Healthy Options at Subway

May 10, 2010 8:42 am
Posted in: Menu Mondays
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Healthy Options at Subway

Subway is my “go-to” restaurant anytime I need a quick lunch that completes the impossible triangle: Good, Fast, and Cheap.

However, Subway is not without its pitfalls.  Although they have a myriad of healthful options, they also have quite a few gut-bombs that’ll set you back half a day’s calories (and an entire day’s worth of fat & sodium).  If you’re not careful on some of your choices, it’s easy to double the fat and calories in your sandwich… without adding any extra nutrition (or all that much flavor).

Also, don’t fall for the “Health Halo” that Subway proudly flaunts: People are likely to consume more calories at Subway than McDonald’s.


Some General Guidelines

Get a 6″ sandwich (or salad!). The Footlong sandwiches, unless you get the Veggie DeLite® without cheese, start at 540 calories and can have 2400mg of sodium — a whole day’s worth.

Don’t be fooled by the “6 grams of fat or less” menu. Although the healthiest choices are indeed on that menu, some of those options are crazy-high in sodium, and officially none of them include cheese (that’s how they keep the fat content so low) — and my experience is that just about everyone adds cheese.

Skip the soda (and get a free cup of water). They also have fresh-brewed iced teas, though make sure to get the unsweetened one.

Skip the chips. Get a Bag Of Apples instead, raisins, or perhaps a yogurt. They cost the same as the chips, and Subway includes them in the “combo” meal pricing (if you insist on getting that soda).

Watch the Sauce — or you’ll add hundreds of calories without even realizing it.

Load up the Veggies — all of the veggies are low-cal and nutritious. If you’re watching sodium, though, consider skipping the pickles (125mg in 3 chips) and jalapeños (70mg in 3 rings).

Swap out Iceberg for Spinach — It seems most locations now offer Spinach as an option. Get that instead of the shredded Iceberg Lettuce. You get a similar crunch (and a better taste, in my opinion), and some bonus nutrients. (Spinach is one of the healthiest leafy greens, and iceberg is one of the least).

Before I get to the best/choice details, here’s my sandwich of choice. It’s delicious, with lots of great texture, crunch, and a bit of heat.

6″ Veggie Delite® on 9-grain wheat with Swiss cheese, spinach, tomato, cucumber, onion, bell peppers, black olives, jalapeño slices, avocado, vinegar, and fresh cilantro (or dried oregano).

427 cal, 4.8g sat fat, 20g total fat, 587mg sodium, 11g fiber, 15g protein

[ Update: Since originally writing this post, I learned that the 9-grain Wheat bread contains more High Fructose Corn Syrup than whole grain flour (read the comments). Now when I go to Subway, I'll get a veggie salad with avocado, and ask for spinach instead of lettuce. ]

Although I should probably cut out the cheese (my kryptonite), it’s just not going to happen. I add avocado because (1) it tastes great, (2) it’s got healthful unsaturated fats, and (3) makes the sandwich much more substantial. Note that I do not add oil or other dressing — the vinegar makes the sandwich plenty moist, and the jalapeño adds lots of zing. If I’m feeling saucy (sorry), I might add mustard.

As I mentioned above, the “6 grams of fat or less” menu includes sandwiches without cheese. Since most people include cheese (and every “sandwich artist” I’ve ever met assumed that I wanted cheese), that makes the nutrition information provided by Subway somewhat inaccurate. So, I added two “triangles” of cheddar cheese to all the “6 grams of fat or less” subs (which, of course, bumps their fat over 6 grams). Details on the specific cheeses are listed further down.


6” Sandwiches – Better Choices

Veggie Delite®
290 cal, 3.5g sat fat, 7.5g total fat, 505mg sodium, 5g fiber, 12g protein

Oven Roasted Chicken
380 cal, 5.5g sat fat, 9.5g total fat, 845mg sodium, 5g fiber, 27g protein

Turkey Breast
340 cal, 4.0g sat fat, 8g total fat, 1,005mg sodium, 5g fiber, 22g protein

Roast Beef
380 cal, 4.5g sat fat, 9.5g total fat, 935mg sodium, 5g fiber, 30g protein

“6 grams of fat or less” menu, 6” Sandwiches – Worst Choices

I’m singling these out mostly because of their outrageous sodium content — about half your daily max. Again, I’ve added two slices of cheddar cheese to the numbers below (so it won’t match the info on Subway’s website).

Black Forest Ham
350 cal, 4g sat fat, 9.5g total fat, 1,295mg sodium, 5g fiber, 22g protein

Subway Club
380 cal, 4.5g sat fat, 9g total fat, 1,255mg sodium, 5g fiber, 30g protein

Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki
440 cal, 4g sat fat, 9.5g total fat, 1,105mg sodium, 5g fiber, 30g protein

Turkey Breast & Ham
350 cal, 4g sat fat, 9g total fat, 1,235mg sodium, 5g fiber, 24g protein

6” Sandwiches – Worst Choices Overall

Remember, getting a Footlong will double these already-high numbers!

