Honey – made by bees that people usually run away from when one comes around them. Bees may appear scary and harmful, but they have a very critical role in pollinating plants; essentially fertilizing over 30% of the crops in the world.
Of all the pollinating that bees do, they also produce honey. It is a natural sweetener which is not only delicious but also filled with a wide number of essential nutrients including a decent number of antioxidants.
Due to the sweet taste of honey, it is also considered a healthy alternative to sugar. Since it is an alternative to sugar, you may ask, Is honey keto friendly? What are the number of carbs in honey and whether you can have it on a keto diet. Let’s dig in and find out more about honey.
Unfortunately, Honey is not keto friendly because of the very high carb content. It's best to stay away from even the smallest amount of honey as it might kick you out of ketosis!
Honey And Its Role In The Diet:
Due to the delicious taste of honey, it is used in a number of day to day foods. It is consumed in different forms including, adding it to yogurt, coffees, dressings, marinades, and so much more to add a sweet touch to the foods.
But adding sweetness to foods is not the only role of honey. In fact, honey plays a very important role in terms of providing you with essential and healthy nutrients that are required by your body.
Here is an insight into the nutritional content of honey and what benefits you can receive from consuming honey as part of your diet.
Nutritional Information Of Honey:
A 100 gram serving of honey contains the following nutrients:
|302 Cal (1273 kJ)
Interestingly, the caloric composition of honey comes from carbohydrates which primarily constitutes of sugar. Apart from that, there are no fats in honey whatsoever and contains a healthy composition of vitamins and minerals.
Generally, if you’re looking for a high dose of vitamins and minerals from honey, you should get a darker colored form of honey. Darker the color, greater will be the amount of vitamins and minerals.
Health Benefits Of Honey:
Here are some health benefits that you can expect from consuming honey as part of a healthy diet.
- Honey is a rich source of antioxidants which help fight off free radicals.
- Honey can substantially improve cardiovascular health.
- It can help speed up the process of healing of wounds.
- It can also help in maintaining blood sugar levels.
There are plenty of health benefits of honey, but they also depend on the types of honey you consume. Here is an insight into the types of honey available.
Types Of Honey:
Honey does not come in a single type. In fact, it is on the contrary and there are different types of honey you can acquire. Honey can be sourced in different forms including liquid, creamed, granulated, chunky form, and comb form (unprocessed).
It is further divided into two forms including raw and pasteurized form depending on the extent of processing.
Raw honey is found in a crude form. It is the result of direct extraction from the comb and is not processed in any way whatsoever. Due to this, it has a high therapeutic value.
Pasteurized honey is a form of honey resulting from heating and processing. It may not have as high therapeutic value as raw honey, but it is free from any fungal and bacterial contaminations.
Honey is further split into 10 different types depending on the type of bees that produce honey. These include:
- Lavender Honey
- Rosemary Honey
- Jamun Honey
- Manuka Honey
- Alfalfa Honey
- Eucalyptus Honey
- Acacia Honey
- Buckwheat Honey
- Clover Honey
- Sage Honey
Now that you have an insight into what honey is and what health benefits it carries, let’s reiterate our initial question, is honey keto? Can you consume honey on a keto diet?
Is Honey Keto Friendly?
Unfortunately, no. Honey is not keto friendly. This is primarily due to the carbs content of honey. A single tablespoon of honey contains over 16 grams of carbs, which is way too high for the ketogenic diet.
Generally, a keto diet only allows for up to 30 – 50 grams of carbs per day depending on your approach to keto. If you’re restricting yourself to 30 grams of carbs while on keto, consuming just a single tablespoon of raw honey will consume more than half of your carbs limit.
Based on this, honey is not keto friendly at all. Furthermore, there are no dietary fibers in honey and contains just 0.1 grams of protein. This goes for processed and raw honey both. However, there are still some ways to incorporate honey in the keto diet while staying in ketosis.
Factors To Consider When Using Honey On The Ketogenic Diet:
If you intend to use honey while on the ketogenic diet, you need to pay specific attention to ketosis. It is essentially a metabolic state that you enter after starting the ketogenic diet. Entering this metabolic state may be different for different people.
For instance, an average person will attain the state of ketosis by limiting the carb intake to 30 – 50 grams per day. While an active person such as an athlete can stay in ketosis even after consuming 100 grams of carbs per day, which is quite surprising.
So, technically you can consume honey on the ketogenic diet as long as you’re keeping your body in a state of ketosis. Keep in mind, you can only consume small amounts of honey as large amounts will un-do all of your dietary progress and kick you out of ketosis.
Here are some instances where you can consume honey in small amounts:
- Following a targeted keto diet (TKD):
If you’re following a targeted ketogenic diet, you can consume an extra 20 – 50 grams of carbs on top of your daily limit. However, targeted keto diets are usually incorporated by people who go to the gym or work out.
If you work out, you can consume one tablespoon of honey prior to your session or after your workout session.
- Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD):
Another instance you can have honey while on keto is if you are following a cyclical ketogenic diet. CKD essentially stands for following a low-carb diet for 5 days, while followed by 2 cheat days where you can consume high amounts of carbs.
If you’re on the CKD diet, you can consume honey during the cheat days.
Generally speaking, if you can keep your body in a state of ketosis even after consuming high carb foods such as honey, there is nothing that should stop you from consuming honey.
Keep in mind, to avoid kicking your body out of ketosis, you should restrict your servings and consume only a small amount of honey.
If you’re new to keto diets, it is best to avoid consuming honey.
Possible Alternatives To Honey On The Ketogenic Diet:
Since honey is not keto friendly, there are other sweeteners that you can incorporate into your diet. These include:
- Stevia (preferably liquid form)
- Monk fruit sweetener
Using Honey On The Ketogenic Diet:
Honey in general is not safe for keto diets since the number of carbs is way too high. However, as mentioned earlier if you are following either a TKD or a CKD diet, you can incorporate small amounts of honey in your diet.
The only factor you need to consider is to keep the servings minimum to ensure your ketosis is not affected.
Fortunately, there is another workaround for this as well. You can make your own keto honey at home. Yes, you read that correctly! Here’s how to make keto honey.
- 1 cup water = split equally in two parts
- ½ tsp xanthan gum – to add volume to the honey and prevent it from being too runny
- ½ cup brown sugar sweetener – preferably allulose
- ½ tbsp honey extract
- Add half of the water along with the xanthan gum in a bowl. Stir well so that the solution is mixed, and the xanthan gum is completely dissolved in water. Once completed, set it aside.
- Take a saucepan and add the other half of water along with the brown sugar. Set the temperature to medium heat and let it heat while constantly mixing the solution. Continue the process till the sugar is dissolved.
- After the sugar is dissolved, take the mixed water and xanthan gum solution and add it to the saucepan.
- Whisk it thoroughly and lower the temperature. Leave it on low heat for 10 – 12 minutes to simmer.
- Next, turn off the heat and add in the honey extract. Whisk it well and leave it to cool off.
- Once cooled off, pour it into a container and voila!
Your keto honey should be prepared, and you can either consume it right away or store it in the refrigerator for future uses.
Keto Honey Recipes:
- Use keto honey as a sauce or glaze – Add a layer of honey on brussels sprouts with bacon, whisk some keto honey in a salmon marinade, or top off a homemade teriyaki sauce with some honey to enjoy keto honey whilst staying in ketosis.
- Keto honey on toast and bread – Add a layer of honey to toast, bread, or some keto friendly muffins!
- Use it as a substitute for maple syrup – Maple syrup is also not keto friendly so you can use keto honey as a substitute instead.
Precautions to take:
Keto diets are extremely sensitive and there is always the risk of kicking yourself out of ketosis. When using honey on a keto diet, make sure to keep the serving sizes small and avoid frequent consumptions or else it will kick you out of ketosis.
The Potential Benefits Of Honey On The Ketogenic Diet
1. Rich source of antioxidants:
Honey consists of high amounts of antioxidants in the form of flavonoids and phenolic acid. These are plant based antioxidants and can help fight off free radicals from your body. Free radicals are the cause of a number of health issues including cancer and other serious diseases.
Furthermore, antioxidants also aid in neutralizing the reactive oxygen species found in your bloodstream and cells. Reactive oxygen species also cause cell damage which can be avoided by consuming foods containing antioxidants.
Keep in mind, honey will be a rich source of antioxidants if it is of high quality and very slightly processed and fresh. Moreover, as mentioned earlier, dark textured honey will contain a greater amount of these antioxidants compared to other light textured varieties.
2. Can improve heart health:
Consuming honey on a regular basis can help lower the risks of heart diseases by lowering your blood pressure levels and improving the fat levels in your blood. Furthermore, it can also help in maintaining a regular heartbeat – thus improving your overall heart health.
In addition, honey can also help protect your heart against oxidative stress. Honey in raw form (unprocessed and fresh) also contains certain propolis which can help in regulating triglyceride and cholesterol levels in your blood.
3. Honey can help in suppressing coughs:
Honey can greatly help if you’re suffering from an upper respiratory infection. Coughing can be a significant nuisance and can affect your sleep patterns and cause general discomfort.
But all of this can be avoided by simply consuming honey. As compared to traditional medicines, honey can be extremely efficient and has no side effects whatsoever.
4. Aids in healing wounds:
Honey contains propolis which helps in suppressing the free radicals found in your body. It also leads towards better synthesis of collagen in your body which can be helpful in the healing of wounds.
5. Helps in blood sugar management:
Honey is filled with essential nutrients and has a number of health benefits, one of which is better blood sugar management. Similar to regular sugar, honey can increase your blood sugar levels. However, it is balanced out by the antioxidants content of honey.
The antioxidants found in honey can help fight against metabolic syndromes and type-2 diabetes. This means you can enjoy the sweetened taste of your meals by adding honey to them without having to worry about the effects of sweeteners on your health.
