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Home arrow Nutrition arrow Intermittent Fasting arrow Dirty Fasting vs. Clean Fasting: Which Works Better?

Dirty Fasting vs. Clean Fasting: Which Works Better?

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: October 15, 2023
7 min read 1298 Views 0 Comments
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Many people want to know what works better. In a comparison of dirty fasting and clean fasting, we explain what these terms mean and why they matter so much when it comes to choosing between them.

Dirty fasting vs Clean fasting

Intermittent fasting has become a buzzword over the past couple of years, and as more people gravitate toward it, there is a lot of confusion about how to fast. People fast for various reasons ranging from health to spirituality and dieting. Fasting is known to cleanse the body of toxins. When people fast, their bodies switch from using glucose as a primary fuel source to using ketones.

People who are just stepping into intermittent fasting often get lost in the dirty vs. clean fasting methods. In order to decide on the best method to adopt, people need to understand the differences, benefits, and similarities of these terms.

In this article, we delve into what it means to clean fast and dirty fast and how each can benefit your body.

Dirty Fasting and Clean Fasting – Are They the Same?

A dirty fast is a type of intermittent fasting where you do not eat after your last meal at night, at which point the fasting period begins. Clean fasting is also an intermittent fasting method that involves eating only one meal per day. However, while dirty fasting involves depriving yourself of food during the time period before dawn, a clean fast does not have any restrictions on when you can eat or what foods to consume.

In both cases, there are many benefits associated with these types of diets, like weight loss, increased energy levels, controlled blood glucose, and improved mental clarity all come with them. But if you’re wondering which type will work best for your body, then let’s take a closer look at both dirty and clean fasting methods so we can get some clarity on what works best.

Clean intermittent fasting is a great way to start your journey as a clean eater, and it’s easier than you might think. It helps improve your metabolism and boosts fat loss while also reducing inflammation. Losing weight and heart health are some of the other benefits. It is also easier than you think, but there are some dos and don’ts that can help make things easier on yourself in the long run.

Dirty intermittent fasting makes you healthier because it allows the body to recover faster after a meal, but a clean fast has more benefits overall. It is a great way to lose weight or improve overall health, but to pick one method, it is important to think about your lifestyle and which method makes sense for your schedule.

Differences Between Dirty and Clean Fasting

Dirty intermittent fasting is the practice of fasting for a certain period of time, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not eating any food during that period. Your calorie intake is just lowered. It can also be referred to as fasting without bounds. During the fasting window, you can consume foods or beverages under 50 calories, meaning you can have some tasty bone broth, add creamer to your coffee, or use zero-calorie sweeteners. You can also have sugar-free gum, diet sodas, and other caloric foods that do not break a fast.

A clean fast is an intermittent fasting method that only allows you to ingest water or other non-caloric beverages like sparkling water, mineral water, black coffee, and black or green tea. Some beverages may contain a couple of calories; it is important to check. Staying hydrated when on clean intermittent fasting is extremely important, but you must avoid fruits, herbs, or other additives to flavor your beverages. Since you cannot consume anything else for the duration of the fast, the clean method is considered more extreme than a dirty fast.

While many people opt to practice dirty fasting, intermittent fasting protocols dictate that you have bone broth on a clean fasting window when your body lacks energy. It has fewer calories and will not break your fast.

What Is Clean Fasting? 

A clean fast is a type of intermittent fasting that means you’re not just limiting your food intake but also how you eat. It’s about making sure that what you put into your body is clean and healthy, not only in terms of the food itself but also in terms of how it was prepared. Clean fasting windows often leave people with hunger pangs which can be quelled with bone broth.

Clean food is free of additives like sugar or preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners. It also helps you maintain the number of calories you consume within the required limits for a fast. You’ll find many different options when looking for clean food recommendations.

What Is Dirty Fasting?

Dirty intermittent fasting is a fast that includes zero-calorie drinks that do not trigger an insulin response but facilitate fat burning, like diet soda, black coffee, and bone broth. However, unlike a clean fast, a dirty fast does not include water.

Instead of using plain water or herbal teas as your drink of choice during this kind of fast, you’ll be consuming dirty calories like sugar and artificial sweeteners like Splenda that contain empty calories and no nutrients. Despite the artificial tag, it will not affect your insulin levels or raise your blood sugar. While some people do lose weight on a dirty fast, it is not a recommended method because most dirty calorie foods do not add any benefits to the body.

