7 Toxins You’re Eating on Dirty Keto

low carb junk meat_header


  • The biggest mistake people make when they first go keto is focusing on macros without paying attention to the quality of food.
  • It doesn’t work. You lose a little weight, but not as much as you know you could. Brain fog starts to creep back in. Something’s not right.
  • When you don’t pay attention to food quality, you overload your body with toxins.
  • Here are seven toxic compounds that you’re probably eating on dirty keto.


The biggest mistake people make when they first go keto is focusing on protein, fat, and carbs only. You might think that if you stay under 20, 30, or 50 grams of carbs, whatever you’ve set your limit to be, you’ll get all of the weight loss, clear mind, and craving-crushing benefits of keto.

Great news, right? Now you can make pizza crust out of cheese, you can have a bowl of bacon for dinner, and you can drink blue sugar-free sports drinks until you float away.

Except, it doesn’t work. You start to lose weight at first, and after the adjustment period, your cravings go away and you’re starting to think more clearly. Until it all stalls out. You lose a little weight, but not as much as you know you could. Brain fog starts to creep back in, and you can’t remember where you put your car keys.

Since dirty keto doesn’t make any restrictions on packaged food, meats from dirty sources, or damaged fats, you end up loaded with toxins, and your body has to work extra hard to get rid of them.

Here are seven toxic compounds that you’re probably eating on dirty keto.

Instantly download your Keto Meal Plan, your guide to getting started with a keto diet that won’t make you weak. 

7 Toxins You’re Eating on Dirty Keto

Heterocyclic amines (HCA) and polycyclic amines (PAH)

People tend to pile on the meat when they first go low-carb. Not many keto beginners know that cooking temperature affects how clean or toxic your meat is, even when it’s the best grass-fed, organic source you can find.

When you cook at temperatures higher than 320 degrees, a couple of processes begin. First, the natural amino acids, creatine, and sugars react on the surface of the meat, which produces heterocyclic amines (HCA). On top of that, when burned particles stick to the outside of the meat, as it does when you cook over an open flame, you end up with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).

Both of these compounds cause changes in DNA, which you don’t want. You can read more about those compounds here.

Nitrates and nitrites

Is nitrate-free bacon good for you? Not as much as you think: Here’s why it doesn’t live up to the hype, plus tips for prepping better bacon.If you eat conventional cured meats like bacon, salami, prosciutto, soppressata, pepperoni, and others, you’re probably eating nitrates and nitrites. Manufacturers use sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite to inhibit bacteria and molds from forming throughout the curing process, which in the case of the harder meats like soppressata, can take months. It also keeps meats from turning brown.

Depending on the food it’s in and how it was cooked, these nitrites can form helpful compounds like nitric oxide (NO) or carcinogens called nitrosamines. Your body can deal with a little bit of nitrosamine, but if you’re reaching for bacon and pepperoni every day, you might tip the balance into the danger zone.

You can read more about nitrates and nitrites here.

Artificial sweeteners

gout foods to avoid sugarThe most difficult of going keto is giving up sweets, especially if you’ve been on a standard diet and you’re used to having them. Even before keto was popular, the Atkins craze of the early 2000s brought a wave of low-carb, sugar-free snacks, drinks, and desserts to market. It became big business — you can have your cake and avoid carbs too.

The thing is, manufacturers make most low-carb, sugar-free treats with artificial sweeteners like:

  • Acesulfame potassium (also listed as ACE K, ace, acesulfame K, APM)
  • Aspartame
  • Saccharin
  • Sucralose

Those have been associated with damage to the gut lining, cancer, liver burden, and more.

You don’t have to give up sweets. Here are Bulletproof-approved sweeteners that aren’t made with damaging chemicals that make you weak.


Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that is easy to get into your body, and hard to get rid of. It’s not something that manufacturers put into foods on purpose. Mercury makes its way into the water through industry, mainly coal.

Fish absorb mercury in the water, and they don’t efficiently get rid of it. When a big fish eats a small fish, the big fish ingests the smaller fish’s mercury, along with the mercury it already had from being in contaminated water.

The longer the big fish has been eating, the more mercury it has. That’s why you can assume that big fish, like sharks, have a lot of mercury in their cells.

To avoid mercury, eat wild-caught, smaller fish from clean waters. You can read more about mercury here.

Damaged fats

Step aside, pasta: These spiralizer recipes fill your noodle fix without the grains. (Vegetarian, keto, Whole30, and paleo options inside.)You can find the healthiest medium-chain fats or oils with a perfect omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. But if you heat them to the point that they change molecular structure, the fats won’t feed your brain and your cell membranes. Once you’ve heated oils to the point that they oxidize, they become harmful. Oxidized fats cause inflammation and age you faster, among other things. Read this article to learn about good fats and what oxidation does.

Bisphenol-A (BPA)

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is found in a lot of plastics and in the coating on the inside of cans that keeps the acids in foods from rusting the metal. Studies show that BPA can lead to insulin resistance and obesity,[ref url=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22090277″] diabetes,[ref url=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21956417″] decreased sperm count,[ref url=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21035116″] and hormone disruption.[ref url=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20002217″]

Not a big deal unless you eat plastic, right? Not exactly — BPA leaches into food and beverages.[ref url=”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21605673″]

A lot of people come to keto for convenience. If you’re eating dirty keto, you’re probably eating a lot of packaged foods. You can grab a low-carb protein bar and a can of diet soda from the gas station and call it lunch. But there’s a good chance the bar’s wrapper and the lining of the cup contain BPA. On dirty keto, you can order a triple bacon cheeseburger with no bun from the drive-thru and there’s a good chance the paper your patties are wrapped in contain BPA.

When you clean up your keto, and you’re eating foods in their whole form that you prepared yourself, you automatically don’t have as much BPA in your life.

More dirty keto ingredients that make you weak

The worst Sources of Protein _SoyThese are just the tip of the iceberg. There are other compounds you need to look out for when you’re eating dirty keto, like:

This isn’t intended to make you paranoid. Instead, use what you know to turbocharge your progress. Cut out the crap, and watch how fast the rest of the weight melts off. Watch your brain light up like never before. Everything gets easier, you’ll enjoy life more, and no doubt you’ll enjoy what you’re eating more. After a few weeks, you won’t go back to convenience foods.





Not Harder

Smarter Not Harder: The Biohacker’s Guide to Getting the Body and Mind You Want is about helping you to become the best version of yourself by embracing laziness while increasing your energy and optimizing your biology.

If you want to lose weight, increase your energy, or sharpen your mind, there are shelves of books offering myriad styles of advice. If you want to build up your strength and cardio fitness, there are plenty of gyms and trainers ready to offer you their guidance. What all of these resources have in common is they offer you a bad deal: a lot of effort for a little payoff. Dave Asprey has found a better way.

Also Available


Start hacking your way to better than standard performance and results.

Receive weekly biohacking tips and tech by becoming a Dave Asprey insider.

By sharing your email, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy