Is beef jerky OK for keto diet?

Beef jerky can absolutely be part of a ketogenic diet. In fact, it makes for a convenient and tasty keto-friendly snack. However, not all beef jerky is created equal – you’ll want to choose options that fit within your macros and avoid unhealthy ingredients.

What is beef jerky?

Beef jerky is lean meat that has been trimmed of fat, cut into strips, and dried to prevent spoilage. The drying process removes moisture, which concentrates the protein and preserves the meat.

To make jerky, thinly sliced beef is seasoned with salt and spices, then dried by smoking or baking. Traditionally it was sun-dried or smoked over a fire.

Commercial beef jerky may also contain sweeteners, soy sauce, liquid smoke, or other flavorings.

Nutrition facts of beef jerky

A 1 ounce serving of beef jerky contains:

  • Calories: 115
  • Fat: 3g
  • Protein: 15g
  • Carbs: 3g

As you can see, beef jerky is high in protein and low in carbs and fat, making it a perfect snack for ketogenic diets.

However, the exact macros can vary depending on the brand and ingredients used. Be sure to read nutrition labels closely.

Benefits of beef jerky on keto

Here are some of the main benefits of eating beef jerky on the keto diet:

1. Low in carbs

Beef jerky is naturally low in carbs, with just 1-3 grams per serving. This fits perfectly into a keto diet aimining for under 50 grams of net carbs per day.

2. High in protein

Beef is an excellent source of protein. An ounce of jerky can provide 10-15 grams of protein, which helps satisfy your daily protein needs on keto.

3. Convenient snack

Jerky is portable, lightweight, and shelf-stable. This makes it a handy keto-friendly snack you can take anywhere.

4. Nutrient-dense

Beef jerky is nutrient-dense, providing zinc, iron, potassium, selenium, and vitamin B12 in addition to its protein content.

5. Satiating

The combination of fat, protein, and fiber in jerky can help you feel fuller for longer between meals.

Choosing the best beef jerky for keto

When shopping for keto-friendly beef jerky, read the nutrition facts and ingredients carefully. Watch out for the following:

Sugars and sweeteners

Some beef jerky contains sugar or sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, agave, and fruit juices to improve the flavor. Go for options with no added sugars.

High carb spices and seasonings

Onion, garlic, teriyaki, barbecue, and other seasoned flavors may have added sugars. Stick to simple salt and pepper flavors.

Thickening agents

Check for fillers like maltodextrin, cornstarch, soy protein, and wheat flour that can up the carb count.


Sodium nitrate is sometimes used as a preservative. Look for nitrate-free or naturally cured jerky without this additive.

Your best bet is simple jerky made from just beef, salt, and spices. There are many brands that fit the bill.

Portion control is key

When eating keto, portion sizes matter – even with low carb foods. While jerky can be part of your diet, be mindful not to overdo it:

  • Stick to 1-2 ounces per day.
  • Track your servings to fit your daily macros.
  • Measure portions instead of eating straight from the bag.

Other keto-friendly jerky options

In addition to traditional beef jerky, consider these other low carb meat snacks:

Bison jerky

Just like beef jerky, bison is low carb and high in protein. Try this for a leaner alternative.

Turkey jerky

Turkey jerky has a similar nutrition profile as beef jerky, with slightly less fat. It can be easier to find without nitrates.

Salmon jerky

For a seafood option, look for jerky made from salmon, tuna, or other oily fish. This provides heart-healthy omega-3s.

Venison jerky

Venison is very lean and naturally low in carbs. Keep an eye on seasoning, as some contain sugar.


This traditional jerky made from bison, elk or beef has a 1:1 ratio of meat to rendered fat. It provides more calories and fat for an ultra low-carb snack.

Tips for making your own jerky

You can also easily make jerky at home. Here are some tips:

  • Use lean cuts like flank steak, sirloin tip or eye of round.
  • Slice meat thinly across the grain.
  • Marinate 1-2 days in soy sauce, Worcestershire, liquid smoke and spices.
  • Dehydrate 4-12 hours until done but still pliable.
  • Store in airtight container up to 2 weeks.

Potential downsides of beef jerky

Beef jerky is tasty and nutritious, but there are a few potential downsides to keep in mind:

High in sodium

To help preserve and flavor the meat, jerky contains a lot of sodium, up to 600-900mg per ounce. This can contribute to high blood pressure.

