Waffles are a popular breakfast food enjoyed by many. However, when trying to lose weight or eat healthy, you may wonder if waffles should be avoided. The answer isn’t straightforward – it depends on the type of waffle and toppings used. By choosing whole grain waffles and healthy toppings, waffles can be worked into a balanced diet.
Are Waffles Healthy?
Waffles themselves are not necessarily unhealthy, but they aren’t particularly nutrient-dense either. A standard waffle made from refined white flour contains mostly empty calories with little fiber, protein or nutrients. However, waffles made from whole grains provide more fiber, vitamins and minerals.
For example, a 7-inch whole wheat waffle contains about:
- Calories: 150
- Protein: 5g
- Fiber: 2g
- Sugar: 2g
Whereas a white flour waffle of the same size has:
- Calories: 140
- Protein: 3g
- Fiber: 1g
- Sugar: 2g
As you can see, whole grain waffles have more nutritional value. The fiber will also help you feel fuller for longer.
Are Waffles High in Calories?
Plain waffles without any toppings are reasonable in calories. A standard 7-inch waffle ranges from 140-200 calories depending on the recipe. Where waffles start to get more calorie-dense is when you add high-fat, sugary toppings like butter, syrup, whipped cream, ice cream, etc.
For example, adding just 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and 1 tablespoon of butter to a plain waffle nearly doubles the calories to 270. Topping your waffle with sugary syrups, chocolate spreads, peanut butter, jam, nuts, whipped cream or ice cream can quickly turn this otherwise decent breakfast option into a high calorie meal.
Do Waffles Have a Lot of Carbs?
Waffles are predominantly made up of refined or whole grain flours, so they do contain a significant amount of carbohydrates. An average 7-inch waffle contains about 20-30g of carbs, which is about 80% of the calories coming from carbs.
So if you are following a low-carb or ketogenic diet, traditional waffles made with flour would not fit the criteria. There are some low-carb waffle recipes made with almond flour or cheese that contain under 10g net carbs.
Should You Avoid Waffles for Weight Loss?
Waffles don’t need to be completely avoided for weight loss, but they should be eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Here are some tips for enjoying waffles on a diet:
- Choose whole grain waffles for more fiber and nutrients
- Limit toppings to 1-2 tablespoons of maple syrup, fruit, or Greek yogurt
- Avoid adding high-fat toppings like whipped cream, butter, ice cream, chocolate, etc.
- Pay attention to portion sizes – 1 medium 7-inch waffle is a standard serving
- Eat waffles only occasionally as a treat, not every day
- Balance waffles with protein, veggies and healthy fats at other meals
- Avoid eating waffles late at night or close to bedtime
As long as you practice moderation and stick to healthy versions, waffles can be incorporated into a diet for weight loss or maintenance.
Healthy Waffle Topping Ideas
Choosing healthy toppings is key to keeping waffles low in calories, fat and sugar. Here are some delicious and nutritious topping ideas:
- Banana slices
- Berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries
- Sliced peaches, nectarines, plums, apples
- Crushed pineapple
Nuts and Seeds
- Chopped walnuts or pecans
- Almond butter
- Ground flax or chia seeds
Dairy and Yogurt
- Low-fat plain Greek yogurt
- Ricotta cheese
- Small amount of whipped cream
- Peanut butter or other nut butters
- Pure maple syrup or honey (1-2 tablespoons)
- Vanilla extract
- Ground cinnamon
- Sliced bananas
Are Waffles Good for a Balanced Diet?
Occasionally enjoying waffles can be part of a balanced diet when you pay attention to portions and ingredients. A balanced diet contains:
- Fruits, vegetables and whole grains – waffles made with 100% whole wheat provide whole grains
- Lean protein – add a side of eggs, yogurt or nut butter to your waffles
- Healthy fats – use nut butters or small amounts of heart-healthy fats
- Low-fat dairy – top your waffles with ricotta or Greek yogurt
Waffles alone are high in carbs with little protein or nutrients. But pairing waffles with protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals from other foods can help create a nutrient-rich meal that keeps you full and energized.
Healthier Waffle Recipes
If you want to lighten up your waffles try these healthy recipes:
Whole Wheat Waffles
Made with 100% whole wheat flour and lower fat milk for more nutrients.
Oats add fiber along with whole wheat flour. Can top with fruit instead of syrup.
Add Greek yogurt and egg whites for an extra protein boost.
Uses quinoa flour for a high protein, gluten-free waffle.
Buttermilk provides tangy flavor and also tenderizes with the acidity.
