Don’t be in a hurry to eliminate carbohydrates from your diet – they’re the main source of energy for every single cell in your body. Sure, most of the calories in celery come from carbohydrates, but overall, it’s still very low in carbs. While celery itself is ultra low in carbohydrates, some of the dips and spreads you may use add even more carbs, making you go overboard on your carb intake.
Celery Carbs vs. Recommendation
Slightly more than 75 percent of the total calories in celery come from carbohydrates. One large 11- to 12-inch stalk of celery has a minimal 10 total calories. Of those calories, about 7.5 calories come from the 1.9 grams of carbohydrates. A smaller 5-inch stalk offers 3 calories and around 0.5 grams of carbs. Those little 4-inch strips, like the ones you’ll find on a plate of buffalo wings, have less than 1 calorie each and only a trace amount of carbohydrates. Forty five to 65 percent of your calories every day need to come from carbohydrates, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. If you stick to a 1,600-calorie per day diet, you’ll need 720 to 1,040 calories from carbs or 180 to 260 grams, since carbs have 4 calories per gram. Snacking on two large celery stalks takes up less than 8 percent of your carb allowance for the day.
Not all carbohydrates add calories to your diet. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that travels through your digestive tract relatively intact. Even though it doesn’t give you energy, it does have several other key benefits. Celery has slightly more insoluble fiber than soluble fiber, although both are equally beneficial. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool, keeping you regular and relieving uncomfortable episodes of constipation. Soluble fiber on the other hand, absorbs fluid, slowing down digestion. Additionally, soluble fiber binds with some of the extra cholesterol in your body and carries it out through waste. You’ll be more likely to have stable cholesterol levels if you have a diet high in soluble fiber.
Since fiber acts differently than other carbohydrates in your diet, it has its own separate recommendation. For every 1,000 calories you consume, you’ll need 14 grams of fiber, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So if 1,600 calories is your daily goal, you should aim to get 22.5 grams of fiber. You’ll get 1 gram of fiber from each large 11- to 12-inch stalk of celery you munch on, while five little 4-inch celery sticks give you 0.5 gram of fiber.
Celery can seem boring when it’s plain. If Italian dressing is your go-to dip, you’ll wind up with an extra 1.5 grams of carbohydrates from 1 tablespoon. Opt for reduced-fat Italian dressing instead. A tablespoon of this dip cuts the carbs down to less than 0.75 grams. If you need a healthy snack to get you over that mid-morning slump, spread hummus on celery stalks. Hummus is packed with protein to keep you full and has just 2 grams of carbs per tablespoon. Peanut butter is another way to go, although you’ll get more carbs -- 1 tablespoon of peanut butter contains 3 grams of carbohydrates.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Carbohydrates
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Celery, Raw
- Harvard University Health Services: Fiber Content of Foods in Common Portions
- MedlinePlus: Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Carbohydrate, by Difference (g) Content of Selected Foods per Common Measure, Sorted by Nutrient Content
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.