Everybody I know loves hummus. It's always the first to go at potlucks and is the guilty snack staple of every health-minded person in the U.S.
Once you're old enough to start caring about what you put in your body, hummus stands tall as the alternative to queso or pretzel bites. And for good reason; it's savory, versatile, and tastes good with just about anything, but what happens when you decide to adopt a ketogenic diet? Can you keep showing up to house parties early to get in on the hummus?
Let's find out!
Is hummus keto-friendly?
No, at least not traditional hummus made with chickpeas, which are classified as legumes. Legumes like chickpeas and most types of beans are avoided on the keto diet because they are high in carbs and low in fat.
Keto prioritizes carb restriction. Depending on your weight, your carb consumption could be restricted to anywhere from 20g-50g of carbs per day. That's not a lot, and hummus is pretty full of them.
Note: There are exceptions for those of you practicing hybrid versions of the keto diet like CKD or TKD that rely on carb-loading days to make way for intense exercise. In that case, you can definitely eat hummus, but still, keep in mind that it is a carbohydrate-dense snack.
What is hummus, anyway?
Hummus (also spelled as "houmous", "humus", "hommus", or "hommos") is a middle-eastern staple typically made with chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic, lemon, and the spices of your choice. It's also really common to top hummus dips with ingredients like artichokes or sun-dried tomatoes.
Hummus literally means "chickpea" in Arabic, and it's also rumored to be an aphrodisiac. Cookbooks dating back to the 13th century have had hummus recipes, so it's one of the world's oldest spreads[*].
In the U.S., hummus is typically eaten as a dip, but around the Mediterranean sea hummus is a much more fundamental part of their cuisine, with locals spreading it on sandwiches like we do mayonnaise and generally having it alongside bread with every meal.
It's extremely popular due to its savory flavor, and nutritional appeal (it's gluten-free, nut-free, and dairy-free!).
Just because chickpea hummus isn't great for keto doesn't mean it's not a healthy snack option. Again, there's a reason it's such a popular healthy snack! Hummus is quite low in cholesterol, and it also has a good amount of fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, iron, calcium, and manganese (2).
Here's a more detailed breakdown for a cup of commercial hummus:
- Calories: 408
- Protein: 19.4g
- Total Carbohydrates: 35.2g
- Dietary Fiber: 14.8g
- Total Fat: 23.6g
- Thiamin: 0.4mg (30% Daily Value)
- Vitamin B6: 0.5mg (25% DV)
- Calcium: 93.5mg (9% DV)
- Iron: 6.0mg (33% DV)
- Magnesium: 175mg (44% DV)
- Phosphorus: 433mg (43% DV)
- Potassium: 561mg (16% DV)
- Sodium: 932mg (39% DV)
- Zinc: 4.5mg (30% DV)
- Copper: 1.3mg (65% DV)
- Manganese: 1.9mg (95% DV)
- Selenium: 6.4mcg (9% DV)
- Cholesterol: 0.0mg (0% DV)
For any hummus made with chickpeas, the nutritional value will be close to these values. Homemade hummus is typically a healthier option since you can ensure that you aren't eating any preservatives or extraneous sugars, but it's still going to be anchored by chickpeas, which are where all of the carbs are coming from — unless you make alternative types of hummus, which we talk about later!
How many carbs in hummus are there?
As you can see, the downside comes in the carbs. According to SELFNutritionData, one cup of "commercial" hummus has 35.2g of carbs and 14.8 in fiber, giving it a net carb count of 20.4g. That's more than some peoples' daily carb counts on keto and will probably kick you out of ketosis.
We chose a cup because who eats just a tablespoon of hummus when it's presented to them? Look me in the eye and tell me you haven't gone through an entire tub of hummus in one night. And remember that like anything on keto, it comes down to the amount of carbs you ingest. Of course you can sneak a spoonful and not break your ketosis, but you're not doing your daily carb count any favors either.
But it's not all bad news! If you're wondering how you'll get your hummus fix on keto, I've got you.
Low-carb hummus: best alternatives for keto-friendly hummus
All is not lost, hummus lovers! There is a way to get at that craving without breaking out of ketosis, and you do it by subbing out the chickpeas. You can still use tahini, lemon juice, garlic, etc. — you just need to get rid of those pesky legumes. Making homemade keto hummus is so dang easy. All you need is a food processor and a blender and at most 6-7 ingredients. Then you just throw it all in and season it to your heart's content.
Hummus usually lasts up to a week in the fridge, so if you make a batch on Sunday you'll have snack options available the whole week. Just remember to eat it with veggies and not bread!
Here are some of the best keto hummus options for you:
Cauliflower reigns supreme in the keto world, and it's because it is divinely delicious and not that expensive. Roasted cauliflower is probably my favorite way to approach keto hummus. It just has a similar texture and tastes great. Using just seven ingredients, this roasted cauliflower keto hummus from Wholesome Yum is great.
Avocado hummus is definitely going to be a bit more fat-heavy than traditional hummus, but that's not a bad thing! And before you say, "But isn't that just guac?" No! Well, kind of. But it's different enough, I swear. This keto avocado hummus recipe from KetoDietApp is fantastic. Using macadamia nuts for chickpeas is a brilliant swap that offers a unique spin on hummus.
Artichoke hummus is also a fun option, although this one will taste a bit closer to a dip than "hummus". You can swap the olive oil for Greek yogurt to reduce the fat load if you want as well. If you love spinach artichoke dip, then this is the way to go. The recipe is from the great team over at Slender Kitchen!
This is definitely the lowest fat option here. Since zucchini is already packed with water, you don't need any oil to help the zucchini hummus' texture. That difference makes this version feel a lot lighter, so it is a nice option for guilt-free snacking. Use this awesome zucchini hummus recipe from DetoxInista to get started, and remember you can always make hummus your own with different spices and toppings!
This is a bit left of center, but the idea of using leftover almond pulp from homemade almond milk is clever. After you collect the pulp, you just throw it in the blender along with the usual hummus culprits (tahini, lemon, garlic, etc.). DetoxInista has you covered with this almond hummus recipe as well!
There you go! Now you have everything you need to get your keto hummus snack game on. Just use any of the alternative recipes and dip with vegetables to make sure you’re staying on top of your keto diet.
Good luck on your health journey!