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Can you eat honey on keto?

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Honey is sadly not keto. Honey is fructose and glucose (sugar) as well as a mix of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, iron, zinc and antioxidants. 

While the macros of honey will vary between brands and level of processing, you’re roughly looking at 78g carbs per 100g serve. While that’s a huge amount of carbs in ketogenic terms, from a low carb perspective consider how much you would practically use in a serving size or recipe vs the potential nutritional benefits… it’s not likely to be more than a tablespoon which comes down to about 20g carbs and more realistically a teaspoon is a quarter of that again for the serving size (about 5g).

Processed honey vs raw honey

Processed honey is generally heated as part of the filtration and factory processes which destroys some of the health benefits like the amazing enzymes, vitamins and antioxidants.

While the science base on the nutritional benefits of honey is limited and inconclusive, it has been used in traditional medicine for centuries because of its potential antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. When I was living in Adelaide and suffering from terrible hay fever, a naturopath told me to eat local raw honey because it helps your body adjust to the pollen around the area. I don’t know how much validity that has but trying the different honeys from around the Adelaide Hills and Barossa Valley certainly wasn’t a chore.

Companies like life cykel infuse raw honeys with functional medicinal mushroom extracts for additional micronutrient benefits and it doesn’t impact the flavour of the honey. Their recommended serving size of their Reishi Honey is 7g (so a smidge over a teaspoon) which equals 5.6g of carbs. A teaspoon of honey in a smoothie gives it a nice sweetness and then the added immune system benefits of the reishi mushroom extract.

Supermarket honeys

There is a huge difference in price and quality when it comes to honeys available in the supermarkets.

Keto honey substitutes

There are some reasonable honey substitutes on the market that behave a bit like honey in cooking.

Keto substitutes are always interesting though. Just because they’re keto doesn’t mean that they have any nutritional value and are essentially there for flavour only. Is that a problem, no. It is something to consider when deciding what ingredients to choose.

One of the best keto honey substitutes on the market is Nature’s Hallow Keto Honey Substitute. It’s one of those substitutes that has zero carbs, zero calories and zero nutritional benefit that you would get from raw honey but it also has no sugar. Some people swear by it on toast as a spread, each to their own. It does however work well in cooking and gives you a true honey flavour and the xylitol and gums means it caramalises and behaves a bit more like the real deal.

Xylitol is toxic for dogs in any amount and is known to have a laxative effect for some human.

So what’s the skinny?

Honey will spike insulin. Eating it with other foods will also likely even out the insulin spike in the scheme of things. Will it kick you out of ketosis? That’s going to be very individual and it’s most likely more involved than a teaspoon of honey.

The Mayo Clinic makes a nod to some of the benefits of honey having positive health impacts on conditions like cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and neurological diseases with some studies some studies showing honey to help prevent memory disorders.

Eating a low carb lifestyle, the nutritional benefits of raw honey, particularly infused with functional mushroom extracts, for me is an easy and cost effective way to include some more low inflammatory goodness in my diet. If you’re going to have honey as a natural sweetener, nutritionally you’re better off eating a raw honey that has active

Personally I’m almost always going to opt for real food over synthetic substitutes. Given I always end up having honey as part of a recipe or with other ingredients in say a smoothie, I’m not going to get hung up on 5.6g of carbs when there are other potential wellbeing benefits and it fits nicely within my daily macros.

Disclaimer: No Spoons to Cook is based on our own experience and research, and what we know works best for us. It is not medical advice. Our recipes focus on low inflammatory ingredients, whole foods and are founded in ketogenic and low carb ways of eating. We encourage spoonies to stay curious, ask questions, do your own research, listen to your body and to work with a Registered Dietitian or Medical Professional when appropriate to tailor your nutritional needs to support your care plan and goals.

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