Eating too much of any food can lead to weight gain. Unused calories are converted and stored as fat, which increases body weight. When you gain weight, invariably, it’s because your body is storing more fat. Conversely, losing weight means shedding that unwanted fat.
There are lots of ways to create an energy deficit, including eating smaller meals, skipping meals entirely, and replacing high-calorie foods with lower-calorie alternatives, such as switching full-fat dairy for fat-free dairy products.
Another good weight loss intervention is eating less sugar, which raises the question, is honey good for weight loss?
Refined sugar has long been associated with weight gain. It contains a lot of calories, often leads to overeating, and contains no beneficial nutrients. That’s why most diet foods contain calorie-free artificial sweeteners.
But some people prefer to avoid potentially harmful chemicals and use things like stevia, agave, maple syrup, and honey to sweeten their drinks and meals.
However, not all of these sugar alternatives are lower in calories than sugar. This article discusses honey and weight loss and reveals some of the additional benefits of eating honey.
Is Honey Good For Weight Loss
What Is Honey?
Honey is a syrupy substance produced by bees from the nectar of flowers.
Bees use honey to feed their queen, who, in turn, uses it to feed bee larvae.
The honey is stored in waxy compartments called honeycombs and is gathered by beekeepers.
There are lots of different kinds of honey available, and they differ according to the flowers used for nectar and the variety of bees.
Honey can also be raw or pasteurized. Common honey types include:
- Alfalfa honey
- Avocado honey
- Blueberry honey
- Buckwheat honey
- Clover honey
- Eucalyptus honey
- Manuka honey
- Orange blossom honey
- Sage honey
While the flavors vary, most honey has a very similar nutritional profile. Honey is naturally sweet and contains a range of nutrients, including vitamins and minerals. Raw honey is invariably more nutritious than pasteurized honey, although the calorie values are usually the same.
Because honey is made by bees and may contain bee remnants, it is not suitable for vegans, and some vegetarians avoid it too.
Like sugar, honey contains calories. However, unlike sugar, honey also contains some beneficial nutrients. One tablespoon of honey provides:
Protein: 0 grams
Fat: 0 grams
Carbohydrates: 17 grams
Sugar: 17 grams
Honey also contains small but valuable amounts of the following vitamins and minerals:
- B vitamins
Additionally, honey is a source of antioxidants, which are plant compounds that offer protection from free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can cause numerous medical and health issues, including cellular dysfunction, metabolic disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and aging.
Honey and Weight Loss
Switching from sugar to honey will probably not help you lose weight. In fact, by volume and by weight, honey contains more calories than sugar.
Eating a lot of either of these foods could actually lead to weight gain if it puts you into a calorie surplus.
However, because honey is sweeter than sugar, you won’t need to use quite as much to get the same degree of sweetness, which could save you a few calories.
However, this won’t be enough to cause weight loss.
While eating honey won’t help you lose weight, it does offer some noteworthy health benefits and is certainly better for you than refined, white sugar.
Additional Benefits of Eating Benefits
Eating honey might not help you lose weight, but that doesn’t mean you need to skip it altogether. The top health benefits of honey include:
High nutritional value – sugar is devoid of all vitamins and minerals. In contrast, honey contains trace amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Honey can’t match the nutritional value of vegetables, fruit, or whole grains, but, as sweeteners go, it’s one of the most nutritious.
Contains antioxidants – antioxidants are compounds that can help prevent free radical damage, leading to a lower risk of heart attacks, strokes, eye problems, and some forms of cancer. The antioxidants in honey are mostly flavonoids.
Better cardiovascular health – honey may help lower bad LDL cholesterol and raise good HDL cholesterol, both of which are linked to better cardiovascular health. Consuming honey may also lower lipid cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Lower blood pressure – high blood pressure can increase your risk of coronary heart disease. The antioxidants and anti-inflammatories in honey may help reduce blood pressure.
Faster wound healing – used topically, honey may help speed up wound healing. It’s naturally antiseptic and anti-inflammatory and will nourish the tissue around a wound. It’s also good for skin conditions such as herpes lesions, diabetic ulcers, burns, psoriasis, and eczema. Manuka honey is especially healing.
Cough relief – consuming honey in warm water, lemon juice, or tea can help relieve a cough as effectively as some over-the-counter medications. It can also soothe a sore throat and alleviate the symptoms of coughs, colds, and mild flu.
Improved immunity – the phytonutrients in honey may increase immunity, leading to fewer illnesses. It’s also antibacterial. Honey could help you avoid winter colds and other unwanted germs.
Improved memory – studies suggest that treatment with honey can help improve short and long-term memory, especially in postmenopausal women. It may also offer protection from the cognitive decline associated with the aging process.
Fewer allergies – raw honey may help prevent pollen-related allergies. If you suffer from seasonal hay fever, honey could help. However, some people are also allergic to honey.
There are plenty of reasons to include honey in your diet, even if it won’t do much for weight loss.
However, despite its healthy reputation, there are a few downsides to consuming honey.
High in calories – a teaspoon of honey contains 22 calories, all of which are in the form of sugar.
That’s why adding honey to your diet won’t lead to weight loss and could actually cause weight gain.
However, on the plus side, honey is a valuable source of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
Allergies – honey allergies are rare, but they do occur. Symptoms of honey allergies include hives, swollen lips and tongue, difficulty breathing, nausea, and vomiting. Seek medical attention if you experience any side effects after eating honey.
Botulism – botulism is a serious medical condition caused by untreated bacteria. Raw honey could contain the bacterial spores responsible for botulism. Avoid this problem by sticking to pasteurized honey.
Contrary to what many people think (or hope!), honey is not a miracle weight-loss food. How could it be when it contains more calories than sugar? Honey IS sweeter than sugar, so you don’t have to use as much, but this represents a very small calorie saving and not enough to result in weight loss.
But, before you throw out your jar of honey, it’s good to know that switching from sugar to honey could still be beneficial.
After all, honey is made from flower nectar, and, as such, it contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other potentially useful plant compounds.
In contrast, refined sugar is all but devoid of nutrients. In fact, digesting sugar uses nutrients despite not providing any. This is why some nutritionists call sugar an anti-nutrient.
Honey is very nutritious, and consuming it could have some very positive effects on your health.
The benefits of eating honey include improved immunity, better brain and cardiovascular health, cough relief, fewer seasonal allergies, and antioxidant benefits.
There are very few downsides to eating honey, except its calorie content, allergies, and a tiny risk of botulism. Also, eating too much honey could lead to weight gain.
Eating honey won’t help you lose weight, but it could be good for your health. That’s a good enough reason for replacing sugar with honey whenever the opportunity arises.