Is Beef Jerky a Perfect Keto Snack?
Jeff’s Famous Jerky did not set out to create keto-friendly jerky. Jeff’s mission was to craft jerky that would blast your taste buds into a state of bliss.
And he succeeded! Jeff’s general approach to flavor crafting is to make it taste as sublime as possible, while keeping the product as pure, natural, and healthy as possible, as well. And now he has more than 23 flavors of arguably the best beef, bacon, and turkey jerky on the Planet Earth!
In doing so, however, many of his amazing flavors are also naturally very low in carbohydrates and sugars and are therefore an ideal foodstuff to include in any keto/low-carb diet regimen. (Some of the sweeter flavors, such as Korean Barbecue and Maple Brown Sugar Bacon, are not as suited for keto/low carb diet purposes, nor are they intended to be. But with 23 delicious flavors total, there are plenty of other options that are!).
So what exactly is ketogenic or low-carb dieting, anyway?
Well, for starters, for many it can be a much more successful approach to losing weight and feeling more healthy overall than the traditional just-eat-less-food/calories type of dieting.
The typical analogy used for calorie-restrictive dieting that your body is like a checking account. Your weight is the balance and calories are the local currency. Consuming calories is like making a deposit and physical activity/exercise is like writing checks. The theory being, if you spend/burn more money/calories then you store, then your balance/weight will go down.
And theoretically, there is some truth to the analogy. It is certainly possible to lose weight by counting and limiting your calorie intake and exercising more. But all analogies eventually break-down. In this case, as a successful long-term weight-control solution, the watch-your-calories approach has some major flaws and limitations.
First, it is very difficult to sustain. When you are significantly restricting your calories, especially if you are increasing your exercise levels at the same time, your appetite will eventually overwhelm you. You will often feel deprived and possibly even desperately hungry at times, which is when most people begin to cheat and fall-off-the-wagon diet-wise.
Another problem is that the human body is a much more complicated system than a checking account and many other physiological factors effect weight fluctuations beyond merely how many calories you consume and/or burn.
One of these factors is hormones and it is the key factor in the ketogenic (commonly referred to as just keto) or low-carb type of diet, particularly, the hormone insulin. Insulin is secreted by the pancreas and helps regulate your blood-sugar levels (as well as a few other metabolic processes). Insulin also tells your body to store fat!
This is the key to the keto/low-carb diet. When your blood sugar rises, your body produces more insulin. When your blood sugar spikes, so does your insulin levels. When your insulin levels spike, your body is signaled to store fat!
The less your blood sugar spikes, the less your insulin levels spike. The less your insulin levels spike, the less fat your body will store (regardless of your overall calorie intake – unintuitive, but true). And if your blood sugar levels get low enough, you can reach a state called ketosis, which is when your body starts to use your fat stores for fuel instead of calories from your diet. (And you really start to lose weight fast!)
And what causes blood-sugar spikes? Primarily, consuming large quantities of high-carbohydrate*, easy-to-digest substances, which are any foods containing lots of simple sugars and/or starches, such as candy, sodas, desserts, bread, cereal, rice, pasta, potatoes and certain fruits and vegetables.
*(High-glycemic-index carbohydrates, that is. Not all carbohydrates are the same. Some effect blood sugar spikes more than others. For example, grapes are very high on the glycemic index, and therefore can drastically spike your blood sugar, especially if eaten in large quantities, whereas mushrooms are very low on the glycemic index and therefore, will not spike it very much, if at all, no matter how much of them you eat. Low-glycemic-index carbs include onions, garlic, zucchini, asparagus, spinach and other leafy greens, celery, bell peppers, avocados, and, of course, mushrooms and jerky, to name a few.)
Protein and fat, on the other hand, take much longer for your body to digest, so they do not generally cause blood sugar to spike. So, the real trick to successful weight loss this way is to eliminate (or at least severely limit your blood sugar spikes (and therefore also your insulin spikes) by eating a healthy amount of protein (as recommended by the medical community, in other words, not excessive**), extremely limiting your carbs and increasing your healthy fat consumption significantly.
