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When you heard about the diet that lets you enjoy bacon, cheese and, yes, even wine, then you were totally on board (hey, us too). But it turns out that going keto isn’t quite so simple: There’s a clean way to do it, and then there’s a dirty way. We tapped registered dietician Molly Devine to talk us through the difference.
What the heck is “dirty keto?” Grabbing a bunless burger topped with egg, bacon and cheese from your favorite fast-food joint may be a low-carb, high-fat meal (and therefore, totally allowed on the ketogenic diet), but these are what are known as dirty keto foods. “They lack micronutrients like vitamins and minerals, and are likely full of preservatives, antibiotics and other hormones which will negatively impact your health, slow your weight-loss goals, and decrease your overall energy,” Devine tells us. Yikes.
And what’s “clean keto?” Clean keto means eating whole foods from quality sources, like grass-fed beef, pasture-raised pork, free-range eggs, wild-caught seafood and plenty of vegetables. “Nutrient-dense, low-carb vegetables (such as arugula and spinach) and herbs help healthy cell growth, increase energy, and provide satiety as your body won't be craving the nutrients it would otherwise be lacking following a dirty keto diet.” In other words, skip the processed and fast foods, and focus more on the healthy stuff—including getting your five-a-day.
So, no more bacon? Relax, your favorite breakfast food is still on the menu. “I like to recommend the 80/20 rule,” says Devine. Meaning you should aim to eat high-quality, nutrient-dense, clean keto foods 80 percent of the time, and let yourself indulge in the “dirty” stuff approximately 20 percent of the time. (But keep in mind that just because a food is low-carb doesn’t mean that you should eat it.) And for the record—avocado is on the clean list. Bowl full of guacamole, coming right up.