World of Honey

Calories in Honey

Honey is a great natural sweetener, but how do those calories stack up compared to some other foods?  Let’s take a look:

  • Calories per 100g = 304
  • Calories per tablespoon = 64
  • Calories per teaspoon = 21

Well that’s honey, but what about a comparison with other foods?  First, let’s look at a table of common foods and drinks, sorted by calories per 100g:

ITEM Kcal PER 100g Kcal/SERVING
Cola 37 (1 can = 136 calories)
Budweiser beer 41 (1 regular bottle = 146 calories)
Ham, sliced 163 (one 100g serving = 163 calories)
Roast chicken 167 (one 100g serving = 167 calories)
Spirits 231 (1 jigger/1.5floz = 97 calories)
Whopper (e.g. Burger King) 235 (1 Whopper 290g = 680 calories)
Wholewheat bread 247 (1 slice = 74 calories)
Cheeseburger (e.g. Burger King) 255 (1 Whopper 133g = 340 calories)
Hamburger, single, in bun 259 (single burger in a bun = 259 calories)
Maple syrup 261 (1 tablespoon = 52 calories)
White bread 266 (1 slice = 80 calories)
Honey 304 (1 tablespoon = 64 calories)
French fries (Burger King) 331 (1 medium serving = 387 calories)
Brown sugar 380 (1 tablespoon = 80 calories)
White sugar 387 (1 tablespoon = 82 calories)
Popcorn, plain 387 (one 40g serving = 155 calories)
Popcorn, caramel 431 (one 40g serving = 172 calories)
Snickers bar 475 (1 bar = 271 calories)
Twix 502 (two fingers = 291 calories)
Kit-Kat 518 (two-finger bar = 218 calories)
Milk chocolate 535 (1x43g bar Hershey’s = 210 calories)
Dark chocolate 543 (1x41g bar Hershey’s = 180 calories)
Potato chips, salted 547 (1 small bag = 155 calories)
Salted butter 717 (1 tbsp serving = 102 calories)

Now, let’s get real!  We’re going to sort the same data according to the number of calories PER SERVING, which is probably more useful because that’s how you eat it:

ITEM Kcal PER 100g Kcal/SERVING Kcal/SERVING GRAPH
Maple syrup 261 (1 tablespoon = 52 calories)
Honey 304 (1 tablespoon = 64 calories)
Wholewheat bread 247 (1 slice = 74 calories)
Brown sugar 380 (1 tablespoon = 80 calories) ██
White bread 266 (1 slice = 80 calories) ██
White sugar 387 (1 tablespoon = 82 calories) ██
Spirits 231 (1 jigger/1.5floz = 97 calories) ██
Salted butter 717 (1 tbsp serving = 102 calories) ██
Cola 37 (1 can = 136 calories) ███
Budweiser beer 41 (1 regular bottle = 146 calories) ███
Potato chips, salted 547 (1 small bag = 155 calories) ███
Popcorn, plain 387 (one 40g serving = 155 calories) ███
Ham, sliced 163 (one 100g serving = 163 calories) ███
Roast chicken 167 (one 100g serving = 167 calories) ███
Popcorn, caramel 431 (one 40g serving = 172 calories) ███
Dark chocolate 543 (1x41g bar Hershey’s = 180 calories) ████
Milk chocolate 535 (1x43g bar Hershey’s = 210 calories) ████
Kit-Kat 518 (two-finger bar = 218 calories) ████
Hamburger, single, in bun 259 (single burger in a bun = 259 calories) █████
Snickers bar 475 (1 bar = 271 calories) █████
Twix 502 (two fingers = 291 calories) ██████
Cheeseburger (e.g. Burger King) 255 (1 Whopper 133g = 340 calories) ███████
French fries (e.g. Burger King) 331 (1 medium 160g serving = 530 calories) ███████████
Whopper (e.g. Burger King) 235 (1 Whopper 290g = 680 calories) ██████████████

Honey versus Sugar

When you are thinking about which sweetener to use in your diet, please remember that table sugar and all of the sugar in soft drinks is empty calories, it has no nutritional value at all. On top of that, the body does not process it as easily as honey.  Honey, on the other hand, is more easily digested and has a slow burn effect, avoiding the quick, unsatisfying “sugar rush” you get from sugary foods and drinks.  Honey also has vitamins in small quantities, minerals, and amino acids, not to mention antioxidants.  Take a look at my article on honey and nutrition for more information.

What IS a Calorie?

Have you ever wondered what a calorie actually is?  If you have, please read on…

When we say “calorie”, we almost always are referring to a “kilocalorie” or “kcal” for short.  It was invented as a measure of the “fuel” value of food by the French chemist Professor Nicolas Clément in 1824.  The next paragraph will tell you what a calorie is officially, and if you can understand it, you are a better man than I, but if you don’t want a physics lesson, skip over this section:

Strictly speaking, one kcal = 4.184 joules by ISO standards.
Hmm..  but what’s a joule?
One joule = the energy used when a force of one newton moves an object by one meter.
A newton?  What the heck is a newton?
Glad you asked.  A newton is the force needed to accelerate one kilogram at a rate of one meter per second per second. So now you know.  Maybe.

OK, let’s leave the strange world of physics and get back to the world as I understand it.  The simple, workaday definition for a calorie (kcal) is this:

One calorie = the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius.

Calories are measured by literally burning a known weight of food in a device somewhat alarmingly called a “bomb calorimeter”.  It’s basically a closed container that allows accurate measurements to be made.  The food heats a known weight of water, and the temperature rise in the water can then be used to calculate the fuel value, or the calorific value, of the food!  Easy huh!  Now that I understand – you can keep your newtons and joules!