Benefits Of Honey For Weight Loss

What is honey

Honey is a naturally sweet liquid with high nutritional value and numerous health benefits.2,6,9,11,14,17 

Honey, also known as natural honey, is produced as a result of honey bees secreting nectars from flowers. It has been widely utilised in traditional medicine and cuisine worldwide for decades. There are different types of honey that vary based on their floral source, bee and concentration. Regardless of that, all contain antioxidants and play a role in numerous biological activities that make honey a potent and nutraceutical agent.16 Honey has numerous properties, including hypotensive, vasodilative, immunomodulating, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.2,9 For instance, honey has been used to treat wounds and skin disorders, such as ulcers and dermatitis, due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. The benefits of honey are countless, and in this article we will talk about the benefits of honey for weight loss. 

Benefits of honey for weight loss

There are some misconceptions about honey and how it could be utilised in the weight loss process.14,17 It is commonly thought that because honey is sweet and contains sugar, it cannot be incorporated into one’s diet, especially if one tries to lose weight. Even though honey contains sugar, it has numerous beneficial vitamins and minerals. Unlike refined sugar, honey is not considered a source of ‘empty calories’. Food is considered empty calories when it does not contain nutrients or when calories from sugar/fat are higher than the nutrients in that food. 

While refined sugar is a source of empty carbohydrates, lacks nutrients and provides only calories, honey has fewer calories and more nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Honey has a moderate glycemic index and, if consumed in moderation, allows you to maintain adequate blood sugar levels.11,16 The recommended daily intake varies depending on  factors such as your diet and any underlying health conditions, but it is generally recommended to consume no more than two tablespoons of honey per day. Therefore, contrary to  common misconception, despite its high sugar content, honey is much more beneficial than refined sugar. In fact, due to its nutritional composition and health benefits, honey has been widely incorporated in multiple diets and weight loss strategies. 

There are multiple ways that you can use honey in your weight loss journey: 

  • Substitute for sugar: honey is an excellent substitute for refined sugar. Along with sweetness, it provides many nutritional compounds that serve numerous health benefits. Honey is a great sweetener and can be added to fruits, yoghurt, porridge, and drinks. However, honey is still high in calories, so you have to be mindful of your honey consumption and stick to the recommended daily intake11,16
  • Honey and lemon water: mixing honey and lemon juice with lukewarm water is recommended as it is an easy and effective detoxifying drink that helps you lose weight. The usual recipe includes one teaspoon of honey, five millilitres of lemon juice and 150 millilitres of lukewarm water. This drink has multiple benefits for weight loss

Firstly, it keeps you hydrated. Studies show that higher water intake boosts your metabolism and is associated with weight loss. 

Secondly, drinking this mixture can induce satiety and decrease caloric intake, leading to weight loss. 

Thirdly, lemon has detoxifying properties as it is rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. Lemon juice helps cleanse the body, improve digestion and metabolism, and aid weight loss. 

Lastly, honey acts as a natural sweetener, and you can enjoy a sweet, healthy drink without a caloric burden.4,12,13 

  • Honey and cinnamon: similar to the honey-lemon drink, honey mixed with cinnamon and water could be beneficial for weight loss. It is recommended to mix one teaspoon of cinnamon and one tablespoon with one cup of lukewarm water. Such a drink has many health benefits, including supporting the immune system, treating indigestion, empty stomach, and colds, and supporting weight loss. Drinking a honey-cinnamon mixture before breakfast on an empty stomach and/or before sleep can help regulate weight by promoting satiety, improving metabolism and cleansing the body3 

Other health benefits of honey

Since ancient times, honey has been a medicinal agent to treat numerous health conditions. Over the years, research has tried to examine how such a sweet and nutritious liquid could benefit human health. Therefore, let’s take a closer look at some other benefits of honey: 

