Clean Keto vs Dirty Keto

Posted on Posted in Tips & Tricks

Functional Chef Gerard Viverito remembers learning the hard way about clean vs. dirty keto. “Like most people starting the keto diet, all the high-carb, starchy foods went out the window first. I dropped potatoes, pasta and pastries. I felt I could eat as much bacon, pastrami and sausage as I wanted. But I was feeling bloated and sluggish,” he recalls.

“So, I started using free-range eggs, Malaysian sustainable palm oil, non-starchy vegetables, grass-fed beef and sustainable seafood. My food tasted better because it was clean. And I started feeling more energetic.” Chef G. also discovered why clean keto is an easier and less expensive way to eat.

The two different sides to eating keto
Chef G. explains why dirty keto is also called lazy keto. “You just go to the grocery store and find any pre-packaged food labeled keto-friend. The problem is, those highly processed foods are usually high in salt, contain hidden sugars and may contain additives that can lead to weight gain.

“They frequently lack micronutrients because they are so heavily processed. If you’re using a common vegetable or oil such as soy, corn or safflower or margarine, those are also typically chemically stripped of nutrients.So, at minimum, you may need to supplement with a multivitamin.”

With clean keto, you’re eating few if any processed foods. “I’m not talking about eating exclusively organic, although that’s nice if you can afford it. Clean keto is approaching the diet from a whole-food perspective,” he says. “By this, I mean foods that come to your kitchen or table as nature created them. Think of fruits, nuts and seeds, for example, as nature’s convenience foods.”

Heal the planet and your body at the same time
“Eating clean, whether it’s keto, plant-based or another diet plan, is naturally supporting our renewable resources. It’s a simple way to support a more sustainable planet,” says Chef G. “A good example of this is edible fats. Nature doesn’t make bad fats. Factories do. Corn is planted and harvested by machinery, then processed. After each crop, fields are plowed to the ground. The crops take more from the soil than they give back, so they need to add fertilizers which can pollute our waterways.

“Compare this with how sustainable palm oil is produced. The trees produce fruit for 30 years, where native animals can thrive without their habitat being destroyed each year for replanting. I’ve been to Malaysian oil palm plantations, where they use wildlife such as barn owls to minimize the use of pesticides. The oil is made by steam and pressing, similar to olive oil.”

He adds that eating cleaner doesn’t have to be expensive. “Sardines are just as healthy as swordfish, and much less expensive in part because they don’t take as long to mature.”

Clean keto jumpstarts weight loss
“You’ll get full on smaller portion sizes because the clean food is more nutrient dense. When you eat food with extra fillers, your brain isn’t shutting off your hunger pangs because it’s not detecting the proper amount of nutrients. This is another reason why clean keto is affordable. While the grass-fed beef may be more expensive per pound, you may only eat half as much.”

Plus, Chef G. says you may enjoy your food more. “Processed foods often lead to palette fatigue. Clean eating is flavorful. You’re eating a rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables and seasoning meals with a variety of herbs and spices. It’s simple and fun to experiment with new taste combinations.”

The choice is yours. You could grill a double bacon cheeseburger, without the bun, and that would be keto-friendly. Or, you could prepare a clean, grass-fed steak in Malaysian palm oil infused with antioxidant-rich herbs and seasonings. To browse some of Chef G.’s favorite recipes made with renewable ingredients, visit