Honey is one of the most popular sweeteners and ingredients in the world because, let’s face it, it is very delicious. On top of that, honey is a healthier organic and all-natural alternative to sugar because it isn’t processed and it comes with a lot of different antioxidants and minerals. However, at the same time, more and more people are now into intermittent fasting to lose weight and to live a healthier lifestyle. So, will honey break your fasting or is it safe to consume it during a fast?
Honey will break your fast because it contains calories. A tablespoon of honey contains 70 calories, which is more than the 50 calories that you can consume to stay in a fasted state. As such, even though honey is healthy, it is better to avoid consuming it while you are in the middle of a fast.
When you are fasting, the one thing that you should keep in mind is that you should consume close to little calories. Some people would say that, in your fasted state, you are allowed a maximum of 50 calories. Therefore, it is imperative that you watch what you are putting into your body and know how many calories you are consuming when you are in the middle of a fast. And yes, this includes honey, which we will talk more about.
Can we eat honey while fasting?
With the advancements in research regarding fitness and lifestyle today, there are more people who are now into all kinds of different fitness routines and diets that help them become healthier. Of course, because of the rise of research about the food we eat, those who are into healthy and fit lifestyles are also cutting processed sugar from their diet to make way for something more natural, such as honey.
Thanks in large part to the rise in demand for honey as more and more people are preferring it over processed sugars, there is now an increasing number of beekeepers who do it full-time in large-scale operations or part-time while maintaining their day jobs. And thanks to these beekeepers who sell honey, we can now get honey from different beekeepers at good prices so that we can altogether cut out processed sugars from our diet.
The reasons why honey is a sought-after sweetener compared to processed sugars are abundant. Honey is not only delicious, but it is all-natural and organic as well. And because it came from the nutrient-rich nectars of plants, it comes with a lot of antioxidants and vitamins and minerals that you won’t see in your processed sugar products. As such, there is no wonder why people living healthy lifestyles are more likely to consume honey and do away with processed sugar products.
That said, in line with the growing fitness trend in today’s world, plenty of people are now fasting or following a strict eating schedule where they can eat their normal healthy meals during a certain timeframe and then would no longer eat anything for an extended period of time.
The usual intermittent fasting method follows a 16-8 schedule where you are not allowed to eat or drink anything with calories for 16 straight hours but you are allowed to eat your usual healthy diet during an eight-hour period. It is said that this fasting method is effective because of how your body will learn to use stored energy or fat during the 16-hour fasting period instead of using up the energy your body obtained from the last meals you ate.
In some cases, this fasting method can vary such as when people can fast for 12 hours and eat for 12 hours or when the schedule follows a 14-10 system of fasting and eating. There are even some who fast for 20 straight hours but are allowed to binge during a 4-hour window where they can basically eat anything. No matter what kind of fasting schedule you may follow, the goal here is to make sure that you do not consume any calories during your fasted state.
However, studies have shown that you are actually allowed to eat or drink something during the fasting period. But the catch is that the food or drinks that you consume while you are fasting should not total to 50 or more calories. As such, there are still people who are capable of maintaining their fasted state as long as they are eating or consuming a total of under 50 calories during the period of fasting.
So, if you are following a strict intermittent fasting diet, your goal is to make sure that you do not consume any calories during the fasting period so that you will maintain your fasted state and allow your body to use up stored fat as the fuel you need to function normally. However, you may allow yourself to eat or drink as long as the total is under 50 calories. And since you hardly find anything worth eating under 50 calories, most people would go for low-calorie or calorie-free drinks during the fasting period.
In that regard, tea, coffee, and, in some cases, calorie-free sodas have become the drinks of choice for people who are following a strict intermittent fasting diet. That’s because tea, coffee, and diet sodas don’t have calories and will not break your fast. Or, if they do have calories, they are minuscule at best and are too low to break you out of your fasted state.
However, let’s face it, tea and coffee may not be the tastiest drinks to consume whenever you feel hungry. Not everyone is used to the taste and bitterness that tea and coffee usually have, and that is why they are looking for something sweet to add to their drinks whenever they are hungry during a fasted state. This is where some people believe that honey is a good way of adding flavor to normal calorie-free drinks.
We can’t take anything away from honey because, after all, it is delicious and a lot healthier than your processed sugar products. However, can you actually consume honey when you are fasting? Will honey break you out of your fasted state?
Unfortunately, as healthy as honey may be, the bad news is that it is not something that is recommended for you to consume when you are following a strict intermittent fasting diet. Hence, you should not add honey to your tea or coffee if your goal is to add some flavor or sweetness to your usual calorie-free drinks and beverages.
Why we can’t eat honey while fasting?
As we have just established, you cannot eat honey while you are fasting. Honey will actually break you out of your fasted state. So, why is it that honey, no matter how healthy it might be, is not recommended for people who are following a strict intermittent fasting diet?
Well, the reason is so basic. Yes, it’s because honey actually has calories. And honey doesn’t contain trace amounts of calories because it actually is a calorie-rich sweetener that actually has more calories per gram compared to white sugar.
Going back to our discussion on intermittent fasting and how it works, we know for a fact that your goal is to make sure that you are not eating or drinking anything that contains calories. And if you can’t help yourself because you are hungry, you can drink calorie-free beverages or consume anything so long as your total calorie intake during that fasted window is less than 50 calories.
