Can You Use Honey for Weight Loss?

Honey is often regarded as a more natural form of sweetener than regular white sugar. Research shows honey can also have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial effects and can aid healing, notes registered dietitian Dana McDonald. Before your reach for a jar of honey just yet, however, there are other factors to consider before adding honey into your weight-loss diet.

All About the Numbers

When losing weight, a calorie deficit -- whereby you consume fewer calories than you burn -- is vital. This means that whatever you eat has to fit into your daily calorie allowance. A 1-teaspoon serving of honey contains 21 calories. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that most women need between 1,600 and 2,400 calories to maintain weight, while men need 2,000 to 3,000. To lose weight, you'll need slightly less than this, so however much honey you eat, it must fit into your calorie goal.

The Cure for Hunger

Honey can be nature's cure for hunger, helping to aid your weight loss, claims nutritionist Mike McInnes in an interview with the Mail Online. According to McInnes, drinking a honey drink before bed can help the body repair, burn fat and stop sugar cravings. His weight-loss plan does also involve cutting out junk food, eating more lean proteins, fresh fruit and vegetables, and switching from processed to unrefined carbohydrates, so this probably has more to do with any weight-loss results than the honey itself.

The Health Myth

While it may potentially seem like honey is by far a better, healthier, more weight-loss-friendly alternative to white sugar, this isn't necessarily the case. According to the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the notion that honey is healthy is a bit of a misnomer. It is slightly sweeter than sugar, so you may use less, but per serving the calorie content is actually higher. Additionally, the American Heart Association advises cutting down or eliminating honey as a way of reducing your sugar intake.

Fitting Honey into Your Diet

If you enjoy honey and find that a small serving is enough to satisfy a sweet craving without pushing you over your calorie intake, it won't hurt your weight loss. But it can be easy to overdo the serving sizes and consume a large amount of sugar and calories in a short space of time, without feeling any more satiated for it. Adding honey into your diet won't result in any weight-loss benefits and may actually cause progress to slow down if it increases your caloric intake.