Success or failure on the ketogenic diet is totally reliant on the number of carbohydrates and sugars that you put into your body. That is, without question, the hardest part of this whole keto diet thing. Carbs and sugar are what add sweetness and flavor to our foods, so giving them up is a real challenge.
Many keto diet followers opt for sweeteners in order to add the taste to their foods that are missing when they keep their carbs to under 20 grams per day. But the mere fact that a sweetener claims to be keto friendly doesn’t mean that it actually is.
One sweetener that is extremely popular around the world is honey. There is no denying the health benefits of this extraordinary liquid. But that doesn’t automatically mean that it is suitable for the keto diet. In this article, we will find out once and for all just how keto friendly honey really is.
Is it Keto?
As you are no doubt aware, honey is a natural sweetening product that is made by bees. It is high in calories, with a tablespoon of raw honey providing about 64 calories. It also provides around 17 grams of carbohydrates, with no fats and no fiber.
With 17 grams of carbs and no fiber, honey is clearly not a suitable sweetener for anyone who is following a ketogenic diet plan. People on the keto diet have the goal of consuming 20 grams or fewer of carbs in a day. So, one tablespoon of raw honey is going to almost blow your entire keto diet day’s carb intake. Take a couple of tablespoons over the course of the day and you will kick yourself out of the keto state. It will also cause a surge in your blood sugar due to the sugar alcohol and other carbs that it contains. That all spells bad news for keto.
The exception to the above is if you are a keto bodybuilder or a keto gym trainer. After a workout, you have a window of time where you can replace the glycogen that you have used up in your muscle cells. If you are after a high quality, nutrition-packed source of carbs after your workout, you cannot do much better than honey. Just remember, these are carb calories that you need to earn if you are on the ketogenic diet.
Apart from the high carb and blood sugar raising effects of honey, it is also too high in calories to make it onto the list of foods that a person who is trying to lose weight should be regularly consuming.
Here is a breakdown of the nutrient content of honey per 100 grams of honey . . .
- Water – 20%
- Protein – .3%
- Minerals – .2%
- Carbohydrates – 79.5%
- Calcium – 5 mg
- Phosphorus – 16 mg
- Iron – .09 mg
- Vitamin C – 4 mg
- Vitamin B complex – in minimal quantities.
- 319 calories.
Honey contains the following trace minerals
- Sodium and potassium
- Calcium and magnesium
- Phosphorus and selenium
- Copper, zinc, and iron
- Manganese and chromium
- B vitamins
- Vitamin C and K
Honey also contains sugar alcohols.
Some of the nutritional benefit of honey is destroyed by heat. That is why it is not recommended that you drink hot water immediately after consuming honey. However, mixing honey with hot milk is a good idea. This is the only time when the beneficial qualities of honey are actually enhanced. This is especially the case when you take it in wintertime. If you really are intent on drinking honey with water, make sure that the water is lukewarm.
Healthy adults who are not on the keto diet can consume up to 25 grams of honey. If they are ill, such as when they have the flu, they can take in between 10 and 15 grams per day. The reason for the reduced intake when you are unwell is that your digestive system will not be operating optimally, which will make it too stressful on your system to digest large quantities of honey, including the sugar alcohol found in it.
There are no side effects of consuming honey. But if you overindulge in it, you may feel worse for wear. In that case, you should take coriander leaves and pomegranate seeds.
Honey has been used for centuries to cure all manner of stomach ailments. These include indigestion.
The vast majority of us suffer from indigestion at some point in our lives. It is often caused by eating too fast and will result in inefficient and improper absorption of the essential nutrients contained in your food. Indigestion often goes hand in hand with heartburn and stomach ache.
To combat indigestion, try drinking one teaspoon of ginger juice with honey. Lick the spoon clean and then repeat the same dose at night. Sufferers of chronic indigestion can also put pieces of raw ginger in lemon juice, sprinkle it with powdered rock salt and take it with every meal. You may also want to eat 25 g of grated ginger with half a spoonful of honey. Take this 4 to 5 times a day. This has an instant effect on indigestion and you are going to see it vanish within a day
Honey is also an excellent cure for constipation. Even sufferers of chronic constipation can find instant relief by taking in one teaspoon of honey with ginger juice. Do this three or four times over the day. Then before going to bed, drink half a teaspoon of honey in boiled milk. If your constipation persists, try fasting for a whole day, while drinking fresh fruit juice and water. This is going to get your system moving because there is enough of the liquid in your stomach to regularize the natural activity of your alimentary canal.
Honey has been found to be very beneficial for heart health. There is still plenty of scope for research here, but there is a ton of anecdotal evidence that honey can do wonders for people who are prone to heart attack. The reason seems to be that honey makes sure that the glycogen content present in the blood is never reduced. That means that there is a much reduced chance of having another heart attack.
Two tablespoons of pure honey taken 2-3 times per day is the recommended dosage.
