If you peruse jerkies online (like we do), you’ve probably spotted articles pushing beef jerky for weight loss. And when you adore jerky (again, like we do), you might wonder how it can help you drop pounds.
Before we get into it, let’s get one thing out of the way.
You know what, Jerky Universe cadets? You’re stellar exactly as you are. Stay healthy and happy in your skin!
But of course, sometimes weight loss ties into that healthy-happy combo. Let’s look at how beef jerky, weight loss plans and activities can play wholesome roles. Eating beef jerky on a diet isn’t strictly good or bad — it all boils down to moderation.
Note: As always, speak with your doctor, nutritionist or dietician if you have serious questions! They know your unique health situation and dietary needs.
[Related: Is Beef Jerky Healthy?]
Is Beef Jerky Good for Weight Loss?
Yes, beef jerky can be good for weight loss. But remember: Beef jerky and weight loss aren’t enemies, but they’re not BFFs, either. The best approach is to switch less-healthy, less-nutritious foods for responsible beef jerky portions.
Actually, here’s a better question: Is beef jerky a good snack for weight loss? Yes, it can be.
In essence, beef jerky is healthy as an occasional snack and recipe additive. As a fairly low-fat, high-protein and vitamin-rich food, it can be a tasty part of your weight loss journey.
[Related: What Is the Best Meat To Make Beef Jerky?]
Is Beef Jerky Healthy for Weight Loss?
Overall, yes. Beef jerky on a diet can be healthy for weight loss. We admit we sound like a skipping record, but you really have to practice conscious moderation.
When you eat jerky in responsible portions, beef jerky and weight loss work together. You won’t get too much sodium, sugar or fat, and you’ll get a solid protein, folate, iron and zinc boost.
But if you overeat beef jerky, you can zoom past your daily recommended sodium and saturated fat intake. And that’s definitely unhealthy for weight loss — and unhealthy altogether. Sure, you may drop a couple pounds for a few weeks, but you rob your body of what it needs to function.
It’s just not worth it. So if you use beef jerky for weight loss, eat it smartly and sparingly.
For example, instead of grabbing a candy bar in the afternoon, snag a snack-sized bag of beef jerky. You’ll stay fuller longer, get a good dose of protein and enjoy longer-lasting energy.
[Related: Is Beef Jerky Keto-Friendly?]
Is Beef Jerky Bad for Weight Loss?
In itself, beef jerky is not bad for weight loss. But this is a tricky question. Most foods aren’t “bad” for weight loss — it depends on how much and how often you eat a food.
Think about it this way.
Chocolate isn’t bad for weight loss. An occasional serving of dark chocolate is fine — you even get antioxidants. Of course, if you eat only dark chocolate, that’s clearly bad for you (shocker).
Why? Your body doesn’t get the full spectrum of nutrients it needs. You’re probably miserable, so the plan crashes and burns quickly. And you might absolutely adore dark chocolate.
So beef jerky shouldn’t make you gain weight or stall weight loss unless you add it to an already high-fat, high-calorie diet. The key is that swapping method we noted.
Let’s have another example. Say you planned to eat 500 calories’ worth of french fries, but instead you eat 200 calories’ worth of beef jerky. You’re still getting sodium, but you’re getting far more protein, less fat and fewer calories.
[Related: Can Beef Jerky Make You Sick? What To Know]
Beef Jerky for Weight Loss: Tips and Considerations
If you want to use beef jerky for weight loss, remember these tips:
- Don’t overindulge. Follow the recommended serving size. For all its beauty, beef jerky is fairly high in sodium and can be high in sugar.
- Try beef-alternative jerkies, like mushroom, chicken and fish jerkies. They’re delicious and usually lower in fat and calories.
- Eat low-sodium, low-sugar jerkies to avoid traditional jerky’s nutritional pitfalls.
- Stick to snack-sized daily portions (about 3 to 4 ounces).
- Take small steps first, like eating one serving of beef jerky instead of a fattier snack or side. (We’re looking at you, potato chips.)
- Balance beef jerky intake with fiber — it’s scant to absent in beef jerky.
- Drink lots of water. This isn’t just good for a beef jerky diet plan — it’s great for your whole body. Mayo Clinic recommends drinking about 12 to 16 cups daily.
- Consider taking vitamin and mineral supplements when balancing beef jerky and weight loss. Still, eating healthy foods containing those vitamins and minerals is better for your body.
- Stay as active as you can, per your physical condition. Even a 15-minute daily stroll can do wonders for your health and mental wellness. (And beef jerky gives you a bit of pep.)
- Don’t box yourself in. Diet fads and gimmicks abound, and they don’t work. If your body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs, you’ll feel both hungry and ill. We want that beautiful brain sharp!
Now, let’s expand on that gimmicky diet note for a minute.
[Related: Can Pregnant Women Eat Beef Jerky?]
A Note on the All-Beef-Jerky Diet
On an all-beef-jerky-diet, weight loss is unlikely and definitely unsafe.
The all-beef-jerky diet is not healthy. We’ll say it again: The all-beef-jerky diet is NOT healthy. You might see a variant deemed the “carnivore diet,” and it’s not really smart, either.
Look, we love jerky. We truly do. But if we ate just jerky every day, we wouldn’t simply get sick of it — we’d get physically sick.
Even eating healthy jerky as our sole food source wouldn’t cut it. (You can find horror stories online.) In fact, while researching the all-beef-jerky diet, we noticed the main sites touting the fad were … wait for it … beef jerky companies.
So don’t do it — seriously. Mayo Clinic has a thorough rundown of weight loss diets and how they could work safely for you.
[Related: Beef Jerky Nutrition Guide]
Best Beef Jerky for Weight Loss
There isn’t one single best beef jerky for weight loss. There are jerky types that aid your weight loss progress.
In general, go for lower-sodium, lower-sugar, lower-fat jerky varieties. You can alternate between beef and non-beef jerkies to expand the nutrients your body gets. Plus, you’ll explore new flavors while on a diet (win-win).
If you stick with higher-sugar, higher-carb beef jerkies, eat smaller portions (and skip the potato salad).
Ultimately, remember those personal factors — like your health concerns and activity level — before settling on a brand or flavor. The best beef jerky for weight loss is a jerky that you love to eat, satisfies your cravings and doesn’t harm your health.
[Related: Where To Buy Beef Jerky]
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