Subway Feast
550 cal, 9g sat fat, 23g total fat, 2,610mg sodium (!!!!), 6g fiber, 39g protein

Big Philly Cheesesteak
520 cal, 9g sat fat, 18g total fat, 1,570mg sodium, 6g fiber, 39g protein

Chicken & Bacon Ranch
570 cal, 10g sat fat, 28g total fat, 1,190mg sodium, 5g fiber, 35g protein

Meatball Marinara
580 cal, 9g sat fat, 23g total fat, 1,530mg sodium, 9g fiber, 24g protein

Spicy Italian
520 cal, 11g sat fat, 28g total fat, 1,830mg sodium, 5g fiber, 22g protein

Tuna
530 cal, 6g sat fat, 30g total fat, 930mg sodium, 5g fiber, 21g protein

Cold Cut Combo
410 cal, 6g sat fat, 16g total fat, 1,450mg sodium, 5g fiber, 21g protein

Italian BMT®
450 cal, 8g sat fat, 20g total fat, 1,730mg sodium, 5g fiber, 22g protein

Subway Melt
380 cal, 5g sat fat, 11g total fat, 1,530mg sodium, 5g fiber, 25g protein

6” Bread Only – Better Choices

“Omega 3″ Wheat Bread
230 cal, 0.5g sat fat, 3g total fat, 310mg sodium, 4g fiber, 8g protein

9-Grain Wheat
210 cal, 0.5g sat fat, 2g total fat, 410mg sodium, 4g fiber, 8g protein

Honey Oat
260 cal, 0.5g sat fat, 3g total fat, 430mg sodium, 5g fiber, 9g protein

Sourdough - A bit low in fiber, but also lower in sodium.
210 cal, 1g sat fat, 3g total fat, 210mg sodium, 3g fiber, 8g protein

6” Bread Only – Worst Choices

None of the other bread options are great, since they’re all low in fiber — which means they’re probably using only refined flour — so I’ve listed everything else here from “least bad” to “worst of all,” more or less.

Hearty Italian Bread
220 cal, 0.5g sat fat, 2g total fat, 390mg sodium, 2g fiber, 8g protein

Italian (White) Bread
200 cal, 0.5g sat fat, 2g total fat, 390mg sodium, 1g fiber, 7g protein

Flatbread
240 cal, 1g sat fat, 5g total fat, 480mg sodium, 2g fiber, 8g protein

Wrap
240 cal, 1g sat fat, 5g total fat, 480mg sodium, 2g fiber, 8g protein

Italian Herbs & Cheese
250 cal, 2.5g sat fat, 5g total fat, 590mg sodium, 2g fiber, 10g protein

Monterey Cheddar
240 cal, 3g sat fat, 5g total fat, 460mg sodium, 1g fiber, 10g protein

Roasted Garlic
230cal, 0.5g sat fat, 2.5g total fat, 1,360mg sodium, 2g fiber, 8g protein

Cheese – Better Choices

Numbers listed below are for two triangles. Cheese does not contain any dietary fiber.

Also, there isn’t a huge difference between most of these choices. I picked Provolone and Swiss as the best because they have more protein than most options and a little less fat and sodium.

Provolone (two half-circles)
50 cal, 2g sat fat, 4g total fat, 125mg sodium, 4g protein

Swiss
50 cal, 2.5g sat fat, 4.5g total fat, 30mg sodium, 4g protein

Cheese – Worst Choices

Cheddar
60 cal, 3g sat fat, 5g total fat, 95mg sodium, 4g protein

Processed American Cheese
40 cal, 2g sat fat, 3.5g total fat, 200mg sodium, 2g protein

Pepperjack
50 cal, 2.5g sat fat, 4g total fat, 140mg sodium, 2g protein

Condiments – Better Choices

Yellow Mustard or Deli Brown Mustard (2 teaspoons)
5 cal, no fat, 115mg sodium, no fiber, no protein

Vinegar (1 teaspoon)
8 cal, no fat, no sodium, no fiber, no protein

Condiments – Worst Choices

Shown here from most offensive to least egregious.

Chipotle Southwest Sauce
100 cal, 1.5g sat fat, 10g total fat, 220mg sodium, no fiber, no protein

Mayonnaise (1 tablespoon)
110 cal, 2g sat fat, 12g total fat, 80mg sodium, no fiber, no protein

Light Mayonnaise (1 tablespoon)
50 cal, 1g sat fat, 5g total fat, 100mg sodium, no fiber, no protein

Olive Oil Blend (1 teaspoon)
45 cal, 1g sat fat, 5g total fat, no sodium, no fiber, no protein
I wonder what’s in the “blend?”

Fat Free Honey Mustard
30 cal, no fat, 115mg sodium, no fiber, no protein, 6g sugars

Fat Free Sweet Onion
40 cal, no fat, 85mg sodium, no fiber, no protein, 8g sugars

These last two aren’t so bad, except for the added sugars.

