Honey vs. Sugar: A Keto Perspective

Honey vs. Sugar: A Keto Perspective

Executive Summary

  • The ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat, and high-protein diet. 
  • Sugar and honey contain significant amounts of carbohydrates, and both can disrupt ketosis
  • Sugar offers little to no health benefits, while honey contains prebiotics, antioxidants, and methylglyoxal (MGO).
  • While honey may be consumed in moderation in a low-carb diet, keto enthusiasts may opt for an alternative no-carb or low-carb sweeteners. 


Honey vs. Sugar: Keto Diet Sweetener Showdown

Recently, the ketogenic diet has stolen the spotlight for its potential health and weight loss benefits. Carbohydrate restriction is a core part of the keto diet, alongside consuming high amounts of healthy fats. 

In this type of diet, sweetener options are limited due to the limitations of carbohydrate consumption. So, what should you know about adding a bit of sweetness to your food when following the keto diet? Does honey have a place here? What about sugar? In this article, we explore sugar’s impact on ketosis and if (and how) sugar and honey fit into this diet plan.


Understanding Sugar and Its Effects on Keto

Glucose, fructose, and sucrose are the most common forms of sugar found in foods and beverages we consume regularly. Glucose is the primary energy source for the body’s cells and is the type of sugar found in the blood.   

Meanwhile, fructose, commonly known as fruit sugar, is a monosaccharide found in vegetables, fruits, honey, sugar cane, and sugar beets. Lastly, sucrose, commonly called “table sugar,” is a naturally occurring sugar made of glucose and fructose. It’s found naturally in various fruits, vegetables, and nuts but is commercially sourced from sugar cane and sugar beets. 

Sugar’s Impact on Ketosis 

Sugar, in its various forms, can significantly impact blood glucose levels, potentially hindering the state of ketosis. When there isn’t enough blood sugar circulating throughout the body, it turns to stored fat, breaking it down into ketone bodies (ketosis). 

Since sugar is a preferred energy source for many cells in the body, sugar can disturb the push that tells the body to consume fat instead of glucose. Given that ketosis is a hallmark of a successful ketogenic diet, sugar is often an unwelcome guest in the keto diet. However, there are some exceptions.


The Role of Honey in a Keto Diet

Honey, often praised for its natural origins, nutritional components, and health-promoting benefits, is a point of contention among keto enthusiasts. While it contains vitamins and minerals, its carbohydrate content raises concerns regarding its compatibility with the keto lifestyle. 

The answer as to whether or not honey has a place in a keto diet ultimately depends on the diet. Depending on the individual, a keto diet may allow for some carbohydrate allowance, which means you could fit a spoonful of honey into your day. 

However, it’s important to remember that the daily carbohydrate allowance for most keto diets hovers around 50 grams. Since a tablespoon of honey has 17 grams of carbohydrates, it may not fit into every keto enthusiast’s diet. 


Comparative Analysis: Honey vs. Sugar on Keto

Honey is often regarded as an excellent alternative to refined sugars, and the same holds true in many keto diets. While both options have similar carbohydrate contents and glycemic index scores, honey offers more beneficial nutrients than sugar. 

A tablespoon of honey contains more carbohydrates than sugar, each containing 17 and 13 grams, respectively. However, honey has a glycemic index (GI) score of 55±5, lower than sugar’s GI score of 68±5. The score difference isn’t dramatic but impacts how the body processes the sugar. Honey raises blood glucose but not as quickly as sugar. 

Both sugar and honey can take the body out of ketosis, as both provide the cells with the preferred source of energy: glucose. However, numerous studies demonstrate honey’s beneficial nutrients that give way to anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial effects.


Alternatives and Recommendations for Keto Dieters

Sugar and honey can fit into a keto diet. At the same time, those following the keto diet may opt for sugar-free, keto-friendly sweeteners instead, such as stevia, erythritol, and monk fruit sweeteners. 

These sweeteners are the perfect substitute in many recipes that call for sugar or honey. While the ratios vary from one recipe to the next, these alternatives can give you a touch of sweetness without sugar that could disrupt ketosis. 

Stir your favorite alternative sweetener into a cup of iced tea to cool off on a hot summer day, bake it into your go-to muffin recipe, or swap it for honey in your morning coffee or tea. The options are endless!


Choose a Sweetener that Matches Your Needs

While both honey and sugar have similar glycemic index scores and carbohydrate counts, the nutritional benefits of honey outweigh those of sugar. However, for some on the ketogenic diet, low-carb sweeteners might be the best fit. 

Ultimately, it comes down to honey and sugar in moderation and choosing the option that works best for you. Of course, given the nutritional benefits of honey, especially Manuka honey, it can be an excellent addition to a healthy lifestyle. 

Finding the perfect balance for your diet can take research, as everyone is different. If you’re ready to enjoy the delicious sweetness of honey, Manukora has plenty of options. Whether you want something sweet and light or potent and rich, there’s something for everyone! 


Blood Sugar, Blood Glucose, Diabetes

Honey and Health: A Review of Recent Clinical Research

Is Honey the Same as Sugar?

Ketogenic diet: Is the ultimate low-carb diet good for you?

What’s the Difference Between Sucrose and Fructose?

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