Black coffee increases your insulin resistance which leads to increased urine production. During the fasting period, consuming black coffee on dirty intermittent fasting will not significantly increase your calorie intake.

Dirty Fasting And Clean Fasting – Which Works Best?

Clean and dirty fasting are both effective depending on your goals. It is always important to choose what works better for you. Where clean eating requires you to give up certain foods and drinks that contain unhealthy fats and refined sugars, dirty intermittent fasting gives a bit of leeway. Studies have shown that dirty fasting is very effective when done correctly, and clean fasting is easier to sustain.

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It’s easier to maintain a clean diet because you can plan ahead of time what foods you will eat and when and stick with your planned meal schedule. You don’t have to worry about ensuring that every meal contains enough calories or protein because there are no restrictions on food choices.

Dirty fasting requires more planning because meals must be planned for each day beforehand; otherwise, the body receives less nutrition than necessary due to its ability to adapt quickly over time and not being able to provide the body with enough nutrients for optimal health.

Can Dirty Fasting Be Effective?

Dirty fasting is effective. It aids in fat burning for weight loss, improves insulin sensitivity, and reduces inflammation, thereby reducing blood pressure. A study found that dirty fasting significantly lowers blood glucose levels compared to standard diabetes management for people with type 2 diabetes who were overweight or obese. Another study found that individuals who followed a strict vegan diet for 10 days had lower levels of CRP (c-reactive protein) than those who ate meat daily during that period. This was true even when they ate plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Dirty fasting also seems to help protect against heart disease by improving cholesterol profiles and decreasing risk factors like LDL cholesterol levels or triglycerides, and improving insulin response. The same goes for cancer, as studies show that eating less meat may reduce your risk of developing some types of cancers while increasing others; one such study showed an increase in colorectal cancer among those who consumed more red meat daily but no increase among those who consumed less red meat daily.


How to choose between clean vs. dirty fasting?

You can try both types of fasts in order to see which one works best for you. In general, a dirty fast is better for those who want to burn body fat and gain more energy, while clean fasting is better for people who want to focus on detoxification and healing.

Which fasting method is the healthiest?

Clean fasting is considered the best option for most people. It is easy to sustain since you don’t need a lot of preparation, and it involves eating clean and healthy foods. Dirty fasting is also effective, but it doesn’t have as many benefits as a clean fast.

Can I lose weight with dirty fasting?

Yes, dirty fasting is a method of intermittent fasting that is effective for people who have been struggling with their weight. As a modified way of fasting, it entails the consumption of zero-calorie foods and beverages that promote fat loss.

Can I drink coffee while fasting?

Yes, you can, but only black coffee is recommended because it has less caffeine. If you are on a clean fast, your black coffee should not contain any additives like creamers or refined sugars; however, dirty fasting allows you to add artificial sweeteners without affecting insulin levels, like using a zero-calorie sweetener.

A Word From MD

As more people start their fasting journeys, it is crucial that they understand what they are getting into before settling into the lifestyle change. On the one hand, dirty fasting is an excellent way to kick off a weight loss journey, but it is not a sustainable lifestyle change. On the other hand, clean intermittent fasting has many other health benefits and also aids in weight loss, but it is not for everyone.

For many people, starting with a dirty fast and then transitioning into a clean fast has proved effective. This is because intermittent fasting helps lose fat faster and more easily and is healthier long-term.

It is important to be comfortable with the intermittent protocol you choose, and if you ever feel like you cannot make it through, it is prudent to consume some low-calorie foods like bone broth. This will not break your fast; it will give your body the energy to continue the fast.

As you embark on your fasting journey, it is important to seek professional medical advice from a medical professional or registered dietitian to better understand how to fast in a healthy way.


The debate around dirty vs. clean fasting continues, but we can clearly say that clean intermittent fasting has various health benefits that a dirty fast doesn’t. For people who are just getting started, dirty intermittent fasting can help them transition into long durations of fasting, and they can later adopt clean intermittent fasting.

A clean fast requires someone to be fully prepared for a prolonged fasting window. You can also start with a small fasting window and build up to the maximum eating window, which is 18 hours. On the question of how many calories should be consumed during intermittent fasting, it is important to keep it below 50 calories.

If your goal is weight loss and no other fasting benefits, then dirty fasting is the way to go, but if you are looking for cleansing and health benefits, you should choose the clean method. If you are interested in fasting, it is important to do your research to make the best lifestyle choice and weight loss solution.

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: October 15, 2023
7 min read 1298 Views 0 Comments

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