Beef Jerky on Keto: 9 Things You Must Know

On paper, beef jerky can look like a great option for losing weight.

It has been a popular snack for people who are trying to lose weight because it is low in calories and high in protein.

Unlike many other snacks, beef jerky is not loaded with sugar, fat, or processed carbohydrates that can derail your weight loss goals.

Instead, it is made by drying lean cuts of beef, which concentrates the protein and removes much of the moisture and fat

However, when you’re on Keto, it might seem like a very different story.

Regular beef jerky with all the honey, brown sugar, and other carb-heavy additives, can quickly kick you out of ketosis.

That, however, does not mean you can’t enjoy it if you’re on Keto. It just means you have to know your way around it and be able to pick the appropriate products that go well with the diet.

Is Beef Jerky Keto?

Yes, beef jerky can be keto-friendly as it is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. However, many products on the market come with non-keto ingredients. That’s why choosing the products wisely and consuming them in moderation is key to enjoying beef jerky without getting kicked out of ketosis.

That’s why I thought it would be interesting to discuss with you 9 things that you must know if you want to include beef jerky in your keto journey.

11 Things You Must Know About Beef Jerky on the Keto Diet

These are things that have helped me personally, as well as others I mentored on their keto journeys. Come on along!

Beef jerky has long been a favorite snack for those who crave something savory, chewy, and protein-packed. And when it comes to following the keto diet, beef jerky often becomes a go-to choice for an on-the-go bite.

Let’s dive into eleven fun facts about beef jerky and its role in the ketogenic diet.

1- The Cool Origins of Beef Jerky:

Beef jerky’s history dates back thousands of years to ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians and South American tribes. The practice of drying meat was essential for preservation before the advent of refrigeration.

The word “jerky” comes from the Quechua term “ch’arki,” which translates to “dried meat.”

2- It Can Be Perfect for the Keto Diet

The ketogenic diet emphasizes high-fat, low-carb, and moderate protein intake to promote ketosis – a metabolic state where the body burns fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. Beef jerky’s high protein content and low carbohydrate content make it an ideal snack choice for those on the keto diet.

Here’s a quick profile of beef jerky, that will make you love it just as much as I do.

  1. Protein: Beef jerky is primarily composed of protein, with a 1-ounce (28 grams) serving typically containing around 9-12 grams of protein.

    Protein is vital for building and maintaining muscle, supporting immune function, and contributing to overall health.
  2. Fat: A serving of healthy beef jerky usually contains 1-3 grams of fat, which can vary depending on the cut of meat and preparation method.
  3. Carbohydrates: Healthy, high-quality beef jerky is naturally low in carbohydrates, with a 1-ounce serving containing less than 3 grams of carbs, making it an ideal snack option for you and me on the Keto diet.

3- Homemade Beef Jerky Will Instantly Become Your Favorite

One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had when it comes to snacking on a keto diet was learning how to make my own beef jerky. Not only does homemade beef jerky offer a fresher, more personalized taste, but it also allows you to control the ingredients and create a keto-friendly version tailored to your taste preferences.

To start, I recommend selecting a high-quality cut of beef, such as flank steak or sirloin tip. Trim any visible fat and slice the meat into thin strips, working against the grain to ensure a tender final product.

From there, the fun begins with crafting your own marinade.

You can experiment with various seasonings, such as soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, and even liquid smoke for that authentic smoky flavor. Just remember to avoid sugar and any high-carb ingredients to keep your jerky keto-friendly.

When it comes to cooking your jerky, you have two primary options: using a dehydrator or your oven.

  • If you’re using a dehydrator, simply lay the marinated beef strips on the dehydrator trays and set the temperature to around 160°F (71°C). It will typically take around 4-6 hours for the jerky to fully dry, depending on the thickness of the meat and the efficiency of your dehydrator.

    If you don’t have a dehydrator, don’t worry. You can still make delicious beef jerky using your oven.
  • Preheat your oven to the lowest setting (usually around 170°F or 77°C), line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and place a wire rack on top. Lay the marinated beef strips on the wire rack and cook for 3-4 hours, flipping the strips halfway through the cooking process.

    The jerky should be firm but still slightly pliable when it’s done.

Once you’ve mastered the art of homemade beef jerky, you can enjoy a keto-friendly snack that’s customizable, delicious, and far more cost-effective than store-bought alternatives. Thank me later.

If, for any reason, you feel like home-made jerky is not an option for you, no matter how easy I tried to make it look, I have a couple tips coming up on choosing good store-bought products.

4- Avoid some of the terrible ingredients by simply looking at the back.

When purchasing beef jerky, it is crucial to carefully read the labels to avoid unhealthy ingredients and additives. Look for products with a short and simple ingredient list, as this usually indicates minimal processing and fewer additives.

Avoid jerky containing added sugars, high-fructose corn syrup, or artificial sweeteners, as they can contribute to unwanted carbohydrate content and potential health issues. Additionally, be wary of products with MSG (monosodium glutamate), which is often used as a flavor enhancer but may cause adverse reactions in some individuals.

