Lazy Keto VS Strict Keto VS Dirty Keto

Lazy Keto VS Strict Keto VS Dirty Keto

Lazy Keto and Dirty Keto are ways to incorporate more flexibility in your Keto diet – but don’t be surprised if you get some backlash from Keto community groups like on facebook.

If you post a photo of a new Keto product you want to try, you might get the response “Sure, you COULD eat that if you were doing lazy keto”

How many times have you been in a facebook group and have someone post “is this keto?” only to see snarky and patronising responses?

If you’ve been involved in the keto community for a while, you know there’s a lot of controversy and debate around the topic of “what is keto” and what isn’t. Every forum and page is rife with this sort of comment.

Well, I’m here to hopefully shed some light on why this is a constant battle, so you can make the decision on which ‘style’ of Keto is right for you.

First, let’s look at what each version of Keto might look like so you can work out which one is going to work for YOU.

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Before you scroll to the down, below I’ve tried to answer any questions you may have about the difference of lazy keto, strict keto and dirty keto.

Strict Keto or Clean Keto.  No processed No additives No dairy No compromise No sugar No cheats No inflammatory foods No snacking No baked goods Generally no nuts

Strict Keto or Clean Keto

Strict Keto or Clean Keto is, for some people, the ONLY way to ‘truly eat Keto’.

There are no variations, it is an all or nothing kind of approach.

Strict Keto is exactly that, 100% on plan, no cheats days, no substitutions and no compromise.

People who practice the Strict Keto way of eating (WOE) get their foods only from “clean” sources.

We are talking about local, organic, grass fed beef. Organic veggies. Cage-free, soy free, free range, royally treated, gold encrusted eggs.

Some Strict Keto eaters also often avoid dairy as it can be inflammatory for many people.

Strict Keto can often mean meticulously tracking macros and avoiding processed foods of any kind.

No more Quest bars if you’re on the Strict or Clean Keto bandwagon.

This style of Keto can work really well for those who have experienced IBS, PCOS and health problems relating to carbohydrates. I write about PCOS and Keto further here if this affects you.

In my experience, it seems to suit people who have an ‘all or nothing’ personality more than most people.

I talk a bit more about this in my article about The 4 Tendencies and Diet – How your personality can affect your keto success. 

These people are generally the Upholder personality type, meaning once they are convinced of something there is no swaying them and they can stick to a plan 100%.

The downside is, this can often lead to judgement of people who are not as strong willed or who might need a bit of coaching and support along the way. It can also be a pretty expensive way to eat in the long run.

I suspect that a Strict Keto diet is the most beneficial to our health overall, but it can be quite difficult to stick to in the long term as you have so many restrictions.

A typical day for Strict Keto

A typical diet for Strict Keto might look something like this. This is obviously just a simple example to give you an idea.

Breakfast            Fasting, OR free range, nitrate free bacon and scrambled eggs

Lunch                  Chicken and salad, dressing of cold pressed olive oil and lemon juice

Dinner                 Salmon, broccoli and asparagus cooked in olive oil or coconut oil

Snacks                 N/A – generally avoided

LAZY KETO - Dairy allowed Less focused on quality of food Generally clean More relaxed Often includes alcohol Store bought is okay Packaged foods are okay but generally avoided Some inflammatory foods included

Lazy Keto

Lazy Keto is probably the most common,  and is the easiest to follow version of Keto.

This style is best for those who want to see the surface results of the ketogenic diet like weightloss and energy levels, but don’t want to devote every second and dollar to strict keto.

Lazy keto tends to involve keeping your ingredients mostly whole and clean, and usually not tracking anything outside of carbs.

People doing lazy keto might not be AS concerned about grass fed beef vs. “regular” beef.

They also may use packaged dressings that are simply low carb; actions which often cause some raised eye brows from the Strict Keto eaters.

They keep their daily carbs under 20g of net carbs a day, but often don’t track calories.

This tends to be one of the more popular forms of keto. You have the strictness required to see fast results, but you wont tear your hair out obsessing over every little detail.

The downside of Lazy Keto is that you usually hit a ceiling on the benefits you see.

You will often get a flatter stomach, lose body fat and feel better overall, however I know from my own experience that as you get closer to a goal weight range you need to tighten up your belt if you want to… tighten up your belt further.

Sorry, couldn’t help the lame joke…

A sudden stall often sees Lazy Keto people start to review what else could be causing them to hold on to the last few kgs to reach their goal weight.

Lazy Keto might also help you uncover food intolerances – when your results start to plateau, you can start troubleshooting why keto has stopped working for you.

