of other high-fat foods, right? Talk about having your cake and eating it too — dieting without giving up the foods you love (sign me up!). It turns out that the types of fats you eat are also an important part of the diet and the main difference that changes the regular keto diet into dirty keto. If you are currently on the keto diet, or hope to start, read on to make sure that you are following it correctly and don't fall prey to dirty keto instead.

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What is the Keto Diet? 

The keto diet focuses on eating whole, natural ingredients. The specific breakdown is to have 75 percent fat, 20 percent protein, and 5 percent carbs in your meals every day, as reported by Healthline. Dr. Oz says that the fats should be healthy ones like avocado, olive oil, and nuts. The protein should be lean meat, fish, or legumes. And the carbs you consume should come mostly from vegetables. Decreasing the amount of carbs you consume and increasing your fat puts your body into ketosis — a metabolic process where your body burns fat for energy, causing weight loss over time. 

What is Dirty Keto? 

According to wellness physician Dr. Josh Axe and guest on The Dr. Oz Show, "the dirty keto diet that has become popular in the media has the same breakdown of fat, protein, and carbs as the regular keto diet." However, unlike the keto diet, dirty keto doesn't pay attention to where your nutrients come from — in other words fats could be from cheese, protein could be from a burger, and carbs could be from pizza.

The Problem With Dirty Keto 

Eating fat, protein, and carbs without regard to eating healthy can be extremely problematic. Dr. Oz has said on the show that while eating on the same ratio as the keto diet will still switch your body into ketosis and allow you to lose weight, it might cause damage to your body. Most of the fat found in foods like cheese, bacon, and ground beef are filled with saturated fat which can lead to serious health problems like heart disease. Every time you deny your body micronutrients — the good things found in healthy food — you could cause long term issues in your body.

Other Consequences of Dirty Keto

According to Dr. Axe there are other concerns that come along with dirty keto such as inflammation and nutrient deficiency. Additionally, you could gain your weight back. If the diet isn't followed properly, by eating the right foods, there is no guarentee you can lose the weight and continue to keep it off. Dr. Axe suggests the way to not fall victim to dirty keto is to try your best to follow the keto diet guidelines by eating wholesome, natural foods. However, no one is perfect. If you eat a bacon cheeseburger as your fat and protein for one meal, it won't destroy your health or your progress. Dr. Axe just cautions not to make a habit of eating unhealthy food like this all the time.


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Q: I end up overeating because it makes me feel better and I never really get full. I'd like to lose weight but this makes it hard. Any suggestions?

A: Being persistently hungry can cause big trouble. So can overeating for comfort/pleasure. These two behaviors, say researchers from Baylor University's Children's Nutrition Research Center, are controlled deep within your brain by serotonin-producing neurons, but operate separately from each other — one in the hypothalamus, the other in the midbrain. They both can, however, end up fueling poor nutritional choices and obesity.

Eating for Hunger

When hunger is your motive for eating, the question is: "Does your body know when you've had enough?" Well, if you are overweight, obese or have diabetes you may develop leptin resistance and your "I am full" hormone, leptin, can't do its job. The hormone's signal to your hypothalamus is dampened, and you keep eating.

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