It's the miracle we've been looking for: a food you can eat (rather than avoid) to lose weight. Oh, and don't for a second think this picture is there to taunt you—the food in question is not a sad stick of celery or a virtuous kale crisp. It is, in fact, a spoonful of honey. And not a teaspoon—oh no—a full two tablespoons of the stuff. The Honey Diet is nothing new; the book of the same name by Mike McInnes, a retired pharmacist, was published in 2014 and claimed to help you lose a stone in a month and keep it off. But it's one we wanted to look back to because, unlike Kim Kardashian West's intricate Atkins diet, this one really is as easy as scoffing a spoonful of honey every day. And since we're in no mood for dieting this side of Christmas, we need something easy to stick to and, most crucially, that's effective.
Keep reading to find out how the Honey Diet works.
Your body on sugar
Modern diets tend to drip-feed sugar into our systems throughout the day (whether we consciously eat sweets or we're trying to be healthy). Hidden sugars in processed cereals, bread and pasta, salad dressings, natural sugars in juices and that post-work glass of wine all add up. Our body deals with sugar overload by producing the hormone insulin which ferries sugar out of our blood and into our fat cells, which is how sugar makes us fat. In The Honey Diet, McInnes addresses the fact that while all this sugar is bad for our waistlines, it also causes unnecessary stress in our brains and bodies too.
The neurones (McInnes refers to them as the "thinking cells") in our brains each have special "feeder cells," which collectively scientists call the "cerebral glucose pump" and McInnes colloquially calls the iPump. These feeder cells drip feed a steady supply of fuel (in the form of sugar) to our brains for energy. But if this iPump detects a level of sugar that's too high, it shuts down to protect our brain from a sugar overload that can potentially damage it.
Trouble is if the sugar levels are too high and the iPump shuts off for over 15 minutes, the brain starts to get (for want of a better description) hangry. This stressed-out brain throws its toys out the pram and signals the release of stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin, which are used to convert muscle tissue into glucose to keep the brain fueled. The brain also revs up those hunger pangs and sugar cravings with a vengeance. Cue stress-eating a packet of Oreos or a bag of Haribo.
McInnes claims that honey, unlike processed sugar, doesn't affect the iPump in the same way. He suggests cutting down on the processed sugars to make way for 50 grams of honey (two tablespoons) before bed. We recommend starting with one tablespoon and seeing how you get on. You may find that's enough to see a difference right away, and if not, you can add more.
How Does Honey at Night help?
Our brain needs around 6.5 grams of glycogen per hour. If you eat dinner at around 7 p.m. but don't go to bed until closer to midnight, the likelihood is that your body will have utilised much of its glycogen supply before you reach the land of nod. What this means is that your brain will be calling out for glycogen in the middle of the night, sending out those stress signals it does in the day when the body is flooded with too much sugar. Except that this time it really is lacking glycogen. The result is a restless night's sleep.
Those pesky stress hormones also have the ability to switch off your body's fat-burning ability, and since our bodies can burn up to 65 grams of fat in a night, that's more than a high-intensity 90-minute workout, so it's important that we don't do anything to disrupt this process. The thing is if your body is stressed, it reverts to storing fat in case it's needed. But by eating a tablespoon or two of honey before bed refuels your liver's glycogen stores meaning the brain should have enough honey to keep it ticking over, and you should get a good night's sleep in return.
But Why Honey?
Honey is 50:50 glucose and fructose. Glucose is fast release and keeps the brain fueled at the start of sleep, while the fructose is low GI, so it's released into your system more slowly, reaching the brain in the early hours of the following morning. While plenty of fruits have this 50:50 ratio, honey doesn't have tons of fibre like fruit, which means your sleep is less likely to be disrupted thanks to the digestion process. It's the ideal pre-sleep food.
McInnes claims you should sleep better when you take honey before bed and you should notice the weight drop off—up to three pounds a week and a stone in a month. Of course, you need to limit your intake of processed sugars throughout the day to prevent your pump system shutting down and in turn stressing out your brain, but adding the honey into your diet nightly should slowly help to calm your brain, reduce your stress levels and hamper your cravings. Manuka honey, in particular, has also been found to have antibacterial properties, while it has also been found to soothe coughs and add sleep when unwell (good to know, now we're coming into winter).
Keep scrolling to buy The Honey Diet book and for the honey products we love.
Give it a try and let us know whether it makes a difference!