‘’Is honey keto?’’ is one question I had to ask myself before choosing to go down this road of losing weight. Honey was a favorite spread of mine for as long as I can remember, and it would be great if I could have some in my keto diet.
Honey is not in any way ideal for keto due to its high sugar and carb content. These properties do not make honey a suitable addition to a keto diet, as the high carb content could easily kick one out of ketosis.
Having heard this, I switched to my keto diet, knowing I would have to forget about one of my favorite childhood foods. However, I researched and discovered certain modifications of the ketogenic diet that worked with honey.
Keep on reading to know how you can get honey to align with your meals if you are on a keto diet or looking to transition.
Your Saved Hours
Is honey an artificial sweetener?
Firstly, you’ll need to know what an artificial sweetener is. If there’s an artificial or synthetic of a particular item, then there must be the natural version of it. Artificial sweeteners are substitutes to sugar that have a sweet taste while giving less energy and have almost zero calories e,g saccharine and sucralose.
Natural sweeteners are substances that possess a sweet taste, provide more energy than artificial sweeteners. They are carbohydrates obtained from natural sources such as trees, seeds, and roots. Common examples include molasses, coconut sugar, and agave nectar.
So does honey belong to the category of artificial or natural sweeteners? We all know honey starts from bees sourcing nectar from flowers, after which the honey is harvested from beehives for further processing. Honey is a natural and not an artificial sweetener.
Do the carbs in honey fit into my keto diet?
At the beginning of this article, we already said that honey is not suitable for a keto diet due to its high carbs and sugar content. How high are the carbs in honey, and what is all the fuss about, by the way?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a tablespoon serving of 21 grams of 100% pure honey contains 17 grams of carbohydrates. This means that 100 grams of honey would have about 81 grams of carbohydrates.
This is way above the daily recommended 50 grams, or even 20 grams, depending on how strict your diet is.
Now you’ve seen how high the carbohydrate content of pure honey is. How about the sugar content? The USDA estimates that a tablespoon serving of 21 grams of honey has 17 grams of sugar. Sugar intake should be limited during keto, so you do not spike your blood sugar.
Honey may be sweet, but it is advisable to avoid it on a keto diet or even for those who have diabetes. Its liquid form and sweetness make it easier to consume a lot more than you bargained for, even if you promised not to do so.
What is the nutritional profile of honey?
Besides all that sugar and carbohydrate, honey has also got other nutrients in it. Below is the nutritional profile of honey for a tablespoon with 21 grams of 100% pure honey;
These numbers were obtained for the United States Department of Agriculture. From what is stated above, honey lacks any form of protein, fiber, or fat. Not exactly what you need in a keto diet, is it?
Which keto diet could work with honey?
Earlier in this article, I talked about certain modifications or exemptions where honey could fit into one’s keto diet. Below are the various ketogenic diet types, and the level of allowance for honey to be consumed in each:
Standard ketogenic diet (SKD)
The standard ketogenic diet is usually what most people target when going keto. Considering the allocation for carbohydrates in this setting is five percent, it does not make sense to add honey. The carb count is on the high side.
Recommended carbs for the standard ketogenic diet would be leafy greens, raspberries, and avocados, etc.
Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD)
In this instance, the allowed carbohydrate intake is 20 to 50 grams before one’s workout session. One to two tablespoons of honey is fine if you’re following the TKD.
Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD)
In this situation, you’re allowed to have a low-carb meal for five days, followed by two days of ‘’carb-replenishing’’. For the next 48 hours, you can have more honey than the targeted ketogenic diet, This is mostly for athletes who require endurance while performing.
What makes it dirty is the source of calories. As long as you’re in keto, regardless of what you consume, you do not get kicked out of ketosis. This is more like being on edge, and honey can be taken while on dirty keto.
Just don’t exceed the recommended fifty grams daily intake. We’ve got an article about the dirty keto diet that takes a more in-depth look at it if you’re interested in finding out more.
What alternative keto-friendly sweeteners can you use asides from honey?
So what alternative keto-friendly sweeteners can one consume apart from honey? Mind you that this is not the end of the road for my sweet-toothed readers, as there are other sweeteners you could take during keto.
These sweeteners have a small number of carbohydrates and a smaller amount of calories. Some of the sweeteners listed here are sweeter than sucrose (table sugar) more than 100 times.
Before we look at these alternative keto-friendly sweeteners, we need to know what sugar alcohols and net carbs are. You would see these terms a lot as you read on from here;
These are organic compounds that occur naturally or are produced via industrial processes. Sugar alcohols are gotten from sugars and have one hydroxyl group linked to each carbon atom.
Examples include xylitol and mannitol.
Net carbs mean the number of carbs that are metabolized by the body. This is gotten by subtracting the amount of fiber from the total amount of carbs. It is essential to know that some carbs are not absorbed by the body when consumed.
Having known what sugar alcohols and net carbs are, here are the recommended sweeteners which one can take while on a ketogenic diet
Gotten from the leaves of a South American plant Stevia rebaudiana, Stevia is about 30 to 200 times sweeter than table sugar, although it has a bitter aftertaste. Only one tablespoon of Stevia is almost equivalent to one cup of sugar.
