As regular readers may know, bagels are a staple of my diet. I eat one more or less every day, and have various toppings I use to make them taste really good. Bagels give me lots of energy to help me train the way I do and sustain me throughout the day. I love bagels!
Bagels = Carbohydrates = Energy = Sustenance
I first came across the idea of bagels for energy in a Runners World magazine. Runners World suggested them as a good energy course for runners. See here for Runners World Nutrition Basics.
However recently people I know have been questioning if they are good or bad, or stating to me that they are really bad.‘Bagels are bad for you.’
‘Too many Carbs.’
‘Bagels won’t help you lose weight’…
It’s lucky my goal isn’t to lose weight then isn’t it? ;-) (And by the way, bread and potatoes are bad for you too … too many carbohydrates as well).
It is impossible to make a blanket statement that all bagels are good or all bagels are bad. If you eat too many bagels, they can be bad for you. It’s the same as anything you eat. Too much of anything is most probably bad for you. Everything in moderation and all that.
My goal with my diet and nutrition is to fuel my exercise and try and be as healthy as I can. I want to maintain my weight and have my nutrition work with the exercise I do to be in the best shape I can be. I want to have a healthy varied and balanced diet. I think bagels help me to get that.
However if your goal is weight loss, you may want to reconsider or reduce the amount of carbs you intake. See here for reasons why carbs can be bad. And look out for a post in the next few days from me about the story of Low Carb Diets and why they work.
Here’s a bit more about bagels:
A standard bagel is not necessarily bad for you. It is mainly flour, a rising agent, salt, water and some sugar or other sweetener.
As an example, a medium plain bagel contains about 289 calories and 1.68 g of fat. It has no cholesterol, but it does contain 561 g of sodium. However, it also contains 2.4 g of fibre and 11 g of protein. On its own, a plain bagel is not loaded with bad ingredients.
Bagels can become bad for you when you eat too many of them, particularly because they are high in carbohydrates. Your body needs carbs to break down into glucose, the simple sugar molecule that provides fuel for your body.
However, when you eat more carbohydrates than you burn, your body stores the glucose as fat. That’s where bagels and high carb foods can be bad for you. When you don’t burn off the energy you consume. When you exercise as much as I do, burning on average 5,000 calories a week, you can afford to eat bagels and high carbohydrate foods. In fact, you need high carbohydrate foods to fuel your exercise.
One plain bagel contains more than 56g of carbohydrates. If you eat too many, you can easily get too many carbs, which your body will then store as fat. Depending on your exercise and goals, you should maintain between 40 to 65 per cent of your daily caloric intake from carbohydrates.
Types of Bagels
The type of bagel matters as well when considering nutritional value. A multigrain or whole-wheat bagel is a healthier choice, since it will be higher in fibre and nutrients found in unrefined flour. However, many flavoured bagels have additional sugar, cheese or other ingredients that might lessen the nutritional value.
It’s best to choose whole-grain bagels because they have a lower glycaemic index than white bagels. High-glycaemic refined grains can make weight loss more difficult because they lead to quick spikes in your blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar levels drop soon after, you may feel hungrier than after eating low-glycaemic foods, such as whole grain bagels. See more about Glycaemic load and weight loss here.
To further lower the glycaemic index, choose high-fibre bagels, such as those with oat bran, or bagels with seeds on them. I like cinnamon and raisin bagels, and again, I exercise a lot so I can virtually eat what type I want and be ok (or at least that’s what I’m telling myself anyway )
Unhealthy toppings can make bagels bad for you, while healthful ones can help make bagels a good choice for breakfast or a snack. Cream cheese and butter, two of the most popular bagel toppings, are high in fat and empty calories, making them unhealthy additions to your bagel.
However, low-fat peanut butter, low-fat cheese, cottage cheese, reduced-sugar jam or fresh fruit can add flavour and interest to your bagel without piling on fat and sugar. My favourites are peanut butter and nutella, peanut butter and banana, or cottage cheese for a high protein hit.
Bagels may be more likely to help you lose weight if you eat them with a source of protein to slow the digestion of the starchy carbohydrates in your bagel. This can make you less hungry for the next meal so that it is easier to stick to your diet and eat fewer calories.
Try a bagel with cottage cheese, fat-free plain or artificially sweetened, flavoured yogurt, low-fat cheese or a slice of turkey breast. You could also try your bagel with some fresh fruit, grapes or berries: low in calories and high in dietary fibre. A small amount of peanut butter adds protein and dietary fibre.
So what do you think? Do you like bagels? Do you think bagels are good or bad? Or don’t you even care and you just eat them anyway!? ;-)