You can also strengthen your lungs and prevent diseases such as TB and pneumonia from happening by eating honey every day. Your daily intake should be about 25 g of pure honey. Start with one spoon of honey at breakfast and make it a regular part of your routine. Then throughout the day, lick a spoonful of honey three or four times. If the honey does not cause constipation, you can increase the amount of its intake by putting it into your food and drink.
Finally, honey is a very effective flu treatment. Take 2 tablespoons of honey in half a glass of water. Now put a pinch of salt and turmeric into this, stir and make the patient gulp it down. This concoction will make you sweat a lot. That’s a good thing in helping to get over the flu. In addition, the honey in the milk or water is going to provide instant energy to the body that is lacking when you have the flu.
Keto Approved Honey Alternatives
With honey out of the question when it comes to the keto diet, we need to find a suitable alternative. As honey is primarily used as a sweetener, we need to focus on finding keto sweeteners that will not blow out the daily carb intake. There are a number of alternatives to honey and regular sugar that are suitable as a keto sweetener. These include:
- Sucralose: keto approved!
- Erythritol: keto approved!
- Monk fruit sweetener; keto approved!
- Stevia; keto approved!
There are also a number of keto artificial sweeteners on the market designed to act as a replacement for regular sugar (or table sugar). However, these are less preferable than the natural low-carb sweeteners mentioned above. They also tend to have more calories than a natural sweetener designed for the keto diet.
A popular keto diet natural sweetener that is used as a honey keto replacement is stevia.
The leaves of this plant contained some compounds that are incredibly sweet. In fact, they are more than 200 times more sweet than sucrose.
These compounds are known as steviol glycosides. There have been seven glycosides which have been extracted from the leaves so far. These are:
- rebaudioside A
- rebaudioside B
- rebaudioside C
- dulcoside A
- steviol- bioside)
The two that are most commonly found in foods and beverages and pourable products are stevioside and rebaudioside A. There are absolutely no calories in them and they have no impact upon blood sugar levels. That is because the body is unable to metabolize these compounds. They simply pass through the body and are excreted.
The extraction process is similar to that used in making tea; steeping the leaves in water, then purifying the sweet extract. In fact, the journey through the laboratory to get to the sweetener in the packet or box is a little more complicated.
Here’s how it is described in the JEFCA Compendium of Food Additive Specification . . .
The leaves are extracted with hot water, and the aqueous extract is passed through an adsorption resin to trap and concentrate the component steviol glycosides. The resin is washed with a solvent alcohol to release the glycosides, and the product is recrystallized from methanol or aqueous ethanol. Ion- exchange resins may be used in the purification process. The final product may be spray-dried.
Stevia based products that are marketed to the public come in the form of sachets, tablets, liquids, and spoon-for-spoon granules. The pure product contains no calories.
The ingredient list for stevia will include bulking and anticaking agents so you can pour it into a cup of coffee or measure it into your cooking and baking.
Stevia products that are created for the ketogenic diet market often contain a lot of erythritol. In some brands, more than 99% of the product is actually erythritol. For this reason, some of the keto products are not zero calorie, but low calorie.
Before adding a stevia keto product to your own recipes, it is a good idea to check out the manufacturer’s website to be sure that it is the real deal and will not impede your progress on keto.
If you want a more natural form that is free of erythritol or any other bulking agent) look for dried stevia leaves and leaf powder, which can be found in keto friendly health food stores as well as some specialty spice shops.
The stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni) is native to Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina.
Stevia leaves appear to have been used medicinally and as a sweet by Indians of the Guarani tribe long before Europeans came to the Americas. It was first researched by Petrus Jacobus Stevus, a 16th-century Spanish botanist that the plant was originally named after. The later so-called discovery of stevia, and the identification of its use as a sweetener, has been attributed to a South American natural scientist named Dr. Moisés Santiago Bertoni, who identified it in 1887; his name now appears with the botanical name that identifies the variety used in food. In 1931, two French chemists isolated the constituent they named stevioside and reported it to be 200 times sweeter than sugar.
Stevia leaf powder, which is about 30 times sweeter than sugar by volume, is deep green and has a slightly grassy aroma. The taste is intensely sweet, and the flavor has a background bitterness that can be lingering if too much is eaten. To make your own keto-friendly stevia extract, place ½ teaspoon stevia leaf powder in ½ cup warm water. Set aside to steep overnight, then strain through a coffee filter to produce a particle-free liquid. Store the liquid in the refrigerator for up to one month.
Honey is one of the most nutritive foods on the planet. It is especially beneficial for people who have stomach problems. However, the honey keto situation simply will not work. There are simply too many grams of carbs involved in eating honey to make it viable with keto. As a result, honey is not a keto friendly natural sweetener. It will elevate the blood sugar too much. For a fantastic alternative to honey (as well as table sugar and regular sugar) that will not up your blood sugar, you can use stevia, as well as monk fruit sweetener. These alternatives will satisfy your sweet tooth without kicking you out of keto.