Let’s dot the i’s and cross the t’s: is honey keto, how many calories are in honey, what is the glycemic index of honey, why isn’t it better than sugar, and what to replace honey with on keto.
No time to read? Here are the essentials, in a nutshell:
- Is Honey Keto? No
- Is honey better than sugar? No, sugar has fewer calories.
- Can you eat honey and lose weight? Yes.
- Is honey healthy because it’s full of vitamins? Yes, but they won’t help you.
“For a healthier option, replace sugar with honey.” “If you’re trying to lose weight, use honey instead of sugar.”
How many times have we heard similar advice from nutrition gurus and nutritionists? Is honey really better than sugar? And how many calories are in honey if it is recommended for those struggling with obesity?
Honey vs. Sugar
Honey and sugar have identical chemical compositions. The difference is that honey is easier to digest, but it is more caloric than sugar.
Goyka Roglicz, a WHO expert, has completely debunked the myth about the benefits of honey, “Replacing sugar with honey makes no difference. The metabolic effect of both is the same. People are wrong about honey being healthier than sugar.” And she clarified that honey has no positive effect and will not cure diabetes.
Roglich explained that sweets in any form (sugar, honey, any dessert) can lead to the development of type II diabetes. The main factor in this case is not the type of product, but the amount consumed.
Both honey and sugar contain fructose and glucose molecules, but they are absorbed differently.
Bees add an enzyme to raw honey that breaks down both molecules so it can be used immediately for energy.
Sugar is not so simple in this respect. To get energy, the body has to do the same work that bees do with honey: break down the glucose and fructose molecules with the help of enzymes.
Glucose raises blood sugar levels dramatically, while fructose has a negative effect on internal organs.
What is Honey?
For many people, bees are a summer disaster. But when there is no ice cream or peach in your hand, this evil is not so horrible, but rather, out of old habit, you feel a bit worried. In fact, bees are one of the most important creatures on Earth, on which 30% of the world’s crops and 90% of wild plants depend for survival.
Honey is produced by bees from the nectar of flowers. The nectar is made up of 80% water plus complex sugars, which the bee collects from the flower and stores in its stomach. By the way, it has two: one for its food and the other for nectar. A little over 1,000 flowers and you can go back to the hive.
There she chews the nectar like a man chews gum. An enzyme in her saliva breaks down complex sugars into simpler ones. This keeps it from being spoiled by bacteria and makes it digestible.
Then it “spits it out” into the honeycomb. Do you still want to eat honey?
To make the water evaporate faster, they blow on the honeycomb with their wings. And of course, they make it for themselves, not for humans.
How Many Calories Are in Honey?
Confess, who googled while dieting in the past: what has more calories, honey or sugar? Probably more than one heart was broken when it was discovered that a tablespoon of sugar has 46 kcal and honey has 64 (1, 2).
What is the Glycemic Index
The glycemic index of honey ranges from 50 to 70, depending on the type. Acacia honey has the lowest GI of about 32. But the GI of eucalyptus and linden honey is close to 50 points. Buckwheat honey is the leader and can reach up to 70 points.
Is Honey Keto or Low-Carb?
Unfortunately, no. A tablespoon of honey has 17 grams of carbohydrates, and 16 of them come from sugar.
It has no fat at all, no fiber, and only a tenth of a gram of protein. Honey is a high-carbohydrate product; there’s no way you can fit it into keto frames.
But if You Really Want It, Will Honey Kick You Out of Ketosis?
Remember, ketosis is a metabolic state. The keto diet is a guide on the way to ketosis. Most people need to limit carbohydrates to 20g a day for ketosis, some of them can go up to 50g, and athletes can eat up to 100g of carbs a day and still, in theory, stay in ketosis.
So yes, it is quite possible that you eat a high-carbohydrate food (like honey) and stay in ketosis. But obviously, consuming it consistently will affect your success. And a considerable amount of sugar will affect your health.
Don’t be fooled by the vitamins. Honey has no unique substances that you can’t get from keto foods.
Is Honey a Healthy Substitute for Sugar?
Raw honey does contain many valuable substances, and yes, it’s a stretch to say that honey is healthier than sugar (strictly speaking, it’s vitaminized sugar). And yes, it is sweeter than sugar.
What vitamins and trace elements are in honey? Calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, almost all B vitamins, vitamin C.
