Can You Eat Beef Jerky on the Carnivore Diet?

The carnivore diet has been gaining popularity over the last few years as an effective way to lose weight reduce inflammation and improve overall health. This meat-focused diet only includes animal foods like beef, fish, eggs, and dairy while eliminating all carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

With such a limited selection of foods allowed, many people wonder if popular snacks like beef jerky can fit into a carnivore diet. In this article we’ll take an in-depth look at beef jerky and whether or not it’s carnivore approved.

What is Beef Jerky?

Beef jerky is made from beef that has been trimmed of fat, cut into strips, and dried or smoked. This drying/smoking process extracts moisture from the meat, which helps preserve it and prevent spoilage.

The end result is a shelf-stable, portable, chewy, and flavorful meat snack Traditional beef jerky contains only beef, salt, and spices. However, mass-produced commercial versions may contain additional ingredients like sugar, preservatives, MSG, wheat, soy, and other fillers

Nutritionally, beef jerky is high in protein and low in fat and carbs. A 1-ounce serving provides around 9 grams of protein but only 1 gram of carbohydrates and 1 gram of fat. It’s also rich in vitamins like niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and minerals like zinc and iron.

Now let’s look at whether or not beef jerky fits into the guidelines of a carnivore diet.

Is Beef Jerky Carnivore Approved?

The carnivore diet aims to eliminate plant foods and stick to just animal products. This means the only carbs allowed are those found naturally in small amounts in animal foods like meat, eggs, and dairy.

Since traditional beef jerky contains only beef, salt, and spices, it fits right in line with carnivore approved foods. The meat provides protein, the salt adds flavor, and most spices like pepper, garlic, onion, worcestershire, etc. are fine on carnivore.

However, there are a few potential concerns to be aware of when selecting beef jerky on a carnivore diet:

Sugar content: Many commercial beef jerkies contain sugar as one of the top ingredients. Added sugars should be avoided on carnivore, so be sure to read labels and look for options without sugar.

Fillers: Wheat, soy, maltodextrin, and other fillers are commonly added to mass produced jerky to reduce costs. Stick to pure meat jerkies without junk fillers.

Preservatives: Preservatives like nitrates, nitrites, and sulfites can cause issues for some people. Look for products cured with natural ingredients like celery powder instead.

Teriyaki or sweet jerky: Flavored jerkies like teriyaki often contain soy sauce, liquid smoke, honey, or other sweeteners not allowed on carnivore. Stick to original or peppered flavors.

As long as you read labels and select a sugar-free beef jerky made with just beef, salt, and spices, then it can definitely be included as an occasional snack in a carnivore diet.

Benefits of Eating Beef Jerky on Carnivore

Here are some of the main benefits you can get from adding beef jerky into a carnivore diet:

  • Convenience – Jerky is lightweight, portable, and shelf-stable. It provides an easy grab-and-go protein source while traveling, at work, or on-the-go.

  • Variety – Jerky offers different flavors and textures to break up the monotony of eating just plain meat all the time.

  • Nutrition – It provides protein, vitamins, and minerals from meat without the carbs found in many snacks.

  • Long lasting energy – The protein and fat in jerky digests slowly, providing long lasting energy without blood sugar spikes.

  • Curb cravings – Jerky can help satisfy cravings for something sweet, salty, or savory between meals.

  • Muscle building – The high protein content supports muscle growth and repair without excess calories.

Overall, quality beef jerky can be a nutritious and convenient addition to a carnivore diet when you want an easy protein source or a savory, salty snack.

Tips for Picking the Best Beef Jerky

Not all beef jerky is created equal when it comes to nutrition and ingredients. Here are some tips for picking quality jerky that’s optimized for a carnivore diet:

  • Avoid sugar: Look for 0g sugar on the label. Stay away from honey glazed, teriyaki, or other flavored sweet jerkies.

  • Look for short ingredient lists: The fewer, the better. Ideal jerkies contain only meat, salt and spices.

  • Seek grass-fed: Grass-fed beef has a better omega-3 to omega-6 ratio compared to grain-fed.

  • Choose natural preservatives: Celery powder, vinegar, and sea salt are safer than chemical preservatives.

  • Skip soy sauce flavors: Soy, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce contain undesirable ingredients for carnivore.

  • Check for fillers: No wheat, soy, maltodextrin, MSG or other fillers.

  • Buy proper thickness: Around 1/4 inch is ideal. Thinner jerky lacks substance.

  • Calculate cost per protein: Compare protein per dollar to find the best value.

  • Know your portions: Stick to 1-2 ounces of jerky per day as a snack, not a full meal.

Following these simple tips will help you select high quality, sugar-free beef jerky that provides maximum nutrition benefit.

Making Your Own Carnivore Beef Jerky

For the absolute best quality and control over ingredients, consider making jerky at home.

Here’s a simple recipe to make carnivore approved beef jerky:


  • 2 lbs grass-fed beef, sliced 1⁄4 inch thick
  • 1⁄4 cup sea salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder


  1. Mix together salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.
  2. Rub spice mix all over the meat slices.
  3. Arrange slices on dehydrator trays without overlapping.
  4. Dehydrate at 155°F for 5-7 hours, until dried but still flexible.
  5. Optionally, brush with beef tallow while still warm if you want a glossy finish.
  6. Cool completely before storage.
  7. Store in airtight container for up to one month.

