Can You Eat Beef Jerky While Breastfeeding?

Beef jerky makes for a tasty protein-packed snack that can be easily packed in a purse or bag for on-the-go noshing. But is this popular portable meat treat safe to eat when you’re breastfeeding?

Many new moms wonder if cured, dried meats like beef jerky should be on their list of foods to avoid while breastfeeding. Here’s a thorough look at whether or not beef jerky is compatible with breastfeeding, the potential pros and cons, and how to pick the healthiest options.

Is Beef Jerky Safe While Breastfeeding?

The good news is that traditional beef jerky without unhealthy additives can generally be enjoyed in moderation when breastfeeding.

Beef is a nutritious source of protein, vitamins, and minerals for nursing moms. The curing and drying process helps preserve the meat without the need for preservatives. As long as you choose high quality, additive-free options, beef jerky can be a handy way to get protein while on the go.

However, some mass-produced beef jerkies may contain controversial ingredients like added sugar, MSG, nitrates, and other preservatives that some moms may prefer to avoid while nursing

When selecting beef jerky, look for ones with short, simple ingredients lists and avoid any with added sugars or chemical preservatives. Or better yet, make your own homemade beef jerky so you fully control what goes into it.

Overall, traditional beef jerky can be safely enjoyed while breastfeeding as part of a healthy, balanced diet. But it’s always smart to read labels and look out for any questionable ingredients.

Potential Benefits of Beef Jerky While Breastfeeding

Here are some of the main advantages beef jerky offers breastfeeding moms:

  • Convenient protein source – Jerky contains 9g protein per 1 ounce serving, offering a portable protein boost.

  • Non-perishable – The low moisture content prevents spoilage, so jerky keeps without refrigeration.

  • Shelf-stable – Properly dried jerky can be safely stored at room temp for up to 1 month when sealed.

  • Low carb – With just 1g net carbs per ounce, jerky fits into low carb/keto diets.

  • Nutrient-dense – Jerky provides protein, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, zinc, iron and other nutrients.

  • Satiating – The protein helps you feel full and energized for longer between feedings.

  • No utensils needed – Jerky is hand-held and easy to eat on the go without utensils.

  • Savory flavor – The salty, umami taste offers welcome flavor variety.

Enjoying some beef jerky in moderation can provide health and convenience benefits for busy, active breastfeeding moms.

Potential Downsides of Eating Beef Jerky While Nursing

However, there are also a few potential cons associated with beef jerky to keep in mind:

  • High sodium – Most jerkies contain a high amount of sodium for flavor and preservation.

  • Tough texture – The chewy dryness can pose a choking risk for babies/toddlers.

  • Additives – Mass-produced jerkies may contain sugar, nitrates, MSG, fillers.

  • Not enough fat – Low fat content means jerky is less satiating than other meats.

  • Nitrates – Some nitrate-cured jerkies may pose health risks with frequent high consumption.

  • Expense – Jerky is one of the priciest sources of protein compared to eggs, chicken, etc.

To avoid the downsides, choose additive-free jerkies, watch sodium intake, and enjoy jerky in moderation as a snack rather than relying on it as a primary protein source.

Tips for Choosing the Healthiest Beef Jerky

When scanning labels in the jerky aisle, keep these tips in mind to identify the best options for breastfeeding moms:

  • Avoid added sugar – Choose jerky with 0g sugar in the ingredients list.

  • Seek grass-fed beef – Grass-fed meat has a better omega 3 to 6 ratio.

  • Look for natural preservatives – Sea salt, vinegar, celery powder are safer curing options than chemicals.

  • See few ingredients – Ideally just beef, salt, spices. Avoid fillers.

  • Pick proper thickness – Around 1⁄4 inch works best. Super thin jerky lacks substance.

  • Calculate cost per protein – Compare to find the best nutritional value per dollar spent.

  • Know the portions – Stick to recommended 1-2 ounce serving sizes.

Choosing quality jerky ensures you get the most nutritional benefit from each serving for your breast milk.

Healthy Homemade Beef Jerky Recipe

For full control over the ingredients, nutrition and safety, you can also easily make homemade beef jerky in your oven or a food dehydrator.