If you must know, honey actually has a lot of calories and is more calorie-dense than white sugar is. A single tablespoon of honey can contain 70 calories, while a tablespoon of sugar only has about 50 calories. Either way, if you go with honey or sugar as your choices for sweeteners for your calorie-free beverages during a fast, you surely are going to break yourself out of your fasted state.
So, if you are thinking of adding a tablespoon of honey to your tea or coffee to make it sweeter and to add more flavor to it, you are not doing your intermittent fasting diet a favor because the honey will be more than enough to break your fast due to how it has about 70 calories. Moreover, there are also other reasons why honey shouldn’t be consumed during a fasted state.
For one, honey has enough carbohydrates that can prevent you from reaching ketosis, which should be a goal for you if you are also following a ketogenic diet on top of your intermittent fasting. The natural sugars in honey are abundant enough to prevent your body from relying on your fat storage for your energy, as your body will now shift back over to how it usually burns carbs as its top choice for fuel.
It is also noteworthy that honey is sweet enough that it can spike your insulin levels. When your insulin levels are high, your body will not be able to quickly burn fat for fuel. This will make it more difficult for you to reach your weight loss goals.
All that said, honey should be something that you might want to avoid if you are serious enough in your intermittent fasting goals. Just stick to your usual tea and coffee or even your diet sodas. Take your tea and coffee as plain as they are without adding any milk, cream, or sweeteners. But if you are really serious, just drink water and make sure that you are disciplined enough to not want to eat anything that has enough calories to kick you out of your fasted state.
Can we take honey lemon water during intermittent fasting?
Another growing trend for those who are following an intermittent fasting diet is to look for healthy drinks with calories that are as low as possible. That gave rise to honey lemon water, which is basically a glass of water mixed with the juice of about half a lemon and then sweetened with honey to make things more flavorful and delicious. But is it okay for you to drink honey lemon water during your fasting?
Well, it depends entirely on how much honey you are going to mix in your lemon water. Again, a full tablespoon of honey is about 70 calories. It also contains plenty of sugar that can easily break you out of your fast due to the insulin spike. So, if you were to mix an entire tablespoon of honey into your lemon water, it is needless to say that you are going to break yourself out of your fast because the calorie intake would be more than the 50 calories allowable and because the sugars will cause an insulin spike.
That said, we did say that you will certainly break yourself out of your fast if you were to mix a full tablespoon of honey. But what happens if you were not going to mix a tablespoon? Let’s say half a tablespoon or maybe even a third or a quarter. What if you just wanted to add a bit of sweetness into your lemon water because you didn’t like how bland it tasted?
So, in that regard, you should do the math yourself and make some estimates when you are mixing honey with your lemon water. You should know that plain lemon water itself is great for a fast because of how a glass contains less than 10 calories. It also has a lot of different vitamins and minerals that can be healthy for you.
From there, it is up to you to calculate how many calories you will be getting when you mix a dash of honey into your lemon water. Maybe a third of a tablespoon may be good enough for you to stay within your 50-calorie limit. However, what you still need to take into consideration here is the insulin spike that the sugars in your honey can cause. While the insulin spike might not break you out of your fast, it would certainly delay your body’s ability to burn stored fat.
It’s also okay for you to only use a small amount of honey. While honey does indeed have more calories than sugar, it is far sweeter than sugar is. That means that you will be getting more sweetness out of maybe a third or a quarter of a tablespoon of honey compared to the same amount of sugar.
But if you are concerned about the insulin spike, you should just drink your lemon water as it is without adding honey to it. You’ll get used to it soon enough. After all, if you got used to drinking plain water, you are going to get used to drinking lemon water without any honey in it at all.
Can I have a sweetener while fasting?
Finally, for the million-dollar question. Throughout this article, we have discussed how sweeteners such as natural and organic honey and processed sugar tend to be high in calories and have sugars that can cause an insulin spike. All of those will be detrimental to your intermittent fasting diet or to your weight loss and fitness goals. In that regard, can you still have a sweetener while you are fasting?
The good news for you is that you can have a sweetener even while you are fasting. But how is that possible? Well, there are natural substances that are actually going to trigger your brain and tastebuds into thinking that you are drinking something sweet and sugary but you are actually consuming something that doesn’t have any sugar or calories at all. We call this compound stevia.
But what is stevia? Stevia is actually a natural nonnutritive compound that is often used as an alternative to sugar as a sweetener. Because it is nonnutritive, it contains zero calories at all. It also goes without saying that stevia doesn’t have sugar as well.
Since stevia doesn’t have calories or sugar, what happens is that it basically has little to no effects on your body whenever you are in a fasted state. By adding stevia to your drink during a fast, you will be able to sweeten and add flavor to your beverage without the calories and the sugar that come from other sweeteners such as honey.
As an alternative, people also go for the more conventional and readily available diet soda. There are plenty of different stories regarding diet soda and its effects on your body, but the truth of the matter is that it contains zero calories and no sugar due to how it uses a chemical sweetener that is quite similar to how stevia works. So, basically, diet soda also triggers your taste receptors and your brain into thinking that you consumed something with sugar.
However, keep in mind that diet soda is not all that healthy as there are some studies regarding its adverse effects on your body as well. But, as far as your fasted state is concerned, be sure that you won’t kick yourself out of your fast if you consume diet soda because it would take about 17 cans of diet soda a day to trigger an insulin spike. It is unlikely that you would actually drink that much diet soda in a single day.