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Keto Decoded: Clean, Lazy, and Dirty Keto Explained

Author: Victoria 9 min read
Aug 30, 2023
Keto Decoded: Clean, Lazy, and Dirty Keto Explained

Have you ever been puzzled by the terms 'clean keto,' 'lazy keto,' and 'dirty keto'? Prepare to have all your questions answered here!

The diet, also known as 'keto,' has taken the health and wellness industry by storm, capturing the imagination of countless individuals seeking a transformative approach to their well-being. 

However, it's important to note that each individual's keto journey may differ upon closer analysis. Understanding the differences between the three primary variations - clean, lazy, and dirty - is crucial for personalizing and optimizing your keto journey.

Each variant has its unique approach, with variations in the quality of fats, proteins, and carbs consumed. Whether you're a seasoned keto enthusiast or just starting your low-carb journey, this guide will help decode these variations, enabling you to make informed decisions for your health and wellness goals.

Let's get right into it!

The Clean Keto Diet: A Deep Dive 

As the name suggests, the Clean Keto Diet focuses on consuming high-quality, nutrient-dense foods. This approach encourages participants to consume most calories from healthy fats and lean proteins while minimizing carb intake.

The "clean" aspect refers to focusing on whole, unprocessed foods.

Embracing Nutrient-Dense Foods

Foods that are particularly beneficial on this diet include fish such as salmon and mackerel, lean meats such as chicken and turkey, avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, and nuts and seeds.

Vegetables, particularly leafy greens like spinach and kale, are also a crucial part of the diet, as they provide essential nutrients without adding too many carbs.

While the clean keto diet permits dairy, choosing organic, full-fat, and ideally, raw dairy products like cheese, yogurt, and butter is essential. Eggs, particularly free-range or organic, are another excellent source of protein.

What to Avoid on Clean Keto

Anything processed or high in refined sugar should be eliminated in terms of foods to avoid. This includes most prepackaged meals, soft drinks, and conventional snack foods. Even fruits should be consumed in moderation due to their high sugar content.

Some foods you might not expect to be off-limits include grains (even whole grains), most legumes, and starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn.

Weighing the Benefits and Challenges

The clean keto approach boasts a plethora of advantages. Beyond its acclaimed capability to aid in weight loss, it champions holistic well-being, thanks to the nutrient-dense foods that form its core.

These foods, rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, offer benefits ranging from enhanced energy levels to improved skin clarity and bolstered immune function. Nonetheless, adopting a clean keto lifestyle is challenging.

It demands meticulous meal planning and a significant time investment in preparation to ensure you're reaping the full benefits. Additionally, your grocery bill might see an uptick.

The emphasis on premium-quality ingredients—organic produce, free-range poultry, grass-fed meats, and sustainably sourced seafood—often comes with a higher price tag than conventional alternatives or other keto variations.

The Typical Clean Keto Meal Plan

A typical day on a clean keto diet might include: 

  • A breakfast consisting of eggs and avocados.

  • A lunch of grilled chicken with leafy greens. 

  • A dinner of salmon with a side of asparagus. 

Snacks could include hard-boiled eggs, nuts, cheese, and celery sticks.

This diet variation requires careful tracking of macronutrients to maintain the correct balance of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.

The Lazy Keto Diet: What You Need to Know

As the name suggests, the Lazy Keto diet is a more relaxed version of the traditional ketogenic diet. The primary difference lies in the detailed tracking of macronutrients.

Unlike the conventional keto diet, which requires meticulous measurement of fats, proteins, and carbs, a lazy keto diet only requires tracking your carbohydrate intake. The carbohydrate limit for a lazy keto diet is typically set at around 20 grams per day.

Lazy keto dieters keep their carbohydrate intake under 20 grams daily without worrying too much about the precise breakdown of fat and protein intake. As such, it can be a more manageable and less time-intensive approach for many.

Understanding the 20 Grams Carb Limit on Lazy Keto

The 20 grams of carbohydrates allowed per day on a lazy keto diet should come from nutrient-dense, whole food sources. This includes leafy green vegetables, avocados, nuts, and seeds.

These carbs are high in fiber and are more slowly digested by the body, leading to a steady rise in blood sugar instead of the spike seen with refined carbs.

It's also worth noting that fiber doesn't count towards your daily carb count on a keto diet because it's not broken down into sugar molecules and doesn't cause an insulin response.

Sources of carbohydrates to avoid include foods high in sugar and refined grains. This comprises bread, pasta, rice, sugary beverages, and sweet snacks.

These food items can rapidly raise blood sugar levels and push you out of ketosis. As with all diets, balance and moderation are key.

The Potential Pros and Cons of the Lazy Keto Diet

The benefits of the lazy keto diet include potential weight loss, similar to the standard ketogenic diet, due to the body entering a state of ketosis.

However, the drawbacks may include nutritional imbalances due to the need for macronutrient tracking, potentially leading to inadequate protein consumption or overconsumption of unhealthy fats.

As with any diet, it is essential to balance intake with nutritional needs, and it is vital to consult a healthcare provider or nutritionist before making dietary changes.

