Are You Eating “Dirty Keto” When You Should Be “Clean Keto”??

By Dr Ernst
March 14, 2022

First, I want to clear the air: No patient in our office is ever put on a “Keto” diet. Or any diet. We provide custom and specific nutrition advice tailored to restore the entirety of the digestive system and its accessory organs (liver, gallbladder, pancreas, etc.) when that is one of the root causes of your health condition. Yes, there are many times that we ask you to measure your blood ketones, a molecule known as beta-hydroxy-butyrate, or manage your glucose-ketone-index (GKI). This means that your body is producing ketones and using them for energy production, rather than relying on sugar. And there is more to this than just the food and drink you consume.

Timing, and what foods you are pairing together are as equally important to what you are eating in the first place. This changes so many other facets of your body’s regulation towards healing, and it is a powerful way to start your healing journey with us (a newsletter in the future, perhaps!). This approach is unique and different for everyone. If you are a patient with a diabetes risk, your nutrition journey has to look different than the patient with diverticulitis (inflammation of the small pouches in the intestines). Remember, you are either heading towards health or towards disease. Every choice you make in life contributes to that.

That said, there are two sides to the keto diet, and choosing what you eat while on Keto. There’s the “clean way” and then there’s the “dirty way.” Dr. Ernst and I have heard so many different stories and ways that people think they are eating “clean” when they are in fact not. Let’s break that down a bit more:

The classic keto diet is this: High fat intake (70-80%), moderate protein intake (10-20%), and no-to-low carbohydrate intake (0-10%). This sounds great in theory, which is a diet designed to promote your body’s production of ketones and switching to a fat metabolizing machine! Your body depletes its sugar reserves and transitions a whole host of other metabolic changes. The only issue is that this popular diet has become laden with unhealthy meals and food choices. These choices clog the healing pathways and keep the toxic byproducts stuck inside you. They promote poor absorption of food and dis-regulation of essential vitamins and minerals in your body.

The choices of fats – this is the big one. If you are on a keto diet, you have to know what fat sources you are consuming. All too often, people doing keto think that “high-fat” is an excuse to consume large amounts of animal fats. This is extremely toxic, and will end up hurting rather than helping your body.

The kidneys job is to filter out toxins in the blood. If you are eating large amounts of animal fats, you are putting your kidneys on overdrive. Studies have shown that keto diets high in animal fat products have an increased risk in developing kidney stones and kidney disease. The added influx of animal proteins will only add to your kidney’s workload too. The other issue with the animal fats is the type fat they are. Animal fats consist of high amounts of saturated fats. These are fats that are solid at room temperature. They are known to lead to an increase in cardiovascular and heart related diseases. A diet high in animal saturated fats will also lead to the dis-regulation of cholesterol in your body. In contrast, plant fats can be both saturated and unsaturated yet both are extremely healthy. These are the clean fats that you should focus on when doing a clean-Keto diet. So, look to switch the corn-fed beef and bacon for coconuts, avocados, nuts and seeds!
The other issue with using just any fats is that not all vegetable fats (oils) are created equal. Many vegetable oils are created by forcing the oil out of the vegetable while under extreme heat (hundreds of deg F). This unnatural way to get the oil oxidizes it, meaning that there are a large number of free-radicals in these oils. The free radicals, once consumed by you, can go on to disrupt every aspect of your metabolism, from your gut to your thyroid to your brain health. That is why it is best to avoid these oils at all costs: soybean, corn, cottonseed, canola, rapeseed, sunflower, sesame, and grapeseed oils. The healthy oil alternatives? Grass fed butter, avocado, coconut, olive (but not for cooking), and MCT oil.

Speaking of bacon – that brings up another issue. Pork products are a big no-go. If you are eating pork on the regular, we highly encourage you to reconsider. Think about what a pig eats during its lifetime. It eats the junk that no other animal wants to consume. They are also mostly a grain feed, which promotes inflammation in the pig throughout its lifetime before it is sent to the butcher. Consuming pork products means you are engorging in those inflamed proteins and fats, which is very toxic to your own metabolism. In fact, the Bible even talks about the dangers of consuming pork: Leviticus 11:27 – God forbids Moses and his followers from consuming pork “because it parts the hoof but does not chew the cud” and “they (referring to the pigs) are unclean to you.” This is later reiterated in the book of Deuteronomy.

Looking at proteins from another angle, you are also doing “dirty keto” if you eat grain-fed meats. The grain diet is pro-inflammatory, and this is what I find so funny. Most people get on a keto diet to eat less carbs and think that is making them healthy, only to continue to consume proteins and animal products full of the metabolic byproducts of a high carbohydrate-based diet! It’s so backwards, and may be one of the reasons your “Keto” diet is not working for you! The only way to eat clean meats is of course to eat organic grass-fed meats. This includes beef! In fact, organic grass-fed, grass finished red meat has been shown to contain lower amounts of saturated fats, and higher levels of antioxidants (those molecules that help fight against free radicals and oxidation). I wonder why?!?! (catch the sarcasm?)

Can you know see the difference between eating clean versus dirty while trying to maintain a “keto diet”? If you are struggling with any aspect of your nutritional or metabolic health, or have questions regarding your nutritional status or habits, our trained nutritionist is available to test and guide you in the right direction towards getting the nutrition that you need, and avoiding the products that you don’t. If you have any specific health questions, email me at

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