  • Cardiovascular diseases: honey exhibits a protective effect against cardiovascular conditions due to its chemical content. For instance, honey has antioxidant properties due to the presence of phenolic compounds. These compounds also may display anti-platelet potential, which plays an important role in preventing and treating coronary heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular conditions. However, more clinical studies in humans are needed to investigate this effect8,15
  • Wounds and skin conditions: since ancient times, honey has been used to treat wounds due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. Current research supports this function and suggests that honey prevents infections, enhances circulation and leads to a greater healing process.17 Honey has also been shown to have bioactive properties that have a beneficial effect in treating skin conditions such as rosacea10  
  • Cancer: recent studies show that honey has a known anti-cancer activity due to its containing flavonoids and phenolic acids. Several potential mechanisms have been implicated in anti-cancer activity, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and tumour-inhibiting effects.7 Honey has been indicated to positively affect skin cancer cells, liver cancer cells, and prostate cancer cells, among other types of cancer cells9
  • Gastrointestinal diseases: research suggests beneficial effects of honey in gastrointestinal conditions, such as gastritis, ulcers and gastroenteritis. It also has prebiotic effects and promotes a healthy gastrointestinal tract14

Nutritional facts

As mentioned above, the recommended daily intake of honey should be 1-2 tablespoons a day. According to Nutrionix, one tablespoon of honey (21 grams) contains: 

  • Calories: 64 
  • Total fat: 0g 
  • Cholesterol: 0mg 
  • Sodium: 0.8mg 
  • Potassium: 11mg
  • Total carbohydrates: 17g
    • Dietary fibre: 0g
    • Sugars: 17g
  • Protein: 0.1g

The nutritional profile of honey mainly consists of sugars and water. The proportion of sugar and water varies, but generally, honey has 80-85% sugar and 15-17% water, and the rest contains proteins, minerals, phenols and vitamins.11 Sugar consists of mono-, di- and trisaccharides. Monosaccharides in the form of fructose and glucose make up around 75% of the sugars in honey and contribute to most of its nutritional and physical properties. The other 15% consist of disaccharides (e.g., sucrose), trisaccharides (e.g., maltotriose) and oligosaccharides. Other than sugar and water, honey has a minor concentration of other components:11,16


  • Sodium
  • Calcium 
  • Potassium 
  • Magnesium 
  • Phosphorus 
  • Selenium 
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Chromium 
  • Zinc 


  • Thiamine (B1)
  • Riboflavin (B2)
  • Niacin (B3)
  • Pantothenic acid (B5)
  • Pyridoxine (B6)
  • Folic acid (B9)
  • Ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
  • Phyllochinon (K)

Honey also contains amino acids, proteins and micronutrients. Despite being in minor quantities, such a wide variety of nutrients make up honey’s nutritional profile and have beneficial health implications.11,16 

Side effects and other concerns

Honey is a natural product that is very safe for consumption. Even though honey offers benefits for weight loss, it is still recommended to practice moderation. Be mindful of adding sugar to your diet, as there are rare but potential side effects and concerns associated with its consumption.18 The examples include: 

  • Weight gain: increased honey consumption could lead to weight gain as it is considered an added sugar. Epidemiological studies show that added sugar is the main predictor of weight gain and obesity.19 Therefore, overconsuming honey could lead to an inverse effect and, instead of facilitating weight loss, could interfere with your weight loss journey
  • Elevated blood sugar: honey could increase your blood sugar levels due to sugar content. It is especially crucial to watch honey intake for people with type 2 diabetes. A study reported that consuming honey generally had beneficial effects on body weight and blood lipids in patients with diabetes. However, researchers also observed elevated levels of haemoglobin A(1C) and recommended the cautious consumption of honey in diabetic patients5
  • Allergic reaction: some people can develop moderate and severe allergic reactions to honey. It is recommended to avoid honey if you are allergic to pollen1
  • Poisoning: honey, as all natural foods, is subject to contamination. This could be due to pesticide use, accidental exposure, poor harvesting, processing, and storage practices. As a result, honey could be contaminated with toxic agents, such as heavy metals, which can cause health problems: headache, nausea, vomiting and respiratory disorders. Make sure to purchase honey from a reliable source16


Honey is a sweet natural liquid with more health benefits than we could count. Due to its unique nutritional composition, honey has many properties, including anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anticancer. It has been implicated in preventing and treating cardiovascular, skin and gastrointestinal conditions. Furthermore, it has been widely utilised in weight loss. It could be used as a substitute for refined sugar and combined with lemon or cinnamon to make detoxifying, sweet and nutritious drinks. It could be a great addition to one’s diet and, if consumed in moderation, could help individuals seeking to lose weight. However, it is crucial to be mindful of rare but existing side effects, such as allergic reactions, weight gain, poisoning and elevated blood sugar levels.


