Life is sweeter with honey — but if you’re following a keto diet, you’re probably avoiding most sweeteners. Still, you may have a hankering for a treat, despite focusing on fat these days. So, although you’re swearing off sugar, is it okay to indulge in a little bit of natural sugar? Here’s what experts have to say about whether you can eat honey on keto.
Honey Nutrition Facts
Honey is a type of sugar that people stir into yogurt, use to naturally sweeten their coffee, add to dressings and marinades, and more.
Here is the nutrition information for 1 tablespoon (tbsp) of raw honey, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA):
Macronutrients in Honey
- Carbs in honey 17 grams (g)
- Net carbs in honey 17 g
Net carbs is a measurement determined by total carbs minus fiber and sugar alcohols, according to Atkins. Net carbs are the amount of carbohydrates that are digested and affect blood sugar, according to the American Diabetes Association. (The assumption is fiber and sugar alcohols aren’t entirely digested, though that’s not always true.)
Net carbs are not an official macronutrient, but those on keto often use this number as a guide to help them stay in their carb range. As you can see, because honey has no fiber, the net carbs are the same as total carbs.
- Fat in honey 0 g
- Protein in honey 0 g
Other Nutrients in Honey
Honey contains vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and potassium, among others, notes past research. “There are well-documented and researched benefits of honey outside of the energy it gives,” says Scott Keatley, RDN, of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy in New York City.
For one, honey contains plant compounds called polyphenols, which may have anti-inflammatory properties, points out a January 2021 review in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies.
Can You Eat Honey on Keto?
Short answer: No, honey isn’t allowed on the keto diet. And really, if you’re on any low-carb diet, you may want to limit honey.
“Honey is probably not going to help you stay in ketosis,” says Diana Rodgers, RD, of Sustainable Dish in Concord, Massachusetts. Although honey might be dubbed a “natural” sugar, it’s still not appropriate for someone on a keto diet. “Whether table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, or honey, sugar is sugar,” adds Keatley.
Because of the carbohydrate content, “if you’re on a keto diet, honey pretty much has no place,” he says.
Is Honey Healthy?
Although honey contains more vitamins and minerals compared with white table sugar, it’s important to remember that you are typically eating small amounts of honey, and so you are consuming very little of these nutrients. Because honey is a sugar, eating larger amounts could add a lot of extra calories to your daily diet. On keto, it’s important to limit sugar consumption.
What to Eat Instead of Honey
If you’re looking for something sweet, nonnutritive sweeteners can be an alternative, and many can be used in cooking and baking. (Read the instructions on the package for appropriate ratios and how to use them in recipes.) Nonnutritive sweeteners do not contain calories, but they can contain carbohydrates. Here are some viable honey alternatives to try on keto, says Keatley:
- Stevia One packet has 0 calories and 1 g of carbohydrates.
- Monk Fruit Often mixed with the sugar alcohol erythritol, 2 teaspoons (tsp) has 8 g of carbohydrates (all from erythritol).
- Nutrisweet One packet packs 0 calories and 1 g of carbohydrates.
- Sweet ’n Low This sugar substitute has 0 calories and 1 g of carbohydrate per packet.
Because honey is a sugar and contains a lot of carbohydrates, eating honey can kick you out of ketosis. On keto, you need to limit carbohydrate consumption in general. For that reason, it’s not recommended to consume honey if you are on a keto diet.