Uses a mix of whole wheat flour, oats, quinoa, etc for extra nutrients.
Uses low-fat milk and oil to cut down on saturated fat.
Made with non-dairy milk and oil with no eggs or butter.
Are Waffles Gluten Free?
Traditional waffles made with wheat flour contain gluten. However, there are many tasty gluten-free waffle options:
- Oats – Make sure certified gluten-free
- Rice flour
- Quinoa flour
- Buckwheat flour
- Almond flour
- Corn flour
- Coconut flour
You can find gluten-free waffle mixes that combine several of these flours. Or make your own using gluten-free oat, rice or almond flour. Top your gluten-free waffles with fruit, Greek yogurt, nut butter or other creative toppings.
Low Carb Keto Waffles
Here are some tips for ketogenic low-carb waffle recipes:
- Use almond flour, coconut flour or carbquik as the main flour
- Add flaxmeal for extra fiber
- Use butter or coconut oil for fat
- Add eggs and egg whites for protein
- Sweeten with stevia, monkfruit or erythritol
- Fold in blueberries, raspberries or blackberries
- Top with peanut butter, unsweetened whipped cream
- Add sugar-free syrup or lemon juice
Keto waffles made with nut flours, healthy fats and low carb fruits can fit into a ketogenic diet when consumed occasionally in moderation.
Are Waffles Good for Diabetics?
Waffles can be enjoyed in moderation by diabetics when blood sugar levels are well controlled. Here are some tips for diabetics to eat waffles safely:
- Stick to 1 small whole grain waffle
- Avoid large Belgian-style waffles
- Use very little or no syrup/sugar
- Add protein like nuts or Greek yogurt
- Eat waffles only occasionally, not daily
- Check blood sugar before, 1-2 hours after eating
- Take insulin or medication as prescribed
- Balance carb counts by limiting other carbs at the meal
Diabetics should be particularly cautious with adding high carb toppings like syrup, fruit, whipped cream. Work closely with your doctor to determine if waffles can be incorporated into your individualized meal plan.
Are Waffles Good for Kids?
Waffles can be a fun, kid-friendly breakfast when prepared with some healthy modifications:
- Use whole grain waffles for more nutrients
- Serve smaller portions to prevent overeating
- Top with fruit instead of syrup
- Offer nut butter, ricotta or Greek yogurt for protein
- Avoid adding sugary toppings like chocolate, candy
- Cut waffles into pieces for easier eating
- Add a side of scrambled eggs or yogurt for balance
For very young toddlers, cut waffles into small bites to reduce choking risk. Waffles can be a choking hazard under age 4.
Are Eggo Waffles Healthy?
Here is a nutrition comparison of Eggo waffles versus a typical homemade whole grain waffle (values are for 1 waffle):
As you can see, Eggo waffles are fairly comparable to homemade in calories, carbs and sugar. However, they are made from refined flour and lower in protein and fiber than whole grain. Overall, Eggo waffles are an OK breakfast option when eaten in moderation, but not as nutritious as whole grain.
Are Waffles Filling?
Plain waffles made only with flour are generally not very filling on their own. However, there are several ways to make waffles more satiating:
- Choose whole grain waffles for more fiber
- Add protein sources like Greek yogurt, eggs, nut butter
- Combine with fiber-rich fruits like raspberries, apples
- Drink water or coffee with your waffles
- Eat very slowly and mindfully
Whole grains, protein and fiber take longer to digest, keeping you fuller longer. Drinking fluids and eating slowly also enhances feelings of fullness from a meal. With the right toppings and sides, waffles can be quite filling.
Are Waffles Easy to Digest?
For most people, waffles are fairly easy to digest and do not typically cause gastrointestinal issues. A few factors determine the digestibility of waffles:
- Whole grain – Slightly harder to break down than refined flour
- Fat content – Excess butter or oil may slow digestion
- Fiber – Whole grains and fruit make stools bulkier
- Individual intolerances – Lactose, eggs, gluten, etc may cause problems for some
- Gut health – Imbalances in gut bacteria may affect tolerance
Waffles made with whole grain flour, lots of fat or high fiber toppings may be harder to digest for some people. Those with digestive issues like IBS may need to moderate portions or avoid waffles altogether during flare-ups.
Waffles can be part of a healthy diet when prepared properly. Choosing whole grain waffles with nutritious toppings like fruit, yogurt, nut butter will provide a balanced meal. Avoid going overboard with high calorie toppings. Pay attention to portions and enjoy waffles as an occasional treat, not an everyday food. With some moderation and wise choices, waffles can be worked into an overall nutritious eating pattern.