Does Honey Break Your Fast? The Impact of Honey on Fasting
Wherever there are plants, trees, flowers, and bees, there is always honey. Except for Antarctica, every country has its native bee species producing honey in their hives. Honey is found worldwide and boasts several benefits. This article delves deep into the realm of honey and its implications on your fasting routine. Does Honey Break Your Fast?
Honey is a natural sweetener frequently added to teas, coffees, and baked items. While some individuals incorporate honey into their lemon tea during fasting periods, it’s essential to understand its impact on fasting. Honey mainly consists of simple sugars that can cause an insulin spike. Consequently, consuming honey will indeed break a fast. Read further to understand why.
What is Honey?
Most people know honey as their trusty topping for pancakes or muffins or their go-to sweetener for tea or coffee. This widely used additive is also a common ingredient in baked goods, snack bars, salads, and breakfast bowls with yogurt or oatmeal. Its use in our daily routines extends beyond the kitchen. Honey has also gained popularity for its widespread use in skincare routines.
From a more scientific or scholarly perspective, “Honey is a supersaturated solution of sugars mainly comprised of D-fructose, D-glucose, sucrose, maltose, and higher sugars.” It is a thick, sticky, viscous liquid with a golden hue.
How is Honey Made?
The story of the queen bee and her worker bees is common knowledge. Bees have sensory organs that are sharper than those of humans. Older female worker bees do the foraging. They normally scout their surroundings for the best plants to take nectar from and pass the message on to other bees through a ‘waggle dance.’
Once they choose their flowers, they collect the nectar or honeydew from the plants. This is stored in a part of their gut called the honey crop, where the complex sugars in the nectar are broken down into simpler sugars by salivary enzymes. Once their honey stomach is filled, they return to the hive and pass the nectar to the younger worker bees.
These hive bees spend hours processing the nectar, passing it on to the next bee, and placing it methodically in the honeycomb cells. Later, the hive bees rapidly fan their wings to kick-start the evaporation process until the water content drops to as low as 18%. A thick liquid, highly concentrated in sugar — honey — is formed. Bees then ensure there’s very little moisture to prevent the honey from fermenting. This keeps honey fresh for a long time. When the honey is just right, they seal up the honeycomb with wax. Honey’s flavor and other characteristics will differ based on the flowers it comes from.
Why Do Bees Collect Nectar?
Bees go on two to five-kilometer trips from their hives to find nectar. On each trip, they collect nectar from over 50 flowers and do this around 20 times. But it can change based on how much nectar the bee can hold, how much nectar the flower has, and how far the hive is from the flower. The title “busy bee” is certainly well-deserved. But why are they even busy?
In a bee’s entire lifetime, it collects less than half a teaspoon of honey, which is its food. Flowers don’t bloom continuously, and bees don’t gather nectar when it’s chilly or rainy. They make honey in the spring and summer to save it for times when they can’t find flowers or nectar.
Honey Nutritional Information
According to FitnessVolt Food Facts, one tablespoon (21g) of honey contains 63.8 calories, 17.3 grams of carbs, and no protein, fat, or cholesterol. The relatively high-calorie count is because honey packs a good amount of sugar, particularly glucose, and fructose. A tablespoon of honey contains roughly 17g of total sugar. You can find the nutritional profile of any food or combination of foods through the FitnessVolt Food Facts and generate a nutrition label for your reference.
Fasting means voluntarily abstaining from food for a few hours or even days. It’s a well-known diet practice that’s been used in medical treatments for a long time. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine who lived more than 2,000 years ago, used to suggest fasting for patients with certain symptoms. He once said, “To eat when you are sick is to feed your sickness.” Fasting has been a part of many cultures and religions around the world.
There are several fasting techniques. Some popular types of fasting, as noted by Jason Fung, are discussed below:
This fasting approach revolves around alternating between fasting and eating windows. The 16/8 fasting, One Meal a Day (OMAD) fasting, and 5:2 fasting fall under the intermittent fasting umbrella. Popularly endorsed by celebrities, IF soared to the top as Google’s most searched diet method in 2019. While in a fasting phase, you’re free to enjoy non-caloric beverages such as coffee, green tea, and lemon juice. In specific forms of intermittent fasting, such as the 5:2 diet or alternate-day fasting, a modest intake of about 500-600 calories is allowed throughout the day.
As the name suggests, the water fasting protocol does not allow the consumption of anything besides water during the fasting window. However, you can include electrolytes and salt in your water if fasting for prolonged periods.
You are allowed to have juice during your fasting period. This does not include canned beverages or fruit juices, as they would destroy the point of a fast. Your fasting menu will include only low-sugar green smoothies.
Other variants of fasting differ based on when to eat, what to eat, and how long the fast lasts. Studies have suggested that fasting may offer potential benefits like reduced fat, reduced risk of diabetes, and other aging-related issues. It can also improve cognitive function.
Can You Have Honey During Fasting?
Simply put, no. Reasons You Shouldn’t Have Honey During Fasting Here are some reasons to avoid honey while fasting:
Against the principles of fasting: Fasting is about abstaining from food and caloric beverages. Honey contains calories and sugar, which goes against the principles of fasting.
Insulin spike: Honey is mainly composed of simple sugars that can cause an insulin spike. This can disrupt the metabolic state of fasting.
Breaking the fasted state: Consuming honey will break the fasted state and halt the benefits associated with fasting, such as autophagy and ketosis.
While honey has its own health benefits, it is not suitable for consumption during fasting. It’s important to stick to the principles of fasting and avoid any caloric intake during the fasting window.