A typical day for Lazy Keto

Here’s what a typical day of eating Lazy Keto style might include. You’ll notice more dairy and and other foods that Strict Keto would consider a no-no,

Breakfast            Bacon and Scrambled Eggs made with cream, or Bulletproof coffee using butter

Lunch                  Chicken and salad with store bought mayonnaise, cheese and almonds or deli meats

Dinner                 Steak with butter drenched broccoli, cauliflower cheese bake

Snacks                 Keto Brownies

Dirty Keto - Only focused on low carb If fits your macros Any food included Packaged foods okay Take away okay Meal replacements okay Disregard inflammatory foods Only goal is to be in ketosis

Dirty Keto

Of all the different types of keto, Dirty Keto is by far the most controversial.

This is the one that really gets those keto groups riled up and angry. Choose your facebook groups and forums carefully if you are doing this style of Keto, or be prepared to feel the same.

Dirty keto is essentially not concerned about ingredients and only concerned about carb intake and macros.

Basically it is the ‘If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM)’ version of keto, so if it keeps your carbs where they need to be, and you are in ketosis, then you are doing it right.

This means you could be eating processed protein bars, pre-packaged foods, take away food. As long as it fits your macros and you are in ketosis then you are winning at it.

The downside of Dirty Keto, and to a lesser degree Lazy Keto, is that it does not acknowledge inflammatory foods.

As inflammation is linked to more and more diseases and health concerns, I personally don’t think it is something I can ignore for my own health.

A typical day for Dirty Keto

Here’s what a typical day of eating Dirty Keto style might include. You’ll notice plenty of packaged foods and take away.

Breakfast           Quest Oatmeal Bar and Bulletproof Coffee

Lunch                  McDonalds Quarter Pounder with no bun, Coke Zero

Dinner                Rotisserie chicken, coleslaw, low carb beer

Snacks                Quest Cookie


Lazy Keto VS Strict Keto VS Dirty Keto Infographics

Which style of Keto is right?

Really, the right style of Keto is about which is right for YOU.

The best Keto diet for you is:

  • Sustainable in the long term
  • Aligned with your health goals
  • In line with your doctor’s advice
  • Affordable

And right means sustainable, helps you reach your goals – not just weight loss goals but overall health goals

The Keto diet WORKS but it’s only going to work if it is something you can do for the rest of your life.

I am a strong believer on eating as many vegetables as possible, and most people find once they are keto adapted, they tend to lean towards fresher foods anyway.

Eating packaged foods, baked good replacements etc isn’t the end of the world.

Because here’s the thing – just like veganism and vegetarianism, this is a food choice.

You are choosing what you put in your body, according to your own health goals and lifestyle.

We are not FORCED to keep our carbohydrates low, even if it is better for our health.

We are not allergic to carbs and most of us are not allergic to preservatives or food colours, so this is a choice like anything else.

I say to those who are unsupportive or judgemental (or down right rude) to people doing Lazy/Dirty Keto – every vegan probably looks at your diet the same way you look at Lazy keto.

Bear that in mind and approach every question with the kindness and acceptance you would like to be given yourself. We are all on our own journeys here.

My journey?

I revolve between all 3 styles.

Most days, I am strict keto with some dairy.

On weekends, I relax a bit and will enjoy some lazy or even dirty keto meals.

You will find recipes to suit every style of keto in my repertoire, so really it is up to you to choose.

FAQ about styles of Keto

Q: What is Strict Keto?

A: Strict Keto is no processed foods, no dairy, no replacement shakes or meals and focusing on high quality ingredients.

Q: What is Lazy Keto?

A: Lazy Keto is a little more relaxed than Strict Keto and will usually include dairy, store bought sauces and sometimes alcohol. Quality of food is still important.

Q: What is Dirty Keto?

A: Dirty Keto uses the ‘if it fits your macros’ approach – if it’s low carb, it’s ok. Quality of nutrients is usually disregarded and the goal is just to get into Ketosis using whatever means necessary. It may include any range of processed foods.

Q: What foods are considered Dirty Keto?

A: Dirty Keto includes foods like meal replacement shakes or bars, inflammatory foods like dairy, alcohol, artificial sweeteners and processed oils. If it’s low carb, it’s in, no matter the other health implications of the food.

Q: Is Bacon considered dirty keto?

A: Bacon is often processed using sugars or includes other preservatives. Most store bought bacon would be considered dirty Keto, but there are some more naturally processed bacons out there.

Q: Can you lose weight on Lazy Keto or Dirty Keto?

A: You sure can – usually not as fast as on Clean Keto, and without some of the other health benefits of eating a Clean Keto diet, but many people will still lose weight as even Dirty Keto might be an improvement on their diets beforehand.

What style of Keto do YOU do? Comment below!

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15 responses to “Lazy Keto VS Strict Keto VS Dirty Keto”

  1.  Avatar

    Useful article! I am middle of the road as I eat cheese, but have found the carbs in green veg a big shock. My treats to myself tend to be brassicas and the occasional 🍅. Also don’t understand the use of cashews and chick peas in many recipes. They are beans and so very high carb? Think I have to be very careful about recipes.

