A quick answer upfront: Eating hot dogs in moderation will not kick you out of ketosis on a keto diet. While hot dogs are processed and high in fat and sodium, a single serving once in a while can likely be incorporated into a well-formulated ketogenic diet.
What are hot dogs?
Hot dogs are a type of processed meat made from beef, pork, chicken, turkey, or a combination. The meat is ground up finely, combined with fat and flavorings like salt, garlic, spices, corn syrup, and preservatives, then stuffed into a casing.
Common hot dog ingredients include:
- Meat (often a mix of beef and pork)
- Fat and skin
- Preservatives like potassium lactate and sodium diacetate
- Binders like starch
- Spices and flavorings
- Corn syrup or sugar
- Antioxidants like sodium erythorbate
- Extracts and artificial flavors
The high processing exposes the meat to nitrites, which are added to preserve color and prevent spoilage but can form carcinogenic nitrosamines. The high heat also damages the protein.
Nutrition facts of hot dogs
The nutrition facts for a typical hot dog are:
- Calories: 140
- Fat: 12g
- Carbs: 1g
- Protein: 5g
- Sodium: 370mg
As you can see, hot dogs are very high in fat. A beef hot dog gets around 80% of its calories from fat, while a chicken or turkey hot dog gets around 60% of calories from fat.
They’re also high in sodium, with over 15% of the daily recommended amount in just one hot dog. The saturated fat and sodium content are the main health concerns with hot dogs.
Why are hot dogs considered unhealthy?
Here are some reasons why hot dogs are considered unhealthy:
- High in fat: Up to 80% of the calories come from fat, much of it saturated fat and cholesterol.
- High in sodium: The average hot dog packs nearly 400mg sodium, raising blood pressure.
- Nitrates/nitrites: These preservatives have been linked to cancer.
- Heavily processed: Hot dogs contain artificial ingredients, preservatives and are exposed to high heat.
- Increased cancer risk: Processed meats like hot dogs may increase risk of colon cancer.
- Obesity: The high fat and sodium content make hot dogs very easy to overeat, which may lead to obesity.
The WHO has classified processed meat including hot dogs as “carcinogenic to humans.” Frequent hot dog consumption is linked to higher risks of chronic diseases.
Are hot dogs keto?
Despite being high in fat, hot dogs aren’t inherently a keto food. The main considerations are:
- Carbs – Hot dogs contain around 1g net carbs per frank.
- Protein – They only contain about 5g protein per hot dog.
- Fat – Up to 80% calories from fat, but may not be “healthy” fats.
- Preservatives – Contain nitrates, nitrites, binders, and other additives.
- Sodium – Very high in sodium, at around 370mg per hot dog.
While hot dogs are very low carb, they aren’t considered clean keto because of the processing methods and additives used. The fat is also largely unhealthy saturated fat, rather than the preferred unsaturated fats.
Will hot dogs kick you out of ketosis?
A single serving of hot dogs (1-2 hot dogs) will not kick you out of ketosis. To get kicked out of ketosis, you typically need to exceed 50g net carbs per day. One or two hot dogs contain only around 1-2g net carbs.
However, eating hot dogs in higher amounts frequently can make ketosis harder to maintain because:
- The extra calories make it easier to go over your daily limits.
- The high sodium can cause water retention and weight gain.
- Nitrites, preservatives and high heat processing can burden the body.
As an occasional treat, hot dogs are fine. But relying on them too heavily could potentially slow down ketosis.
Better meat choices on keto
If you’re following a keto or low carb diet, here are some healthier meat choices:
- Beef: Grass-fed ground beef, steak, roasts.
- Poultry: Chicken, turkey, duck, etc. Focus on dark meat.
- Pork: Chops, ham, bacon, sausage. Choose uncured and moderation.
- Lamb: Chops, leg of lamb.
- Fish: Salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, trout. Fatty fish are great.
When choosing processed meats like sausage or bacon, try to pick uncured, no-sugar-added options without excess fillers. Always pair meats with low carb veggies for better nutrition.
Tips for eating hot dogs on keto
Here are some tips if you occasionally enjoy hot dogs while following a ketogenic diet:
- Limit to 1-2 hot dogs at a time, a few times per month.
- Choose beef, turkey or chicken rather than higher carb pork dogs.
- Read labels and pick lower carb, lower sodium options.
- Avoid buns or wraps. Enjoy hot dogs on their own.
- Top with keto-friendly condiments like mustard, sauerkraut, avocado.
- Drink extra water to counter the sodium.
- Choose uncured hot dogs without unnecessary additives or sweeteners.
Using hot dogs as a very occasional treat can work, but make sure to account for them in your daily carb limit. Focus on healthy, minimally processed meats most of the time instead.
Healthier hot dog recipes
To lighten up hot dogs, you can make homemade versions with cleaner ingredients:
Turkey cheddar hot dogs
- Ground turkey (use dark meat)
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Coconut aminos
Simply mix the ground turkey with shredded cheese, seasonings, aminos and grated zucchini until combined. Stuff into casings or shape into dogs. Cook until turkey is no longer pink.
Cauliflower hot dogs
- Riced cauliflower
- Shredded cheese
- Bacon crumbles
Grate cauliflower into “rice” then wrap in a clean tea towel to soak up moisture. Mix the cauliflower rice with egg, cheese, bacon and any desired seasonings. Shape into hot dogs and bake until golden.
Portobello hot dogs
- Portobello mushrooms
- Avocado oil
Remove mushrooms stems and brush caps with oil. Sprinkle with desired spices like garlic powder, paprika, chili powder. Grill 3-5 minutes per side until softened.
Potential downsides of eating hot dogs on keto
Here are a few potential downsides to keep in mind if regularly eating hot dogs on a ketogenic diet:
- May slow weight loss: The high fat and sodium can cause water retention and prevent shedding lbs.
- Risk of chronic disease: The preservatives like nitrite have been linked to cancer and heart disease.
- High blood pressure: The excess sodium can negatively impact blood pressure.
- Inflammation: Heavily processed meat can trigger inflammation, especially in those sensitive.
- Digestive issues: Some experience diarrhea, bloating, etc from processed meats.
While an occasional hot dog on keto likely won’t cause issues, regular consumption could stall progress. It’s best to think of them as a sometimes food instead.
The bottom line
Having the occasional hot dog will not kick you out of ketosis or ruin your keto diet. However, hot dogs are high in fat, sodium and processed ingredients, so they aren’t the best choice nutritionally.
If you do enjoy hot dogs, have them in moderation along with plenty of wholesome, nutritious foods for balance. Or make homemade versions with cleaner ingredients instead.
At the end of the day, hot dogs can be incorporated into a keto diet in small amounts. But for the best health, focus on quality sources of protein and healthy fats from less processed foods.