Here is a simple recipe to try:


  • 2 lbs grass-fed beef, sliced 1⁄4 inch thick

  • 1⁄4 cup coconut aminos

  • 2 tsp black pepper

  • 1 tsp onion powder

  • 1 tsp garlic powder


  1. Mix seasonings together in a bowl.

  2. Rub mix evenly onto all surfaces of the meat slices.

  3. Arrange slices in a single layer on dehydrator trays.

  4. Dehydrate at 155°F for 6-8 hours, until dried but still flexible.

  5. Cool completely before tightly sealing jerky in an airtight container.

  6. Store for up to 1 month at room temperature away from humidity.

With just a few ingredients, you can make additive-free beef jerky safely at home. Feel free to customize the flavors to your taste.

How Much Beef Jerky Is Safe While Nursing?

When eaten in normal amounts as a snack, beef jerky shouldn’t pose any issues for breastfeeding moms. But it’s best not to overdo it. Here are some general jerky portion guidelines to follow:

  • 1-2 ounces per day max

  • No more than 3-4 servings per week

  • Always pair with water to stay hydrated

  • Continue eating other nutritious protein sources

I recommend nibbling on jerky in moderation rather than having it as a meal replacement. And be sure to listen to your body to gauge your personal tolerance.

Should You Avoid Beef Jerky While Breastfeeding?

Certain circumstances may warrant avoiding dried meats like jerky while nursing:

  • If baby seems gassy or fussy after you eat it

  • If you notice discomfort or changes in your milk supply

  • If you or baby have an intolerance to beef specifically

  • During times when you need to limit sodium intake

  • If you have concerns about the ingredients or quality

There are always alternatives like turkey jerky, plain Greek yogurt, nuts, and hard boiled eggs that offer portable protein and nutrients if beef jerky doesn’t sit right with you.

The Verdict on Eating Beef Jerky While Breastfeeding

Beef jerky can be safely enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced breastfeeding diet. Choosing high-quality, additive-free options is ideal. Homemade jerky lets you control exactly what goes into it.

In reasonable amounts, beef jerky can offer a convenient source of protein and nutrition for nursing moms on the go. But fresh, whole foods should still be the main components of your diet. Drink plenty of fluids and listen to your body and baby’s cues to find your personal happy balance with jerky.

Ask the Expert: Eating While Breastfeeding


Is it OK to eat beef while breastfeeding?

Beef. Breastfeeding moms have more need for the mineral zinc. Beef is a high-quality protein rich in zinc, iron and B vitamins. It helps you maintain your energy, and we all know having a new baby at home requires lots of energy.

What foods can upset baby through breastmilk?

Foods like beans, broccoli, cauliflower, or some dairy products can cause fussiness, gassiness, or colicky behavior in some babies. Foods like cow’s milk, soy, wheat, corn, oats, eggs, nuts and peanuts, and fish or shellfish are common allergy-causing foods.

What is forbidden to eat while breastfeeding?

When breastfeeding or chestfeeding, avoid mercury-rich fish and certain herbal supplements. With proper timing, moderate alcohol consumption is okay, but limit caffeine and processed foods. Breast milk is incredibly nutritious.

Can you eat game meat while breastfeeding?

Use caution when eating candies, spices, food additives, and other foods from abroad, especially if they appear to be noncommercial products of unknown safety. Limit eating game meat—such as deer—that have been hunted with lead ammunition.

Should you eat deli meat while breastfeeding?

It’s free! For nine months, you carefully avoided deli meat, hot dogs and unpasteurized cheese (and all the other non-pregnancy-friendly foods) to keep baby safe and healthy. Of course, now that baby is finally here, those protective instincts are probably heightened—so it’s normal to wonder if there are foods to avoid while nursing.

Can I eat anything if I’m breastfeeding?

As a breastfeeding mom, you can pretty much eat anything you want. If you have an overall healthy, well-balanced diet, then you don’t have to stop eating any of the foods you enjoy just because you’re breastfeeding. Of course, it’s only natural to worry about your diet now that you’re making breast milk for your child.

What foods should you avoid while breastfeeding?

But here’s the good news: There really isn’t a definitive list of foods to avoid while breastfeeding. “There are actually zero foods that every breastfeeding woman should avoid completely.

Why do babies eat healthy foods while breastfeeding?

Studies show that when babies are exposed to foods through breast milk, they are more likely to have a preference for those flavors and foods later on. By eating healthy foods while you’re breastfeeding, you could be helping your child develop better eating habits in the future.

Leave a Comment