What is a ketogenic diet and does the 'dirty' keto diet differ?
A Ketogenic diet is defined by a very low carbohydrate intake, less than 10% of total calories, very high fat intake, up to 80% of total calories, and moderate protein intake. This split in macros pushes the body into a state known as ketosis, which means the body uses fat as it’s main source of fuel (through converting fatty acids into ketones). On top of it’s macronutrient guidelines, the regular Keto diet still recommends the consumption of high quality, nutrient rich foods, like nuts, avocados and fish.
The ‘dirty’ Keto diet however, while still following the low carb, high fat, and moderate protein splits, allows for the macros to come from wherever, including processed foods like big mac patties, cream cheeses and any other refined food such as diet Fanta... all as long as it’s low in carbs.
Can it realistically help you lose weight?
Yes, but with consequences. Weight loss will likely result in the short-term, ultimately because of a reduction in total calorie intake, the depletion of muscle and liver glycogen stores and accompanying water, and a reduced appetite. But like all fad diets, majority of people will put the weight back on after some time, as well as risk a bunch of nutrient deficiencies and potentially provoke other health concerns.
What's the main issues with the 'dirty' keto diet?
For starters, it encourages the intake of processed foods that are often high in saturated fats, sodium and carcinogens. These factors increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancers.
The ‘dirty’ diet is also low in fibre and phytonutrients, which significantly impacts your gut microflora, bowel motions (e.g. provokes constipation) and overall gut health.
Furthermore, it can be low in essential nutrients including thiamine, folate, magnesium and potassium, all necessary for your body to function properly.
No one has ever said eating processed foods is good for health, and this dirty diet is no different!
What would you be better off doing as opposed to this diet?
Focus on good quality nutrition, verse quantity (whatever) macros. Eat a variety of wholefoods, eat more plants and eat for good gut health. By focusing on quality, nutrient-rich wholefoods you will receive an abundance of health benefits, including better gut health, reduced risk of chronic disease, as well as likely lose weight and keep it off. Eating this way also helps you to develop a healthier and more mindful relationship with foods.