It's all about having a healthy plan on your next trip to Subway. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user jeff_golden.
Subway is a reliable lunch spot—it’s easy to find and ideal for eating at your desk those days when you’re short on time. Plus Jared, with his huge smile and even huger pants, really seems to care about your health. But we wanted to know: Can you actually eat fresh at Subway?
“Obviously one of their big hooks is Jared’s ability to lose so much weight, but really you have to maneuver very carefully through the menu or you could completely sink a healthy diet,” says local dietitian Colleen Gerg. “But there are options if you know what you want and go in with a plan.”
All of the values given are for the six-inch subs—there’s no sandwich healthy enough to justify the foot-long serving size. Gerg says, “You might think it’s cheaper, but you’ll be paying more for health care in the long run.”
Check out her sandwich selections below, plus a look at the bread and snack choices Subway has to offer.
• Meatball pepperoni melt: “This six-inch is 600 calories alone, 29 grams of fat—12 of them saturated—and the sodium is crazy: at 1,560 milligrams, that’s how much you could have in a day if you had sodium-related health concerns,” Gerg says. “Even if you don’t, that’s way too much for one meal.”
• Turkey breast: “The sodium is going to be high, but the fat is much lower than in the other sandwiches,” our expert says. Skip the cheese and fatty condiments and pile on veggies to push this sandwich closer to the healthy side.
• Veggie delite or oven-roasted chicken: Both choices are on Subway’s “six grams of fat or less” menu, which is a great place to start when deciding on lunch. “The veggie delite is clearly the best on the menu, but unless you’re a vegetarian it might not appeal to you,” Gerg says. If you’re a meat lover, the oven-roasted chicken still lets you pack on all the fiber-rich veggies you want, and has less sodium than its turkey counterpart.
• Worst—roasted garlic: “I was so shocked that [this bread] alone has 1,260 milligrams of sodium—that blows my mind,” Gerg says. That’s more than a full meal should have. Additionally, it packs seven grams of sugar, which is a lot for bread. And if you were thinking of ditching the rolls entirely, the flatbread isn’t much better.
• Best—nine-grain wheat: This bread is a reasonable 210 calories, has no cholesterol, and packs protein and fiber. But wheat bread can be tricky. Comparatively, honey oat has one more gram of fiber and protein but nine grams of sugar, the same as a little more than a third of a Hershey bar. Gerg says, “Most people think they’re doing themselves a huge favor by eating wheat, but the biggest difference between [this choice] and the Italian white bread is the white has one gram of fiber and the wheat has four.”
• Worst—Doritos: Some Subways haven’t fully gone the Sun Chips/Baked Lays route (which are better choices if you crave chips at lunchtime). Doritos are not your friend—but we’re sure you knew that already.
• Best—Yogurt parfait: Between cookies, bagged apple slices, and chips, this should be an easy choice. The parfait has almost no fat, six grams of protein, 20 percent of your daily vitamin C, and 15 percent of your daily recommended calcium.
One of Subway’s strengths is that you get free rein—Gerg says you should play up that advantage. “You can be more proactive and make your own choices instead of eating the predetermined sandwiches,” she encourages. “Educate yourself and pick and choose so you’re creating your own thing, which could end up a lot healthier that what they offer.”
Colleen Gerg can be reached via her website or at 202-342-1560.