Often, various diets that ask to give up sugar suggest replacing it with healthy honey. And for many diets, this works great, given that many people simply adore this naturally sweet treat. But is honey suitable for a high-fat, low-carb diet? Is honey keto? Is it really better than sugar?
In short, no. Honey is not keto. Raw honey contains saccharide molecules and a very high amount of carbohydrates, instantly raising your blood sugar levels. Both honey and sugar have the same chemical composition. The difference is that honey is easier to digest, but it also has more calories than sugar. Therefore, you should not consume honey on a keto diet. However, there are some small suggestions you might want to consider adding honey to your keto diet. These are extraordinary conditions in which honey cannot interfere with your weight loss.
I will tell you what honey is made of and how many carbohydrates it actually contains. I will also explain to you how and how much honey can be present in your keto diet if you still decide that you need it. Also, in this article, you will learn about all the benefits of honey for your body. Well, let’s sort out these issues together!
What Is Honey?
Honey is a unique natural product, a useful delicacy, and medicine. It is a waste product of bees that collect nectar from flowering honey plants and digest it in the crop. During this process, cane sugar, reacting with saliva, is partially converted into glucose.
The bees excrete it into the combs for further maturation. Humanity has known and has been using honey since ancient times, as there is considerable evidence in historical sources. Currently, huge farms and small apiaries are engaged in collecting honey, and it is produced in the same way as it was thousands of years ago.
Honey is a thick, viscous liquid, most often transparent and crystallized over time. Honey is different in color, and it is almost white with a slightly yellow to red-brown color. It has high sweetness, pleasant specific aroma, and taste, which depend on the type of honey.
Is Honey Better than Sugar?
Often in dietetics, you can find the statement that sugar should be replaced with honey during the diet. It supposedly gives a good weight loss effect. But is it true? If you understand this issue, then you can understand that this is a very controversial statement.
Sugar and honey have approximately the same composition, including glucose and fructose molecules. However, they are digested in different ways. Bees add an enzyme to honey that breaks down these two molecules, making honey an instant energy source, as it is absorbed very quickly. Actually, it begins to absorb directly from your mouth.
When sugar is metabolized, the process is a little more complicated, as your body first needs to metabolize glucose and fructose molecules using enzymes. The difference is that honey is easier to digest, but it also has more calories than sugar.
The metabolic effect of both is the same. People are mistaken that honey is healthier than sugar. In fact, honey has no beneficial effect on weight loss and will not save you from diabetes. Sweet food in any form, honey or sugar, can lead to obesity and type II diabetes.
It all depends not on the type of sugar-containing food but on its quantity. So, if you add one teaspoon of honey to your daily diet, you will get some health benefits. However, if you overeat honey, you will get insulin spikes and weight gain. Let’s take a closer look at the calorie content and composition of honey.
Is Honey Keto?
Is honey keto-friendly? Unfortunately no. There are 17 g of carbohydrates in a tablespoon of honey – and 16 of them are sugar. It has no fat, fiber, and practically no protein at all. Honey is a high-carbohydrate food, and you can’t fit it into a keto diet. You can learn more about the ketosis state from our detailed keto guide.
Are there any cases where honey won’t break your ketosis? Remember, ketosis is a metabolic state. The keto diet is a path to ketosis. Most people need to limit carbohydrates to 15-20 g per day if they want to reach a ketosis state. Moreover, these carbs should come from green veggies, like cabbage or cucumbers, not from bread or sugar.
However, someone can go up to 30-50 g of carbs per day. Athletes with professional loads can eat up to 80 g of carbohydrates per day. Even then, it is possible to remain in ketosis.
That is, yes, you may eat a high-carbohydrate meal (and honey) in small quantities and remain in ketosis. But it is obvious that its constant consumption will affect your success. If your goal is a keto diet for weight loss, then you should definitely give up honey.
How to Replace Honey on Keto?
Choose a sweetener that won’t spike insulin and increase blood glucose. However, not all sweeteners are equally good. The most popular keto sweeteners are:
- Stevia. It is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar and does not cause any insulin response. But for some people, its taste is a little specific, and they find a bitter aftertaste. Therefore, you will have to experiment with dosages to find what is right for you.
- Erythritol. It is a sugar alcohol that also does not cause your blood insulin to rise. However, it leaves a slight chill in the mouth, which you may not like.
You can often find a mix of stevia and erythritol, which complement each other perfectly. I usually choose it for keto baking, and I will tell you more about it in my ultimate guide to keto sweeteners.
Benefits of Honey on Keto Diet
Before humans learned how to make sugar from beets and sugarcane, honey was almost the only natural sweetener. However, in addition to sugars, honey contains other substances. There are folic acid (vitamin B9), carotene (vitamin A), vitamins B1, B2, B6, E, K, ascorbic acid, amino acids (alanine, arginine, aspartic and glutamic acids.)
Honey contains leucine, lysine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, threonine (in some varieties also methionine, tryptophan, and proline), and enzymes -catalase, amylase, diastase, phosphatase. Organic and inorganic acids are found in small quantities in all types of honey: malic, citric, lactic, oxalic, tartaric, linoleic.
Honey contains a lot of valuable elements. However, let’s be honest, though, that with one teaspoon, you won’t even get close to a tenth of their daily value. And if you eat a lot of honey every day, it will sooner lead to diabetes or excess weight. Moreover, ketosis will sequentially leave you.
You can get all the health benefits of honey from other keto foods. What’s more, by adding this food to your keto diet, you will receive many more beneficial nutrients. Here’s where you can find all of these vitamins and minerals that honey contains:
- Vitamin B6: tuna, pistachios, beef, chicken, yolk, salmon
- Thiamin: pollock, pork, pine nuts, liver
- Niacin: broccoli, asparagus, almonds, avocado, liver
- Riboflavin: liver, kidney, heart, mushrooms, yolk, cod liver
- Calcium: cheese, fat cottage cheese, sesame seeds, cabbage, parsley
- Potassium: tomatoes, salmon, avocado, spinach, pumpkin
- Sodium: seaweed, seafood, yolk
- Copper: seafood, liver, asparagus, spinach, kale
- Iron: beef, liver, heart, rabbit, spinach
- Magnesium: spinach, yolk, sea fish, chocolate
- Manganese: liver, chanterelles, spinach, hazelnuts, yolk, garlic
- Pantothenic acid: liver, mushrooms, cauliflower, oyster mushrooms, yolks
- Phosphorus: chicken, turkey, pork, offal
- Zinc: seafood, liver, poultry, cheese, green vegetables
To summarize, I can say with certainty that honey is not keto. Surely, you can add a small amount of honey to your low-carb meal and stay in the 20-30 carbs a day, consider whether you should really do it. And while a small spoonful of honey won’t break your ketosis, it will cause an insulin spike, which is not combined with a keto diet.
Although honey contains many beneficial substances, in order to experience these benefits, you will have to eat honey in large quantities. Therefore, I recommend that you consider the keto foods listed above in order to get the most out of your low-carb diet.