Not all jerkies are created equal. Try these protein-rich options for a quick, healthy way to fuel up.
Healthy Jerky Goes Gourmet
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A host of slimmed-down artisanal variations using dried veggies, chicken, and other unique ingredients mean that “healthy jerky” is no longer a contradiction. "These are a great way to get protein as you're dashing around," says Keri Gans, R.D.N., a Shape advisory board member and the author of The Small Change Diet. (Related: The Ultimate List of High-Protein Foods You Should Eat Every Week) Look for ones with less than 400 milligrams of sodium and no more than seven grams of sugar per serving, she says.
Check out some smart picks.
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Chef's Cut offers turkey, steak, chicken, and bacon jerky—all of which are gluten-free and slow-smoked. Made from turkey breast, this healthy jerky is tender and meaty. You can taste a subtle "smoke" flavor. Each 1-ounce serving has 6 g each of carbohydrates and sugar, 12 g of protein, and 80 calories. (Related: 14-Post Workout Snacks Dietitians Swear By)
Photo: Chef's Cut
Vermont Smoke & Cure Meat Sticks
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This healthy jerky option is about as "clean" as they come. (BTW, here’s your complete clean eating 101 guide.) In fact, all of the Vermont Smoke & Cure’s meats are sourced from animals that have been humanely raised and vegetarian fed. The sticks are encased in collagen, the protein your body produces naturally and that has been shown to improve range of motion and reduce pain. With zero sugar or carbs and 8g of protein per stick, it's hard not to eat two of these in one sitting.
Photo: VERMONT SMOKE & CURE
KRAVE Gourmet Beef Cuts
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Krave's Artisanal Beef Jerky is made with pasture-raised cattle. We’re fans of the Sea Salt original flavor, which is their lowest-sodium option, with 340mg per serving—plus its 8g protein and 9g of carbs.
Photo: Krave Jerky
Caveman Foods Meat Bar
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Caveman Foods makes their healthy jerky in a different format: bars. And its macronutrients do the talking. The Sriracha Chicken flavor has only 70 calories, 2g fat, 4g carbs, 3g sugar, and 8g protein. The company also makes a Sweet & Smoky Turkey Bar and a Maple Pork bar with similarly awesome nutrition.
Photo: Caveman Foods
Epic Hickory Smoked Bacon Bites
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Epic’s healthy jerkies, made from meats like venison, lamb, and wild boar, are cut into small, square bites so you won't have to gnaw on any long strips of meat. Their standout bite is the Alaskan Salmon Maple Dill Bites, which have 9g of protein and 2g of sugar and carbs, all for 60 calories. The brand's Uncured Bacon and Chicken Bits are versatile enough to add to other recipes, such as omelets, lunch salads, or homemade trail mix. (Related: Portable High-Protein Snacks You Can Make in a Muffin Tin)
Simply Snackin Teriyaki Chicken Breast with Mangoes
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Simply Snackin manages to get the sweet flavor of fresh mango and tangy teriyaki sauce into their chicken jerky for just three grams of sugar per 60-calorie serving. It’s gluten-free and made completely of chicken breast for a healthy jerky snack. Try all Simply Snackin's flavors by grabbing a variety pack.
Photo: Simply Snackin
The New Primal Grass-Fed Beef Jerky
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Made from all grass-fed beef, this salt-and-pepper healthy jerky has 12g of protein and only 240mg of sodium per serving—one of the lowest counts on the list.
Photo: The New Primal