    1. Rachel Avatar

      Yes you definitely have to be careful. I use cashews very occasionally but many recipes listed as Keto are far from it.

  2. Therese Bizabishaka Avatar
    Therese Bizabishaka

    Well it seems im a mix of all 3. I consifder myself strict because i track meticulously and stick to set macros. There are some foods ill never eat but not nevessarly those on your list. I also do 20 total not net carbs. But i do eat dairy and drink diet soda et.

  3. Colette MacPherson Avatar
    Colette MacPherson

    I do eat cheese but am conscious of their calories and carbs. I know I should avoid inflammation but I like the main culprits. Don’t want to eat anything sweet that could cause cravings. Everyone needs to adapt diet to suit them, nobody should be judgemental of others. Just allow everyone including yourself to do what is best for themselves.

  4. Robbie Avatar

    I was taught long ago to not disparage another’s food. That said, I’m all 3 depending on where I am and how I feel. No sugar, bread, rice, pasta, candy, and baked sweets. Never drink cokes and don’t have a big sweet tooth. I track using and keep it pretty consistent. 70-75% fat, 5-8% carbs, and 18-25% protein. I do drink wine upon occasion, and my sweet treat is peanut butter or dark chocolate.

    1. Rachel Avatar

      Sounds like a great, balanced approach Robbie! I agree with not disparaging other’s foods, we never know what they are going through or what their goals are.

  5. Sharon Avatar

    I guess I am a mixture between clean and lazy. I don’t eat processed foods, or drink diet soda but I do eat dairy. . I cant afford to eat the grass fed meats all the time but I try to eat as clean as possible. I love vegetables and fruits,. I also know there will be days when I just have to have that roll or burger , so I make sure the roll is worth it and the burger I eat eith out the bun., that satisfies my cravings and I can stay on track. I do have issues with inflammation and IBS , so Iwhen I splurge I make sure it worth the discomfort!

    1. Rachel Avatar

      Sounds like you’ve found a sustainable way to make Keto work for your lifestyle Sharon, well done!

  6. […] My husband and I have been following a keto diet for well over a year now. A Ketogenic diet is not a “one size fits all” diet, which is why we love it. There are different classifications such as strict, lazy, and dirty keto – detailed information on each can be found here. […]

  7. mabelene Avatar

    I would say I’m a bit of lazy and strict keto. I don’t buy eggs coz we already have chickens. I try my best to find grass-fed beef, but if I cant I settle for your plain good old beef. I only drink bulletproof coffee when I can’t get fat into my diet without adding more carbs and protein. I use store-bought mayo but rarely use it. I don’t eat nuts bcs I don’t care for them. I eat as healthy as possible, but on birthdays and that time of the month, I will make keto brownies or have a low carb protein bar. I drink almond milk, I eat clean, I exercise, I try to focus on my inner health as well as my outer health. I don’t obsess over calories or the food I eat, mainly bcs its so high in fat that I get full before I even reach 1000 cal at the end of the day. I drink water, not soda, I use spices to make my food delicious instead of pre-made flavouring. I only eat cheese in my caesar salads (parmesan) and on my pizza (mozzarella). all in all, I think I try my best to be healthy, but I also don’t want to make this a “diet”, I want to make its lifestyle, and that’s why I’m a bit lenient when it comes to guilty pleasers like cheese, pizza and brownies. Although I rarely have cravings for these items, Ill still allow myself to eat them when the urge comes. Don’t deny yourself something you love folks.

  8. Twaila Avatar

    I just started this week and im not sure where I fall I do. Steerable veggies bags meat. Use no salt butter.and mct oil plus lmond milks only. So im not sure where I fall but no butter or oil is my preference. I must confess I love my morning turmeric tea I wont give that up if I can help it i just use coffee for it yummy. Either way I think. Whichever way people chose to go they cant go wrong with getting healthy I think. Thank you for this info it was just what I have been looking for.

  9. Donna Avatar

    I just started less than 2 weeks ago. Thank you so much for the clear explanation of the differences between the three types of keto. I have asked several times in facebook groups, and never got an answer. I am mostly lazy keto. I do follow my macros on Carb Manager. If I allow myself some of the low carb packaged items from the store, but keep to my macros, will I still lose weight at the same pace? Or do you lose more, the more strict you are?

    1. Rachel Avatar

      Im glad this was helpful Donna! Some people get a bit confused when trying to explain it, or trying to justify their eating. You do you!
      As a general rule, you will lost faster on a super clean diet BUT it’s a question of what is maintainable for you. I had to go a lot cleaner towards the end of my weight loss journey, but had been more flexible at the start and the weight came off easily. The last 5 – 7 kgs seems to need some serious determination. I would just wait and see what works for you and how you go.

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  11. […] Best Clean Eating Vs Keto from Lazy Keto VS Strict Keto VS Dirty Keto. Source Image: Visit this site for details: […]

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