Lunch Break: Quiznos

A good number of the sandwiches at this chain are winners, but find out which one will surely make you bust out of your jeans.

By: Jazelle Hunt

Quiznos's Double-cheese cheesesteak sub contains almost all of your daily calories. Photograph courtesy of Quiznos's.

The sandwich, with its portable, crowd-pleasing versatility, is perhaps the perfect lunch option. Quiznos hasn’t exactly cornered the market on this trusty meal, but the signature meltiness of their offerings keep people coming back.

This week, Kait Fortunato, a registered dietitian with Maryland-based nutrition counseling practice Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, holds a magnifying glass to the popular eatery’s menu. Overall, she thinks you should err on the side of caution.

“It’s not one of the best places to go; they add a lot of dressings, cheese, and mayo, and the serving sizes are larger,” she says.

DON'T EAT . . .

• Double-cheese cheesesteak signature sub: The online menu proudly proclaims, “EXTRA MEAT!” and the sub’s name says it all—our expert even laughs after saying it aloud. This nightmare sandwich contains almost all of your daily calories and more than your recommended daily dose of sodium (which is about 2,300 milligrams)—that's up to 1,430 calories and 2,350 milligrams of sodium. Not even the “half now/half later” strategy can save this one.

• Tuna melt: “This is one of the worst items on the menu,” says our dietitian. Even at its smallest size (eight inches), it packs 506 calories—a proper dinnertime number—more than half of which are from fat. Fortunato explains, “Tuna is normally good for you, but adding the cheese and the mayo for the tuna salad really bumps it up.”

• Chicken carbonara signature sub: “It comes on a large sub roll, so you’re getting a lot of carbs; then it adds bacon, mozzarella, and creamy bacon Alfredo sauce,” Fortunato points out. “It’s just a lot of processed ingredients.” Even worse, if you get it on a large wheat bread, you'll pack in 2,670 milligrams of sodium and 56.5 grams of fat.


DO EAT . . .

• Cantina chicken sammie: Sammies are the Quiznos flatbread option, which already puts them ahead of the pack by reducing the amount of bread and the overall serving size. Fortunato adds, “Chicken is lean protein, and [the sammie] has a mustard-based spread, as opposed to creamy ranch or mayo.” Plus it piles on the veggies, and still manages to be filling despite its snack-worthy 280 calories.

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• Honey bourbon chicken classic sub (small): Despite two condiments, this sub has no trans fat, is low in sodium, and has only 320 calories. You could probably even get away with having the regular size, except it contains half of your daily recommended sodium.

• Chili: This stuff is generally good for you when eaten one cup at a time, and at Quiznos it’s even better than the salads, according to our expert. “Chili has no trans fat, good protein, and one of the fewest carb [totals] on the menu,” she explains. Fortunato also recommends combining the chili with other menu items to create well-rounded meals, such as a sammie and a side of chili, or a bowl of chili with a side salad.

• Veggie classic sub: “This sandwich has guacamole, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids,” she says. It also uses vinaigrette as a condiment. Fortunato’s only caveat is to be careful with the cheese—ask your server to go light on the stuff, or skip it altogether.

Generally, you want to choose lean proteins such as chicken and turkey over more-processed or salty meats such as steak and salami. But examine what you’re eating, regardless of the catchy titles. “A lot of people—me included—look to turkey subs,” Fortunato says. “Turkey’s great, but all those added condiments and toppings like mayo, ranch, and bacon will throw a lean protein over the edge.” She also warns about fruity salads, which aren’t inherently bad but can pack lots of sugar if they’re made with three or more fruits (especially dried fruit).

Regardless of where you’re lunching, our RD says that portion control and planning are key. “You don’t really need to cut things out of your diet totally—it’s all about portion control and balance. I’m an advocate of going out to eat and hanging with friends, but you should look at the menu plan ahead.”

Kait Fortunato can be contacted at kait@rbitzer.com or 732-921-1709.