What is Biltong?
Although biltong can be made from a wide variety of different meats, you'll most commonly find it made from beef as it is easy to source and wholly nutritious. The best biltong is made using sirloin, silverside, or topside. You can use other cuts, but this often results in a chewier snack. This beef is then tenderised in spices that are rich in coriander, salt, pepper, and vinegar before being slowly dried for three days. These strings of beef are then sliced and ready to eat. The best biltong should be made without over-drying. Getting that right is both an art and a science.
It's better than jerky. Much better.
Unlike traditional jerky, good quality biltong is made from pure, grass-fed beef that is cured in natural spices, salt, and vinegar and naturally air-dried for 3 days. This drying time allows biltong to retain the meat's core nutrients making it highly nutritional. Jerky, on the other hand, tends to be cooked by using cheaper and lower-quality cuts of meat. Jerky is also cooked with added sugar which can mask the flavor of lower quality meat.
Ingredients make a huge difference
This is an important one. While both jerky and biltong share beef as their main ingredient, the cuts used for each differ and the process by which they are made are poles apart. Biltong allows for more versatility, using a range of lean or fatty cuts depending on the desired texture, whereas jerky often uses cheaper cuts of beef which are then cooked.
While they are both made from various spices, good biltong uses apple cider vinegar, salt, and spices to cure and marinate the meat before it's hung up to dry. In contrast, jerky is marinated in spices, sugar, and sauces and is immediately cooked in ovens, often resulting in a saltier snack to heighten the taste of lower quality. What is important to note is that you will often find that jerky will have a lot more unhealthy preservatives and flavour enhancers. You do not want those nasties in your diet - keep it clean and eat biltong instead. Good biltong should last up to 6 months if left unopened and kept in a cool, dry place. Jerky, however, is generally cooked with a lot of added preservatives in order to extend the shelf life of the product.
Why is biltong a healthy snack?
Good quality biltong is made from pure, premium, grass-fed beef that has been cured and dried causing it to lose around 55% of its weight in the process. Crucially, none of the protein content is lost in the drying. So, while a lean steak typically contains 25g of protein for each 100g, biltong gives you a double-concentrated protein boost, when you need it and all in small, bite-sized slices. Protein aids both muscle recovery and the muscle-building process, so it’s a fantastic post-workout snack, without the chalky taste of those whey powder shakes. You can try to figure out which protein powder is the best in the market, but you're better off looking at biltong if you need both a snack or a protein powder substitute.
Building or repairing muscles also requires amino acids which are found plenty in biltong. The amino acid taurine is particularly important in cardiovascular function as it helps with the development and function of skeletal muscle and the nervous system. The amino acid carnitine helps the body process fats as energy and encourages the use of more energy. In simpler terms, this means that you will see greater improvements after consistent workouts.
Furthermore, biltong is a great source of B vitamins and B12, in particular, which is responsible for the production of red blood cells. It also helps keep the nervous system healthy. B12 also processes folic acid whilst helping to release energy from the food we eat. Lastly, you'll find that is also rich in Isoleucine, Leucine, and Valine which your body needs.
Vitamins and Minerals
Dried beef is a great source of iron and zinc. Anyone who has experienced anemia will know the importance of iron in their diet. It's an essential mineral that helps nurture red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body. Zinc assists in the production of enzymes which in turn help process carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
So, all in all, it would be fair to say that biltong is a powerhouse of nutrients that are essential for good health and wellbeing. Adding just 100 grams to your post-workout routine, daily recipes or simply enjoying it as a snack can release immense benefits for your body.
If you’re following a paleo diet or weight loss plans such as the popular ketogenic diets, Whole 30, etc, biltong is a great, nutritional way to get you through the day, staying full for longer. Have biltong after a workout, as a salad topper, or as a part of your paleo breakfast routine. When those hunger pangs hit at 3 pm, and you're stuck in the office it'll be more beneficial to have a few slices of biltong than those sugary snacks.
So, why is biltong the perfect snack on the go?
- Biltong is delicious and nutritious. Forget how it looks.
- Biltong is high in protein which helps you feel fuller for longer.
- Biltong is a healthy snack that aids in muscle repair.
- Biltong is low in carbs and fat with no added sugar.
Biltong is the perfect snack and more and more people are finding out about it. At m-eat! biltong we have thousands of subscribers all over the UK and have focussed on making the most nutritious and tastiest biltong around.