Tough on teeth

The tough, chewy texture can wear down tooth enamel over time. Be sure to brush after eating.

Contains preservatives

Most mass-produced jerky contains preservatives like nitrates, MSG or sulfites. Check labels and choose preservative-free when possible.

May trigger overeating

Jerky is easy to snack mindlessly on, so be aware of your portion sizes to avoid taking in too many calories.

Not whole food

While nutritious, jerky is a processed and preserved meat. For optimal nutrition, focus more on fresh meats and fish.

The bottom line

Beef jerky can be included as an occasional snack within your keto diet. When choosing jerky, go for the simplest ingredients – just beef and spices – in 1-2 ounce portions.

Staying within your carb limit is what matters most. Beef jerky can be a healthy and convenient way to get more protein without excess carbs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is beef jerky keto-friendly?

Yes, beef jerky can be part of a keto diet. It is low in carbs and high in protein. However, check labels as some brands add sugars or fillers that increase the carb count.

How much beef jerky can you eat on keto?

It’s best to stick to 1-2 ounces or around 15-20 grams of protein from jerky per day on keto. Even though it’s low carb, eating too much can hinder ketosis.

What should you look for in keto beef jerky?

Look for options with just beef and spices, minimal ingredients, no added sugars, and 1-3g net carbs per serving. Grass-fed and naturally cured jerky is best.

What are the best keto jerky brands?

Some top keto-friendly beef jerk brands include Chomps, People’s Choice Beef Jerky, Vermont Smoke & Cure, Krave, Duke’s Meats, Mission Meats, and Ayoba-Yo.

Can you make keto beef jerky at home?

Yes, you can easily make keto-friendly beef jerky by marinating lean beef in spices, salt and low carb ingredients like soy sauce, then dehydrating until done.

Is beef jerky bad for keto?

Beef jerky is not inherently bad on keto. The high protein and sodium content can be concerning for some people, but jerky can fit into keto macros in moderation.

Can you eat beef jerky on a low carb diet?

Beef jerky is perfectly suited for a low carb diet like keto or Atkins, given its high protein and low carb nutritional profile. Enjoy it in moderation as a snack.

Brand Grams of Carbs Per Ounce Ingredients
Chomps 1g Beef, water, salt, black pepper
People’s Choice 3g Beef, water, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, honey, salt, natural flavors
Vermont Smoke & Cure 2g Beef, water, tamari soy sauce, honey, dextrose, salt, cultured celery extract
Krave 1g Beef, water, natural flavors, vinegar, sea salt, celery juice powder, garlic powder, lemon juice concentrate

Sample keto jerky shopping list

When you’re out shopping for keto-friendly beef jerky, use this list to help you make the best choices:

  • Chomps Original Beef Jerky
  • Duke’s Shorty Slim Zero Sugar Beef Jerky
  • Epic Grass-Fed Beef Jerky – Original
  • Mission Meats Grass-Fed Beef Jerky Peppered
  • Ayoba-Yo Sugar-Free Teriyaki Beef Jerky
  • Jack Links Original Beef Jerky
  • Krave Beef Jerky Chili Lime
  • Vermont Smoke & Cure Original Beef Jerky
  • People’s Choice Black Pepper Jerky

Keto beef jerky recipe

Here is an easy homemade keto beef jerky recipe to try:


  • 2 lb flank steak or other lean cut
  • 1⁄4 cup soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp liquid smoke
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp black pepper


  1. Slice beef into 1⁄4 inch thick slices, trimming off visible fat.
  2. Whisk marinade ingredients together in a bowl.
  3. Add beef strips and toss to coat. Marinate 1-2 days.
  4. Remove from marinade and pat dry.
  5. Arrange strips in a single layer on dehydrator trays.
  6. Dehydrate at 155°F for 4-6 hours until done but still pliable.
  7. Let cool completely then store in airtight container up to 2 weeks.


Beef jerky can be a nutritious and convenient snack option on a ketogenic diet. When choosing a brand, read labels carefully and look for options low in carbs and sugar but high in protein.

Make sure to stick to suggested serving sizes and be mindful of your total macros. With some discretion, jerky can be a tasty addition to help you stay in ketosis and feel satisfied between meals. Homemade jerky is also an option for full control over the ingredients.

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