Your body breaks down food into glucose to use it as fuel, regardless of what it is. When talking about carbs, the more complex a food, the more work it takes for your body to break it down.
The science of it - how it works
Sugar is made up of 50% glucose and 50% fructose (the sugar found in fruits) and is broken down very easily – which is what causes a spike and then crash in blood sugar levels. Whatever your body doe not use right away, is stored as fat.
Honey is also made up of sugar, but only about 30% glucose and just under 40% fructose. There are also natural trace elements that bees picked up while going from plant to plant, and could also contain small amounts of minerals, vitamins and so on. All this means is that your body will expend more energy to braek it down into glucose, that's why you'll end up accummulating fewer calories from it. Plus, honey doesn't break down in nature so it doesn't contain preservatives or additives like refined sugar may.
When sugar is made, the manufacturing process will remove the organic acids, protein, nitrogen elements, enzymes and vitamins in the sugar cane. Honey is only subject to minimal heating, that is, if it's pasteurized.
- One tablespoon of sugar: 46 calories
- One tablespoon of honey: 64 calories
Even though honey may have more calories, remember that your body will accummulate fewer calories from honey because of the digestive process it requires to break it down.
Remember that honey is sweeter per amount, than sugar is. So you will typically consume less honey than you would sugar.
So what is best?
Bottom line is, the more natural a food or ingredient, the better your body will react to it. It's better to eat an apple than drink a bottle of apple juice. However for baking purposes you can smoosh a ripe banana or make some apple sauce instead of adding sugar, but if you lack the time to go through this process, then choose honey.