Modern meals look much different from those consumed during ancient times.
However, certain traditional dishes have survived the test of time. In this minority, we find hummus — a delicious chickpea-based dip often used as a side dish or appetizer.
Hummus is one of the most popular Middle Eastern foods that Americans have fully embraced. It’s now commonly thought of as a go-to health food for vegans and vegetarians.
But is it fit for keto-ers?
Today we’ll dive into what hummus is and whether or not it’s keto-approved.
Hummus is a Levantine or Egyptian dip typically made from cooked and mashed chickpeas, although you can use other types of legumes as well. It’s commonly seasoned with tahini (mashed sesame seeds), olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and garlic.
The earliest record of hummus dates all the way back to the 13th century, when it was made as a cold dish using pureed chickpeas, vinegar, lemon, herbs, spices and oil.
Fast forward to today, hummus is made in all kinds of flavors, it’s a staple dip in grocery stores, and considered a superfood in the health space
Some popular flavors include lemon, sun dried tomato, spinach and artichoke, roasted garlic, basil pesto, herb flavors, rosemary, and classic.
When it comes to the nutrition of this versatile dish, hummus packs some serious health benefits, including healthy weight loss.
A one-cup serving of traditional hummus contains a total of 409 calories including:
- 24 grams of fat
- 35 grams of total carbs
- 20 grams of net carbs
- 15 grams of fiber
- 19 grams of protein
It’s important to point out that not all hummus is created equal.
Hummus that contains unprocessed, all natural ingredients is rich in micronutrients, including vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate, phosphorus, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc, thiamin, calcium and potassium.
On the other hand, hummus filled with processed ingredients can be quite damaging to your health.
Most packaged hummus you see in stores today are made with vegetable oils, processed beans and artificial ingredients that are terrible for your health and poorly tolerated by people with gut issues.
One of the worst ingredients in processed hummus vegetable oil.
Paying attention to the quality of the fats you eat is a key priority for overall health, especially when you follow a high fat diet.
Vegetable oils are considered trans fats. Artificial trans fats are created during the processing of highly unstable polyunsaturated fats.
Consumption of these trans fats can dramatically worsen your health in multiple ways, including:
- Increasing your risk for heart disease
- Increasing your risk for cancer
- Increasing LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol
- Increasing inflammation
- Damaging your gut health
Now that you know why processed hummus is terrible for you, what about traditional hummus? Is that safe to eat on keto?
Unprocessed hummus may have beneficial micronutrients, but it’s still a high carb food made with legumes — which we recommend you avoid on keto.
If you ate about six tablespoons of traditional hummus throughout your day as a snack, that comes out to around 150 total calories including:
- 8.5 grams of healthy fats
- 12.5 grams of carbs
- 7 grams of net carbs
- 5.5 grams of fiber
- 7 grams of protein
Seven grams of net carbs — although it may not seem like a lot — could kick you out of a ketogenic state if you were already close to your carb limit for the day. This is bad news for individuals following a standard keto diet.
The standard ketogenic diet (SKD) has a daily limit of around 50 grams of carbs (and often times much less), along with a high intake of fat and protein.
If you just love hummus too much, there are a few solutions.
By following the targeted ketogenic diet (TKD) or the cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD), you can add more carbs to your daily count and make hummus fit in there.
The TKD is meant for highly active individuals who need more carbs around their training times. This particular keto diet allows for an additional 20 to 50 grams of carbs both before and after your workout window.
The CKD is meant for athletes, bodybuilders and other individuals that exercise at such high intensities that they simply need more carbs in order to replenish their glycogen stores.
The CKD is not much different from the SKD for five to six days of the week. During these days, you’ll be following a typical SKD, while the other one to two days of the week are meant for carb backloading. This means the days you’re carb backloading will be filled with high carbs foods.
If you don’t want to follow any of these diet variations and want to keep strictly low carb, you can make hummus keto (yes, really).
You can make your own keto hummus at home by using low carb ingredients instead of chickpeas. In any hummus recipe, replace chickpeas with:
While traditional hummus should be avoided because it’s high carb and made with legumes, it’s still possible to eat this dip without getting kicked out of a ketogenic state by making your own keto hummus at home with low carb, legume-free ingredients.
You may also get away with traditional hummus if you are following the cyclical ketogenic diet and consume it on your carb backloading day(s) or if you are following the targeted ketogenic diet and consume hummus directly pre or post-workout.
But if you’re a keto-er who doesn’t follow these diet variations, low carb hummus is your best bet.
Traditional hummus is not keto friendly, but you can make low carb hummus at home with keto-friendly ingredients like cauliflower and avocado.