Honey is a combination of fructose and glucose (higher in fructose) that forms a natural source of energy, and is considered a carbohydrate. So what on earth does a form of carbs, especially one that’s pure “sugar,” have to do with the carnivore diet?
It’s likely that people try a carnivore diet for one of two reasons; they’re looking to truly improve their health and address the root cause of a chronic illness or major health concern, or they’re looking to reconnect with a more natural way of eating and living, much like our ancestors did. It can also be a combination of both reasons with the carnivore community and carnivore content usually discusses the two goals or paths of discovery in a synonymous fashion.
Once someone takes on the primary tenants of a carnivore lifestyle, there’s much to uncover beyond simply eating meat. The carnivore community and those who follow an ancestral diet make up a small but mighty portion of the modern world. Even though this community is small, there are different viewpoints and perspectives on what an optimal and accurate carnivore diet actually looks like, including the hot topic of honey.
Perspectives on Honey in the Carnivore Diet
The place for honey in the world of carnivore and ancestral ways of eating is not black and white – the hot topic debate that requires an in-depth analysis and an individual’s unique conclusion on the subject. Whether you’re on a carnivore diet, a paleo diet, or an animal-based diet, the ultimate goal comes down to eating the way our ancestors did.
Perspectives on the place for honey in this diet usually coincide with what an individual is looking to achieve (the goals outlined above), so we’ve explored some popular takes below.
Advocating for Honey in a Carnivore Diet:
- Honey is viewed as a food source created from bees, which is then considered an animal-based food source.
- Honey is considered a coveted and top source of energy for the few remaining traditional hunter-gatherer tribes such as the Hazda in Tanzania as an example, according to some individuals who have either spent time with the tribe or studied them.
- It has also been studied to lessen allergy symptoms, but you want to make sure that you source local, raw, unpasteurized honey for local allergens.
Some of the most prominent figures in the carnivore community have adjusted their take on what an ancestral diet and ancestral way of living looks like, including MD Paul Saladino. Check out his take on honey in the video below:
Advocating Against Honey in a Carnivore Diet:
- Honey is a carbohydrate source (a combination of fructose and glucose, higher in fructose), and not a source of protein or fat in any way, so it doesn’t qualify.
- Honey and other carb sources, while eaten by hunter-gatherer tribes such as the Hazda, still contribute to illness and disease such as dental decay and are observed in these tribes, according to SOME individuals observing the tribes (i.e. honey is still not suitable for human consumption).
- While honey is a whole source food that is preferred over processed options, it is still a carb, and can pose a threat for those trying to eliminate a carbohydrate addiction.
In contrast to advocates of honey on a modified carnivore diet, figures such as MD Shawn Baker continue to stress the importance of an all meat diet. Check out his take on honey below:
Both Saladino and Baker are highly respected in the carnivore and animal-based eating communities (as they should be), and they are both incredibly dedicated to promoting healthier, ancestrally adjacent ways of living. That being said, their nuanced and differing opinions on honey goes to show that including honey in your diet as a carnivore may boil down to your individual perspective and circumstances.
Our take: While we do not believe that honey is part of a true carnivore diet, we do support it as a wholesome food choice, especially for our animal-based and paleo dieters.
Honey’s Effects on Human Health
Taking into consideration both sides of the coin when it comes to effects of honey on human health, it should be considered on a sliding scale or spectrum rather than as an absolute decision.
If you or someone you know is only starting to research and understand the journey with a carnivore diet or ancestral way of eating, chances are you’ll be coming off of a Standard American Diet (SAD) laden with toxic seed oils, processed carb sources, and artificial forms of hyper-palatable sugar. You may also be experiencing the negative health consequences of this diet (think chronic inflammation, illness, disease, etc.), you’re addicted to sugar, and thus considered metabolically unhealthy.
In circumstances like these, approaching the carnivore diet in its strictest form (muscle meat and organ meat of ruminant animals, and salt) will likely serve you best as the most nutrient-dense elimination diet you can be on. You won’t have to worry about any particular foods triggering any negative immune or dietary responses from your body, including honey.
In instances where one is insulin sensitive, addicted to or craves sugar, or looking to lose fat, omitting honey from your carnivore diet will likely be ideal.
If you’ve been on the carnivore diet for a while, you’re metabolically healthy, and you’re looking to re-introduce animal-based or carnivore-aligned food sources back into your diet, introducing small to moderate portions of honey may be the right next step. It’s important to understand your unique metabolic health before reintroducing anything back into your diet, as you could run the risk of reintroducing sugar cravings, or relapsing on previous health concerns if inflammation hasn’t fully subsided and your gut hasn’t fully healed from your previous diet.
We’ve also included some further reading on honey in the carnivore diet so you can continue your research and become as informed as you can in a decision that’s right for you and your health:
- Is honey okay on the carnivore diet?
- Can you eat honey on the carnivore diet?
- The effects of the Standard American Diet on metabolic health.
- Read more on ancestral ways of living and the role bees and beef play in our environment here.
- Quick watch: Listen to the Hazda tribe's take on meat and honey at the 2 minute mark in this casual interview.
Honey and The Carnivore Bar
Here at The Carnivore Bar, we are advocates of catering to a wide variety of primal and ancestral diets, including those that seek a little touch of honey in their diet.
That’s why we’ve created a carnivore-adjacent bar with a touch of honey, and pulling an excerpt from our No Beef without Bees article, “...the ingredients in the new bar option remain clean, real, and nutrient-dense: raw honey, grass-finished beef, tallow, and Redmond Real Salt. Like tallow, honey has the ability to last on the shelf for an incredibly long time. Its natural antibacterial properties and lack of water give it a near eternal shelf life. This precious and impressive byproduct of the bee life cycle pairs well with beef in more ways than just snack form.”