Dirty Keto is Ruining your Health

Dec 15, 2018 13:26:00PM

A piece of beef is cut into 10 strips. The middle is still very red. The image reads "Ultimately, dirty keto is bad for you because the foods consumed do not provide vitamins and other essential nutrients."

Keto, keto, keto. If you are into diets in any way, you have heard of the ketogenic (keto) diet. Keto is the new popular diet, and for good reason. It helps you use better energy for your body, lose weight, and maintain a healthy weight.

People have liked the diet so much, that offshoot diets have begun to spring up from it. One of these is dirty keto.

Dirty Keto

Dirty keto follows the same macros guidelines as clean keto which are 5-10% carbs, 10-15% protein, and 75-85% fat. But that is where the similarities stop.

The primary difference between dirty keto dieters and clean keto dieters are their choice of what foods meet those macros portions.


Dirty keto dieters follow the macros portions, but they choose unhealthy fats rather than healthy ones. These unhealthy fats are often filled with preservatives, antibiotics, and hormones that can negatively affect health. For example, dirty keto often includes highly processed meats, like lunch and deli meats, which have high levels of unhealthy additives and sneaky starches. The negative effects of unhealthy fats can range from a hormone imbalance to cardiovascular diseases.

However, the unhealthy fats are often keto approved, but consistently choosing to consume unhealthy fat over healthy fat and other healthy keto foods causes dirty keto dieters to lose out on essential vitamins and nutrients they need.

Often dirty keto dieters notice a slower decrease in weight, as compared to clean keto dieters, and a significant decrease in energy. The truth with the dirty keto diet is you are very likely to still lose weight, but the types of foods being consumed will lead to significant health issues down the road.

Often people eating 'dirty keto' will eat low-quality burgers without the bun, pork rinds, and other unhealthy fatty foods. While these foods are technically good for all keto dieters, if the diet primarily consists of these foods it is not good because these foods do not provide many of the essential vitamins and other nutrients you need.

Unhealthy fat is saturated and trans fat. These fats are known to increase bad cholesterol, decrease insulin sensitivity, and increase inflammation. Additionally, the foods that are unsaturated and trans fat are often sugary, especially trans fat foods. This counteracts the efforts of any keto diet, which is to lower glucose levels in the body. However, most keto dieters stay away from trans fat foods (like french fries, cakes, and pies), so we will focus on saturated fat.

Saturated Fat foods include:

  • Butter and margarine
  • Ghee
  • Lard
  • Fatty meat such as beef and pork
  • Skin of chicken
  • Full-fat dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Coconut oil and cream
  • Palm oil

A lot of saturated fats are GOOD for keto whether clean or dirty. However, unsaturated fatty foods should be chosen over saturated fatty foods. We will go into more detail about this later.


Ultimately, dirty keto is bad for you because the foods consumed do not provide vitamins and other essential nutrients. Not receiving these nutrients will leave dirty keto dieters feeling starved after a few weeks.

Another point of struggle with dirty keto is protein. Often those who participate in dirty keto will turn to protein to combat the starved feeling. When this happens, dirty keto is then turning into Atkins. The Atkins diet only lowers carbs, not protein as well. But it is important that protein consumption is lowered as well. Too much protein can turn into glucose. Consuming more protein than the suggested amount can throw you out of ketosis.


Many times dirty keto dieters simply do not understand what types of foods they are looking for. This is the case when it comes to carbohydrates and sugars. Often people new to the keto diet think zero calories means zero glycemic impact. This is not the case.

If you read the labels, many sugar free labeled foods have maltitol, dextrose, or maltodextrin in them. These have a high glycemic index ratings compared to many of the sugar alternatives according to nutrition facts labeling rules, they can be listed as zero calorie. To learn what other ingredients to look out for on sugar-free labeled foods, read Sneaky Sugars and How to Find Them.

Additionally, be wary of whipped cream and yogurts. Pre-whipped whipped cream (like Cool Whip), although high in fat, contains sugar. Whipped cream is better if made at home with a healthy sugar alternative like monk fruit. Yogurt is also tricky because there are many that are high in fat, but they are flavored. Most every flavored yogurt has sugar in it. Stick to plain yogurt and sweeten it with your favorite sugar alternative.