Opt for low-sodium or reduced-sodium options whenever possible. Moreover, watch out for chemical preservatives like sodium nitrite or sodium erythorbate, which can be harmful when consumed in large quantities.

By carefully reading the labels and being aware of the ingredients, you can make informed choices and enjoy beef jerky as part of a healthy diet, and avoid some of the shopping mistakes that even I had to make before I learned the hard way.

5- Choosing the right product is everything.

Not all beef jerky is created equal. Some store-bought options may contain added sugars or high levels of carbohydrates, making them less suitable for keto dieters.

Look for brands with minimal additives and no added sugars to ensure you’re staying within your carb limits.

The next tip can help you choose the right type of beef jerky.

6- Choose Wisely: Grass-fed vs. Grain-fed?

When it comes to choosing between grass-fed and grain-fed beef jerky, I’ve found that grass-fed options not only taste better, but I could also find data on how their numerous health advantages.

Grass-fed beef jerky typically contains higher levels of healthy omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than grain-fed beef. These nutrients can provide additional health benefits for keto dieters, including reduced inflammation and improved heart health.

From my personal experience, I’ve noticed that grass-fed beef jerky has a richer, more complex flavor profile compared to its grain-fed counterpart. The first time I tried grass-fed beef jerky, I was amazed by the depth of flavor and how tender it was. Since then, I’ve made a conscious effort to always grab grass-fed jerky whenever possible.

The increased omega-3 fatty acids found in grass-fed beef jerky are known to promote brain health, support a healthy inflammatory response, and contribute to cardiovascular wellness.

As obsessed as I was in making my nutrition decisions when I first started consuming beef jerky on keto, I think the higher omega-3 content in grass-fed jerky was also an important factor in my decision-making process.

It also contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid that has been linked to numerous health benefits, from weight management, to supporting lean muscle mass, and providing anti-inflammatory properties.

7- Add Fat-rich Food & Create a Nice Mini-Meal

I remember the first time I tried pairing beef jerky with cheese for a satisfying mini-meal, and it quickly became one of my favorite go-to snacks.

You’ll want to choose a cheese that complements the flavor profile of your jerky. I personally love pairing a mildly-spicy beef jerky with a milder cheese like Monterey Jack or a tangy sharp cheddar with a classic, savory jerky.

To add variety and additional nutrients, I like to include a handful of olives, some almonds, or a few slices of avocado. These extras not only add healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals to your meal but also create a more enjoyable and diverse taste experience.

Trust me, once you’ve tried this combo, it’s hard to resist making it a regular part of your snacking routine.

8- Jerky is Real Food with Real Nutrition, Not a Guilty Pleasure.

It might have been marketed as some guilty-pleasure snack, but when chosen wisely, it can be something you can consume guilt-free.

Setting aside the good profile of macronutrients, it also has some very good vitamins and minerals. Let’s talk more about that next.

9- It Decreases Your Need for Supplements.

Beef jerky can be a good source of electrolytes.

  1. Sodium: Beef jerky can be high in sodium due to the curing and preservation process. A 1-ounce serving may contain anywhere from 300 to 800 milligrams of sodium.

    While sodium is an essential electrolyte, excessive intake can lead to high blood pressure and other health issues. Look for low-sodium options or consume beef jerky in moderation to avoid excessive sodium intake.
  2. Vitamins and Minerals: Beef jerky is a good source of several essential vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc, and B vitamins (particularly vitamin B12 and niacin).

    Iron is important for oxygen transport and energy production, while zinc supports immune function and wound healing. B vitamins play a crucial role in metabolism and maintaining a healthy nervous system.

10- It Helps Busy People Stay Healthy On The Go

Beef jerky is shelf-stable and travel-friendly, which helps me stay committed to keto and not cheat when I’m out for long hours at work or traveling.

You can also make use of its long shelf life and portability by packing beef jerky for road trips, hikes, or even flights, to ensure you have a keto-friendly snack readily available.

11- Embrace the Delicious Alternative Jerky Options

Over the years, I’ve discovered that turkey, chicken, and even fish jerky can be just as keto-friendly and tasty, as long as they are made without added sugars or excessive carbs.

Chicken jerky, too, offers a delightful change of pace, with its slightly different flavor profile and versatility in seasoning options. I found that both turkey and chicken jerky make for great keto-friendly alternatives to the traditional beef jerky.

Fish jerky, on the other hand, may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I found it to be a unique and interesting option to try. Salmon jerky, in particular, caught my attention with its rich flavor and excellent nutritional profile. Packed with omega-3 fatty acids and high-quality protein, salmon jerky has become a staple in my snack rotation, especially when I’m craving something different from the usual meat-based jerkies.

11- Moderation is Key

While beef jerky is a convenient and nutrient-dense snack, it’s important to consume it in moderation. High levels of sodium and nitrates found in some commercial jerky can have negative health impacts when consumed in excess.

Additionally, overconsumption of protein can kick you out of ketosis, so being mindful of portion sizes will help you enjoy beef jerky without feeling bad about it.

Nabeel Kallas

I'm a medical doctor with a lot of passion for Keto & Intermittent Fasting. They have completely changed my life and I am beyond honored to help you experience that same change. I'm ready when you are. Read more here.

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