Gain Mass

5 Jerkys to Get Your Protein Fix

Jerky is a well-known muscle-building snack. But which variety rocks your taste buds the hardest?

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Meat Jerky Bags
Brian Klutch

Is your kitchen stocked with packet after packet of jerky? Probably not, but there are a handful of reasons why you might want to change that. For starters, shelling out $4 to $6 a bag is reasonable. Additionally, jerky is low in fat and carbohydrates, and often supplies 10g of protein per serving. For lifters looking to effortlessly boost protein consumption without having to make another goddamn protein shake, meat snacks are a solid option.

“The protein in jerky creates lots of satiety—that feeling of fullness to the brain—so it has a big role in managing hunger,” says Rachele Dependahl, a registered dietitian with Cedars-Sinai Medical Group in Beverly Hills, CA. “So these types of meat-based options are a terrific way to increase protein [intake] between meals.”

Eat these dried-meat products by themselves or with a piece of fresh fruit, dried fruit, and/or nuts, and you won’t be dying of hunger again for a couple of hours. As for which jerky tastes the most mouthwatering: We asked 10 M&F staffers to sample and rate five popular jerkies on a scale of 1 (gross) to 5 (super-tasty). Here’s what they said:

Epic berry blossom

An epic fail with staffers. The most common description was “plastic.” But Dependahl praised it for its use of grass-fed beef: “Grass-fed animals have much higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. That’s linked with better cardiovascular health and anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, grass-fed products contain more conjugated linoleic acid, which promotes the development of lean muscle.”
M&F TASTE RATING: 1.67

Krave basil citrus turkey jerky

The staff wasn’t blown away by the turkey option. “The seasoning is overpowering,” said art director Ian Robinson. “It’s a Sunday dinner gone wrong.” The dietitian wasn’t too fond of it either. Not because it was turkey, but because of the sugary marinade. “The carbs are a little high,” said Dependahl. “Turkey is a nice alternative to red meat, but guys might be a little leery of this one.”
M&F TASTE RATING: 2.44

Field Trip original beef jerky

Most staffers enjoyed taking this Field Trip. “Good mouth feel,” noted associate editor Andrew Gutman. “A little bit of heat at the end, which I like.” It was also the dietitian’s favorite. “About 14g of protein per oz. That’s pretty darn good,” said Dependahl. “The fat’s really low. The carbs are on the low side. It’s truly nitrate-free, and It’s also grass-fed. I love that.”
M&F TASTE RATING: 3.11

Jack Link's bacon jerky

The consensus: It tastes just like bacon. And who doesn’t like bacon? But a dissenting opinion came from editorial production director Russell Mendoza: “To me, that’s not really jerky.” The dietitian tended to agree. “It’s a lot more fat, a lot more sodium,” said Dependahl. “If you’re after a lean snack, I would pick one of the other four.”
M&F TASTE RATING: 3.78

Chef's Cut real steak jerky

The vaunted M&F Taste Council flipped for this one. “Very meaty and moist,” raved senior designer Miguel Paredes. “That’s a good jerky.” Photo editor Gaby Chiang said, “It’s got a little kick,” while Gutman added, “I’d keep that in my desk drawer.” The dietitian didn’t love the naturally occurring nitrates in the product or that the beef wasn’t grass-fed. But, overall, she approved: “There are no frozen ingredients, and it’s got a really good protein content [12g per 1-oz serving].”
M&F TASTE RATING: 3.89

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