All keto ‘diets’ have the same goal of reducing your carb intake. Strict, lazy, and dirty are some of the many ways keto eaters will approach their carb counting. In this article, we will take you through what strict, lazy, and dirty keto approaches are, so you can decide whether you prefer to take the strict, lazy or dirty approach to keto.
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Before we decide on strict, lazy, dirty keto, we’re quickly going to look at the difference between keto and a low carb, high fat diet.
Both keto and a low-carb diet are focused on reducing the number of carbs consumed on a daily basis.
Keto v Low Carb High Fat [LCHF]
As stated above, keto diets revolve around reducing an individual’s carb intake to under 20 grams per day.
The goal of this is for the body to enter ketosis and start metabolizing fat as opposed to carbohydrates (glucose) in order to provide your body with energy.
Low Carb High Fat [LCHF]
A low-carb, high-fat diet does what it says on the tin.
You reduce the number of carbs that you are eating and still eat the high-fat foods that you would on the keto diet.
There is no specific definition of what is ‘low carb’ but many see this as being around 20 – 80 grams of carbs whit some people going as high as 100 grams of carbs per day.
A lot of people will use an LCHF diet as a way to transition onto a keto diet whereas others will adopt this when they are on holiday or away from home and cannot stick to their keto macros.
Alternatively, when somebody has achieved their health goals with the keto diet, they may then transition onto a LCHF diet.
How Many Carbs In A Day?
Would you believe that the average person in the USA eats around 250g of carbohydrates a day?
As a little exercise, in order to try and understand more about your eating habits. try writing down EVERYTHING (no cheating!) that you eat in an average week.
You can do this with a pen and paper or through a fitness app such as myfitnesspal. This will give you an indication of how many carbs you eat on an average day.
I bet you will be surprised by how many carbs you are actually consuming.
What are Macros?
So far I have mentioned macros several times. If you’re new to a keto way of eating this may be a new concept to you.
The term ‘macro’ is short for macronutrients.
What are macronutrients?
On a keto way of eating your aim it to stick to 20g of fewer carbs every day. This is the same for every person on keto.
The amount of fat and protein will alter depending on your current weight, your goal weight, and your level of activity in everyday life.
In order to accurately work out what your macros are for a keto diet use the calculator on ruled.me; having used a few this is the most accurate one out there.
Strict, Lazy, Dirty Keto [What Are They]
So we have established now that 20 grams of carbohydrates are the target for all people on keto.
Strict, lazy, and dirty versions of keto all stick to this mantra of 20g of carbs a day.
What changes on each of these variants are what you do and do not allow yourself to eat, and how you track, (or not) what you are eating.
On strict keto, you closely track all of your macros including the number of calories that you eat.
For some people that need strict guidelines as to what and how much of everything they can and cannot eat, this is the perfect keto macro tracking option for you.
You do not eat any sugar at all – all foods are more or less in their original form with no processing or additives.
For example, you would not be able to ‘keto’ goodies, as they do contain some sugar alternative. As you can imagine for some this is not manageable as the restrictions are quite strict.
This, as its title suggests, is a far more relaxed version of the keto diet.
The only macronutrient which is tracked is carb consumption. The amount of fat and protein that has been consumed will not be tracked.
Once people get into the swing of strict keto they will often swap onto lazy keto as they are aware of the macro values of what they are eating.
Finally, Let’s Get Dirty!
On a ‘dirty’ keto as long as your diet is 70% fat, 25% protein, and 5% carbs it doesn’t matter where those macronutrients come from.
You could be eating chocolate (not a lot though!), which is full of sugar as long as it keeps you within your macros, this is often referred to as IIFYM (if it fits your macros).
In other words, as long as whatever you are eating’s total carb value is under 20 grams, it does not matter what the quality of what you are eating is.
The big problem with dirty keto is that it effectively gives you permission to eat what you want as long as it’s low in carbs. It does not encourage you to eat foods with a high nutritional value.
So What Is Best For You? Strict, Lazy, Dirty Keto? [Or LCHF?]
Only you can really answer this based on knowing how you react to changes in your eating patterns.
For me, I probably started out somewhere between dirty, and lazy.
The only thing I was ensuring was that I managed to stay within my 20 grams of carbs a day.
This was in large because when I started keto I did not know what foods I could and couldn’t eat.
I used MyFitnessPal to track my food to start to learn the nutritional value of different foods etc.
Once I got the hang of this I drifted more into a lazy keto way of eating.
Now I understand more about nutrition I see the value in eating a more strict keto diet. But equally, we know that this is not for everybody.
Strict, lazy, dirty keto – which do you think suits you?
The Danger Of Choosing Lazy Keto
Every now and again I will stall on the weight loss front, or start to feel a bit sluggish and maybe gain inches. In the keto community, this is referred to as a keto stall.
When this happens I know what I have done.
My portion sizes will have crept up. Where I thought I was sticking to my macros I will be going over them, but convincing myself that I am still eating the ‘same’ food!
When this happens I will try and move onto a more ‘strict’ version of keto for a couple of weeks.
I will get back into the habit of weighing and tracking everything to reign myself back in. I will also try and cut out some of the keto ‘alternatives’ I know and love – like bread and daily chocolate brownies!
After a couple of weeks, I will drift back onto a lazy way of eating, enjoying the odd brownie, but not making them a feature of every day!
Is LCHF For Me?
Some people really do struggle to cut carbs out of their diet. If this is the case for you, or you are not sure about keto, you may want to try LCHF for a few months.
Try to stay to the lower end of the carb intake for the best results.
I will be honest with you, when I go traveling, I normally migrate to an LCHF way of eating. Why?
I love food!
I am not going to a new country and not experiencing everything it has to offer, and the food is no exception!!
I love trying local cuisines, if for no other reason than knowing what the ‘original’ version tasted like so I can come home and play around in the kitchen to find a keto version. Then I can share that with you lovely people!
All I do when on holiday is try and plan the best I can. If I know that I am going to the food market in the afternoon and I will be sampling the local delicacy which is high in carbs. I will try and eat a low-carb breakfast and lunch to accommodate that.
Sometimes, I will consider intermittent fasting until lunch to ensure that I am minimizing my carb intake.
The next day I may skip breakfast in order to ‘fast’ to get those carbs out of my system before trying to do it all again. Please be clear that fasting should not be used to out eat a bad diet.
I love eating a keto way of life, but I will be honest in that I do not stick to it 100% of the time.
When traveling I will try the foods that I want to. I will just manage what I can around that to mitigate any long-term damage. I hate the cliché that, “life is for the living”, but it really is!
Strict, Lazy, Dirty Keto [Which Is For You]
Hopefully, we have given you an overview of the three to see which is more suited to your personality style. If we were to recommend one, we would always encourage people to start with strict keto as it is by far the healthiest option. Moreover, sticking to this is by far going to produce the best results. However, we are realistic that this is not for everybody.
Let us know, strict, lazy, dirty keto? Which are you going to try?