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  2. Israili ZH. Antimicrobial Properties of Honey. American Journal of Therapeutics. 2014 Jul;21(4):304–23.
  3. Kawatra P, Rajagopalan R. Cinnamon: Mystic powers of a minute ingredient. Pharmacognosy Res. 2015 Jun;7(Suppl 1):S1-6.
  4. Mohan A, Quek SY, Gutierrez-Maddox N, Gao Y, Shu Q. Effect of honey in improving the gut microbial balance. Food Quality and Safety. 2017 May 1;1(2):107–15.
  5. Bahrami M, Ataie-Jafari A, Hosseini S, Foruzanfar MH, Rahmani M, Pajouhi M. Effects of natural honey consumption in diabetic patients: an 8-week randomized clinical trial. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. 2009 Oct;60(7):618–26.
  6. White JW. Honey. In: Advances in Food Research [Internet]. Elsevier; 1978 [cited 2023 Jan 9]. p. 287–374. Available from:
  7. Waheed M, Hussain MB, Javed A, Mushtaq Z, Hassan S, Shariati MA, et al. Honey and cancer: A mechanistic review. Clinical Nutrition. 2019 Dec;38(6):2499–503.
  8. Olas B. Honey and Its Phenolic Compounds as an Effective Natural Medicine for Cardiovascular Diseases in Humans? Nutrients. 2020 Jan 21;12(2):283.
  9. Miguel M, Antunes M, Faleiro M. Honey as a Complementary Medicine. Integr MedInsights. 2017 Jan 1;12:117863371770286.
  10. McLoone P, Oluwadun A, Warnock M, Fyfe L. Honey: A Therapeutic Agent for Disorders of the Skin. cajgh [Internet]. 2016 Aug 4 [cited 2023 Jan 11];5(1). Available from:
  11. Khan SU, Anjum SI, Rahman K, Ansari MJ, Khan WU, Kamal S, et al. Honey: Single food stuff comprises many drugs. Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences. 2018 Feb;25(2):320–5.
  12. Daniels MC, Popkin BM. Impact of water intake on energy intake and weight status: a systematic review: Nutrition Reviews©, Vol. 68, No. 9. Nutrition Reviews. 2010 Aug 26;68(9):505–21.
  13. Mamede AMGN, Coelho CC de S, Freitas-Silva O, Barboza HTG, Soares AG. Lemon. In: Nutritional Composition and Antioxidant Properties of Fruits and Vegetables [Internet]. Elsevier; 2020 [cited 2023 Jan 11]. p. 377–92. Available from:
  14. Adimasu Abeshu M. Medicinal Uses of Honey. Biol Med [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2023 Jan 11];08(02). Available from:
  15. Yaghoobi N, Al-Waili N, Ghayour-Mobarhan M, Parizadeh SMR, Abasalti Z, Yaghoobi Z, et al. Natural Honey and Cardiovascular Risk Factors; Effects on Blood Glucose, Cholesterol, Triacylglycerole, CRP, and Body Weight Compared with Sucrose. The Scientific World JOURNAL. 2008;8:463–9.
  16. Ajibola A, Chamunorwa JP, Erlwanger KH. Nutraceutical values of natural honey and its contribution to human health and wealth. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2012 Jun 20;9:61.
  17. Meo SA, Al-Asiri SA, Mahesar AL, Ansari MJ. Role of honey in modern medicine. Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences. 2017 Jul;24(5):975–8.
  18. Hadagali MD, Chua LS. The anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties of honey. Eur Food Res Technol. 2014 Dec;239(6):1003–14.
  19. Drewnowski A. The Real Contribution of Added Sugars and Fats to Obesity. Epidemiologic Reviews. 2007 May 2;29(1):160–71.
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Anna Mazepa

Masters of Science - MSc Clinical Neuroscience/ University College London

Anna is a master’s graduate with interest in psychology and neuroscience. Since starting her undergraduate psychology degree, she has been passionate about scientific writing. Anna has been involved in the execution of multiple research projects during her academic journey and has written numerous scientific essays. She continues to be engaged in scientific and medical writing as she works towards becoming a Clinical Psychologist.

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