Stevia contains 0 grams of net carbs, 0 grams of calories, and a glycemic index (GI) of 0. The glycemic index is a measure of how a particular food could increase your blood sugar after consumption on a scale of 0 to 100.
With Stevia, you do not have to worry much about increased blood sugar levels. Stevia is available in powdered and liquid forms.
With five grams of net carbs, a glycemic index rating of zero, and less than ten grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams, erythritol is quite keto-friendly. However, it is not as sweet as table sugar, but it serves as an excellent alternative to sucrose.
Eritrythol is available in powdered and liquid forms and a great option for keto meals that involves baking. Thanks to its low glycemic index rating, erythritol does not affect your blood sugar levels.
Erythritol is naturally occurring and is found in grapes, peaches, watermelons, and fermented foods like sake and soy sauce.
Monk Fruit Sweetener
The monk fruit sweetener occurs naturally, and it is extracted from the monk fruit, a plant found in Southern China.
Monk fruit sweetener is often mixed with molasses which can alter the low carb and calorie content. Be sure to check the label when shopping for monk fruit sweeteners. Monk fruit sweetener has an intense sugary taste and tends to be packed along with erythritol, another keto-friendly sweetener.
Monk fruit sweetener has a glycemic index of 0, 0 grams, and 0 carbs per 100 grams. It has a sweetness of about 100 to 250 times that of table sugar.
Sucralose does not provide any calories or carbs, making it a non-metabolized food. Sucralose is commercially available as Splenda. Splenda contains maltodextrin and dextrose, which have one gram of carbs and three calories in each packet.
Sucralose is not as sweet as sugar; hence it is not the best substitute for keto meals that require baking. Sucralose is preferred as an addition to cereals and yogurt.
Sucralose has a GI of zero, which is excellent for your blood sugar level. This also makes sucralose a safer choice for people with diabetes.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol and a sweetener found primarily in chewing gum and mouthwashes. Xylitol is gotten from plants and is produced through a complex chemical process involving several steps.
Xylitol is not entirely free of carbs or with a low GI rating of zero. Its glycemic index is 13, with three calories per gram. However, the carbs in xylitol are not net carbs, as they have little to no effect on blood sugar.
It is advised to use xylitol in a 1:1 ratio as regular sugar. If adding xylitol to your keto diet, be cautious of how much you consume.
Xylitol is highly toxic to dogs. If you cannot finish a meal that has even the slightest traces of xylitol, dispose of it as far as where your dog cannot reach it.
What other sweeteners apart from honey should I avoid on keto?
This a good question, as honey is not the only ‘’anti-keto’’ sweetener out there. There are other sweeteners that I would advise you to avoid while on a weight loss journey. The sweeteners to steer clear of while on a keto diet are:
Maltodextrin is derived from starchy plants like rice and has the same amount of carbohydrates as table sugar. Maltodextrin has four calories per gram, with a GI of 106, meaning it can affect blood sugar levels significantly.
Coconut sugar is derived from the sap of coconut palms and is metabolized at a slower rate than table sugar. Coconut sugar is packed with fructose and has a staggering 88 grams of carbs and 375 calories per 100-gram serving.
Coconut sugar has a glycemic index ranging from 50 to 54. A glycemic index rating this high is not suitable for your blood sugar.
Maple syrup is one of the more common replacements for table sugar and is commonly used on pancakes. Maple syrup contains 67 grams of carbohydrates and 68 grams per 100 grams which is nowhere near suitable for keto.
Maple syrup has a GI rating of around 54, which is not healthy for your blood sugar.
Agave nectar consists of fifty to eighty-five percent of sugar, mainly fructose. Agave nectar contains 310 calories, 76 grams of carbs, and 68 grams of sugar per 100 grams.
Agave nectar has a GI of 19, as most of the sugar is fructose. Agave nectar increases blood sugar but at a slower rate than regular sugar. However, the high amounts of fructose still make it a no-no for keto.
What is the difference between honey and table sugar?
There are many differences between these two sweeteners, from the appearance to the taste. Below are the differences between honey and table sugar;
- 1Honey has a lower GI rating than sugar.
- 2Honey ranges from yellow to dark brown in appearance, while table sugar is mostly white.
- 3Honey has more calories than sugar, and it is slightly sweeter.
- 4Sugar consists of 50% glucose and 50% fructose, while honey is 40% fructose and 30% glucose.
Considering the daily carb recommendation for a ketogenic diet, honey is not suitable for keto. However, if you need an alternative for honey, you can try out Stevia, or
other listed alternatives.
Honey will raise your blood sugar levels, but it won’t be as fast as table sugar. Honey has a GI rating of 58, while that of sugar is 60.
You can have sweeteners as long as you are not kicked out of ketosis. There are keto-friendly sweeteners suitable for baking.
One tablespoon of honey is okay if you decide to go ahead with it. Again, this depends on the type of ketogenic plan you choose.