Keto Diet

What Is A Dirty Keto?

dirty keto

With the popularity of the ketogenic diet, it began to spawn its own spin-offs. One of these is “dirty keto”.

What Is Dirty Keto?

Dirty keto is not a precise term. In general, it describes a ketogenic diet that is high in ultra-processed foods, such as vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners and processed meats, and low in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and fiber.

It is a type of ketogenic diet. Like other forms of keto diets, it requires consuming about 55-75% of calories from fat, 15-35% of calories from protein, and less than 10% of calories from carbohydrates.  

For all the bad news, this keto diet still follows the main rule of the keto diet: keep carbohydrates low. Keeping carbohydrates low keeps insulin levels low and facilitates the breakdown and release of stored body fat. In other words, a dirty keto diet promotes the fat-burning state known as ketosis.

Dirty Keto Foods List

Below, you’ll find foods and cooking styles specific to the dirty keto diet that you won’t find listed on the general keto food list (such as fruits, vegetables, cheese, or nuts). Of course, all the keto foods on that list will also be included in the list of dirty keto foods.

Since there are so many ways to deal with this form of low carb, these are just examples of dirty keto foods so you get an idea of what to look for (or avoid).

Pre-made and Processed Foods with Less Clean Ingredients

  • Most fast food (if you aren’t 100% sure the ingredients are clean and whole)
  • Sugar-free jello
  • Packaged keto snacks with forms of sugar, like maltodextrin or dextrose
  • Store-bought keto bread with wheat-based ingredients
  • Sugar-free sports drinks, diet soda, or juice drinks
  • Sugar-free coffee syrups with sucralose
  • Most packaged sugar-free candy
  • Most store-bought keto ice cream
  • Deep fried foods
  • Whipped “toppings”
  • Condiments with added sugar or less-clean sugar substitutes
  • Artificial sweeteners like sucralose or asparatame
  • Using breadcrumbs in meatballs instead of a clean keto alternative like crushed pork rinds
  • Thickening soups with cornstarch
  • Adding beans or soy beans (however small the serving) to chili

Natural Foods That are Not Keto- Friendly (But could be Dirty Keto in Small Serving)

  • Milk
  • Corn
  • Potatoes
  • Oats
  • Conventional beer, wine, or other higher-carb alcohol

Can You Lose Weight on Dirty Keto?

YYes, although the results may be short-lived. Dirty keto puts you in ketosis and helps you burn fat, but a diet of processed foods can lead to inflammation, elevated levels of endotoxins, gas and bloating, intense cravings, and rebound weight gain once you leave the diet.

What’s more, this keto diet can leave your body deficient in the essential vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes it needs for optimal health, leading to fatigue, sleep disruption, brain fog, and the dreaded long-term symptoms of the keto flu, such as constipation, headaches, and more.

Why You Shouldn’t Try Dirty Keto 

The truth is that people who use this keto diet are relying on “crutches”, or technicalities, to lose weight. By doing so, they are depriving themselves of maximum results: The freedom to make empowered choices about what’s in your body. Not because they are “forbidden” and are deceptive for the day, but because you like them and have decided you have earned them. Dirty keto foods simply do not provide this type of freedom.

  • In the short term, dirty keto isn’t ideal because your body won’t feel healthy and you’re more likely to get sick or experience the side effects of nutrient deficiencies.
  • In the long run, you won’t develop the strong mental framework that those who lose weight and keep it off have earned through hard work. In all likelihood, the shortcuts you take will only lead to you regaining those pounds.

However, if you choose the harder path, you will be rewarded with the ability to lose weight permanently in your body and brain. 

When is it Okay to Do Dirty Keto?

While this keto approach should not be the basis of your keto diet, there are certain situations where it is appropriate to temporarily lower the bar in order to maintain ketosis.

Here are the times It’s OK to do this keto diet:

  • Travel: You’re starving at the airport and there are few healthy options available.
  • Eating Out: Your best friend’s birthday party is at a restaurant with a limited menu and you have to get creative.
  • Family Get-Togethers: You’re at a family dinner where your mom made a dirty keto dish for you.

It’s impossible to always control your food choices, so when you find yourself in these challenging times, eat dirty keto foods and then revert to a cleaner keto approach at your next meal so you can nourish your body and feel your best!


It is not recommended to take this keto after we understand what dirty keto is because its drawbacks exceed the benefits. But sometimes we can still eat this keto diet. After all, some places won’t have suitable options. A bunless burger might be your only choice at a family gathering, and that’s okay. 

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