**(Which is why it is much better to call it a “low-carb” diet than a “high-protein” one!)
One caveat: fat has been so demonized in the media and by traditional diet gurus that it is grossly misunderstood and feared like poison. That is a HUGE mistake! Most people think that because high-fat foods, such as avocados, are high in calories and fat, they are automatically fattening. The truth is it depends on how and when you consume those fatty foods, especially in combination with other foods. Keep in mind that protein and fat both digest slowly and therefore mitigate blood sugar-insulin spiking. Fat only becomes fattening when you consume it along with blood sugar-spiking carbohydrates and sugars, thus signaling your body to store the fat you are feeding it (which is why pastries and pizza are so brutally fattening). When you consume heathy fats*** alone, with protein and/or with low-glycemic-index carbs, you don’t significantly raise your insulin levels, and therefore will not, or at least be far less likely to, store it as body fat.
In fact, fat alone has absolutely ZERO impact on insulin levels!
***(Healthy fat being fat from things like olive and coconut oil, almonds, avocados, butter from grass-fed cows and cold-water fish like salmon and Chilean sea bass.)
Heathy fats are also an excellent NATURAL source (and often the ONLY source) of essential oil-soluble vitamins, such as A, E, D and K.
Another problem with sugary and starchy, high-carbohydrate foods is that they can actually, more often than not, make your appetite increase! What happens is, as your blood sugar spikes, so does your insulin. When insulin floods your system, not only does it signal your body to store fat, but that excess insulin processes the excess blood sugar rapidly, causing your blood sugar to plummet, thus making your appetite skyrocket!
Have you ever noticed that if you eat a big plate of eggs and bacon for breakfast, you can stay full all morning, but if you eat a big stack of pancakes and syrup (or donuts, cinnamon rolls, etc.) instead, that you are starving about an hour or two later? Or that once you start eating a bag of potato chips, you just can’t seem to stop? That’s what’s happening. High-carbohydrate eating can turn your blood sugar/insulin contest into a never-ending rollercoaster of spikes and dips (and turn your body into a binge-eating, fat-storing machine in the process!) With keto/low-carb diet plans that appetite rollercoaster doesn’t happen. Your blood sugar/insulin spikes and dips are drastically reduced and therefore you are far less likely to experience food cravings between meals.
For better understanding and further study of ketogenic/low-carb dieting, these two books are a great place to start:
- The South Beach Diet by Arthur Agatston, M.D.
- Living Low Carb by Jonny Bowden, PhD., CNS
The South Beach diet has arguably some of the best keto/low-carb dieting guidelines as it was written by a cardiologist, who obviously would be unlikely to suggest anything that would be detrimental to optimal heart health.
The Book also breaks keto dieting into three phases:
Phase 1: 40g carbs*/day max (strict/rapid – meant for two weeks only)
Phase 2: 50g carbs*/day max (less extreme – slower weight loss)
Phase 3: 140g carbs*/day max (healthy/normal for weight maintenance)
*(Net carbs, that is. Fiber and sugar alcohol (erythritol) can be subtracted from your total dietary carbs to determine the permissible net carb values.)
Living Low Carb also provides a thorough history and explanation of keto/low-carb dieting as well as very good comparison of 23 variations of the diet as promoted by various and health professionals and celebrities.
YouTube videos by Thomas DeLauer are also exceptional sources of high-quality keto/low-carb (and other related health and fitness) information!
Best Keto Snack
Jerky is an ideal keto snack because it tastes great and is nutritionally dense (almost entirely protein) and therefore makes a much more satisfying and satiating snack food, than, say, chips and cookies. You will need to eat far less quantity of jerky than other traditional snack foods to start to feel full, which will also keep your insulin-spiking at bay. Some of the spices in jerky, especially in the hotter flavors, such as Carolina Reaper can also have a natural appetite-suppressing effect.
Jerky also has extremely low levels of carbohydrates and sugars, compared to other traditional snack foods, and is therefore very keto-friendly. You can eat it alone, with other keto-friendly snack, or as a flavor-packed ingredient to add to other recipes, such and omelets, stir-fry and kabobs (Try adding Jeff’s Famous Habanero Heatwave beef jerky to a shrimp kabob with bell peppers and onions and it will blow your mind!)
Jerky is also just a convenient snack, in general. It stays fresh far longer than other snacks, as previously mentioned (without requiring harmful preservatives), does not need to be refrigerated, and can be kept handy whenever you need a “food-fix” – in your desk, glovebox, toolbox, office, coat pocket, briefcase, backpack – wherever.