With just 5 ingredients and a few simple steps, you can make your own batch of sugar-free, additive-free beef jerky perfectly suited to the carnivore diet. Feel free to experiment with other spice combinations as well.

Potential Downsides of Beef Jerky

While jerkies make a convenient carnivore snack, there are a few potential downsides to consider:

  • High sodium – Most jerkies are very high in salt for flavor and preservation. This may not suit low-sodium diets.

  • Not very satiating – Jerky doesn’t contain much fat so you may not feel full compared to other meats.

  • Can trigger overeating – The intense flavors may increase cravings and appetite leading to overeating.

  • Expensive – Jerky can be pricy compared to buying and preparing your own meat.

  • Chemical preservatives – Watch out for unhealthy preservatives in some commercial brands.

  • Tough on teeth – The chewy texture can wear down tooth enamel over time.

Moderation and care in selection is key if you want to incorporate jerky into a carnivore diet. Homemade jerky avoids many of these downsides.

How Much Beef Jerky Can You Eat on Carnivore?

I recommend using beef jerky as an occasional snack or light meal replacement, rather than a dietary staple.

Here are some general guidelines for how much jerky to consume per day on a carnivore diet:

  • 1-2 ounces (28-56g) for a snack
  • 3-5 ounces (84-140g) for a light meal
  • Do not exceed 8 ounces (224g) total
  • Limit to 3-4 times per week for variety

It’s easy to overdo it on jerky since it’s tasty and portable. Be mindful of portions and avoid making it a primary protein source. Prioritize fresh meat, fish, and eggs as your main carnivore protein sources instead.

Sample Ways to Eat Beef Jerky on Carnivore

Here are some examples of how to incorporate beef jerky into a carnivore diet:

  • Jerky sticks as a grab-and-go breakfast
  • Jerky slices wrapped around cheese sticks
  • Trail mix combo with jerky, nuts, and seeds
  • Add crumbled jerky to egg scramble
  • Salad topper instead of chicken or bacon
  • Mix into pork rind nachos
  • Snack for road trips, hiking, travel
  • Lunch with raw veggies and dip
  • Emergency rations to keep in purse/car

Beef jerky works for snacks, light meals, travel foods, and as an ingredient in other dishes. Get creative with how you enjoy it!

The Verdict: Yes, You Can Eat Beef Jerky on Carnivore

Beef jerky can absolutely be included as part of a carnivore diet when consumed in moderation. Stick to quality jerkies without sugar, soy, wheat, or other undesirable ingredients.

Beef jerky offers an easy way to get quick protein with minimal carbs. Its portable convenience makes it handy for on-the-go needs. However, fresh meat should still be the foundation of your carnivore diet.

Carnivore Diet and Beef Jerky: The Ultimate Weight Loss and Appetite Hack


Does beef jerky count as meat?

It is considered a processed red meat, which can have some health drawbacks. Because of this, some people may want to limit eating it frequently or be mindful of portion sizes and preparation.

Does jerky count as processed meat?

It’s the perfect traveling meat snack: dried, salted meat you can put in your pocket. Quality makes a difference here: Cheaper, mass-produced beef jerky can have added sugar along with the fat and salt. But high-quality beef jerky is still processed meat, so don’t overdo it.

Can you eat cold cuts on a carnivore diet?

Can you eat deli meat on the Carnivore Diet? Eating deli meat on the carnivore diet is entirely up to you! Because deli meats are often processed and contain added ingredients most people choose to limit them or exclude them entirely while many others eat deli meats as they please.

Can you eat pepperoni sticks on carnivore diet?

There are a few things you should pay attention to when choosing carnivore diet snacks. One of the first things is processed meat products. This includes things like bacon, pepperoni, and pork rinds that often have high levels of salt and may include other ingredients that you want to avoid.

Is beef jerky a carnivore snack?

Beef jerky is the ultimate carnivore snack – it’s loaded with protein, has zero carbs, adds variety to the diet, and provides a quick meaty snack when you don’t have other options. As followers of the carnivore way of eating know, protein is king and should make up the vast majority of calories and nutrients.

Can you consider beef jerky a healthy snack?

No, as this is high in salt and other preservatives to main both its structure, taste and longevity. As a processed meat, beef jerky is also higher in saturated fat. All the salt, preservatives and saturated fat can be harmful to primarily your heart health. It is best to swap this out for some chicken breasts that have been cubed or homemade turkey balls.

Does jerky fit into a low carb diet?

It fits into paleo, low carb (keto), and Whole30 diets. Dried jerkies make for the perfect high protein snack for these diets. Beef jerky is the ultimate carnivore snack – it’s loaded with protein, has zero carbs, adds variety to the diet, and provides a quick meaty snack when you don’t have other options.

How do you make carnivore beef jerky?

For this carnivore beef jerky recipe you will need: Follow my easy carnivore diet beef jerky recipe: Start by preheating the oven to 225°F (110°C) and lining two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Unfold the steak (it should be partially frozen for easy cutting).

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