Are Bagels Good for Bulking? (Carb Recommendations) - Bodies By Byrne (2023)

When it comes to bulking, some people find real struggle in hitting their daily calorie targets, especially people with low appetite or high metabolisms. To push through this, it is ideal to eat calorie-dense foods in an attempt to bring down the overall volume of food required.

You can do this by substituting some of your “cleaner” bulking foods with slightly more calorific ones. This will help you to bring the overall calories of a meal up.

The food in particular that we will be looking at today is bagels, and whether they are worthy food to be incorporated into your bulking meal plan.

Plenty of fitness influencers are seen including bagel recipes in their diet plans but are bagels good for bulking or should you look at another alternative for bulking like regular bread?

Table of Contents

What is a Bagel?

A Bagel is a type of bread that has been formed into a ring with a hole in the middle. It was originally created within Jewish communities however is now a snack enjoyed by a huge population of the world.

You can toast them, add toppings or spread to them, or just eat them on their own. There are endless possibilities when it comes to bagels and their caloric density is what has pushed them to be a popular food within the fitness community.

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Bagels are made from the same basic ingredients as bread which are flour, yeast, salt, and sweetening. They are also rich in carbohydrates which allows them to be a great food to use in your meals through a bulking phase.

How Many Calories Are in a Bagel?

When considering a food to be included in your diet, it’s important to look at the calories and macronutrients found inside the food. These can help you decide whether there is a place for the food in your meal plan or not as some food groups are definitely more favorable than others when bulking.

Here are the exact calories for 1 bagel

Per 100gPer Bagel
(of which saturates)0.2g0.2g
(of which sugars)5.6g5.0g

As you can see, 1 bagel contains roughly 232 calories. When put alongside a slice of bread, this seems like an absurd amount, however you need to remember that 1 bagel is the equivalent to 2 slices of bread which can range from 180-200 calories.

This is not to mention the number of calories received from your fillings of choice. For example, 15 grams of mayonnaise is roughly 100 calories and a fried egg is 150. This gives you the ability to make a very high-calorie meal while using a bagel as the foundation.

Are Bagels Good for Bulking?

When asking yourself if a food is good for bulking it’s important to look at the main points. Is it calorie-dense? Does it contain the right nutrition? Is it cheap or easy to prepare?

Firstly, after having a look at the calorie content within a bagel, it’s safe to say that two bagels are a great foundation for any bulking meal.

Two bagels will bring you to 500 calories which is a great starting point for any filling of your choice. For example, chicken and mayonnaise may bring the whole calorie count to around 900 calories which is a huge chunk of your daily surplus.

Another great point is the bagel’s carb content. A single bagel has almost as many carbs as 4 slices of bread (which are perfect for building muscle while on a bulk).

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Carbs are essential for any bulking diet as they help your body process protein for muscle growth. They should take up around 45-55% of your total daily calories and while there are plenty of carb sources for bulking, bagels are a bodybuilder favorite for good reason!

When considering the cost, it is hard to argue that bagels aren’t a cost-effective way to consume carbs and calories. A pack of 5 bagels can cost you around $3 with 1 bagel on average costing around 50 cents. This makes bagels to be affordable and accessible to students and anyone bulking on a budget.

A bagel is arguably a perfect bulking food.

This is because not only can it be prepared in minutes, but it can also be stored easily to be eaten anywhere. This is perfect for eating at work, on the bus to school, or anytime you are in a rush. This shows they are perfect for people with busy schedules and minimal free time.

How to Eat Bagels When Bulking

Thankfully, bagels can be catered to fit a wide variety of lifestyles and preferences due to the versatility and countless combinations that a bagel can be consumed with. Here are some of my recommendations for eating bagels while bulking.

One of the most protein-packed ways of eating a bagel is by using ingredients commonly found in a breakfast. For example, sausage and egg or bacon and egg. These are perfect fillings as you get the protein and calories from a sausage but also the quality protein from the egg that helps you reach your daily protein targets.

These can also be very calorific when cooked in oil, so if you have a low metabolism you may want to try these in moderation to avoid gaining any unwanted weight.

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If you are someone who wishes to follow a slightly healthier diet, then this next option may appeal more to you. Chicken and avocado are a favorite when it comes to clean yet nutritious sandwiches.

To prepare the chicken in the healthiest way I would recommend oven baking it. This reduces the fat content by avoiding frying it in oil. The avocado also brings a handful of vitamins and healthy fats to the sandwich. This is a healthy yet calorific meal that can be incorporated into your meal plan.

Other healthy and calorie-dense options include cream cheese bagels (arguably the go-to option for people bulking), cream cheese and salmon, tuna salad, Nutella, peanut butter, and peanut butter and jelly.

All of these foods individually are solid options for bulking so combining them makes for a complete bulking meal with a high amount of carbs, protein, and fats – alongside the overall calorie intake.

Bagel Alternatives for Bulking

For some people, whether it be for allergy or personal reasons, bagels are not an option. So here we’re going to discuss a few alternatives that offer similar nutrition.

The first alternative we will be covering is simply whole wheat toast. 1 slice of whole wheat toast contains almost 1/3 of the total calories in a bagel. You can then apply any toppings you wish, tuna, cream cheese, or even cucumber. This makes toasted whole wheat bread to be a great alternative.

Another slightly healthier alternative to the bagel is flatbread. 1 flatbread contains roughly 100 calories and can be enjoyed using all the same feelings as a bagel. It can be prepared in minutes and eaten on the go. I would recommend the flatbread to anyone looking for a healthier option.

Finally, tortilla wraps are another great alternative. While you can’t eat a tortilla with the same variety of spreads, they are arguably a better option for making high-calorie meals. This is because they can hold more fillings and these can include more carbs in the form of rice and beans.

Final Thoughts

When you look across all the points we’ve mentioned, they all point to bagels being a great bulking food. However, like most foods, they need to be eaten in moderation.

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If you are someone who has an extremely high metabolism and struggles to put on weight, I would recommend a white bagel with fillings like sausage bacon, and eggs. This will help to bring the calories up and push you toward your daily protein targets.

However, if you are someone with a low metabolism that finds no issue in putting on weight then you may want to take a different approach. I would recommend flatbread or brown bread with tuna and cucumber. This will be a far lower calorie meal however the tuna will up the protein that you may need.

Overall, bagels are a great foundation for any bulking meal, and I would recommend everyone tries to fit them into their meal plan one way or another to add some variety to a bulking diet. They are cheap, versatile, and high in carbs and calories.

If you’re looking for some other carb sources when bulking, check out our other guides on:
Is pasta good for bulkingAre potatoes good for bulking

What Next

If you are looking to make changes to your physique by either losing body fat, building muscle or looking to maintain a lean physique then sign up to my weekly newsletter below. Each week I send out actionable tips to help you lose that extra 1lb of fat or build that extra 0.5lb of muscle mass on a weekly basis.

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Don’t worry if you’re not ready for an intense program just yet, my weekly newsletter will give smaller tips that when implemented daily, will stack up over time and see you transform your body with seemingly minimal effort!



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