This article has been Fact-Checked by Kendall Kennedy MS, RD, RYT
Baked foods are typically not helpful for losing weight but there are exceptions. Find out whether bagels are good or bad for weight loss.
The first important thing to note is that bagels can vary a good amount in nutrition content due to different recipes. This article will focus on one type of whole-grain white bagel (1).
In terms of nutrients, this bagel is somewhat high in calories, contains a good amount of fiber, and contains some protein.
The result of this is that bagels are somewhat higher in calories without being that filling compared to many foods with similar or smaller energy contents.
There are worse foods too but it is fair to say that bagels are generally not that good for weight loss.
If you do want to eat bagels anyway, you can follow some of the tips later in the article to make them somewhat healthier.
Calories in bagels
The total number of calories in foods like bagels is not the only detail that influences weight loss but it does offer some valuable information.
100 grams of the example whole grain white bagel contains around 255 calories (1).
Most people don’t eat plain bagels on their own but this makes it easier to compare them to other options.
There are still some worse foods but bagels are definitely higher in calories than many whole food categories like vegetables and fruits.
218 of the calories above come from carbohydrates (54.5 g per 100 grams of which 4.7 g fiber).
That means bagels are definitely not good for low-carb weight loss diets like keto.
A lot of their calories come from more refined carbohydrates like flour. As you will see, this has its disadvantages when it comes to losing weight.
Micronutrients in bagels
The first thing to look at is the amount of micronutrients in bagels.
Micronutrients are a group of nutrients your body absolutely needs to survive and thrive. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. These are involved in basically every aspect of your health, including weight loss.
100 grams of this kind of bagel provides you with approximately (1):
- Thiamin: 47% of the DV (Daily Value)
- Selenium: 38% of the DV
- Folate: 35% of the DV
- Iron: 23% of the DV
- Niacin: 23% of the DV
- Sodium: 16% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 14% of the DV
- Zinc: 11% of the DV
- Magnesium: 10% of the DV
And some other vitamins and minerals in less significant amounts. That’s a decent amount of vitamins and minerals. The amount of sodium in bagels might be unwelcome depending on the rest of your diet.
These values will vary a lot between different kinds of bagels.
Fiber in bagels for weight loss
Another very important factor for weight loss is the amount of fiber in your food.
This kind of bagel contains around 4.7 grams of fiber per 100 grams (1).
That’s a good amount of fiber per 100 grams compared to many foods.
Fiber has multiple benefits for weight loss. First of all, it feeds your microbiome, the microbes that live in your intestines. The health of your microbiome influences your body’s health and weight. Feeding it well is usually not a bad idea.
Fiber also helps you feel less hungry without adding a lot of calories to your diet. Hunger and cravings can be a big pitfall for people trying to lose weight, so avoiding this is a big plus.
With the amount of fiber in bagels you can reduce the time you spend craving for food a bit.
Protein in bagels for weight loss
Another thing in food that can help you on your weight loss journey is the amount of protein in it.
Protein is considered to be the most filling of the 3 macronutrients. Eating enough protein will also help you prevent muscle loss. Muscle helps you burn extra calories throughout the day which is very good for weight loss. Protein calories also take your body more calories to process than calories from carbs and fats.
The amount of protein in bagels is decent compared to a lot of foods. That being said, if you need a lot of protein in a small volume of food there are better options.
Do bagels make you lose or gain weight?
Your choice of bagel ingredients will still influence your weight loss results a lot. That being said, there are some general things to say about the bagel itself.
The example in this article is somewhat high in calories, contains a good amount of fiber, and contains some protein.
In turn, bagels are not that filling but still add a good amount of energy to your diet. This will often not be good for weight loss and potentially lead to weight gain.
Especially if you consider that there are so many food options that are more helpful for this purpose, you likely want to stay away from bagels.
At the same time, there are more suboptimal food options too. If you replace these with bagels, you could actually see more positive results.
Additionally, liking what you eat can also help you stay consistent with your plan. If eating a bagel every once in a while helps with this, it could be a decent choice from time to time.
If you do decide to eat bagels when trying to lose weight, choose bagels containing 100% whole wheat to get more fiber and protein and fewer calories compared to white bagels made with white flour.
What is the healthiest bagel to eat?
There are a few choices you can make to get a bagel that is healthier and better for weight loss.
The first choice is the bagel bread itself. In general, white bagels will have more flour, sugar, and fewer whole grains. Something like a multigrain bagel will already be an improvement.
You can expect more fiber, more vitamins and minerals and fewer unhealthy calories in bagels like that.
The next choice is the toppings you use. When trying to lose weight you usually want to go for high volume, low calorie foods or other filling choices.
Some examples of healthy bagel toppings that can benefit weight loss are:
- Fruit, specifically berries
- Healthy protein sources like salmon
Other ingredient options are cheeses like cream cheese, cottage cheese and more. With cheese you do have to keep in mind that it tends to be high in calories.
Are bagels healthier than bread?
There are many different kinds of bagels and many different kinds of bread. This makes it so that this question is more a case to case examination.
Bagels and bread also have very similar ingredients. It is not really possible to say bagels are healthier than bread in general or the other way around.