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As of late, people are a lot more conscious as to what they eat and how much control they have over their diet. This is not to say that people haven’t always cared about their food intake, yet diets are becoming increasingly popular. Contrary to popular belief, not all diets are about losing weight. There are diets available and you are almost guaranteed to find one that matches your lifestyle, beliefs, and any allergies or intolerances you may have. Honey is used as a natural sweetener that can replace traditional table sugar, but can it be eaten while on a keto diet?

Honey jar with honey comb

What Is A Keto Diet?

A keto diet, better and more officially known as a ketogenic diet, is a very strict low-carb diet. As an alternative to carbohydrates, more fat and protein are consumed. The point of a ketogenic diet is to put your body into a state of ketosis which is when the absence of glucose causes your body to break down fat molecules as a way to fuel itself. In simpler terms, the body normally used glucose as its main energy source, but as there is no glucose to consume, the body uses your stored fat instead.

As mentioned, the main intake of a ketosis diet is a low amount of carbohydrates and a lot of fats. This means that food such as meat, fish, nuts, and dairy are completely fine. However, the decrease in carb intake means that you go without bread, noodles, pasta, rice, and a lot of baked goods. Alongside this, you also go without legumes, root vegetables, most fruits, and starchy vegetables such as potatoes.

Why Do People Go On A Keto Diet?

There are many reasons to go on a specific diet. One of these reasons may be your ethical beliefs. Diets such as veganism and vegetarian diets are based on the belief that consuming animal products is wrong or should be avoided when possible. Other diets can focus on your allergies and intolerances. People who are allergic to dairy, or intolerant to lactose, will be on a diet where these products are excluded, to avoid irritating them or causing any allergic reactions.

While ethical beliefs and allergies are good reasons for diets, a ketogenic diet is typically followed as a way to lose weight. While there are other benefits such as lower frequencies of epileptic seizures, most people use ketosis as a way to lose weight. This obviously works as the body is using your fat cells for energy, therefore burning and removing fat from you. While you could choose to use a low-fat diet instead, a lot of nutritionists say that a ketogenic diet is better for long-term reductions and results.

Bellingham farmers market 1

Is Honey Keto Friendly?

Honey is absolutely loved and famed by a lot of people who have strict diets as it is sweet, delicious, and completely natural. Honey can also be eaten by vegans as the bees need the honey to be harvested in order to live comfortably. The production method is taken into account, but as long as the bees are looked after then there are no issues.

As for the keto diet, honey is a bit more problematic. Honey is naturally sweet as it is made up of fructose and glucose, which are both simple sugars. As you can guess, if you intake these sugar molecules, your body will start to use them as fuel instead of your fat cells, kicking you out of ketosis.

This doesn’t mean you have to avoid eating honey entirely. It all depends on how strict you are with your diet. Some people on a keto diet will choose to allow themselves a daily limit of carbs. 40g is the recommended maximum a day for carb intake, but as long as you do not exceed this, how many carbs you eat is up to you. If you eat too many carbs, then you will no longer be in ketosis, so you have to play around and find your sweet spot. Some people are a lot more strict and will not allow themselves any carbs at all.

Depending on your carb allowance, you can have honey as a substitute. For instance, if you allow yourself to have 20mg of carbs a day, then you can have up to 20mg of honey a day. This is great for people who want to use honey as a flavoring for food such as porridge. The amount of honey used can be limited a lot, but the taste is still noticeable, which makes a boring meal like porridge a lot more enjoyable. The same rule of thumb is used for other sugar products such as maple syrup as it is all about how much glucose you intake as you want to avoid having your body use that as an energy source instead of your fat reserves.

Alternatives To Honey

While honey has a delicious and unique flavor on top of its sweetness, alternatives to the delicious sweetener can be found. The flavor of honey is difficult to replicate, however, if you are using honey as a sweetener for your drinks or food, then there are quite a few keto-friendly alternatives that you can use.

Stevia

Stevia is one of the leading sweeteners worldwide and is completely natural. On top of this, there are no calories in stevia and it ranks zero on the glycemic index. It is also about 200-300 times sweeter than regular sugar, so you do not have to use that much.