The Potential Drawbacks Of Honey On The Ketogenic Diet:
As healthy as honey may seem, there are certain drawbacks of consuming honey as well. Here is a detailed insight into this:
High amounts of carbs:
Honey is extremely high in carbohydrates in the perspective of a ketogenic diet. A single tablespoon of honey contains over 16 grams of carbohydrates. This might not seem like much compared to the number of carbs people consume in regular diets, but for keto it is too much.
Consuming honey on the ketogenic diets always carries the risk of putting your body out of ketosis which can wipe away all the efforts you may have put in the keto diet.
Risk of potential allergies:
Another reason why you may want to avoid consuming honey is the risk of allergies.
People that are prone to allergies should take extreme caution when consuming honey. While the risk of allergies is rare, there are still some instances where honey can cause allergic reactions. It could be due to a number of reasons, mostly due to the bee pollen found in honey.
When the digestive enzymes produced by bees mixed with pollen, bee pollen is produced which can cause allergic reactions in some individuals.
Risk of consuming unpasteurized or contaminated honey:
Consuming unpasteurized or contaminated honey is a serious health concern specifically in the case of raw honey. Here is what could go wrong with consuming unpasteurized or contaminated honey:
1. Grayanotoxin Contamination:
Grayanotoxin contamination is although a rare but widely known illness caused by grayanotoxins. These are essentially neurotoxins which exist naturally in raw honey. This is one reason why honey is processed to remove or lower the concentration of these neurotoxins.
This is why processed honey has substantially lower risk of causing Grayanotoxin contaminations. On the contrary, there is a higher risk of contamination with raw honey. The reason behind this is that bees produce honey from a wide number and types of plants.
In some cases, this can result in higher amounts of grayanotoxins which can ultimately cause toxicity. It may cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and lowered blood pressure levels.
To avoid this, you should opt for processed honey instead which contains substantially less amounts of these neurotoxins – hence more safe for your consumption.
2. Exposure to clostridium botulinum:
Clostridium botulinum is a type of bacteria which is often used in skin care procedures. It usually goes by the name of Botox and helps in defying age related wrinkles and fine lines.
Interestingly, clostridium botulinum is found naturally in honey. However, the effects of exposure to clostridium botulinum may depend on your immunity. Individuals with a strong immune system will not suffer from these bacteria.
On the contrary, in case of individuals with weak immune system such as babies and pregnant women are exposed to the harmful effects of these bacteria. Due to this it is highly recommended to avoid feeding any form of honey to children under the age of one.
Alternative sweeteners on the ketogenic diet:
Honey may contain high amounts of carbs, but luckily there are plenty of other keto safe sweeteners that you can incorporate into your diets. Here are some keto safe alternatives to honey that you should try out.
Stevia is extracted from the stevia plant. It is a natural sweetener and gets its sweet taste from glycosides as compared to sugar in other sweeteners. Glycosides are similar to the chemical structure of sugar but are way different in terms of how they are processed in your body.
What’s more interesting is that it contains only 1 gram of carbs per serving. This is crucial for people that are craving sweet foods on keto but fail to consume them due to the risk of putting their bodies out of ketosis.
Monk fruit is another natural sweetener which gets its sweetness from mogrosides. Mogrosides are a form of glycosides which is processed the same way as stevia by your body. Furthermore, it contains zero sugar and no carbs whatsoever, thus making it ideal for your keto diet plan.
Sucralose is widely popular due to its usage in diet sodas and low-calorie or zero-calorie drinks and meals. Although it is an artificial sweetener but the reason why it is used in foods is that sucralose cannot be processed by your body.
It only adds a sweet taste to your foods & beverages and goes unprocessed by your body. So, you do not get any calories or carbs from sucralose whatsoever.
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol which is produced by the fermentation of glucose. This process results in the same sweetness levels as sugar but lacks the calories or carbs contained in sugar. So, it can also be a great alternative to honey on a keto diet.
Allulose is a form of sugar, similar to fructose and glucose. But it contains way too low calories as compared to sugar. One serving of allulose contains only 4 grams of carbs and a negligible amount of calories (1.5 Cal per serving).
Moreover, it is found naturally in fruits including raisins and dates. So, there are no associated risks involved with consuming allulose.
On a side note, no matter which sweetener you decide to use, you should always keep your total carbohydrates intake in check. While these sweeteners may contain negligible amount of carbs, over eating them may kick you out of ketosis due to the consumption of more carbs.
Conclusion – Is Honey Keto Friendly?
Honey is not keto friendly. While it may contain a number of health benefits and lead to an improvement in your overall health, it contains 16 grams of carbs in a single tablespoon. This is way too high for the ketogenic diets and carries the risk of potentially kicking you out of ketosis.
But there are some instances where you could consume honey without the risk of losing ketosis. If you’re on the TKD or a CKD approach to keto, you can consume honey as long as you are monitoring your overall carbs intake in check.
If you'd like to learn more about keto friendly foods, please click on one of the links below: