Dirty keto is the term used for following a keto diet without concern for food quality. For instance, order a burger from a fast food restaurant, throw away the carb-loaded bun, and only eat the burger and cheese.
Dirty keto will never win any healthy eating awards, but can it be used as a way to keep your blood sugar low enough to stay on track when nothing else is available? And would it really be all that bad to just eat the burger with the bun?
While wearing a non-prescription CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor), I went to Mcdonald’s and picked up a few cheeseburgers to see how the separated ingredients of a fast-food cheeseburger would affect my blood sugar and what would happen when I ate the bun and burger combo. Here’s what happened.
Dirty Keto & Food Combining – At-A-Glance
- Dirty Keto is defined as following a keto diet without concern for food quality.
- Removing the bun and eating a fast-food beef patty with cheese is a form of Dirty Keto. When tested, this caused a gentle rise in my blood sugar.
- Conclusion: Dirty Keto is not a healthy eating method but can be practiced when nothing else is available.
- Food Combining is a diet that advocates eating specific combinations of foods to help with health and digestion.
- According to the food combining philosophy, a fast-food cheeseburger should be avoided because it combines starch (bun) with protein (patty and cheese).
- Conclusion: This combination of nutrients caused a sharp blood sugar spike, an unfavorable response.
Dirty Keto & Food Combining: I Put Them to the Test [Blood Sugar] [Video]
In this video, you’ll learn…
- Three blood sugar test results after separating a McDonald’s burger.
- Why a whole cheeseburger doesn’t follow the rules of food combining.
- Whether or not Dirty Keto is ok.
Is Dirty Keto OK?
I am not recommending a dirty keto lifestyle. However, I acknowledge that sometimes, due to financial issues or availability, consuming processed meat and cheese and other low-quality foods may have to suffice.
Also, the term is dirty keto. But, low-carb dieters will experience these same scenarios from time to time, so regardless of your dieting style, eating foods that keep your blood sugar low is a priority.
Bun vs. Blood Sugar
A big advantage of wearing a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) is that you get continual analysis of your blood sugar without a need for a finger prick. So, it is very easy to see how food affects you.
For this dirty keto test, I removed the bun because it is a high-carb food. Since carbohydrates, especially refined carbs like bread, are the foods that raise blood sugar the most, they are excluded from a keto diet. But I wanted to see just how much a hamburger bun would spike my blood sugar.
I bought a few plain cheeseburgers from McDonald’s and pulled them apart as soon as possible to avoid too much fat seeping into the bun and keep the cheese from sticking to the bun.
I then stuck them in the refrigerator so that I could eat them in the following mornings. I did this because I wanted each component to be eaten on an empty stomach.
Since the bun is a low-fiber, refined carbohydrate with sugar added – yes, Mcdonald’s adds sugar to their buns – I expected it to spike my blood sugar, and it did not disappoint.
It immediately shot my blood sugar up by 169 mg/dL, receiving a score of 1 out of 10, which is the worst score awarded.
Cheeseburger Patty (No Bun) vs. Blood Sugar
Next, it was time to test the burger patty and cheese. This is the protein and fat portion of the meal. Since those nutrients have much less impact on blood sugar than carbohydrates, I expected to get a favorable blood sugar response after eating them. What I got, in actuality, was an OK response. It caused a gentle rise in glucose and was assigned a score of 7 out of 10 from my Levels app.
Dirty Keto Friendly?
In terms of whether or not this works as a dirty keto option, I would say yes. A McDonald’s beef patty and cheese is not health food, and it is not a big meal by any means, but if you are stuck with no other options, then throwing away the bun and eating the cheeseburger patty will keep your blood sugar stable enough to keep your diet on track.
I will also pass along some insider information from a very friendly McDonald’s worker who told us you can buy plain beef patties for a dollar a piece. That may be a better option since it bypasses the “cheese,” which is more like a highly-processed cheese-like product.
Cheeseburger vs. Blood Sugar
What we have seen so far is that when it comes to blood sugar control, refined bread is a problem. When I ate the cheese patty by itself, my blood sugar gently rose but stayed in control.
The question now becomes, is the control from the protein and fat enough to blunt the spike caused by the bun? In other words, is it so bad to just eat the whole cheeseburger? So, I put it to the test.
Now, this is not the end-all-be-all of food combining tests. Food combining has many facets. In its most formal sense, it is a diet that advocates eating specific combinations of foods to help with health and digestion. One of the rules of food combining is to avoid eating starches with protein.
A bun is a starchy food. A burger patty and cheese contain protein. According to the food combination philosophy, this is a bad combination because the fast digestion of the bun and the slow digestion of the protein jam up your digestive tract. That theory is hard to quantify. I am looking at food combining through the lens of blood sugar.
I am sorry to report that the whole cheeseburger resulted in a 1 out of 10. It caused a sharp 93-point spike.
That response was not as pronounced as the spike I received after eating the bun alone, but it was still poor enough to get the worst score.
Interpreting Blood Sugar Responses
The initial blood sugar spike is important because that shows the effect a food has on you. But you also want to pay attention to what happens in the hours after eating. That information is helpful because it gives you insights into your body’s response to the foods you are feeding it.
If a food causes a blood sugar spike, you want to see a return to a stable blood sugar level within a couple of hours. This demonstrates that the pancreas responds to elevated blood sugar by releasing insulin.
While not definitive, a blood sugar level that stays high or bounces up and down at a high level indicates that insulin’s attempt to move that sugar into cells was met with resistance.
In this experiment, we looked at how the dirty keto technique of eating a bunless cheeseburger affected my blood sugar. I also tested a whole cheeseburger, which combined refined carbs with protein and fat.
If you must rely on dirty keto to get through a bind, then it is a valid option. However, this is not a healthy or hearty meal, so keep it as infrequent as possible.
As for combining nutrients, my experiment did not result in a favorable blood sugar response. However, the ratio of carbs to protein and fat is a factor to consider. I choose a fast-food cheeseburger to simulate a real-world choice. When you pull it apart, there is a big bun and a dismally small cheeseburger patty. Had this been a large patty, I feel confident that the response would have been better.
Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week!