Now, we understand clean keto can be a difficult diet to begin, especially if someone is accustomed to eating a lot of processed foods, ready-to-eat foods and other delicious but unhealthy foods. Dirty keto can be useful when implemented as a transition from previous eating habits to clean keto.

Clean Keto

As a comparison, clean keto has been shown to have a greater impact on overall health of participants long term.

Brain Health

One of the greatest benefits of keto is improved brain health. Keto lowers cell inflammation in the brain. Inflammation in the brain can cause memory impairment and fuzzy thinking. In other words, you can only function as well as your brain. If your brain is struggling, so are you.

Unfortunately, the changes in brain function are often subtle so they go unnoticed for a long time. But as you eat healthier and lower brain inflammation by lowering glucose levels you will notice increased brain health because you will have increased body health, energy, and awareness.


One of the many difficult aspects of clean keto is making sure you are getting a good balance of nutrients. On clean keto, you are generally getting lots of essential vitamins and minerals through fresh produce and other healthy foods. But there are still nutrients that can be lacking if not consciously monitored.

One of those is fiber. Fiber helps with digestion and overall digestive health. Fiber makes food digest slower, so your body can manage the nutrients in manageable chunks.  Other benefits of fiber include a longer feeling a fullness, healthy blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure, and lower levels of bad cholesterol.

But on a clean keto diet, many of the foods that contain good amounts of fiber are not keto-friendly. So, getting enough fiber can prove difficult. Here is a list of foods that contain fiber and are keto-friendly:

  • Raw Coconut
  • Cauliflower
  • Eggplant
  • Flax seeds
  • Asparagus
  • Bell Peppers
  • Mushrooms
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Chia Seeds
  • Avocado


To avoid dirty keto, good fats need to be consumed over bad fat. But a common struggle with any diet is knowing not only what to avoid, but what option there are to eat. Keto cuts out a lot of food, especially the easy grab-and-go foods. It is easy to feel that there is nothing to eat on a keto diet. But here a few options for you:

  • Avocados
  • Olive oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Pecans
  • Walnut
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Fatty fish
  • Fish
  • Flaxseed
  • Nuts
  • Leafy greens
  • Seeds
  • Nuts

These are just a few of the good fatty foods. There are other foods that are good for the keto diet but require more moderation simply because they are saturated fat, protein, and carbohydrates.

  • Cheese
  • Poultry (better than red meat)
  • Eggs
  • Greek yogurt
  • Berries
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Butter
  • Lard

Additionally, when it comes to protein, make sure to choose unprocessed meat that is grass-fed and antibiotic free.

These foods are good for keto dieters, but not as good as the fats and fiber foods listed above. Also, one aspect to consider with a keto diet, or any diet, is everyone is different. Everyone needs a different balance of foods to keep them in ketosis. Some will be able to eat more saturated fat, while others cannot.

Play around with the types of food you are eating until you find the balance that keeps you in ketosis. But remember, even though dirty keto is most likely keeping you in ketosis the foods consumed are still wreaking havoc on your body. You need to find your bodies balance while also supplying your body with the nutrients your body so desperately needs.

If you have any questions or suggestion about how to go about finding the right balance for you, comment below and check out our article about the type of fat.


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Amazing post. Everyone should read this article. All your posts are also really good. Keep it up.
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Dipak sarangi

Promoting margarine as a healthy fat?? You have lost ALL credibility. Red meat has all the vitamins humans need, poultry is actually not a great choice for keto people as it’s not complete. BS article.

michelle lessard

Very disappointed in this article. Pretty much reiterating the same tired half-truths about saturated fats whilst promoting polyunsaturated fats, which are truly consumed in excess and not that healthy. Nuts and seeds should not form the carb base of a healthy keto diet. Fiber is NOT a nutrient!!!! It is actually an anti-nutrient that prevents nutrient uptake. Also, demonizing red meat, which is actually pretty balanced in saturated and monounsaturated fats and a source of WAY more nutrients than chicken.

Just a few things to keep my comment short but there are more. I expected a better, more informed article but should have known when it was titled “Dirty Keto”….

Shiva D

Excellent article.


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