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Is Beef Jerky Keto-Friendly?

Beef Jerky on a kitchen counter

Is Beef Jerky Keto-Friendly? Unfortunately, despite its popularity as a snack, beef jerky doesn't quite fit the bill due to its high carbohydrate content.

For those following a strict keto diet, where carb intake is drastically limited, beef jerky could quickly exceed your daily allowance.

But fear not, in this comprehensive exploration, we'll delve into beef jerky's carbohydrate profile and identify why it doesn't mesh well with a ketogenic diet.

We'll also offer some practical, keto-friendly alternatives so you can still enjoy a snack similar to beef jerky without disrupting your diet.

Let's dive in and unearth the details.


  • Beef Jerky and keto don't quite mix - the high carbohydrate content makes it a tricky fit for a typical keto diet.
  • Despite being high in protein, the 25.0g of net carbs per 100g serving in beef jerky could disrupt the metabolic state of ketosis.
  • Besides, it has a significant sodium content that could pose health concerns over time.

Is Beef Jerky Keto-Friendly?

Diving right into the matter at hand - the keto-friendliness of Beef Jerky. The straightforward answer, based on nutritional values, is that beef jerky is not typically considered keto-friendly.

This might be surprising to some, as beef jerky is indeed a protein-rich food. So, why isn't it recommended for a keto diet? The issue lies in its carbohydrate content. Per 100g of beef jerky, there are 25.0g of carbs, which is rather high for those adhering to keto guidelines.

Now, why does this matter? For those following a ketogenic diet, the goal is to maintain a state of ketosis, where the body is burning fat for fuel rather than carbs. In such a diet, the typical carb limit is around 20g to 50g per day, varying based on individual needs. Given that a 100g serving of beef jerky contains 25.0g of net carbs, consuming beef jerky could cause individuals to quickly exceed their daily carb allowance, thereby disrupting ketosis.

Can You Have Beef Jerky On a Strict Keto Diet?

When considering a strict keto diet, typically defined as consuming less than 20g of carbs per day, the inclusion of beef jerky becomes problematic. Given its carbohydrate content of 25.0g per 100g serving, beef jerky consumption would immediately surpass the daily carb limit of such a regimen, thereby disrupting ketosis.

Even for those following a more lenient keto or low-carb plan, where daily carb allowance may stretch to 30-50g of net carbs, beef jerky is still not an ideal choice. A single 100g serving of beef jerky would take up a significant portion, if not the entirety, of their daily carb quota. This could potentially limit the variety and quantity of other food items that can be consumed within the day while staying within the carb limit.

Carbs In Beef Jerky

Taking a closer look at beef jerky's carbohydrate content, it's clear why it's not typically considered a suitable option for a ketogenic diet. Each 100g serving of beef jerky contains 25.0g of net carbs. This is a significant amount considering the daily carb limit on a keto diet, which usually ranges from 20g to 50g.

It's essential to note that these are net carbs, which are the total carbohydrates minus the dietary fiber. Net carbs are what you count when you are carb counting because they are what the body processes for fuel.

Now, what about the glycemic index? The glycemic index is a value assigned to foods based on how slowly or how quickly those foods cause increases in blood glucose levels. Foods low on the glycemic index (GI) scale tend to release glucose slowly and steadily, while high GI foods cause a more rapid rise in blood glucose levels.

Beef Jerky Nutrition Facts

Beef Jerky, a popular snack among many, offers a nutritional profile that can be a noteworthy part of a balanced diet.

For every 100g, Beef Jerky contains 25.0g of carbohydrates, 3.57g of total fats, and a robust 39.29g of protein, which can provide a significant portion of the daily recommended intake for average adults.

The sodium content registers at a significant 1571.0mg, which is worth considering for those mindful of their salt intake. Iron content is at 3.86mg, helping contribute to essential functions like oxygen transport in the body.

Cholesterol is present at 107.0mg, and the total caloric impact is 286.0kcal. While the cholesterol and caloric count may seem high, remember that these can fit into a balanced dietary plan when consumed in moderation.

The nutrient data, obtained from the US Department of Agriculture's FoodData Central system, shows the complexity of Beef Jerky's nutritional profile. Despite its reputation as a simple snack, it houses a varied spectrum of both macro and micronutrients.

Nutrient NameAmount and Unit per 100g
Carbohydrate, by difference 25.0g
Total fats 3.57g
Protein 39.29g
Sodium, Na 1571.0mg
Iron, Fe 3.86mg
Cholesterol 107.0mg
Calories 286.0kcal
Nutritional data is sourced from the US Department of Agriculture's FoodData Central system. Please see Cast Iron Keto's editorial and research standards for more information.

