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Are bagels healthy? How many calories in a bagel?

man slicing a healthy bagel as part of a balanced diet
Whether you're already a fan of bagels or you want to try something new, find out whether they're healthy or not and the nutritional in them - in our blog.

Over the past couple of years, there has been an increasing rise in the popularity of bagels around the world.

Not just a breakfast food, bagels have made their way to lunch and dinner plates across the UK. But one of the things people want to know is whether they’re good or bad for you, and what health benefits they possess.

With that in mind, we wanted to break down more about the beloved bagel, and give you some tips on incorporating them into your diet.

In this article, you’ll find out:

  • What bagels are and the different types
  • Whether bagels are healthy or not
  • The calories in bagels
  • The nutritional value of bagels
  • Whether bagels are bad for weight loss or not

What are bagels?

Before we delve into the details, what actually are bagels? A form of dense bread that’s shaped like a doughnut, a bagel is a yeast-leavened roll with a shiny outer crust.1

Made using these primary ingredients: flour, yeast, salt and sweetening – many people opt for a bagel as a breakfast or lunch option.1

5 types of bagels

While there are many different variations of bagel, we’ve listed the most common types that you could easily pick up with your food shop.

  1. White

Made using regular bread flour, white bagels, otherwise known as plain bagels, are arguably the one of the most popular types available – great for pairing with both sweet and savoury fillings.

  1. Wholemeal

Looking for a more fibrous option that’s equally as soft and chewy as the plain alternative?2 Wholemeal bagels might be just the addition to your lunchtime recipes.

  1. Seeded

Often made using the same ingredients as plain bagels but with sesame seeds on top, seeded bagels are a great way to add a little more protein to your diet.3

  1. Cinnamon and raisin

A great way to satisfy your sweet cravings and fill you up, cinnamon and raisin bagels are ideal as a snack or even a breakfast option.

  1. Onion and chive

Alternatively, if you prefer savoury foods, onion and chive bagels are perfect for providing that savoury tastiness you’re craving.

Are bagels healthy?

Bagels aren’t all bad for you, and as part of a balanced diet, they can fit in perfectly. Some varieties of bagels might even have additional ingredients that give other health benefits, such as wholegrains.

Wholegrains are packed full of vitamins, minerals and fibre. As they’re typically unrefined, they have a lot more plant compounds that are good for our health.

Having a good variety of fibre, vitamins and minerals in your diet is actually known to help balance out your blood sugar, as well as promoting a healthy digestive system.4

To get the additional health benefits, you might want to opt for a bagel that has grains such as oats, whole wheat or rye.

If you want to have bagels as part of your diet, but ensure they stay balanced, here are some tips:

  • Make sure you’re aware of your portion size. Check the label on the bagels you have, and understand how much you should have to make it a healthy part of your diet. It could be that you opt to eat half of a larger bagel and load it with healthier toppings.
  • Double down on the ingredients. When looking at the label, consider the quality of the ingredients in your bagel. Opt for more wholegrains and avoid any that have a high level of sugar or salt.
  • Use your toppings to add in some additional nutrients. Rather than going for the obvious cream cheese or jam, try and mix it up and add some healthier options. These could include things such as avocado, almond butter, or your favourite hummus.

Summary

  • There are a range of different bagels available to buy or make
  • Some types of bagel have more nutrients than others i.e., wholemeal
  • Be conscious of portion size
  • Always check the labels for the nutritional information
  • Use toppings to boost nutrients, but be aware that this will up your calorie intake

Are bagels healthier than bread?

Unfortunately there’s no simple answer to this question.

In terms of calories, on average one bagel has more calories than one slice of bread.

However, if you choose to have a bagel with more fibre, this may help you feel fuller for longer and potentially reduce your snacking throughout the day.

But essentially, this all boils down to both the type of bread and bagel you choose – and the nutritional value in each. Find more details on this below.

Calories in a bagel

So how many calories are in a bagel? This greatly depends on the type and the filling that you have in it. So we’ll run you through the calories in some of the most popular options below.

Bagel with butter calories

In one regular bagel with a tablespoon of butter there is approximately 379 calories.5,6

Bagel with cream cheese calories

In one regular bagel with a tablespoon of cream cheese there is approximately 327 calories.7,8

Bagel with peanut butter calories

In one regular bagel with a tablespoon of peanut butter there is approximately 372 calories.9,10

Can bagels be bad for you?

  • They are high in calories

As mentioned previously, a medium-sized bagel can have anything up to 300 calories per serving – and then there’s the fillings as well.

Although on the face of it, this might seem like a normal portion, bagels are quite easy to overeat.

Once you start adding toppings, it can quickly become highly calorific.

Some larger versions of bagels can even contain an excess of 600 calories – which for most people, will be their desired calorie count for an entire meal.

  • They are high in refined carbohydrates

The main ingredient in bagels is wheat flour – which is a refined carbohydrate. Alongside this, a lot of varieties of bagels also include a high portion of sugar, which is also a carb.

Whilst having a good balance of carbohydrates in your diet can be healthy, some research has shown that having a high intake of refined carbs can increase the risk of some chronic conditions, such as heart disease.11

Are bagels fattening?

While there’s only approximately 1.39g of fat in a regular sized bagel, eating bagels may lead to weight gain if you eat them without being in a calorie deficit or a calorie maintenance.12

If the bagels you’re regularly eating mean that you’re consuming more calories than you’re burning, this excess could be stored as fat in your body.13

What are the nutritional factors of bagels?

The nutritional value of bagels can vary massively depending on the brand and variety of product.

As they’ve increased in popularity, so have the varieties available.

You can now get everything from a basic white bagel right, through to a cinnamon and sweet raisin bagel – and the size can vary too. As such, we’d always recommend checking the packaging.

Carbs in a bagel

However, most commonly, bagels are made from a combination of flour, salt, water and yeast.

The average medium-sized bagel (100g) should contain under 300 calories, with 56 grams of carbs – approximately 15% of the recommended calorie intake and 22% of the recommended carbohydrate intake.14,15

The majority of a bagels nutritional value is taken up by carbohydrates, which is why they can sometimes get a bad reputation. Here’s the amount of carbs in some other types of bagel:

  • Wholemeal – 47.5g16
  • Sesame – 51.3g17
  • Cinnamon and raisin – 59.3g18
  • Onion and chive – 55g19

Protein in a bagel

Again, the amount of protein in a bagel depends on the type of bagel you’re eating. So we’ve listed the protein for each type below:

  • Wholemeal – 9.9g16
  • Sesame – 12g17
  • Cinnamon and raisin – 10.6g18
  • Onion and chive – 11g19

Are bagels bad for weight loss?

Overall, bagels can be a good addition to any diet. However, you need to be mindful of some of the points mentioned above if you are trying to lose weight.

Whether that’s the size of the bagel, the ingredients in it, or simply the spread you’re using – this awareness can make it easier for you to have a bagel, and enjoy it too.

The final say

  • There are many different types of bagel available, from plain to cinnamon and raisin
  • Bagels can be a part of a healthy balanced diet providing you take into consideration the size, ingredients and spread you use
  • Bagels are high in refined carbohydrates
  • Bagels also provide some protein
  • Bagels are relatively high in calories compared to sliced bread, so this is something to be aware of if you’re aiming for fat loss

Want to have a go at making your own bagels? Check out our selection of home baking ingredients.

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Last updated: 1 July 2021

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