Healthy Options at Subway

Healthy Options at Subway

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

However, Subway is not without its pitfalls.  Although they have myriad 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).

My Go-To Sandwich

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 (ahem), 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_.

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52 Comments on "Healthy Options at Subway"

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Jessica
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Jessica
May 10, 2010 10:03 pm

Yeah I tend to rely on Subway as a “healthy” alternative to fast food too. But when I go I’m addicted to the meatball sub which I get toasted with lettuce and tomato and American cheese. How unhealthy is it….? (I get a footlong but only eat 6″ per meal)

William
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William
May 12, 2010 12:55 am

What is surprising is that the 6″ meatball marinara sub has more calories than the kfc double down. You should really do an article on that and how something that seems so unhealthy actually is better than some of the other fast food items out there.

Tamara
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Tamara
September 27, 2010 5:16 am

Just a note (unless this is your cheat). The 9 Grain Wheat contains HFCS

Dawn
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Dawn
May 18, 2011 8:01 am

The Subway’s in my area all offer a veggie patty, similar to a Gardenburger patty, however I have not been able to find ANYWHERE what the nutritional info is! I typically get the veggie patty loaded with additional veggies because it is more filling (to me) than just plain veggie. Have you seen the nutritionals anywhere?

Sydney
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Sydney
September 12, 2011 3:15 pm

Just wanted to note that for some reason, Subway’s mustard has TWICE the amount of sodium as regular yellow mustard (French’s, etc). 115 vs 55. Boo!

Eman
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Eman
December 11, 2011 2:51 pm
I’d glad you posted this. Thanks! I’ve been on the subway diet recently for the past week and a half, having a 6″ for breakfast lunch and dinner, veggie delights with Swiss cheese on wheat bread. Btw, the veggie delights are $2 this month, and I just found out that if you GET IT UNTOASTED THERE IS NO TAX! So I have been spending $6 a day on food everyday, which I have decided to be a faster, cheaper, and almost-healthier option than cooking at home. However, I have two comments: 1. I’m surprised the jalapeños have 70 mg of sodium, where as if you look online for the nutrition facts of jalapeños, they normally don’t have sodium. Maybe just subway’s jalapeños…? Weird. I’ll get all of the veggies except pickles and maybe exclude jalapeños as well at times. 2. Now that you mention HFCS in the healthiest bread available… Read more »
Eman
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Eman
December 18, 2011 11:56 pm

Yeah that sounds good. Best to give it a start. I’ve never been on that site before, but I’ll try and see what I can do, then I’ll let you know!

Eman
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Eman
December 19, 2011 12:37 am

Hi Andrew,

Link:

http://www.change.org/petitions/subway-provide-a-whole-wheat-bread-and-remove-the-high-fructose-corn-syrup

I tried uploading a picture, but it won’t let me right now. Let me know what you think and what I should add to improve my petition! Thanks for spreading the word to anyone you know!

Yo mama
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Yo mama
May 11, 2012 8:04 am

I love subway;)

Stephanie
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Stephanie
May 30, 2012 10:57 am

Here’s what I always get. It’s around 375 calories and is delicious.

6″ turkey sub on wheat. I put provolone and green peppers and onions on it and then get it all toasted (makes the peppers and onions a bit sweeter in my opinion). Then I put on oil, vinegar, oregano, spinach, tomatoes, and cucumbers. I usually tell them to put it on in that order because I like the oil and vinegar to soak into the bread. Only thing about it is it’s a little high in sodium. You can add more veggies if you’d like, and I’m sure it’d still taste great.

Christian
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Christian
June 25, 2012 10:32 am

Although it may have more calories than at McDonald’s, can McDonald’s fill you up the way a sub can? Can Subway addict you to the food so that you keep buying food that will kill you? Answers – no. McDonald’s has additives and an accessive amount of sugar to keep you coming back. Therefore, in order to sell appropriately, Subway needs to maintain the “halo”.

Christian
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Christian
June 25, 2012 10:34 am

This should have been a well known fact about fast food.

Garrett
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Garrett
July 31, 2012 9:02 pm

I just started eatting at subway when I didn’t have time to make dinner for myself, after the gym, the truth is I’m f****** beat. I found this to be very helpful so I didn’t start really messing up my dinner.

Garrett
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Garrett
July 31, 2012 9:02 pm

I just started eatting at subway when I didn’t have time to make dinner for myself, after the gym, the truth is I’m f/ing beat. I found this to be very helpful so I didn’t start really messing up my dinner.

Garrett
Guest
Garrett
July 31, 2012 9:03 pm

I just started eatting at subway when I didn’t have time to make dinner for myself, after the gym, the truth is I’m beat. I found this to be very helpful so I didn’t start really messing up my dinner.

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