Good news: Carbs don't have to be your diet nemesis. In fact, they're pretty important for proper brain and body function, which is why you shouldn't shy away from that bagel craving. Sure, most varieties are oversized and dish out way more calories and carbs than we generally need in a meal—and that's before you even factor in your spread. But seriously, there is a way to enjoy without destroying the hard-fought effort you just put in at the gym. Here's how:
Eat half. Less bagel = less empty calories. You can split your bagel with a pal or save the other half for later.
Scoop it out. If leaving half your bagel alone sounds ridiculous or pretty damn near impossible, well, I feel you. Scooping out the inside instead will save you a couple hundred calories and you can down the whole bagel in bliss.
Go for whole grain. It fits in more fiber, filling you up faster—and keeping you that way for longer. Just remember to check your labels: Gluten-free doesn't always equal whole grain, as many gluten-free bread products are made from white rice and tapioca flour, which have little-to-no fiber. Don't confuse the two.
Rethink your spreads. Avocado, nut butter, and hummus are satisfying spreads that give you a hit of fiber and let you skip the saturated fat in cream cheese and butter. Steer clear of sweet cream cheeses to keep sugar intake in check and if you're willing to go tangy, try plain Greek yogurt and mix it with your favorite herbs for a personalized flavor. (See: 10 Surprising Health Benefits of Yogurt).
Add protein. Eggs, egg whites, and smoked salmon are all great sources of protein that'll help you recover after a muscle-blasting workout. (See: Easy, Healthy Egg Recipes). Or, if sweet is more your style, reach for peanut or almond butter.
Mix in veggies. Sorry, veggie cream cheese doesn't count. Go for the real deal to add fiber and important vitamins and minerals. Scramble in some veggies with an egg or two, or add sliced tomato. Greens are also super-easy to stuff into a bagel, or you can try roasted veggies like pepper, eggplant, and zucchini.