In the context of bodybuilding nutrition, hummus is an interesting case study. While it’s a good source of plant-based protein and dietary fiber, its caloric density and amino acid completeness might deter some bodybuilders from consuming it regularly.
- Hummus provides a protein source for vegan and vegetarian bodybuilders (7.9g per 100g serving) but needs to be combined with some form of grain to make a “complete protein,” supporting muscle repair and growth.
- While hummus is nutrient-dense and can be part of pre-and post-workout meals, it should be paired with other protein sources and grains to optimize muscle recovery and growth.
- Thanks to its high-fiber content (6-7 grams per 100 grams), hummus aids digestion and can promote satiety, which could help bodybuilders feel fuller on a cut. Still, be mindful of serving sizes, as hummus is relatively calorie-dense.
Hummus For Bodybuilding: Overview
Calories In Hummus
Hummus has a moderate amount of calories, with around 230 calories in a 100-gram serving.
The calories in hummus can add up quickly, though, as it’s easy to overconsume if you’re not tracking your portion sizes.
Additionally, the serving sizes of hummus vary depending on the brand you purchase; some types have more or less added oils.
Macronutrients In Hummus
Hummus has 15 grams of carbohydrates, 15 grams of fat, and only 7.9 grams of protein in a 100-gram serving.
While it’s true that hummus can help vegan and vegetarian bodybuilders increase their protein intake, each serving has more carbs and fats, so it’s important not to rely on it as your only protein source.
The protein in hummus is also considered “incomplete,” meaning it does not provide you with all nine essential amino acids. As such, it’s not a high-quality protein source compared with others.
To make hummus a “complete protein,” combine it with a grain source like pita bread, bagels, or chips to get the missing amino acid profile.
Micronutrient Content Of Hummus
Hummus provides an array of micronutrients because it is made of high-quality, nutrient-dense ingredients.
A standard hummus recipe containing chickpeas, tahini, and olive oil provides you with good sources of manganese, folate, copper, magnesium, phosphate, iron, and B vitamins.
Here are some ways in which some of these micronutrients benefit bodybuilders:
- Manganese – may support nutrient metabolism and is linked to food digestion and energy production.
- Copper – necessary for producing certain enzymes involved in aerobic energy metabolism
- Magnesium – beneficial for good sleep, which can aid in recovery.
Phosphate – an essential electrolyte involved in fluid balance and ATP (the primary energy currency in the body) synthesis.
It’s also been shown that these micronutrients are specifically deficient in vegan diets, so eating hummus can help fill this micronutrient gap if you are a vegan bodybuilder.
- Want to learn more about high-protein foods? Check out Bodybuilding Foods For Bulking.
4 Pros Of Eating Hummus For Bodybuilding
1. Hummus Is A Plant-Based Protein
Hummus is a plant-based protein that can help bodybuilders reach their protein goals for muscle repair and growth.
While it may not be the first choice of protein (given the incomplete amino acid profile), it can still be a decent addition to a well-rounded diet.
Hummus is versatile and goes well as part of a snack (e.g., carrot sticks or celery with hummus) or meal––for example, spread some of it on your morning toast to add extra calories, protein, and micronutrients.
Plus, it can benefit people on a plant-based or vegan diet to get more protein since most plant sources naturally have less protein than animal foods.
2. Hummus May Improve Diet Quality
Hummus is a healthy way to replace foods with lower nutritional value, improving your diet’s overall quality.
Here’s what Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach Rachel MacPherson wrote:
“Research on the inclusion of hummus in the diet suggests that this food may improve the quality of your diet. Researchers believe hummus can improve diet quality by replacing foods higher in saturated fats, sodium, or added sugars…Including hummus in the diet has been shown to improve post-meal blood sugar control, fasting cholesterol levels, appetite control, and daily food intake compared to other common food choices.”
3. Hummus Is Satiating
The fat content of hummus makes it a very satiating food because fat takes longer to digest and keeps you full for longer.
When dieting to get leaner, you will have to consume fewer calories, which can be challenging to maintain if you’re constantly hungry.
To avoid this, you can include more satiating foods, like hummus, that take longer to digest because they will keep you from reaching the point of uncomfortable hunger.
Plus, hummus goes well with low-calorie veggies like cucumbers, celery, and carrots, allowing you to get even more fiber and feel fuller without adding many calories to your total.
That said, you must be mindful of serving sizes, given how calorie-dense hummus is.
4. Hummus Has A Good Amount Of Fiber
Hummus is a good fiber source. This is beneficial because it supports digestion, helping you look and feel better.
