• Autumn Bates, CCN, MS

What Is Dirty Fasting? [And Does It Burn Fat FASTER?]

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"Dirty" vs. "Clean" fasting... what's the difference and is one better at burning fat than the other? Today, we're diving into the details on dirty vs. clean fasting and what type of fasting is best for your weight loss goals.

What is "Dirty Fasting"?

"Dirty" fasting is a newer term describing a type of Intermittent Fast where you're allowed to have certain foods and not break your fast. There are a few ways to approach "dirty" fasting:

  1. From a calorie perspective

  2. From an insulin perspective

From a calorie perspective, proponents of this type of "dirty" fasting will suggest that anything less than 100 calories will not break a fast. This approach isn't discriminatory against the types of calories consumed. This means anything from fat to protein to sugar is fair game.

From my experience as a Nutritionist, this perspective of dirty fasting doesn't make much physiological sense. 100 calories of fat has a much different impact on the body than 100 calories of carbs. Adding 100 calories of sugar to your morning coffee will spike your storing hormone insulin and shift you out of any debatable state of fasting.

Which brings us to the second "dirty fasting" theory:

From an insulin perspective, anything that doesn't cause the fat storing hormone insulin to spike can be had during a fasted state. Pure fat is the only macronutrient that does not cause insulin to spike. This means that following this protocol allows you to consume any pure fat source such as grass-fed butter, coconut oil and MCT oil.

The rationale behind this theory is specifically related to weight loss and blood sugar concerns. One of the main benefits of Intermittent Fasting is that it allows for a natural dip in the storing hormone insulin, and therefore makes it easier for the body to utilize fat as fuel and achieve a weight loss goal.(1) Following this logic, since fat does not cause an insulin response, fat during the fast will not "break" the fast.

This is why many people are consuming pure fat coffee and tea drinks during their fasted state and still seeing great weight loss and fat burning results.

Related: 8 Keto Coffee Recipes You Can Drink While Fasting

What is "Clean Fasting"?

Clean fasting involves not consuming any calorie containing foods or beverages during your fast. This involves sticking to water, unsweetened tea and unsweetened coffee. In some cases, "clean fasting" proponents will suggest that you can only have water during your fasted state.

"Clean" fasting maintains the benefits of naturally lower insulin levels and therefore boosted fat burning that the second "dirty fasting" option has.(1) However, "clean" fasting has the added perk of boosting the gut healing process called the Migrating Motor Complex. This natural process involves a series of contractions and secretions in the GI Tract that prevents bloating in the body and is only triggered when you haven't had anything to eat or drink (other than water) for at least 3 hours and 45 minutes.(2)

Related: How Much Weight Can You Lose In A Month With Intermittent Fasting?

Clean Fasting vs. Dirty Fasting - Which Is Better?

The route you choose between "clean" and "dirty" fasting depends on your goals. From my experience as a Nutritionist, I have found "dirty" fasting (with an insulin perspective) is very useful for achieving a lasting weight loss goal that's easy and effortless to maintain. So if your goal is to lose weight, this might be the best route for you.

However, adding in periodic "clean" intermittent fasts can be useful if you are looking to improve gut health. You can use a combination of both "clean" and "dirty" fasting depending on how you're feeling on any given day. The key aspect to consider is making sure that the route you choose is something you are comfortable with and can maintain.

Get the step-by-step, meal-by-meal details on how to achieve your weight loss goals with the Complete Intermittent Fasting Program!

Gain access to 100+ recipes, 7 weeks of meal-by-meal planning, 3 week workout plan and tons of easy to use resources to FINALLY tap into fat burning mechanisms!

Head over HERE to get started!

Your Nutritionist,


Autumn Elle Nutrition

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7021351/


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This content (on www.autumnellenutrition.com and in marketing emails from Autumn Elle Nutrition) is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors, nutritionists and/or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Autumn Elle Nutrition nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.

© 2020 by Autumn Bates, CCN

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