Your Weight-Loss Solution: Reduce Bagel Calories by Scooping
I’ve said it before: I love bagels, but they are a disaster for dieters. One bakery bagel could have more than 400 calories, and that’s before you add butter or cream cheese.
The best solution is to substitute an English muffin or healthier bread for breakfast. But if giving up bagels is too drastic for you, there are other options.
Consider the scoop.
Just use a fork or your fingers to scoop out the dense interior of the bagel where most of the calories hide. Keep the crust where, I’d argue, most of the taste lies. Scooping can reduce the number of bagel calories by half.
Eating two halves of a scooped bagel has the same calories as eating half a bagel, but it seems like you’re eating more. Fooling your brain makes you feel fuller. For the typical oversized bakery bagel, this could mean a reduction of nearly 200 calories. Of course, you must resist negating all the good you’re doing by filling up the scooped out space with cream cheese. A thin spread is all you need to get the taste.
If you don’t like using a fork or your fingers, inexpensive bagel scoopers are available online. If you buy your bagel at a bagel bakery or café, ask them do it for you.
Of course, if you want to save even more bagel calories, stop slathering on the cream cheese and use that knife to cut your bagel in half!
Original bagel = 108 grams. Minus insides: 66 grams. Yes, I zeroed it so I’m not including the weight of the plate.Photo: Beth Skwarecki
Look, we don’t approve of scooping the insides out of your bagel, but you should know the truth: Scooping out the chewy insides of your bagel can subtract more than a third of the bagel’s calories.
I conducted a very scientific experiment with a very small sample (one bagel), so clearly this study requires replication before it’s fully accepted by the scientific community. But the results were dramatic: scooping is a far more effective way of reducing a bagel’s calories than doing something silly like ordering light cream cheese instead of regular.
Here’s my math:
- Nutrition information from Breugger’s: a 115g bagel contains 300 calories.
- Actual bagel: 108 grams, so 282 calories.
- Bagel minus insides: 66 grams, which means 172 calories.
- Total calorie savings: 110 calories
- Calories you’d save by opting for light instead of regular cream cheese: merely 30.
Use this information carefully; scoop too many bagels while in New York and you could reportedly ruin NYC. However, if you’re making a sandwich and want to fit the maximum possible stuffings into your mouth, removing that extra bread might be a worthwhile surgical undertaking. (PS. toast it to make croutons.)
Bagel scoopers are ruining NYC
Tucker Christon fondly remembers the bags of steaming-hot bagels his family shared growing up in Fresh Meadows, Queens. But when he moved back to the city 10 years ago, a nefarious trend had overtaken bagel eaters in New York: People were scooping out their bagels, as a way to cut down on carbs.
“That’s heresy!” he recalls thinking. “That’s bulls - - t.”
Heresy has its temptations, though: One Friday a few years ago, suffering a “bagel hangover” from too many carbs, he decided to give it a try. Christon become a convert.
“It’s still chewy, it’s still delicious,” he says of his regular order of whitefish, lettuce and tomato at Bagel World in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. “But the guy looked at me like, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ ”
Few things inspire more passionate disdain among New Yorkers — bagel scoopers are lumped in with people who eat their pizza with a fork or wear flip-flops on the subway. Part of the anger is aimed at the literal gutting of a food New Yorkers regard with beatific pride; part of it is the waste involved — all scoopings go directly into the trash.
A Brooklyn woman says seeing her now-ex-boyfriend scoop out his bagel was a dealbreaker.Brian Zak
“It was the moment I realized my ex was a monster,” Lisa Rosenberg, a 27-year-old graphic designer living in Bushwick, Brooklyn, says of a guy she dated for about a year. “Even watching someone eating is completely repulsive.”
The controversy is covered in a new book “Should I Scoop Out My Bagel?” by dietitian Ilyse Schapiro and Hallie Rich, out Tuesday.
“Scooping a bagel won’t leave you missing anything important,” they claim, “but it will help you cut excess calories and carbs.”
But the number of calories saved is minimal, other experts counter. “You’re saving maximum 75 calories by scooping it out,” argues nutritionist Marissa Lippert. That’s about as the same calories as an apple.
The authors recommend downright sacrilege: buying lower-calorie packaged bagels from the supermarket. “The taste may not compare, but we love our asses in our favorite jeans more.”
Jillian Steinhauer, a 31-year-old editor in Park Slope, Brooklyn, doesn’t buy that argument.
“In that case, why are you ordering a bagel?” she asks. “You may as well just eat the cream cheese on its own.”
Like it or not, scooping is now here to stay. Top bagel shops including Terrace Bagels, Bagel Pub, Ess-a-Bagel and La Bagel Delight scoop on request. Notoriously fussy Murray’s Bagels in Greenwich Village, which only changed its no-toasting policy in September, has a “Scoop Both Sides” option at registers.
“The customer comes first,” says Melanie Frost, chief operating officer of Ess-a-Bagel.
Dan Pashman, host of the WNYC podcast “The Sporkful,” describes scooping as a symptom of a larger alarming trend: The classic NYC bagel is disappearing due to “bagelflation,” caused by transplants who come to New York accustomed to huge, doughy rolls masquerading as bagels.
He’s come up with a compromise: trifurcation — slicing the bagel twice across and removing the middle disc.
“You improve your ratio of spread to bagel,” he says. Still, a real New York bagel is meant to be work, not a health food.
“If you eat two bagels,” he says, “your jaw should be a little sore.”
Unscooped. (Photo by Wally G)
A: If you want to!
There’s a book coming out tomorrow called Should I Scoop Out My Bagel?, but we don’t know the answer that authors Ilyse Schapiro and Hallie Rich give because we haven’t read it. The duo are self-described as “Dear Abby” meets Sex and the City meets Dr. Oz, however, and their diet book as “fun and breezy,” so their answer is probably “no, don’t scoop your bagel,” even though they probably secretly do.
Scooping bagels gets a bad rep in NYC, but have you tried it? It’s actually quite nice! For myself, the perfect bagel is an everything bagel that’s been scooped and toasted, then filled with tofu scallion cream cheese. Maybe some sliced tomatoes on top and a dash of salt and pepper. This is just for taste, not for carb-cutting—but I was raised on Lender’s frozen bagels in Connecticut, so what do I know about taste. Anyway, do I order a bagel that way? Fuck no I don’t. I have never ordered a bagel that way. I am fully aware of my geography—maybe this would fly at an Einstein’s Bagels in Nowheresville, USA, but in NYC? No. I don’t want to be that asshole in the bagel shop—if I’m going to order the bagel, I just order the bagel untoasted with cream cheese. I do not make its creator tear out its heart and soul before putting it over some electric fire for me.
People don’t really scoop for taste, however, they scoop for “health.” But scooping that bagel out isn’t going to save you much in way of calories and carbs—when this came up in 2010, nutritionist Marissa Lippert declared: “You’re saving maximum 75 calories by scooping it out.” And through our brief Google research you aren’t really cutting down much in the way of carbs, either (maybe, like, 20ish carbs if the bagel is really doughy). It’s just going to make you mentally feel like you are somehow cheating the system, and therefore you can rationalize eating the bagel. But if you are concerned about calories and carbs, what are you doing in a bagel shop? There’s probably a nice juice place just next door.
Listen, if you want to scoop your bagel, here is what you do: you do whatever you want to do. You may be in New York City, where this type of behavior is frowned upon, but you are also in America, where our Constitution makes it very clear that if you want to gut your bagel you can gut your bagel. Don’t let the NY Post tell you what you to do. Don’t let us tell you what to do. It’s just a goddamn bagel.