And Jeff’s Famous Jerky is definitely a smart choice for keto jerky because there are so many flavors. When you are on a keto/low-carb diet you are seriously limited in what you can eat in general and so finding a wide enough variety of fresh and exciting (and appetizing) meal and snack items can be daunting. With Jeff’s Famous Jerky there’s always a fun and tantalizing new flavor to try!
So what are the best keto-friendly snacks?
- Jeff’s Famous Jerky (especially the flavors with under 4 grams of carbs)
- Pork Rinds
- Almonds (can be found in snack-sized servings)
- Hard-boiled eggs
- String Cheese
- Veggie sticks, such as celery and bell peppers with ranch or bleu cheese dressing or all-natural nut butters for dipping
- Salami (or a pepperoncini pepper filled with cream cheese and wrapped in a slice of salami held together with a toothpick)
- Small cans of tuna
- Hot dogs/Vienna sausages
- Turkey/lunch meat roll-ups: use lunch meat like a tortilla and wrap-up cream cheese and veggies like spinach, arugula and/or sprouts
- Guacamole with “chips” made from baking small piles of shredded cheddar cheese on a non-stick baking sheet until brown and crispy
- Caprese salad appetizers made with cherry tomatoes, small balls of mozzarella cheese and fresh basil held together with toothpicks
- Quest Bars (the carb content seems high, but so is the fiber, so the net carbs are fairly low, like 2-4 grams).
- Protein shakes such as Pure Protein and Premier Protein (read the labels, though, some high-protein shakes are LOADED with carbs!)
Jeff’s Famous Jerky Ranked by Carb Content:
Flavor Carbs (g/oz)
[ Ideal for strict/phase 1 keto dieting ]
Smoked Paprika Steak Tapas Beef Jerky 1
Orange-A-Peel Beef Jerky 1
Cranberry Jalapeno Beef Jerky 1
Old Fashioned Original Beef Jerky 2
Black Pepper Sea Salt Beef Jerky 2
Jalapeno Carne Asada Beef Jerky 2
Sweet Teriyaki Beef Jerky 2
Thai Satay Turkey Jerky 2
Jamaican Jerk Beef Jerky 3
Carolina Reaper Beef Jerky 3
[ Permissible for maintenance/phase 2 & 3 keto dieting ]
Honey Jalapeno Bacon Jerky 6
100% All Natural Classic Original Brisket Beef Jerky 7
Habanero Heatwave Beef Jerky 7
Sriracha Ghost Pepper Beef Jerky 7
100% All Natural Teriyaki Turkey Jerky 7
100% Natural Orange Mango Brisket Beef Jerky 8
100% All Natural Teriyaki Brisket Beef Jerky 8
100% All Natural Sweet & Spicy Brisket Beef Jerky 8
Sweet and Smokin’ BBQ Beef Jerky 8
Pacific Red Hot Chili Pepper Beef Jerky 8
Tips for Ultimate Keto Success:
- Potassium Supplements – when you cut out carbs, you also cut out many of the common natural sources of potassium, such as oranges and potatoes, so supplementing it in your diet either through tablets or by drinking 1-3 teaspoons of undiluted apple cider vinegar in an 8-10 oz. glass of water is highly recommended. It can prevent muscle cramps and is essential for nerve transmission/communication. (Multi-vitamin supplements as well as B, C, D, and other mineral supplements are also recommended.)
- Fiber – when you cut out carbs, you also cut out many of the common natural sources of fiber, such as fruits and grains. And since it is common to eat a lot more low-fiber foods, such as meat and cheese on keto, it’s a smart move to increase your fiber intake accordingly. Course ground psyllium and/or sugar-free Metamucil are great sources. You can take it 2-3 times a day (and if you have it 10-15 minutes before a meal it can also help to curb your appetite. (Another cardiologist suggested in an online article that supplementing your diet with psyllium is the #1 thing you can do to improve your heart health. Besides keeping you regular, it can also significantly lower cholesterol!) One caveat: don’t take supplements and fiber at the same time (space them out a bit, such as have the fiber before your meal and the supplements after – the fiber could limit your body’s ability to absorb the supplement). Also, it is best to take supplements with food (or soon after eating) for best results – most require amino acids to be effective. (The amino acids are the lock and the vitamins are the key, figuratively speaking.)