We can consider honey a quality source of vitamins because of the fact that they are preserved in it for a long time and are absorbed very well.
And yes, grandma was right when she treated you with honey for a cold. But only if it was really an infection, because due to the phytoncides, honey has a bactericidal effect.
But here she was wrong about the dosage: you shouldn’t eat the whole jar, one teaspoon in the morning is enough. After all, it’s an immune stimulator, a medicine – and there is always a recommended daily dose for each medicine.
Honey Nutrition Facts
There are a lot of health benefits you can get from honey, but needless to say, with one teaspoon of it you will not come close to half of them. And if you eat more than that every day, you are more likely to develop diabetes.
Where to look for the health benefits of honey in the keto world:
- Vitamin B6: tuna, pistachios, beef, chicken, egg yolk, pink salmon
- Thiamine: pollock roe, pork, pine nuts, liver
- Niacin: broccoli, asparagus, almonds, avocado, liver
- Riboflavin: liver, kidney, heart, mushrooms, egg yolk, cod liver
- Pantothenic acid: liver, mushrooms, cauliflower, oyster mushrooms, egg yolks
- Calcium: hard cheese, fat cottage cheese, sesame, cabbage, parsley
- Copper: seafood, liver, asparagus, spinach, cabbage
- Iron: beef, liver, heart, rabbit, spinach
- Magnesium: spinach, egg yolk, saltwater fish, chocolate
- Manganese: liver, chanterelles, spinach, hazelnut, egg yolk, garlic
- Phosphorus: chicken, turkey, pork, by-products
- Potassium: tomatoes, salmon, avocado, spinach, pumpkin
- Sodium: seaweed, seafood, egg yolk
- Zinc: seafood, liver, poultry, cheese, green vegetables
After all this, should we be so confident about the health benefits of honey? Yes, they are. But compared to the keto diet, the benefits are negligible.
Is It Possible to Eat Honey and Lose Weight?
Breaking news from Julia Kiltina, family doctor, dietitian, and Rebels Diet doctor.
– It is actually possible to eat honey and lose weight. The main thing is to follow the rule: energy intake should be less than energy expenditure.
Moreover, it is possible to eat only honey and lose weight. But the question is, why?
The goal is not only to get rid of extra pounds, but also not to lose quality of life during weight loss and especially after it. Becoming thin is not a problem, but staying healthy and energetic is a more difficult task.
The more “empty” foods (that have no nutritional benefit) in your diet, the more deficiencies you will end up with. If you eat only honey or eat a lot of it, you can quickly go into total hypovitaminosis and develop a problem with carbohydrate metabolism because honey is solid sugar and allergens.
If you’re following the keto diet, why are you craving sweets? Do you want to eat honey to satisfy your craving for sweets? Well, but there are much healthier sweet foods with legal sweeteners in them.
If you want to eat honey by the teaspoon every day for some magical effects and longevity, I’m sorry to say that they have not been proven in any study.
If you want advice from the Rebels Diet team, take a quiz!
Sweeteners to Use Instead of Honey
Choose a sweetener that won’t jerk your insulin and raise your blood glucose. Yes, not all of them are equally good.
- Stevia is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar and doesn’t give you an insulin response. But for some people, it is bitter. You will have to play with the dosages to find your own.
- Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that also does not give an insulin response. Despite the name, it contains more alcohol than sugar, but it is impossible to get intoxicated from it. It is less sweet than sugar. It leaves a slight chill in the mouth, which is not to everyone’s liking. This is why a mix of stevia and erythritol is often sold – they complement each other.
- Monk fruit (also known as lo han guo or Swingle fruit) is 100-250 times sweeter than sugar and has zero calories. It is derived from fruits growing in Southeast Asia. This sweetener has been known in Chinese medicine for centuries and has not been observed to have any side effects.
- Allulose is a monosaccharide found in some fruits. It is less sweet and caloric than sugar and has no effect on glucose. It is not processed by the body and has a pleasant taste. It is the only sweetener that is able to caramelize. Its disadvantage is the price.
If you have just started your keto life, it is better to forget about honey altogether. It is also better to exclude fruits completely for a while so that there is no temptation and the organism has completely recalibrated to fats. At this stage, it is also better not to grab stevia, but to wait until the realization of how good the fatty life itself is. Maybe you won’t have to sweeten it either.