Bagels are a popular breakfast food enjoyed by many. The round, chewy bread can be topped or filled with a variety of ingredients like cream cheese, lox, eggs, or avocado. But when watching your calorie intake, it’s important to know how many calories are actually in one bagel.
On average, one plain sesame bagel without any toppings or spreads contains around 250-350 calories. However, the number of calories can vary depending on factors like the bakery, size, and any toppings or spreads added.
Calories In Different Types of Bagels
While a plain sesame bagel averages 250-350 calories, the number of calories per bagel can range depending on the specific type:
- Plain bagel: 250-350 calories
- Sesame bagel: 250-350 calories
- Poppy seed bagel: 250-300 calories
- Cinnamon raisin bagel: 250-300 calories
- Whole wheat bagel: 240-260 calories
- Garlic bagel: 300-350 calories
- Onion bagel: 300-350 calories
- Everything bagel: 300-350 calories
- Gluten-free bagel: 250-300 calories
As you can see, flavored or topped bagels tend to be slightly higher in calories. This is because they contain additional ingredients like seeds, dried fruit, or herbs and spices.
Factors Affecting Calories in a Bagel
There are a few key factors that impact the number of calories in a bagel:
Bagel sizes can range from small “mini” bagels to extra large. Larger bagels will have more calories and smaller bagels will have fewer calories. A mini 2-inch bagel may only contain around 110 calories, while an extra large 6-inch bagel could have over 500 calories.
2. Bakery and Preparation
How a bagel is prepared can alter its calorie content as well. A hand-rolled boiled bagel from an artisan bakery will likely have fewer calories than a mass-produced baked bagel. Additionally, different bakeries may use slightly different ingredients and recipes that affect calories.
3. Toppings and Spreads
While a plain bagel has 250-350 calories, what you put on your bagel significantly increases the calories. Just a tablespoon of cream cheese can add 35-45 calories. Other common high-calorie bagel toppings include peanut butter, jam, honey, avocado, butter, and cheese spreads.
Calories in Bagel Halves vs. Slices
When portioning your bagel, cutting it in half or into slices will cut the calories as well:
|1 bagel half
|1 bagel slice (1/4 bagel)
As you can see, enjoying just half a bagel slashes the calories in half, and a single slice reduces calories even further to just 63-88 calories per portion.
Calories of Bagel Toppings
While the bagel itself contributes a significant number of calories, toppings and spreads can quickly ratchet up the totals. Here are the calories of some common bagel toppings for reference:
|Cream cheese (1 tbsp)
|Butter (1 tsp)
|Peanut butter (1 tbsp)
|Jam (1 tbsp)
|Honey (1 tbsp)
|Avocado (1 oz)
|Lox (1 oz)
|Cheddar cheese (1 oz)
Just one or two tablespoons of a topping or spread can add anywhere from 35 to over 100 calories to your bagel. To lighten up your bagel, use sparing amounts of higher calorie toppings like nut butters or opt for lower calorie options like lox, avocado, or a thin spread of cream cheese.
Lower Calorie Bagel Options
If you want to enjoy a bagel but are trying to limit your calorie intake, here are some tips for lighter bagels:
- Choose a mini or thin bagel which will have fewer calories than a large thick one
- Pick a plain or whole wheat bagel which is lower in calories than flavored or topped bagels
- Use light spreadables like whipped cream cheese or low-fat cream cheese
- Load up on veggies – tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and sprouts are low cal
- Use mustard, hummus or avocado instead of cream cheese or butter
- Opt for lower calorie smoked salmon or turkey over cheese or bacon
- Slice your bagel into halves or quarters to control portions and calories
- Avoid higher calorie bakery bagels and opt for lighter grocery store bagels
Healthiest Ways to Eat a Bagel
While bagels are often thought of as an indulgent breakfast choice, there are ways to enjoy them as part of a healthy diet:
- Make your bagel whole wheat or multigrain for more fiber, vitamins, and minerals
- Top with protein-rich foods like eggs, smoked salmon, or peanut butter for staying power
- Load up with veggies like spinach, tomatoes, onions, and avocado for nutrients
- Accompany your bagel with yogurt and fruit for a balanced breakfast
- Opt for mini bagels or bagel thins for portion control
- Stick to a thin spread of cream cheese, hummus, or avocado instead of butter
- Select low-sodium turkey or salmon as toppings over high-sodium meats like bacon or sausage
- Choose whole grain toppings like oats or sunflower seeds over sugary sprinkles or cinnamon sugar
With smart toppings and preparation methods, bagels can absolutely be part of a nutritious breakfast or light meal when minding your calories.
A plain sesame bagel contains an average of 250-350 calories, though the number can vary based on size, bakery, preparation method, and toppings. While bagels are higher in calories, you can enjoy them guilt-free as part of a healthy diet by selecting the right size and toppings. Mini bagels, thin bagels, and slicing larger bagels in halves or quarters can also help control portions and calories when you get a bagel craving.