- Cottage Cheese – the classic American dinner consists of a protein, such as steak, fish, or chicken and two sides – a vegetable, such as green bean or broccoli and a starch, such as rice or potatoes. By simply replacing the starch with cottage cheese, you can turn a typical American dinner into a keto-friendly meal. Diets high in protein can often lead to calcium loss in the bones and teeth, as well, and cottage cheese is one of the best dairy products that is high in calcium, but also very low in carbohydrates. (If you are not a big fan of cottage cheese, try making it savory by dressing it up with things like pepperoni rings or pasta sauce. It takes some getting used to, but you can also use it as a substitute for rice with dishes where you pour something over rice, such as a stir-fry.)
- Keto/low-carb Dieting Will Reduce Your Blood Sugar – one side-effect can be a feeling of light-headedness/dizziness soon after even a full (carb-low/free) meal (with an hour or two). Keep snacks handy (such as Jeff’s Famous Jerky) as they will be critical in keeping you on track. If your blood sugar gets too low, simply have a few bites of a snack, especially something high in fat, such as string cheese or a small piece of chocolate.
- Don’t Let Carbs Stress You Out – as long as you understand that the real secret to keto is just slowing down how fast your body digests what you consume, the more successful your weight loss can be. But it can be done in varying degrees. Think of it as a good, better, best approach or bad, OK, awesome, approach even!?! For example, having a tall glass of orange juice a sugar bomb (bad), eating and actual orange is better (OK, more fiber and less concentrated sugar), but how about eating half and orange now (with perhaps some cottage cheese to slow down the sugar absorption somewhat) and then eating the other half an hour later (thus cutting any potential insulin spike in half). Another example – consider this: which is more fattening, a piece of sourdough bread, or the same piece of sourdough bread dipped in olive oil? Most people would say, the bread dipping in olive oil (more calories), but the opposite is true. The olive oil will slow down the digestion of the bread, making it less fattening. (Of course that is assuming you are eating one piece, say a half slice. Eating an entire loaf with a whole bottle of olive oil would a different story altogether!?!) One last example: most people try to eat three meals a day (primarily because that’s what a typical work schedule permits). But consider this: if you eat the same amount of any kind of food (regardless of calories and carbs) but cut the portions in half and eat six meals instead of 3 (the same amount of food, just spread out over more time), any potential insulin spike(s) would be reduced significantly. Of course, it’s not strict keto dieting, but it’s a step in the right direction!?!
From the Author: Guest Contributor, Peter Vann, JerkyRide.com
I read a few diet books years ago, including Protein Power by Michael R. Eades and Mary Dan Eades, so I had a basic understanding of the principles of keto/low-carb dieting but never really put it into practice.
One close friend, who is a type-1 diabetic, was also something a carbolic for years. At one point he decided to give keto a try and found that by significantly lowering his overall carb consumption, he had much fewer “insulin reactions” and had to inject far less insulin to balance his blood sugar. He recommended that I give it a shot (for weight loss).
I picked up the two books mentioned earlier, The South Beach Diet and Living Low Carb, and they really helped me understand keto/low-carb dieting better than ever. I followed the very strict version of it, eating very little, if any (high-glycemic-index) carbs for 13 days and lost 15 pounds in the process. The most astonishing thing to me was that I could actually eat LOTS OF FOOD, certainly enough to feel plenty full (and then some). But as long as I kept the carb content minimal, I steadily lost, on average, about a pound a day!?! (Reading a few pages of either book before going to bed each night really helped me stay on track during those 13 days!)
At the time, I was working at Trader Joe’s during a period of time when TJ’s actually had a low-carb section, and I soon became the resident “low-carb” expert, helping many customers understand how and why the diet works. And ever since I have been able to share my experience and success with the diet to anyone curious about it and have been able to help many people lose weight as a result.
One odd little sidebar: A few years back, I went through a phase where I was reading nothing but biographies and I read one on Marlon Brando. For one movie role, he was required by the studio to lose weight. The book said that they put him on a diet of nothing but “steak and vegetables”, which sure sounds like a keto diet to me, and years before it was fashionable!?!
The information in this article is based on my personal experience. Before I did the diet strict, though, I did try to read and research as much info as I could to really understand how and why keto dieting works. But I didn’t fully grasp the potential of it until I tried it for myself. Your results may be different. But my hope is this will at least inspire you to dig deeper into the subject and find out if it will work for you. It has for many!
And regardless; if you are a keto enthusiast or not, there are still plenty of reasons to LOVE Jeff’s Famous Jerky… it’s FREAKISHLY DELICIOUS!
All my best,