As a food honey is in its own little category of complexity and when applied to the carnivore diet, it doesn’t fit. Even though honey is a byproduct of animals honey doesn’t technically qualify as carnivore friendly. So, no you can not include honey in a strict carnivore diet but there is a catch.
Here’s the thing, honey is an animal product coming from insects within the animal kingdom but the product itself, honey, doesn’t contain any animal tissue or cells like dairy products, which are carnivore friendly and products of animals.
Honey is a complex food and deserves more than a, “no, honey isn’t an animal food and you can’t eat it on the carnivore diet,” type answer. Let’s dive in and digest both the good and the bad when it comes to honey.
How is Honey Made?
Our friends, the bees, use a second stomach to store nectar from flowers. They collect it as often as possible and bring it back to the hive where they store it for food during the colder winter months.
NOTE: Beekeepers always leave a good amount of nectar in the hive so the bees don’t die
FUN FACT: Humans have harvested honey since 7000 BC
New to Carnivore? Honey Advice.
One of the main benefits of the carnivore diet is the elimination principal. A lot of us have had food-related diseases or challenges and just by eliminating plants we see relief.
If you are new to the diet I would encourage you to try to exclude honey at the start and maybe modify it in the future.
Honey could have a few negative effects. Mainly the sweetness could trigger you to eat something else sweet and make it harder to get back on track.
At this point, the potential benefits of honey don’t outweigh the potential benefits of the elimination part of the diet. Also if you are new to the carnivore diet I wrote a complete outline of the danger associated with it called, “12 Dangers of the Carnivore Diet.”
Honey and the KETO-Carnivore Factor
We have established that honey may not be acceptable to the carnivore diet but it is for some of the keto protocols. Regardless of which diet or protocol you are on it’s probably important to understand the effects of honey and some of the basic nutrient profiles.
A teaspoon of raw honey has about 64 total calories 17 grams of net carbohydrates but 0 fat or fiber.
Vitamins and Minerals in Honey
- Vitamin B6
- Pantothenic Acid (B6)
If you are on the carnivore or keto diet and staying in ketosis is important for you but want to experiment with honey these are pretty much the guidelines.
Generally speaking, the average person can consume 25-50 grams of carbs and still stay in ketosis. However, one tablespoon of honey has the potential of kicking you out. So maybe eat less than a teaspoon to stay in ketosis?
Also keto doctors and practitioners advise using honey before or after a workout.
Is Honey Better Than Sugar?
Honey is sugar but technically healthier. One of the reasons is because your average table sugar is a processed food and all the other nutrients, vitamins, and minerals are removed.
When you consume sugar your body is forced to compensate for the missing nutrients. Some people develop magnesium deficiencies as a result of eating too much sugar.
Magnesium deficiencies are unhealthy and can spike your blood pressure and cause neurological and behavioral problems. Honey on the other hand has magnesium and other nutrients which make it safer for your body.
Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride says, “you can never compare something made by mankind with something made by Mother Nature. Man-made things are generally bad for your health and destructive to all life on the planet.”
Honey has a lower GI value than sugar which means it doesn’t spike blood sugar levels like sugar.
Because honey is created with the help of the bee’s enzymes it takes less of your bodies enzymes to digest. Because of this, it’s a rather stomach-friendly food with high absorption.
Also honey tastes sweeter than sugar because it isn’t a processed food like sugar.
Honey as Treatment
Some people say honey increases inflammation as it increases cytokines and that if you are going after a more anti-inflammatory approach to dieting then it’s good to completely remove it.
However, there is other research that indicates that honey reduced the processes of cyclooxygenase-1 and 3 which had anti-inflammatory effects.
Also, there is a study that shows honey was just as effective in the treatment of colitis as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids just minus the nasty side effects of them. It was a more natural and just as effective treatment. Check those studies out here:
- Honey and its Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Bacterial and Anti-Oxidant Properties
- Natural Honey Lowers Plasma Glucose, C-Reactive Protein, Homocysteine and Blood Lipids
Honey the Weight Gainer
Perhaps you have been on the carnivore diet for a few months now but you lost too much weight, like me, and want to gain now. Maybe honey can help with that. It’s a good way to get some healthier carbs and doesn’t spike insulin levels.
My protocol was to add 1 teaspoon of honey to plain, sugar-free, fruit free, organic yogurt. After being carnivore for 6 months this tasted amazing, almost too good. So be careful it could trigger a carb relapse.
I have also experimented with just a teaspoon prior to going to bed.
The crazy thing about sweets after being on the carnivore diet for a long time is that they taste even sweeter and to me honey almost tastes too sweet.
Stop Supporting Monocrops Save The Bees
It’s no surprise that humans are wreaking havoc on our planet as the result of using a large amount of industrial agriculture and monocropping. The environmental impact is not just detrimental to humans and animals but also to the bees.
Because of the tremendous amount of pesticides used around the planet, there is a theory that they are negatively affecting the bee populations.
Basically the pesticides are poisoning the bees.
Bees are responsible for the pollination of plants. They pollinate about 30% of the world’s crops and about 90% in nature. No bees means less nature and the quicker extinction of animals, plants, and ecosystems.
Check this scary study:
And definitely watch these Bee documentaries when you get a chance:
The Best Kind of Honey? Manuka?
A lot of people say Manuka honey is one of the most beneficial honeys you can consume. Manuka honey comes from Australia and New Zealand.
The reason doctors and healers like Manuka honey is due to it’s increased levels of antibacterial components.
According to WebMD, “The major antibacterial component in manuka honey is methylglyoxal (MG). MG is a compound found in most types of honey, but usually only in small quantities.”
Manuka has a higher concentration of MG therefore more bacteria-fighting power.
Honey producers have even come up with a scale for potency called Unique Manuka Factor or UMF. To qualify as official Manuka honey it would need to be rated as 10 or higher. Look on Manuka packaging for the rating and words like, “active Manuka honey.”
Wanna try a Manuka honey? Here’s an Amazon link to purchase:
If you do decide to add honey back into your diet try to make sure it is raw, unpasteurized, locally sourced, and from bees that are not next to toxic waste dumps.
However, if you want it delivered to your door here are some Raw Honey options you can purchase on Amazon:
Raw honey is a fairly healthy food product. After everything I have read about it I personally don’t believe, in small quantities, it’s a bad food.
Based on the limited amount of studies I read it does have some good anti-bacterial, anti-inflammation properties and it may be potentially good for your gut’s microbiome. (With regards to the microbiome I don’t know if it’s more beneficial for it than say staying a strict carnivore, as there just isn’t enough evidence.)
I’ve written a complete review of the carnivore diet as well as all the issues I had with it here, “Carnivore Diet 101: A Meaty Resource.”
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or dietician or nutritionist. Consult with and ask your doctor about any diet or medical-related questions. No information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition.