Fact checked by Nick Blackmer
A scooped bagel is a bagel with the interior partially scooped out, potentially making more room for spreads or toppings.
Scooping out a bagel can reduce the carbs and calories in a regular bagel—but you could cancel that out depending on what you fill it with.
Registered dietitians maintain that bagels—scooped or not—can be part of a healthy diet, and that you should eat bagels however you enjoy them the most.
To scoop or not to scoop? That’s the question floating around the internet after a Los Angeles man was refused service for his specific breakfast order.
TikTok user Taylor Offer shared a video last week detailing his experience ordering a “scooped gluten-free bagel” at a bagel shop in New York City. Offer shared that, typically, this order in L.A. isn’t given a second thought—but in New York, the reaction was different.
According to Offer, the bagel shop employee told him: “I’m not scooping your [expletive] bagel, bro,” before telling Offer to “get the [expletive] out of here.” (Offer said he finally got his scooped gluten-free bagel at another bagel shop.)
In a follow-up post, Offer also explained his reasoning for ordering a scooped-out bagel: “You get less bagel, more cream cheese.”
In addition to offering up more space for toppings like cream cheese, scooped-out bagels are also touted as being a “healthier” option for people who are looking to cut back on carbs and manage their weight.
So what’s the deal? Are scooped-out bagels actually a healthier option—or is it best to eat the bagel fully intact, as it was intended? Here’s what to know.
What Is a Scooped Bagel?
There’s no set definition for a scooped bagel, but as the name suggests, it’s a bagel with the interior partially scooped out, leaving an outer shell of sorts.
Clearly, some bagel shops allow this practice and others do not—but you can also scoop out your bagels at home by following these simple instructions:
Cut your bagel in half
Use something—your fingers, a spoon, etc.—to scoop out the interior of the bagel on both halves.
Eat as desired with whatever toppings or fillings you like.
With less actual bread to eat, scooping out a bagel also changes its nutritional profile—but the exact calorie and carbohydrate counts vary depending on how large the bagel was initially and how much was scooped out.
“Calorie and carb reduction depends on how much is actually taken out of the bagel,” Deborah Cohen, DCN, an associate professor in the Department of Clinical and Preventive Nutrition Sciences at Rutgers University School of Health Professions, told Health. “Sometimes one can get a lot out and sometimes not. It depends on the type of bagel, where it was made and if it’s toasted or not—I find scooping harder and more messy on a toasted bagel.”
But overall, “because you’re discarding quite a bit of the bagel, that results in a lower carbohydrate and calorie count,” dietitian Jessica Cording, MS, RD, author of The Little Book of Game-Changers: 50 Healthy Habits For Managing Stress & Anxiety, told Health.
"What you get is about half of a bagel," added Scott Keatley, RDN, co-owner of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy. “This brings calories down from about 350 to 175 for a 4.5-inch diameter bagel. Carbs are cut from about 70 grams to 35 grams.”
Are Scooped Bagels Really Healthier?
Nutritionists, like many others, are divided on this one.
“Besides the obvious perk of decreasing the calories, you are also making [the bagel] easier to fill with more nutritious ingredients,” Keri Gans, MS, RDN, author of The Small Change Diet, told Health. “A scooped bagel has a sort of pocket that can hold together lots of veggies, such as lettuce, tomato, onions, and cucumbers, along with the protein of choice.”
Regular, unscooped bagels, on the other hand, are harder to eat if there are a lot of vegetables and protein, she said, adding, “lots of ingredients fall out and are not eaten.”
But others say this practice isn’t necessarily as healthy as people make it out to be.
“Aside from potentially being a waste of food, I find that people will double down on cream cheese, among other calorie-dense toppings,” said Keatley. “In the end, the bagel may have more calories than before, but coming from fat and saturated fat rather than carbohydrates.”
There’s also concern about the potential negative mental health aspect of scooping bagels. “If it’s coming from a place of fear, restriction, and an unhealthy relationship with food, that’s a concern,” said Cording.
How to Craft a Healthier Bagel Order
Scooped or not, if you want to have a healthy bagel, nutritionists recommend aiming for a balance of fat and protein to balance out the carbohydrates from the bread. (This will help prevent a blood sugar crash afterward, Cording explained.)
“Eggs are a great option, and you can add things like lox,” said Cording. “For plant-based clients, I’ll recommend nut butter or avocado.”
Gans suggests eating one side of the bagel open-faced to cut down on calories and carbs (you can give the other side to a friend or save it for later). “You can also ask for a smaller amount of protein, such as tuna, egg, or chicken salad, as they tend to give enough for two bagel sandwiches,” she said.
But whether they’re pro scooping or not, nutritionists agree that there’s nothing wrong with eating a bagel the way it’s intended—or however you like it most. “Bagels can be part of a healthy, nutritious diet,” said Cohen.
“At the end of the day, eat your bagel the way you will enjoy it most,” added Gans.
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