If you're looking for a sports snack, a product like Myprotein Beef Jerky might not be the first thing that springs to mind, but it turns out to be surprisingly tasty and effective.
As a lapsed vegetarian I might not initially appear to be the ideal test dummy for commenting on beef jerky as an element of sports nutrition. But given that my lapse kicked off with consuming about forty creatures in a single sitting (small clams if you need to know) followed quickly by total relapse into eating pretty much anything and everything (apart from tongue, simply because I hate the idea consuming something that has already been in another mouth), I thought I'd give it a go.
My only previous jerky experience was with a packet of turkey jerky from a highway service stop in the desert somewhere near Las Vegas. I saw it as a strange novelty item, like the stirrup and spur equipped cowboy boots on the next shelf down. But it tasted pretty good once my saliva glands had realised that help was needed.
Where was I? Yes. Beef Jerky, which is essentially dried flesh, or 'solid pieces of marinaded dried beef' to use the commercial terminology. This particular version comes in 50g packs from a company that describes itself as the 'UK's No 1. Sports Nutrition Brand'.
We have Original and Smoked flavours here but there's also Teriyaki, Classic or Cajun Hot. A 50g pack contains 25g of protein and 1.9g of carbohydrate according to the label. For the detail obsessed, the run down of ingredients in a packet of Original is 93% beef, 5% salt, dextrose, sugar, black & white pepper, chilli, cayenne, maltodextrin, smoke flavouring, antioxidant ascorbic acid and sodium nitrite preservative.
Anyway, I quickly became used to the shoe-leather consistency as I chewed my way through the first £2.49 worth and digested the marketing spiel, which says: 'Beef Jerky is perfect for a day in the office or out on the road. A 50g pack provides a massive 25g of protein whilst being low in fat and carbs. This quick, convenient snack is an ideal substitute for less healthy snacks and ideal for anyone on a high protein diet. Beef Jerky is a traditional American steak snack produced from the best selected beef cuts to an old Wild West recipe. High in protein, low in saturated fat, this product will help you to stay in shape and boost your energy levels. It takes 350g of prime selected beef to make 100g of our Beef Jerky.'
It took a little longer to finish the packet and Google the pros and cons. Actually the internet reading material on beef jerky is way too extensive to even-handedly summarise here, but the crux is that it won't raise your insulin level and tell your body to store fat but you might be better off going for a version without the sodium nitrate. But then, like most 'natural' foods, the grass fed organic feel-good version costs more.
So make of that what you will. I feel fairly certain that the bag of jerky did me more good than a bag of crisps. It satisfied similar cravings and I was happy to discover from the Mens Health site via Google that pork scratchings, sour cream, alcohol, coconuts and chocolate might all be much better for me than I had previously thought too.
I won't exactly be rushing out to buy more jerky but I've noticed it appearing in UK motorway services so I'll now be happy to relieve the comfort eating guilt by buying it instead of a bag of Cheesy Wotsits and a giant Snickers. I'm guessing that's what its marketeers would want, if not the ruminants it's sliced from.
Chewy snack that's high in nutritional value and low in undesirable substances provided you're not a vegetarian.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Myprotein Beef Jerky
Size tested: Beef Jerky
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
It's a protein snack that's becoming increasingly widely available in motorway services.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
It's a thin-sliced bovine/ruminant based nutritional snack.
Decent enough texture once you've got the saliva glands into overdrive. Slightly rubbery initially but breaks down for digestive purposes far better than other forms of carbon based fibre.
Lingering doubts about whether you might lose as much energy in chewing mode as you gain from calorification but otherwise far better for you than salt and vinegar crisps.
It's initially far more durable than most other edible substances.
Remarkably light due to low moisture content, so pretty good for rear pockets. Needs plentiful saliva for consumption.
Doesn't quite cut it as a comfort food.
Nutritional value much higher than, for example, blancmange.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tasted slightly better than expected. No lab based nutritional studies carried out.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Initially, the idea of eating it.
Did you enjoy using the product? More than expected.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, bu only in the spicier versions.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
I bought some more on the way home last night, so it obviously left an impression.
About the tester
Age: 58 Height: 181 Weight: 78kg
I usually ride: Merlin Ti My best bike is: Ibis Silk SL
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,