Monk Fruit

Monk fruits are green gourds grown in Southeast Asia. They initially started as a common cold remedy but found their way into the US market and were used as a zero-carb sweetener. People choose to use a monk fruit sweetener instead of stevia as it does not have a bitter aftertaste that a lot of other sweeteners have. Similar to stevia, monk fruit ranks zero on the glycemic index and is also exactly 300 times sweeter than regular cane sugar.

Erythritol

Erythritol is a sugar-free sweetener that is made up entirely of sugar alcohol. Erythritol is naturally made during the fermentation process of wine, beer, and cheese, and is also found naturally in some foods. It is mostly used to sweeten large quantities of sugar-free or sugar-reduced food and is bought in bulk by the companies producing these products. Because of the use of sugar alcohols, erythritol is just as sweet as raw honey and can be used in a 1:1 ratio.

Artificial Sweeteners

While a lot of artificial sweeteners claim to be sugar-free and have zero calories, this is not the case for all of them. Not only is it easy to accidentally use sweeteners with sugar and calories in them, but artificial sweeteners can also have adverse health effects. Popular brands such as Splenda have been known to spike blood sugar levels and also raise your insulin levels. The spike in your blood sugar is bad and you may be better off just using table sugar instead.

Person holding white ceramic mug

Health Benefits Of Honey

Eating honey is not only delicious but is also very healthy for your body. Raw honey is the arguably best choice but the stuff in supermarkets works just as well. Not only can honey be used as a natural sweetener but it can also help you in so many different ways. If you are not a fan of the consistency of honey, all of these health properties can be found in the rawest form of honey, which is honeycomb.

Helps with Hay-Fever

Honey can help with hay-fever and its symptoms. While the quantities of honey needed to notice a huge difference are high, eating local honey, or raw honey from nearby farms can help you a lot. A study in 2011 shows a 60% decrease in symptoms for people who regularly ate local honey. A later study shows that the people who regularly ate honey also had twice as many days without symptoms when compared to people using traditional hay-fever remedies and medication.

Soothes Sore Throats

While over-the-counter treatments are still more effective, honey can be used in a pinch to help treat symptoms of a sore throat. It can help soothe the throat and stop any pain or irritation for a while. This is most commonly used by parents as a last-minute treatment for children on nights when there are no alternatives.

Antibacterial

Honey is naturally antibacterial and also helps stimulate new tissue growth which can help wounds heal. The chemical compounds found in honey can also help minimize scarring from non-serious wounds such as burns and ulcers. Honey contains flavonoids that have antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-allergenic properties.

Is Honey Safe For Vegans?

If you are a vegan or are just generally interested, you may be wondering if honey is vegan-friendly. By pure definition alone, honey is not vegan-friendly as it comes from bees and is, therefore, an animal product. With that being said, bees tend to overproduce honey which can be safely harvested by skilled beekeepers.

There are a few reasons to avoid honey when looking from a vegan perspective, but as long as you do research and buy local honey, there is a high chance that it is fine for consumption. Honey from large-scale producers is harvested from bees that have been treated with antibiotics and whenever a disease outbreak is likely, the entire hive is burnt with all the bees inside. On top of this, commercial beekeepers also contaminated the hive with insecticides and replace the harvested honey with industrially-processed corn syrup. This is mostly applicable to large-scale beekeepers that are commercial, however, if you do research into your local beekeepers you can find out if they do any of this or not.

Veganism can have some strict opinions on a lot of things but, at the end of the day, you are following it based on your own moral compass. If you do the research and find that local beekeepers are producing high-quality honey while keeping the bees happy, then you are entitled to eat it if you so choose.

Eating Honey On A Keto Diet

As mentioned, if you are on a keto diet then you will be limiting your carb intake. This is so your body enters the state of ketosis and uses your fat reserves as energy instead of sugar and glucose. You can replace your carb allowance with honey instead, as long as you know your limits and do not accidentally over-consume and leave the state of ketosis. How many carbs you allow yourself is up to you, and therefore you can eat honey if you want. As long as your body is still in ketosis then it is fine.

FAQs On Honey

What can I use instead of honey on a keto diet?

While on a keto diet, you can choose to replace your honey with some sugar-free sweeteners such as monk fruit and erythritol.