Health Implications of Beef Jerky on a Keto Diet

In the context of a keto diet, consuming beef jerky can pose challenges in maintaining ketosis due to its high carbohydrate content. Its 25.0g of net carbs per 100g serving could easily exceed the daily carb limit of a strict keto diet, disrupting the metabolic state of ketosis, which is crucial for this diet's effectiveness.

Aside from its carb content, beef jerky does possess some nutritional benefits. It's high in protein with 39.29g per 100g serving, contributing to muscle maintenance and growth. It also provides essential minerals such as iron, with a content of 3.86mg per 100g, which plays a key role in the production of red blood cells.

Keto-Compatible Alternatives for Beef Jerky

  1. Bacon: As a keto-friendly alternative, bacon is high in protein and contains a significantly lower amount of carbs than beef jerky. You can use bacon in a variety of keto recipes, such as wrapping it around asparagus for a savory side dish.
  2. Salmon Jerky: Salmon jerky is another great option as it's not only low in carbs but also packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, essential for heart and brain health. It can be a tasty snack on its own or used in keto salads for an added protein boost.
  3. Beef Sticks: For those who still crave the convenience and taste of jerky-style snacks, beef sticks are an excellent choice. They are typically lower in carbs compared to beef jerky, and can be a great on-the-go snack.
  4. Cheese Crisps: Making a shift away from meat, cheese crisps are a delicious, crunchy snack that's low in carbs and high in fat, making them perfect for a keto diet. They can be eaten alone or used as a cracker substitute with keto-friendly dips.

Concluding Thoughts on Beef Jerky and Keto

Reflecting on the key insights shared, it's clear that while beef jerky might be a favorite snack for many, its high carbohydrate content makes it incompatible with a ketogenic diet. The 25.0g of net carbs per 100g serving in beef jerky can easily exceed the daily carb limit for those pursuing ketosis, hence its classification as a non-keto friendly food.

Although beef jerky offers nutritional benefits, like a high protein content and essential minerals like iron, it's important to consider its drawbacks. The significant sodium content can be an area of concern for some individuals.

Exploring keto-friendly alternatives to beef jerky, such as bacon, salmon jerky, beef sticks, and cheese crisps, can provide the taste and texture you love, without disrupting your diet. These options can be creatively incorporated into your keto recipes, adding variety to your meals while keeping you within your daily carb limit.

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Cast Iron Keto's Editorial and Research Standards

Certain rare or exotic food items may not have nutritional profiles in the FoodData Central database. If an exact match is not found in the FoodData Central database, then, the Cast Iron Keto team utilizes a three-prong approach to provide readers with the closest relevant nutritional data, where possible.

First, in the event that nutritional profiles for a rare or exotic food item is not available in the FoodData Central database, we investigate alternative names for that particular food item and use that data, when possible. Second, in cases where no alternate names exist, Cast Iron Keto will use nutritional data for a close relative or similar food item. Finally, if no close relatives or similar items exist, we refrain from publishing nutrient data tables.

When making dietary or health decisions based on FoodData Central's data, we suggest readers consult with a nutritionist or other health experts, particularly if the food in question has a significant role in your diet or if you are using the food item to treat any health disorder(s).

Furthermore, it is important to note that even if a close relative or similar item is used to approximate the nutritional data, different food items can have varying levels of nutrients due to factors such as soil quality, farming practices, and regional differences.


The information on this website is only intended to be general summary information for public use, designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. This information does not replace written law or regulations, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have questions about a medical condition or are seeking to evaluate the health merits of certain food items for the treatment of any medical condition, you should seek the advice of a doctor or other qualified health professionals.

The views expressed at, or through, Cast Iron Keto are for informational purposes only. Cast Iron Keto cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. While we use reasonable efforts to include accurate and up-to-date information, we make no warranties as to the accuracy of the content and assume no liability or responsibility for any errors or omissions in the content. All liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this website are hereby expressly disclaimed. The content on this posting is provided "as is;" no representations are made that the content is error-free.

Frequently Asked Questions

No, beef jerky's high carbohydrate content makes it unsuitable for a keto diet.

Despite its high protein content, the amount of carbs in beef jerky can still disrupt ketosis.

Yes, the significant sodium content in beef jerky can pose health concerns, especially if consumed in large amounts.

While there are lower-carb variants of beef jerky available, they are still typically higher in carbs than what's advisable for a keto diet.