Fiber can help by slowing digestion and adding bulk to stool, making it easier to pass.
Here is what Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach Caryn Watt wrote about fiber for bodybuilding:
“Even though fiber does not directly affect muscle growth, it helps to maintain digestion and provides more bulk to meals, which gives a feeling of being full and satiated in a cutting phase.”
This can be highly beneficial for bodybuilding, promoting steadier energy levels. Rather than feeling good one moment and crashing the next, your energy levels are more predictable.
2 Cons of Eating Hummus For Bodybuilding
1. Hummus Has More Carbs & Fats Than Protein
The amount of carbs and fats outweighs the amount of protein in hummus. This makes it difficult to hit your protein intake without overconsuming these macronutrients and ingesting too many calories.
As discussed above, 100 grams of hummus provides roughly 15 grams of fats, 15 grams of carbs, and only 8 grams of protein.
To get a respectable 30-gram protein serving, you would have to eat 400 grams of hummus, 60 grams of fat, and 60 grams of carbs.
The protein-to-fat ratio in hummus is nearly 1:2, far from the recommended 5:1 for bodybuilders (five grams of protein for every gram of fat).
2. Hummus Protein is Incomplete
Hummus is not a complete protein because it doesn’t have all nine essential amino acids. It only becomes one when paired with grains, such as rice, quinoa, or oats.
The problem is that doing so increases your carb intake, making it even more challenging to get the recommended 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight that is ideal for bodybuilding.
To make hummus work in a bodybuilding diet (especially when cutting), you must be mindful of your overall protein intake and ensure you eat low-calorie, protein-rich foods: lean meat and fish, egg whites, and low-fat cottage cheese.
Can You Eat Hummus Before Workouts?
You can eat hummus before a workout, but you may want to consume it in smaller quantities (around 2 tbsp) because of its fat content.
It’s best to pair it with grains, such as pita chips, to increase your carb intake and keep fats relatively low.
If you have it in larger quantities, you should do so 2 to 3 hours before working out.
This would be ideal because carbs will give you energy for your workouts, and the lower fat content would help prevent digestive upset while working out.
- Related Article: Should You Eat Fat Before A Workout?
Can You Eat Hummus After Workouts?
You can eat hummus after workouts, but you should pair it with another protein source.
You can pair hummus with a grain product like brown rice, quinoa, or pita chips to make a complete protein for the best results.
In doing so, you also increase your carbohydrate intake, which is beneficial post-workout because the carbs will help you replenish the energy stores depleted while working out.
To boost your protein, include meat, fish, or eggs.
I asked Dietitian Brenda Peralta about eating hummus before and after workouts. She said:
“Before a workout, the best combination you could have are carbohydrates (for energy) and protein (having a good amino acid pool). Chickpeas are a good source of carbs and plant-based protein but are also high in fat, which slows digestion. The tahini and olive oil used to make hummus have anti-inflammatory properties that help muscle recovery after training. Have it with some carrot sticks or celery to add more nutrients.”
Does Hummus Help Muscle Growth?
Hummus can help encourage muscle growth because it provides calories and some protein, but you will need more protein from other sources and an adequate training stimulus to grow.
In addition, you would need to be in a calorie surplus to ensure that your body has the necessary energy to build additional muscle mass.
The fat content of hummus makes it quite satiating. Although you get additional calories, it could also work against you by keeping you full for too long.
I see this as a potential problem because if you’re too full, you may force-feed yourself to reach these higher targets.
- Hummus is on our list of High-Calorie Low-Sugar Foods (click to read more).
Hummus Recipes For Bodybuilding
Hummus Buddha Bowl
A Buddha Bowl is the perfect post-workout meal for bodybuilders, but it can also be enjoyed by those who do eat animal products. The Hummus Buddha Bowl provides a complete protein to repair muscles and adequate carbs to replenish energy stores!
Makes four servings.
- For one serving: 647 Calories with 77g Carbs, 26g Protein, and 26g Fat
- 2 cups prepared hummus
- 4 cups spinach
- 2 cups broccoli, chopped
- 2 cups bell pepper, chopped
- 1 large red onion, chopped
- 2 cups sweet potatoes, cubed and roasted
- 1 cup quinoa, cooked
- 2 cups edamame, frozen & thawed
- Optional: hot sauce, lime juice, or peanut sauce
- Combine all ingredients in a serving bowl. Top with desired sauces or seasonings.
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About The Author
Amanda Parker is an author, nutrition coach, and Certified Naturopath. She works with bodybuilders, Olympic weightlifters, and powerlifters to increase performance through nutrition and lifestyle coaching.
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