Dirty Fasting: Everything You Need To Know

Caloric content has dominated health and wellness literature greatly, especially over the last half decade and for those looking to lose weight. In addition to changing how we collectively view food, this fixation on caloric content has seen the birth of new concepts, including dirty fasting. So what is dirty fasting?

Dirty fasting is a modified form of fasting. It allows adding artificial sugars, sweeteners, and other foods to your diet during the fasting window, as long as these foods are below 100 calories.

This article will look at a few topics related to dirty fasting, including what dirty fasting is and whether or not it is healthy. We will also explore the differences between regular fasting and dirty fasting as well as the pros and cons of dirty fasting.

Table of Contents

  1. What is dirty fasting?
  2. Typical foods in dirty fasting
  3. Pros and cons of dirty fasting
    1. Pros of dirty fasting
    2. Cons of dirty fasting
  4. Dirty fasting vs. clean fasting
  5. Is dirty fasting for you?
  6. Conclusion

What Is Dirty Fasting?

Dirty fasting is a food restriction approach that involves consuming foods with low calories during the fasting period. Unlike clean fasting, which requires very little or no food at all, dirty fasting allows you to consume small amounts of food.

Dirty fasting is relatively controversial, partly because it has the word ‘dirty’ in it and also because it deviates from traditional fasting methods. There’s also the absence of scientific research to support its efficacy or lack thereof as a weight loss approach.

The gist of traditional fasting is limiting virtually all manner of food during the fasting window. This means that you will mainly drink water, black coffee with no sugar, or sugarless tea. As a result, traditional fasting is considered clean fasting.

With dirty fasting however, you can add some extra toppings or flavors to the options mentioned above. For instance, you can add bone broth, cream, or milk to your coffee or beverage. You can also take artificially sweetened calorie-free drinks during the fasting period.

Dirty fasting also allows you to eat certain foods, as long as these foods don’t exceed 100 calories.

Your fasting is termed dirty if you add these creams and flavorings to your beverages.

Typical Foods in Dirty Fasting

As mentioned, the typical dirty fast diet may contain different food or beverage options, as long as they do not exceed 100 calories. As Stephan Lederer, Bakk., MSc explains, your typical dirty fasting diet will look something like this:

Food Quantity Calories
Whole milk 2 tablespoons 18.3 calories
Cream 2 tablespoons 30 calories
Almond milk 2 tablespoons 5 calories
Squeezed lemon 1 piece 11.7 calories
Cup broth 1 cup 100 calories
Honey 1 tablespoon 64 calories

Table 1: Typical foods in a dirty fasting diet

In summary, you can consume a wide range of diet drinks or include different additives and sweeteners to your beverages, as long as they do not exceed the set limit (100 calories).

Typical Foods in Dirty Fasting
Typical Foods in Dirty Fasting

Pros and Cons of Dirty Fasting

But how effective is dirty fasting relative to clean fasting, and what are some of its pros and cons?

Pros of Dirty Fasting

  • You don’t feel deprived. One of the main advantages of dirty fasting is that you can fast without feeling the sense of deprivation associated with clean fasting. Because dirty fasting offers some leeway when it comes to additives, flavors, and sweeteners, it’s an ideal alternative if you want to fast without feeling too limited.
  • You have more freedom. Dirty fasting is also beneficial from a mental standpoint – knowing that you have a little more freedom when compared to a clean fast.
  • Minimal calories. Proponents of this approach argue that the small number of calories is too low to cause any spike in insulin and can thus promote weight gain.

There are, however, very few scientific studies on this topic – if any – which makes validating such claims difficult, or impossible, at the moment.

Cons of Dirty Fasting

Dirty fasting has its own fair share of criticism. For instance:

  • It’s not that effective for weight loss. Because dirty fasting focuses on the number of calories you eat without considering insulin levels, it’s not as effective as clean fasting for weight loss.
  • May lead to higher insulin levels. Numerous studies suggest that artificial sweeteners such as stevia, while being low in calories, stimulate insulin secretion. For instance, Anto and his colleagues artificially sweetened beverages may cause metabolic disorders such as weight gain and obesity because they impact insulin secretion.

The above views are consistent with views from other studies by Liang et al., Zhou et al., Jeppesen et al., and Pepino et al.

Therefore, dirty bulking isn’t the most effective fasting option if your objective is to lose weight. Additionally, save from affecting insulin secretion, artificial sweeteners can also cause cravings, undermining your weight-loss journey.

Dirty Fasting vs. Clean Fasting

In 2019, the weight loss market in the U.S. attained an outstanding $78 billion. This shows the ever increasing need for most people to lose weight. However, although dirty fasting is still a new concept, without scientific research to back it, it’s arguable – from the above pros and cons – that the cons outweigh the potential benefits.

Focusing on food caloric content ignores the impact that allowable foods may have on your overall goal. Due to the risks associated with increased insulin secretion and increased cravings with dirty fasting, clean fasting emerges as the better option between the two.

Additionally, available research backs clean fasting as an effective approach to healthy weight loss, better cardiovascular health, and regulation of blood sugar. For instance, Bartosz Malinowski and his colleagues note that intermittent clean fasting is beneficial for your cardiovascular health.

Is Dirty Fasting for You?

Dirty fasting is mostly a matter of personal choice. Although it has some significant drawbacks, it still has some advantages, especially in terms of restricting calories and limiting food intake.

With the absence of scientific studies on dirty fasting, it’s difficult to make an informed decision about whether it’s good or bad for you. However, you can use it as a starting point to your fasting lifestyle or weight loss journey until you can comfortably go through a clean fast.


Dirty fasting is a new fasting method that provides a degree of flexibility in terms of what you can consume during the fasting window. It has several advantages including:

  • It can promote weight loss from restricted food intake.
  • It’s easier to adopt than clean fasting because it is less restrictive.

However, dirty fasting also has some drawbacks, like risk of increasing insulin secretion and enhancing cravings. This makes it hard to complete your fast while also increasing the risk of greater food intake.

With more research into the subject, we may be able to better assess its efficacy in future.

Thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this article about dirty fasting, you may want to checkout the 7 Facts You Need To Know About Organic Sea Moss, the 7 Best Anti Inflammatory Desserts You Should Learn About, and the 8 Secret Health Benefits of Organic Turmeric Root Powder.


M.D Mark D. - Healthline Gate Health and Medical Articles Author

About The Author

M.D Mark D. is a Health and Wellness professional writer. Mark has authored many health articles around the following topics: Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Fitness, Nutrition, Pets Health, Mental Health, Medicine, and Supplements.

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