Best Beef Jerky for Runners: a High Protein, Low Carb Snack

If you’re in a hurry and just want to find out what the best beef jerky for runners is, then we recommend the Tillamook Country Smoker Old — Fashioned Beef Jerky.

As every runner knows, protein is essential for fueling and recovery, as the nutrient aids the body in both muscle repair and bone remodeling. Complete proteins, such as those found in meat and poultry, contain all the essential amino acids that our bodies are unable to produce on their own. That’s what makes high-protein snacks like beef jerky such a great choice, especially for those who exercise regularly.

In this article, we’re going to review the following beef jerky products that are great for runners, which are high in protein and low in carbs:

  1. Jack Links Beef Jerky — Original Flavor
  2. Tillamook Country Smoker Old — Fashioned Beef Jerky
  3. Country Archer Jerky Co. Original Beef Jerky

Why Is Beef Jerky Good for Runners?

There are plenty of reasons why you should make beef jerky a regular staple in your running routine. It doesn’t require refrigeration, for one thing, which makes it easy to pack along on long runs. Beef jerky can also be conveniently tucked into a fanny pack or fuel belt without adding prohibitive weight or bulk.

While some runners like to fall back on heavily marketed alternatives like energy bars and protein shakes, these tend to be prohibitively high in sugar. While you definitely want to stock up on extra carbs during training, consuming too much sugar can cause you to “hit the wall” early, and can even lead to gastrointestinal (GI) issues — something that all runners should strive to avoid. Beef jerky provides an affordable, all-natural alternative that provides you with all the nutrients your body needs, with none of the extras.

If you’re worried about the excessive salt content, remember that your body will need extra sodium during training to help with fluid regulation. As long as you also remember to get enough potassium—a pre-run banana should be enough to do the trick—the salt factor can actually work in your favor.

Bear in mind that experts recommend the daily consumption of roughly three-quarters of a gram of protein per pound of body weight — at least for people who enjoy active lifestyles. Therefore, if you’re a runner and you weigh 150 pounds, you should aim for about 112 grams of protein per day. As a general rule of thumb, beef jerky provides about 10 to 12 grams of protein per one-ounce serving.

Beef Jerky Reviews

To help you choose a beef jerky that will suit your individual needs, we’ve compiled a list of three of the most popular offerings on the current market. For your convenience, we’ve also included a brief list of pros and cons for each one.

Jack Link's Meat Snacks Beef Jerky, Original, 16 Ounce (Pack...
3,345 Reviews
Jack Link's Meat Snacks Beef Jerky, Original, 16 Ounce (Pack...
  • Feed your Wild Side with Full On Flavor:...
  • 11 Grams of Protein Curbs your Hunger: Stay...
  • Resealable Bag for On-The-Go Snacking: Throw...
  • Excellent Pre or Post Gym Snack: So you can...
  • Rest Easy Knowing Jack Link’s Uses Clean...

Made from high-quality cuts of lean beef, Jack Links offers 11 grams of protein and just 80 calories per 1-ounce serving. The sweet-smoky mesquite flavor will provide you with that much-needed energy boost while you’re on the road. It also makes a convenient and portable pre-or post-run snack.

When shopping for beef jerky, it’s especially important to look for “whole” ingredients, with a minimum of chemical additives. Jack Links delivers in this regard, with beef, water, sugar, and salt listed as the top four ingredients.

This package weighs in at a full pound and is fairly priced, giving you plenty of bang for your buck. Finally, this product is readily available in supermarkets and other retail outlets, meaning you won’t have to wait for a replacement should you unexpectedly run out.


  • Good portion
  • Fairly priced
  • Easy to find at supermarkets
  • Quality ingredients


  • “Original” flavor doesn’t offer much variety in the taste department
Tillamook Country Smoker Real Hardwood Smoked Beef Jerky,...
6,421 Reviews
Tillamook Country Smoker Real Hardwood Smoked Beef Jerky,...
  • Old Fashioned Beef Jerky: We start with 100...
  • Perfect Protein On the Go: With 10 grams of...
  • Shop Our Whole Range: We make a wide variety...
  • Crafted by the Best: We use only the best...
  • Handcrafted on the Oregon Coast: For over 4...

This hardwood-smoked offering is made with 100 percent all-natural ingredients, with no MSG or nitrites added. Like all properly made jerky, it’s also naturally gluten free. Tillamook starts with premium cuts of beef, seasons them with their classic Old-Fashioned blend of spices, then finishes them off in the smoker to give them that ideal pairing of savory and sweet flavors.

Based in Oregon, Tillamook has been in the jerky business for nearly half a century, and features a number of other offerings in addition to this Old-Fashioned variety. This package weighs in at 10 ounces, making it a slightly less cost-effective option than the Jack Links.

Tillamook isn’t as dry and leathery as some other leading brands. If you prefer a softer, chewier jerky, then this could be the right choice for you. Be prepared to plan ahead, however—this brand can be difficult to find.


  • All-natural ingredients
  • Premium cuts of beef
  • Appealing smoky flavor


  • Chewy texture isn’t what some aficionados hope to find in a jerky
  • Not widely available in supermarkets or other retail outlets
  • Slightly high price point
Original Beef Jerky by Country Archer, 100% Grass-Fed,...
718 Reviews
Original Beef Jerky by Country Archer, 100% Grass-Fed,...
  • 100% GRASS-FED BEEF: Contains a 1 pound...
  • AS GOURMET AS JERKY GETS: Handcrafted with...
  • REAL INGREDIENTS: Gluten-free, no...
  • HIGH PROTEIN: 70 calories, 11g protein, 1g...

This is another high-end choice—even more so than the Tillamook, as the price point reflects; however, discerning palates are sure to appreciate the difference. Country Archer uses 100 percent grass-fed beef, and eschews all nitrates, nitrites, MSG, hormones, and antibiotics. The result is a high-energy powerhouse that delivers 11 grams of protein, 70 calories, and just a single gram of fat for each single-ounce serving.

Country Archer comes packaged in a re-sealable one-pound bag that can easily be stored in the glove compartment of your car for quick access after trail runs. If the original flavor is too tame for your taste buds, Country Archer is also available in Mango Habanero and Teriyaki flavors.

This is another moist, soft-textured jerky that may disappoint anyone who’s expecting more of an “al dente” experience. The pieces are also on the small side, making it necessary to scoop the jerky up in handfuls—not exactly convenient if you’re trying to eat it on the go. Lastly, be aware that the flavor tends toward the sweeter side, which could be considered a plus for some but a deal-breaker for others.


  • 100 percent grass-fed beef
  • No additives or preservatives
  • Generous one-pound package


  • High price point
  • Small, crumbly pieces—difficult to eat during runs
  • Soft texture is not what some tasters are expecting


Once you’ve made beef jerky a regular part of your running routine, you may never go back to the world of bland protein shakes and dry energy bars. While our taste buds recommend the beef jerky from Tillamook, there are so many diverse options available, it should be easy enough to find beef jerky that suits your tastes and fuels your passion.

Last update on 2021-09-08

"You might be a redneck if you think that beef jerky and moon pies are two of the major food groups."
-- Jeff Foxworthy

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