Modern meals look much different from those consumed during ancient times. But certain traditional dishes have survived the test of time. Among these is hummus — a delicious chickpea-based dip often used as a side dish or appetizer.
But before you start dipping your celery sticks in this popular paste, you should first learn about the carbs in hummus and its place in the keto diet.
Hummus is a Levantine or Egyptian dip typically made from cooked and mashed chickpeas, although you can use other types of legumes as well. 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.
There are a variety of ways to make and flavor hummus, but it is commonly seasoned with the following ingredients:
- Tahini (mashed sesame seeds)
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice
- Sea salt
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. In fact, one of the first recipes for hummus appeared in a 13th-century Arabic cookbook[*]
Fast forward to today, hummus is made in a variety of flavors. It’s a staple dip in grocery stores and considered a superfood in the gluten-free and health communities.
You can find hummus in varieties that maintain the original Middle Eastern recipe. You can also find a variety of mix-ins and flavors, including:
- Sun-dried tomato
- Spinach and artichoke
- Roasted garlic
- Basil pesto
- Herb flavors
- Chili peppers
When it comes to the nutrition of hummus, this versatile dish packs some serious health benefits, including weight loss. But there are also some not-so-great things about it too. Read on to get the full scoop about the carbs in hummus and more.
Hummus Nutrition Benefits
First, it’s important to understand why so many people consider hummus to be a healthy snack. There are lots of nutritious things about it.
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. The amounts quoted above are based on classic, commercial hummus.
Hummus that contains unprocessed, all-natural ingredients is rich in micronutrients too.
These micronutrients include[*]:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
Hummus Nutrition Warnings
On the other hand, hummus filled with processed ingredients can be quite damaging to your health.
Most packaged hummus you see in stores today is 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 is 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.
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 bad for your health, you’re probably wondering about traditional hummus made with fresh, whole ingredients. Is that safe to eat on the keto diet?
Unprocessed hummus may have beneficial micronutrients, but it’s still a high-carb food made with legumes. For this reason, it should be avoided on a keto diet.
Legumes are not recommended on keto. Chickpeas are a legume and this makes the carbs in hummus very high.
When you break down the nutrition of classic hummus, it’s easy to see why it might not be a good fit for a low-carb lifestyle.
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 people following a standard keto diet.
The standard ketogenic diet (SKD) has a daily limit of around 50 grams of carbs (and oftentimes much less), along with a high intake of fat and protein.
Use this macro calculator to figure out how many grams of carbs you can eat per day to stay in ketosis.
If you calculate your macros and realize that eating hummus will put you over your limits, there are still a few solutions.
Targeted Ketogenic Diet or Cyclical Ketogenic Diet
The TKD is meant for highly active people 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 people 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.
Make Your Own Low-Carb Hummus
If you don’t want to follow any of these diet variations and prefer to stay strictly low-carb, you can make hummus keto. (And it’s really quite easy.)
You can make your own keto hummus at home by using low-carb ingredients instead of chickpeas. In any hummus recipe, replace chickpeas with veggies such as:
These are the best keto-friendly spices to put in the keto hummus that won’t disrupt ketosis:
- Lemon juice
- Sesame seeds
The Bottom Line on Carbs in Hummus
While the carbs in hummus should be avoided in most commercial versions (hello, legumes), it’s still possible to eat this dip without getting kicked out of ketosis. How? By making your own version at home with low-carb, legume-free ingredients, such as cauliflower hummus.
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 dieter who doesn’t follow these diet variations, DIY 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, avocado, and extra virgin olive oil.