Side Dish – Better Choices

Apple Slices
35 cal, no fat, no sodium, 2g fiber, no protein

Raisins
130 cal, no fat, no sodium, 2g fiber, 2g protein

Baked Lays®
130 cal, no sat fat, 1.5g total fat, 150mg sodium, 2g fiber, 2g protein

Dannon Light and Fit® Yogurt
80 cal, no fat, 80mg sodium, no fiber, 5g protein, 11g sugars

Side Dish – Worst Choices

Any bag of chips, other than the Baked Lays®

Any cookie

Best Choices – Salads

Subway will turn pretty much any sandwich into a salad, which is great — though you definitely have to choose wisely, else you’ll end up with a ton of calories and sodium (mostly from the dressing).

Salads contain meat/poultry, iceberg lettuce, red onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, green bell peppers, and olives, and do not include salad-dressing or croutons.

Every time I’ve asked, they’ve happily made me a salad with spinach instead — which makes it a lot tastier, healthier, and, well, fancier.

Veggie DeLite®
50 cal, no sat fat, 1g total fat, 65mg sodium, 4g fiber, 3g protein

Oven Roasted Chicken
130 cal, 0.5g sat fat, 2g total fat, 280mg sodium, 4g fiber, 19g protein

Roast Beef
140 cal, 1g sat fat, 3.5g total fat, 500mg sodium, 4g fiber, 21g protein

Turkey Breast
110 cal, 0.5g sat fat, 2g total fat, 570mg sodium, 4g fiber, 12g protein

Worst Choices – Salads

Ham
110 cal, 1g sat fat, 3g total fat, 850mg sodium, 4g fiber, 12g protein

Subway Club
140 cal, 1g sat fat, 3.5g total fat, 810mg sodium, 4g fiber, 20g protein

Turkey Breast & Ham
120 cal, 0.5g sat fat, 3g total fat, 800mg sodium, 4g fiber, 14g protein

Salad Dressing – Better Choices

To get a bit more flavor, you may want to add Black Pepper, Dried Oregano, Fresh Cilantro, Banana Peppers (Pepperoncini), or Jalapeños.

Vinegar (1 teaspoon)
8 cal, no fat, no sodium, no fiber, no protein

Fat Free Honey Mustard
30 cal, no fat, 115mg sodium, no fiber, no protein, 6g sugars

Fat Free Sweet Onion
40 cal, no fat, 85mg sodium, no fiber, no protein, 8g sugars

Olive Oil Blend (1 teaspoon)
45 cal, 1g sat fat, 5g total fat, no sodium, no fiber, no protein

Salad Dressing – Worst Choices

Ranch (2 ounces)
320 cal, 6g sat fat, 35g total fat, 560mg sodium, no fiber, no protein, 2g sugars

Fat-Free Italian (2 ounces)
35 cal, no fat, 720mg sodium, no fiber, 1g protein, 4g sugars

Breakfast – Better Choices

Switching to Egg Whites cuts these numbers by approx. 30 calories, 1g of saturated fat, 2.5g total fat, and 1g protein.

Any Egg Muffin Melt, except the Double Bacon, Egg & Cheese
170-190 cal, 2-2.5g sat fat, 6-7g fat, 450-650mg sodium, 5-6g fiber, 13-16g protein
The basic “Egg & Cheese” melt is the best of all these.

Double Bacon, Egg & Cheese Muffin Melt
220 cal, 3.5g sat fat, 10g total fat, 640mg sodium, 5g fiber, 16g protein

Breakfast – Worst Choices

Switching to Egg Whites cuts these numbers by approx. 30 calories, 1g of saturated fat, 2.5g total fat, and 1g protein.

6” Cheese & Egg Omelet Sandwich
420 cal, 7g sat fat, 18g total fat, 1,060mg sodium, 5g fiber, 22g protein

Any 6″ Omelet Sandwich, except the 6″ Cheese & Egg
450-520 cal, 7-11g sat fat, 19-25g total fat, 1,430-1,450mg sodium, 5g fiber, 27-31g protein

Menu Mondays are my recommendations for the most healthful options at chain restaurants. Although it may be tough to find “perfect” options when eating out, it’s important to choose “better” whenever possible, and I hope these guides will help make that easier for you.

indicates the “best-of-the-best,” and X indicates the “worst-of-the-worst,” more or less.

Subway Nutrition Info

Photo by _BuBBy_.

47 Comments on "Healthy Options at Subway"
  1. Comment left on:
    November 17, 2013 at 2:47 pm
    Ashley Lauren says:

    Please update this as the nutritional facts are outdated!

  2. .
    December 20, 2013 at 7:34 am

    […] try working up a bit of sweat for the first 30 minutes before settling down to eat your healthy Subway sandwich. And as always, use the stairs instead of the […]

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