Honey and garlic are both delicious in their own right, but some swear by the weight-loss magic of mixing the two together. Is it possible that this sweet and savory duo can really help you shed extra pounds?
Here’s what you should know before sacrificing your fresh breath to a honey-garlic concoction in the name of weight loss.
The short answer: Not exactly. (Disappointing, we know.)
However, that’s not to say that you should toss honey and garlic out the window. Since it’s possible to lose weight eating just about anything, there’s no reason to exclude honey, garlic, or your favorite honey-garlic formula (if that’s even a thing) when trying to lose weight.
Although they don’t directly cause weight loss, aspects of garlic and honey provide advantages that may support your journey.
If you’re bumping up your physical activity, the antioxidants in honey can keep your immune system working like… well, bees, really. A research review found that honey may have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral effects.
Since nothing slows down a new workout program like getting sick, honey offers a pretty sweet deal. One study showed that garlic may provide similar immune-boosting benefits.
But perhaps even more compelling for people trying to lose weight is the evidence on garlic and waist circumference. While garlic supplementation doesn’t seem to affect BMI and body weight, a study found that it reduced waist circumference.
The studies above used garlic supplements and not fresh garlic. They’re different products with different effects. But the research could suggest a link to health benefits and garlic.
Now that we’ve minced your dreams of garlic and honey weight loss, let’s get down to the facts on these beloved kitchen staples. What are they really good for?
Fights off bacteria and viruses
Garlic contains an active compound called allicin which has some impressive superpowers.
A 2014 research review showed that allicin has antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. Even MRSA (a deadly, antibiotic-resistant bacteria) isn’t immune to the effects of allicin (up yours, MRSA).
Honey also has several healing properties, including wound healing and antibacterial effects. Additionally, a research review showed that a specific type of honey called Manuka honey may be effective against common sicknesses like the flu and chicken pox.
The American Heart Association isn’t too keen on added sugars (including honey). They advise limiting your intake of all added sugars to no more than 100 calories per day for women and 150 calories per day for men.
Since a tablespoon of honey provides 64 calories, it’s easy to see how it could add up quickly if you go all Winnie the Pooh on your honey supply.
But garlic offers several possible heart health benefits like:
- reducing cholesterol and blood pressure
- preventing blockages
- improving blood flow through the veins and arteries
Consuming it in food form rather than as a supplement is generally a safer bet (especially if you take medication) (or are a vampire).
Consider flavoring your food with garlic powder and other spices to take the place of your salt shaker. Not only will you get the benefits of garlic, but you’ll also cut back on one of the heart’s worst enemies — salt.
Honey is an added sweetener — treat it as such. A drizzle of honey in Greek yogurt or a teaspoon of honey to sweeten your cup of tea is unlikely to have much impact on your overall fitness or weight management goals.
But going out of your way to eat more honey might do more to undermine your weight loss plan than enhance it.
Garlic, on the other hand, is a calorie-free way to bring a punch of flavor to your meals. Using garlic to boost the taste of your favorite vegetables can make eating healthy more enjoyable. #WhoaaaaaDoubleVegetable
Garlic as a supplement
On their own, supplemental garlic or honey can offer therapeutic benefits that go beyond changes on the scale. In fact, a research review showed that people have used garlic and honey in natural remedies for thousands of years.
Garlic supplements are popular for their heart health benefits. In another research review, garlic supplements were similarly effective at lowering blood pressure as prescription medication.
However, it’s important to always err on the side of caution with dietary supplements. The FDA doesn’t regulate these in the same way as medications, and they may have unintended side effects.
Honey as a natural remedy
Honey’s sweetness has attracted fans looking to cure a wide range of ailments. Some of the best evidence for honey as a natural remedy relates to its powerful effects on wounds.
One research review showed that post-operative wounds and skin burns seem to heal faster when including honey as part of the skin covering.
Honey’s antibacterial and skin-soothing effects make it a go-to choice for sore throats. Melt some honey in a steaming mug of tea with a squeeze of lemon, and you’ll be well on your way to recovery (as per grandma’s orders).
They may seem like an odd combo. But honey’s sticky sweetness and garlic’s pungent flavor make for a delicious marinade, glaze, or dip.
Chicken thighs seasoned with honey, garlic, and a sprinkle of rosemary form a simple dish that feels gourmet.
If you’re consuming honey or garlic in their natural forms, you’re unlikely to experience dangerous side effects.
Aside from people with allergies or sensitivities to these foods, the health benefits seem to come virtually risk-free.
If you have irritable bowel syndrome, you may need to limit your intake of garlic and honey. Peeps who benefit from a low FODMAP diet should stay away from the fructose in honey and the fructans in garlic, according to the University of Washington.
Since digestive conditions can vary from person to person, it’s best to meet with a registered dietitian or gastroenterologist before restricting your diet too much.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center recommends that people who take blood thinners like warfarin should avoid garlic, as it has blood-thinning effects and could increase the risk of bruising or bleeding.
There’s nothing miraculous about combining honey and garlic for weight loss. In fact, this mixture probably isn’t going to do much to change your weight at all.
However, honey and garlic each have medicinal effects, and most people can try them as natural home remedies safely and effectively.
Rather than looking to quick fixes for weight loss, focusing on natural ingredients can fuel a positive mindset for healthy eating.