Are bagels healthy? Kinda sorta. No and yes. If that's confusing, know that you don't have to give up your beloved bagels, but it might be best to make some healthy-ish tweaks every once in a while.

By Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN
February 17, 2020
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If you live for your Saturday morning everything bagel with cream cheese (you're not alone), but have been wondering "are bagels healthy" or is that just a fantasy, good news: Carbs don't have to be your nemesis. In fact, they're pretty important for proper brain and body function, which is why you shouldn't shy away from that bagel craving. (Discover more about why healthy carbs DEF belong in your diet.)

So, are bagels healthy or not? Well, not always—most varieties are oversized and dish out way more calories and carbs than you generally need in a meal…and that's before you even factor in your spread of choice. Even still, there are ways to enjoy bagels without making a serious dent in your daily calorie quota. Here are some healthy hacks from nutritionists that will help you balance your bagel habit.

Bagels Are Healthy-ish If You...

  • Eat half. Less bagel = less empty calories. You can split your bagel with a pal or save the other half for later. (Also though, if you just want the whole damn bagel, eat the bagel.)
  • Scoop it out. If leaving half your bagel alone sounds ridiculous or pretty damn near impossible, well, we feel you. Scooping out the inside instead will save you a couple hundred calories and you can down the whole bagel in bliss. (Remember though, calories aren't everything. See: The #1 Reason You Should Stop Counting Calories)
  • Go for whole grain. Whole grain options provide you with more fiber, filling you up faster—and keeping you that way for longer. Just remember to check your labels. Gluten-free doesn't always equal whole grain, as many gluten-free bread products are made from white rice and tapioca flour, which have little-to-no fiber. Don't confuse the two. (BTW, here’s why fiber is so important for your body.) 
  • Rethink your spreads. Smashed avocado, nut butter, and hummus are satisfying spreads that give you a hit of fiber and let you skip the saturated fat in cream cheese and butter. Steer clear of sweet cream cheeses to keep sugar intake in check and if you're willing to go tangy, try plain Greek yogurt and mix it with your favorite herbs for a personalized flavor.
  • Pump up the protein. Eggs, egg whites, and smoked salmon are all great sources of protein that'll help you recover after a muscle-blasting workout. If sweet is more your style, reach for peanut or almond butter. Plus, adding protein to a basically all-carb meal helps balance out blood sugar. (Related: The Ultimate List of High-Protein Foods You Should Eat Every Week)
  • Mix in veggies. Sorry, veggie cream cheese doesn't really count. Go for the real deal to add fiber and important vitamins and minerals you wouldn't normally be getting on bagel Saturdays. Scramble in some veggies with an egg or two, or add sliced tomato. Greens are also super-easy to stuff into a bagel, or you can try roasted veggies like pepper, eggplant, and zucchini. (Up Next: 7 Ways to Use Everything Bagel Seasoning Besides on Avocado Toast)

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