beef jerky and some pepper and salt

Is Beef Jerky Paleo? (Should It Be Dry?)

Beef jerky is one of the most popular high-protein snacks. It is pretty tasty, and you can readily get it. Overall, it is a very convenient snack.

If you are on a paleo diet, there may be a question about beef jerky being paleo, as it can be a mass-produced food item. Keep reading this article to learn about beef jerky and its relationship to the paleo diet.

Is beef jerky paleo?

Ordinarily, beef jerky is paleo. But it can also be non-paleo, depending on the ingredients used in preparing it.

At its simplest, beef jerky is dried beef seasoned with a few natural ingredients. As long as these ingredients are paleo-friendly, beef jerky is paleo.

Below, we shed more light on why beef jerky is paleo. We also talk about the health benefits and risks of beef jerky. Read on for the details.

pieces of beef jerky on a wooden board

Is Beef Jerky Paleo?

The primary ingredient in beef jerky is beef. And since the humans of the paleolithic era ate beef, beef jerky is paleo.

Of course, since beef is paleo, beef jerky is ordinarily paleo. However, the paleo-friendliness of beef jerky can change during preparation.

First, if the beef used to make beef jerky contains additives such as artificial preservatives and sodium, the beef jerky is non-paleo.

Secondly, if the beef has significant fat, it becomes unhealthy. As a result, the beef jerky becomes non-paleo.

Thirdly, seasoning beef jerky with non-paleo ingredients like soy, flavor enhancers, or sugar makes the jerky non-paleo.

The bottom line is beef jerky is paleo if it contains healthy and paleo-friendly ingredients. So, before you snack on beef jerky, check all the ingredients. If you see an ingredient you are unsure of, you could abstain from eating the beef jerky.

Beef jerky best suited for paleo typically contains grass-fed beef, garlic powder, black pepper, and coconut aminos. So, look out for these ingredients.

bowl of dry beef jerky and a small branch of parsley

Should It Be Dry?

Beef jerky should be dry but not too dry. It will be too tough to chew on if the beef jerky is too dry.

While beef jerky should not be too dry, it shouldn’t be moist either. If your beef jerky is moist, it will be prone to early spoilage. So, ensure your beef jerky is dry but not too dry.

So, how can you know when your beef jerky is dry enough?

If your beef jerky breaks in half when you bend it, it is too dry. Perfectly dried beef jerky should be flexible enough to bend without breaking.

On the other hand, if the beef jerky feels soft and greasy when touched, it is too moist.

Beef jerky should be leathery and dry to touch. So, if it feels soft or greasy, give it more time in the dehydrator.

Beef Jerky – Nutrition Facts

A 28-gram serving of beef jerky offers the following nutrients:

  • Protein – 9.4 grams
  • Carbohydrates – 3.1 grams
  • Fat – 7.3 grams
  • Fiber – 0.5 grams
  • Vitamin B1 – 4% of the daily value
  • Vitamin B2 – 3% of the daily value
  • Vitamin B3 -3% of the daily value
  • Folic acid – 9% of the daily value
  • Vitamin B12 – 12% of the daily value
  • Potassium – 4% of the daily value
  • Zinc – 21% of the daily value
  • Phosphorus – 9% of the daily value
  • Potassium – 4% of the daily value
  • Iron – 8% of the daily value
  • Magnesium – 3% of the daily value
woman loss weight showing off her loose jeans

Health Benefits of Beef Jerky

As you may have noticed above, beef jerky is rich in nutrients. Now let’s see how those nutrients can help your health.

It Can Help Promote Weight Loss

From the list of nutrients above, you’d see that protein makes up about 32% of the weight of beef jerky. In other words, beef jerky is super rich in protein. Apart from that, beef jerky is rich in fat.

The high amount of protein and fat in beef jerky can help you lose weight. When you consume high-protein or high-fat meals, you are more likely to feel full faster. In other words, beef jerky can serve as a natural hunger suppressant. Of course, if you suppress your hunger, you will eat less and consume fewer calories. The calorie deficit = weight loss.

Besides suppressing hunger, beef jerky has low carbohydrates, so it is less likely to contribute to weight gain.

Beef Jerky Can Promote Muscle Growth

If you eat paleo beef jerky – and other high-protein foods – while maintaining an active lifestyle, you may experience significant muscle growth.

Beef jerky, alongside other high-protein foods, can help suppress your appetite while providing the protein your body needs for your muscles to grow. Combine that with an active lifestyle, and your chances of having bulkier muscles are higher.

Beef Jerky Might Help Immune Function

Beef jerky provides up to 21% of the daily value of zinc. Thanks to this, it might help improve your immune function.

Zinc is a mineral that supports the immune system. For instance, zinc helps mitigate immune responses to infections. It keeps your body from overreacting to infectious diseases, preventing damage to your body.

Besides zinc, beef jerky also provides the body with iron, which is vital to the body’s immune system. Studies show that iron deficiency leaves the body more susceptible to infections.

Beef jerky also supplies vitamin B12 and folic acid to the body. Both of these vitamins help immune cells develop as they should.

beef jerky in a burlap

Potential Risks of Beef Jerky

Beef Jerky Can Be High in Sodium

Beef jerky, especially non-paleo beef jerky, can be pretty high in sodium. Unfortunately, consuming too much sodium leaves you at risk of various diseases, including hypertension, heart diseases, kidney diseases, and osteoporosis.

Beef Jerky Can Be Toxic

Paleo beef jerky will not have artificial preservatives, and it will not undergo curing. However, it would still be dry. Unfortunately, dried meat comes with some health risks. For one, there is a chance of dry meat carrying fungi, which produce mycotoxins. Some studies have linked mycotoxins to some cancers.

Final Thoughts

Beef jerky is paleo in the absence of non-paleo treatments, ingredients, additives, and preservatives. However, while paleo beef jerky can be healthy, you should only consume it in moderation. Eating beef jerky regularly or in large amounts can put your health at risk.


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