The Typical Lazy Keto Meal Plan

A lazy keto meal plan might be similar to the clean keto program, focusing on low-carb foods and healthy fats. 

However, there is less emphasis on food quality and more on carbohydrate count. For example, a typical day might include:

  • A breakfast of bacon and eggs.

  • A lunch of salad with a high-fat dressing.

  • A dinner consisting of a steak with a side of non-starchy vegetables.

Snacks may consist of cheese, nuts, and low-carb protein bars. It's important to remember, though, that while the lazy keto diet is more flexible, it is still essential to prioritize nutrient-dense foods and avoid highly processed items whenever possible.

The Dirty Keto Diet: An Examination

"Dirty Keto" is a more relaxed version of the standard ketogenic diet, which prioritizes low-carb, high-fat foods to prompt the body into ketosis.

Unlike clean keto, which emphasizes whole, nutrient-dense foods, dirty keto permits any food as long as it fits within the low-carb, high-fat macro guidelines. This might include processed foods, fast food, and convenience meals, typically low in nutrients.

Potential Benefits of the Dirty Keto Diet

The primary advantage is its flexibility, permitting a broader range of food options than the traditional ketogenic diet. This can make the dirty keto diet easier to stick to, increasing the likelihood of sustained weight loss over the long term.

The dirty keto diet also caters to those who live a fast-paced lifestyle or need more time to prepare nutrient-dense meals from scratch. The allowance of convenience foods, fast food, and prepackaged meals can make it less burdensome for those struggling to find time to cook.

Moreover, some individuals may find that the dirty keto diet helps manage their cravings for processed foods. Dirty keto may help prevent feelings of deprivation that can lead to binge eating by allowing flexibility in food choices. Therefore, the dirty keto diet can be a viable weight loss strategy in specific contexts and if approached mindfully.

Potential Drawbacks of the Dirty Keto Diet

While the dirty keto diet may seem attractive due to its less restrictive nature, it's essential to understand its potential drawbacks.

Primarily, the diet focuses solely on macronutrients (carbs, fats, proteins) without considering the micronutrients (vitamins, minerals) essential for overall health. This can lead to deficiencies in critical nutrients, impacting your energy levels, immune system, and long-term health.

Moreover, the dirty keto diet often includes unhealthy, processed foods high in saturated fats. These can increase your risk of developing high cholesterol and heart disease. Additionally, processed foods can be loaded with sodium, leading to higher blood pressure.

The dirty keto diet might not promote healthy eating despite facilitating weight loss. Its emphasis on convenience and processed foods over whole, nutritious options could lead to an unhealthy relationship with food. Therefore, while the dirty keto diet offers a less restrictive approach to the traditional ketogenic diet, it's essential to consider these potential health implications carefully.

How Does The Typical Dirty Keto Day Looks Like?

A typical day on the dirty keto diet might look different for everyone. Still, it could include a breakfast of sausage and cheese (minus the bun) from a fast-food restaurant, a snack of pork rinds, a bunless burger lunch, and a steak with butter dinner.

While these meals meet the macro requirements of the keto diet, they need more vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients from unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods.

Comparing Clean, Lazy, and Dirty Keto: Which is Right for You?

Choosing between clean, lazy, and dirty keto diets depends on multiple factors, including your health goals, dietary preferences, and lifestyle, and consider the amount of time and effort you're willing to dedicate to planning and preparing meals.

If your goal is weight loss without paying much heed to the quality of foods, a dirty keto may be an appealing choice. Having more choices in food options is possible with this. You can eat anything as long as it fits within your macro limits.

However, clean keto, which emphasizes nutrient-dense and unprocessed foods, might be the best option if you're looking for a comprehensive approach to your health and well-being.

On the other hand, if you're looking for a balance between the strictness of clean keto and the flexibility of dirty keto, lazy keto could be the right fit.

Lazy keto simplifies the ketogenic diet by only tracking carbs, making it less time-consuming. However, this approach could lead to deficiencies in protein and fat intake.

Ultimately, the suitable variant of the keto diet for you hinges on your individual needs, goals, and lifestyle. Getting advice from a healthcare professional or a certified dietitian can help you determine the best approach for your needs.


As we learned, the ketogenic diet comes in various forms: clean keto, dirty keto, and lazy keto, each with its unique attributes and potential benefits.

Clean keto emphasizes nutrient-dense and unprocessed foods for a holistic approach to health and well-being. While offering more flexibility with food choices, Dirty keto focuses primarily on staying within macro limits regardless of food quality.

Lazy keto, which simplifies the diet by tracking only carbs, provides a balance between flexibility and regimentation. However, it may lead to deficiencies in protein and fat intake if not carefully monitored.

It's important to remember that the best version of the ketogenic diet for you fits your individual needs, goals, and lifestyle. It's not just about losing weight or achieving a particular look—it's about creating a healthier, happier you. The road to health is a journey, not a destination. It requires commitment, dedication, and sometimes, readjustments along the way. 

So, embark on your keto journey with an open mind, understanding that you may need to try different approaches to find what works best for you. Be gentle with yourself, and remember that each step brings you closer to your goal.

You're not alone in this journey; you're becoming a better version of yourself each day. Stay strong and keto on!

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