Beef Jerky Nutrition Facts: What to Eat and What to Avoid
There's a lot of misinformation out there about beef jerky and its nutritional benefits. On one hand, you have "gas station beef jerky" that tastes like a bad decision, and on the other, a vague awareness that healthier beef jerky exists.
But even if you know that good options exist, how do you build beef jerky into a healthy diet? What are the differences in jerky nutrition between good and bad options? What diets are they best for?
Well, we're here to shed a bit of light on that topic. We make Chomps to be the absolute healthiest (and tastiest!) option out there, so we're going to contrast our beef stick against typical beef jerky facts and show you exactly why and how you can use healthy beef sticks like Chomps to complement diets like Whole30 or keto — or to just generally help you live a healthier, richer life.
Beef jerky vs. beef stick
You may be wondering why we're comparing beef sticks to beef jerky. Well, both options are delicious, and for most intents and purposes they fill a similar role. They're basically the same ingredients repackaged.
What we love about sticks are the convenient serving sizes. Each of our Chomps sticks are 100 calories or less, so you know exactly what you're getting and don't have to second guess your calories or be tempted to eat more than you need to.
The healthiest jerky is always the most natural
We live by this at Chomps. In the end, the closer the jerky you eat is to its essential ingredients — namely dried beef, herbs, and spices, the better. Meat doesn't need much else besides that, and beef jerky is no exception. Keep it natural. Leave out the preservatives. Leave out the extra sodium. Leave out anything that isn't natural.
In other words, fewer ingredients is the way to go!
To get an idea of how out of hand the chemicals and preservatives in gas station jerky gets, here's the ingredient list of one of the nation's top-selling brands:
Beef, soy sauce (water, sugar, salt, hydrolyzed corn and soy protein, caramel color, natural flavor, cultured dextrose, lactic acid, green tea extract, mustard oil), sugar, Worcestershire sauce (distilled white vinegar, molasses, sugar, water, salt, onions, anchovies, garlic, cloves, tamarind extract, natural flavorings, chili pepper extract), horseradish (horseradish roots, vinegar, salt and mustard oil), liquid smoke (water, natural hickory smoke flavor, vinegar, molasses, caramel color and salt), celery powder, sea salt, black pepper, red pepper. Contains soy and anchovies.
And now compare that to Chomps:
100% grass-fed beef, water, sea salt, encapsulated lactic acid, celery juice, black pepper, red pepper, garlic powder, coriander, stuffed in beef collagen casing.
The difference is crazy, right?
We source only 100% Grass-Fed AND Grass-Finished beef that is also 100% Non-GMO Project Verified. The animals are never sent to feedlots, never given antibiotics or hormones and are harvested in the most humane way possible. That's the way beef sticks and jerky should be made. No exceptions.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few beef jerky nutrition facts.
Beef Jerky Nutrition: Macronutrients
Beef jerky has a great protein to calorie ratio
Beef jerky is great for staying full and getting protein you need to build tissue walls and muscles — with general USDA beef jerky weighing in at 10.63g per 130 calories and Chomps at 9 grams per 100 calories. So while it may seem like Chomps is lower in protein, our beef sticks actually get you more protein bang for your caloric buck compared to general options.
Beef jerky is a low-carb snack — especially when prepared naturally
Even though carbohydrates are a macronutrient, Americans are notoriously overeating them — particularly so with refined carbohydrates[*]. Part of the reason why is because many popular snacks are filled with carbs. And with diets like keto and Whole 30 requiring no or very few carbs, it's helpful to have a snack option like jerky around.
There's a big difference in carb count between poorer quality jerky and high-quality jerky, though:
For the same portion size, general beef jerky has 6.4g of carbs and Chomps has 0g!
Healthy jerky contains a good ratio of healthy fats
Fats get an unfair rep, but that’s finally starting to change after decades of low-fat diets. Healthy fats in moderate amounts (both saturated and unsaturated) are important to your body for energy storage and insulation, and healthier beef jerky options give you a better balance of both[*]. General jerky has 7.4g of fats with 3.4g from saturated fats, and Chomps has 6g of fat with 2.5g from saturated fats.
Beef Jerky Nutrition: Micronutrients
Beef jerky offers more than just protein, fat, and carbs, it’s also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including Iron, Calcium, Sodium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C.
Get a healthy dose of minerals from beef jerky
Jerky can offer a nice bump in your daily calcium and iron levels, with Chomps giving you 2% of your daily calcium per stick and 4% of your daily iron. Apart from maintaining bones and teeth, calcium also helps promote healthy enzyme activity[*], and iron helps your red blood cells carry oxygen more efficiently[*].
And contrary to what you may think, not all beef jerky is stuffed with extra sodium! Chomps sodium value (290mg) is practically half of what general jerky (517mg) is. So if you’re worried about excess sodium, then we’ve got you covered.
Say hello to Vitamins A and C
While jerky shouldn't be your main source for vitamins, there are amounts of Vitamin A and C present. Vitamin A helps with your vision and immune system[*], and Vitamin C protects your cells from damage[*].
Go here for a bit more information on beef jerky healthiness!
The Nasty Stuff You Need to Watch Out For
Soy (MSG) and other artificial preservatives
Most beef sticks have MSG from soy protein and other preservatives to make them have an abnormally long shelf life and "taste" better. Avoid this when you can!
Most major beef sticks profit from industrial farming that is bad for the environment and cows who were fed with GMOs. Chomps only uses natural, grass-fed beef to make our beef sticks.
The same principles apply here. There's no reason for any dairy flavor enhancers or ingredients in your jerky. Keep it simple, people.
Nitrites/nitrates are also used in preservation and coloring. While there isn't a definitive answer for whether or not they're good for you yet[*], why not avoid that problem by being all-natural? That's a risk you don't need to take.
Fillers, gluten, or binders
Fillers and gluten can help with texture and how the meat binds to itself, but it's not necessary and only worsens the nutritional value of the beef. We don't use any added fillers or binders at Chomps!
Quick FAQ on Beef Jerky Nutrition
Q: Is beef jerky good for losing weight?
A: It is when it's healthy beef jerky like Chomps! Since you get so much protein per calorie, beef sticks are a great snack to have around the house. Eat one stick and you’ll be set until your next meal!
Q: Is beef jerky keto-friendy?
A: Yes! Beef jerky and beef sticks are almost all low-carb! In fact, Chomps original beef stick has 0g of carbs. How about that for a keto-friendly snack. You’ll have no problem hitting ketosis if you stock these around the house.
On keto or thinking about trying it out? Check out these 12 completely carb-free meals.
Q: Is beef jerky Whole30 approved?
A: Yes, but only a few brands — including Chomps! We were actually the first beef jerky and stick brand to be officially recognized by Whole30. One of the keys to success with Whole30 is to make eating healthy as accessible as possible, and having grass-fed beef jerky around is a good call. Since they are low-carb and don't have any sugars, you'll be all set. Just remember to check your labels for the bad stuff like dairy or soy!
Q: Is beef jerky a good snack for diabetics?
As long as you stick to grass-fed, short ingredient, natural beef jerky and beef sticks you'll just be fine.
Chomps is one of the companies that has been certified by the American Grassfed Association and Animal Welfare Approved, ensuring that the beef used to make their jerky is 100% grass-fed and the animals have been treated humanely.
We never sacrifice the quality of our beef for costs, and we will always use the most natural ingredients sourced in the most humane ways to create our jerky.