Have you recently started following the keto diet? When following the keto diet, one of the biggest challenges you’ll face is figuring out which foods are keto-friendly and which foods you should avoid.
One food that keto dieters are often confused over is honey. Honey has many incredible benefits. It’s anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, and rich in antioxidants that can help lower your blood pressure.
But is honey keto? Read on to learn about the nutritional value of honey, and find out if it’s okay to eat on a keto diet.
Related: Keto Rice: Low-Carb Substitutes
What is Honey?
As you probably already know, honey comes from bees. It is an organic, natural sweetener that doesn’t contain any additives. It can adapt to all cooking processes, and it has an infinite shelf life.
When bees make honey, they store the honey in wax structures known as honeycombs. Bees make honey by collecting nectar from plants and then regurgitating it. Water then evaporates from the nectar to produce the honey we know and consume.
The history of honey dates back much further than people realize. The first mention of honey dates back to 2100 BC in Babylonian and Sumerian texts. In ancient times, honey had a high value, and people often used it as a form of currency, tribute, or offering.
Nowadays, honey is readily available, making it much less valuable than it was in ancient times. Nevertheless, honey is still very popular worldwide. There are many varieties of honey available, including:
- Buckwheat honey
- Acacia honey
- Dandelion honey
- Manuka honey
- Bluegum honey
- Sage honey
- Orange blossom honey
- Tupelo honey
Most people use honey to sweeten up their tea, yogurt, or cereal. You can also use honey in baking, and many people also add it to moisturizers and lip balms. Honey also serves as a natural remedy for coughs.
Honey vs. Regular White Sugar
While white sugar and honey can both sweeten up your meals, the two sweeteners are different.
Both honey and white sugar contain fructose and glucose, but you digest them differently. Bees add a special enzyme to raw honey that breaks down the sugar molecules. Due to this breakdown, the honey sugar molecules can be immediately used as energy.
This is not the case for white sugar. Your body must work to break apart the sugar molecules, and because you can’t immediately use them for energy, they’re often stored as fat.
Is Honey Low Carb? The Nutritional Value of Honey
While honey provides a variety of nutritional benefits, it’s unfortunately not as keto-friendly as many people think. Just one tablespoon of raw honey contains 17 grams of net carbs, 16 of which are from sugar.
Honey also doesn’t contain any fat, and one tablespoon contains just one-tenth of a gram of protein. Honey also doesn’t contain any fiber. Let’s compare this to a very keto-friendly food like pecans. One serving of pecans contains 20 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein, and just one net carb.
As you can see, the ratio is quite different when compared to honey. And, the nutritional value of honey is pretty much the same regardless of which variety you buy.
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Can You Eat Honey and Stay in Ketosis?
However, just because a food isn’t keto-friendly doesn’t mean it needs to be completely eliminated from your diet.
Keto is a metabolic state, and to stay in this metabolic state, you usually need to consume between 25 and 50 grams per day. (The exact amount you can consume will depend on various factors, including your height, weight, and lifestyle.)
So technically speaking, if you plan your day right, you can eat a high-carb food like honey and still stay in ketosis. For example, if you eat one tablespoon of honey per day and can eat 50 grams of carbs to stay in ketosis, you still have about 33 grams of carbs to spare after that one tablespoon.
However, if you can only eat 25 grams of carbs to stay in ketosis, you only have about 8 grams to spare after consuming one tablespoon of honey. Therefore, you’ll need to plan your day very carefully.
Alternatives to Honey
If you’re looking to sweeten up your meals and snacks, there are a few honey alternatives that are more keto-friendly.
Here are your best options:
Stevia is a natural sweetener that’s 200 to 300 times sweeter than regular sugar. It ranks zero on the glycemic index, which means it won’t raise your blood sugar levels.
While stevia isn’t high in fat or protein, it has virtually no carbs. Stevia comes from the Stevia plant, which is native to Paraguay and has been used for hundreds of years as a sweetener for tea and other beverages. You can purchase Stevia in liquid form, and just one small drop of it will provide the perfect amount of sweetness to any food or beverage.
Monk fruit is another natural sweetener that serves as a great alternative to honey. Like stevia, monk fruit doesn’t contain any calories or carbs.
Many people prefer monk fruit over stevia, as some brands of stevia come with a bitter aftertaste. Monk fruit also ranks zero on the glycemic index, and it’s about 300 times sweeter than regular sugar.
Erythritol is a sugar-free sweetener that’s composed of sugar alcohols. It’s equally as sweet as honey, so you can use it on a one-to-one ratio.
It’s a zero on the glycemic index, and it has five grams of net carbs.
Honey and Keto: Conclusion
While honey isn’t very keto-friendly, you can still use it sparingly. However, we recommend sticking with the above sweeteners whenever possible to stay in ketosis.
Generally speaking though, you should try to stick to eating whole foods as much as possible on the keto diet!
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