Fast-Food Subs – A delightful beach or picnic treat is a customized sub sandwich made to your preferences. You can generously fill it with your favorite deli meats, veggies, and condiments, wrap it up, and conveniently take it on the go.
Alternatively, you can prepare multiple subs, slice them in half, and enjoy sharing them with friends.
However, if time is short and you’re craving a satisfying sandwich, fast-food chains like Subway, Jersey Mike’s, or Jimmy John’s can provide a quick alternative.
One significant drawback of opting for a fast-food sub instead of making your own is the limited control over calorie, fat, and sodium content. Like most fast food options, the nutritional components of anything you order are likely higher than a homemade version.
Fortunately, many fast-food sub-restaurants offer healthier alternatives; it’s simply a matter of making informed choices about what to select and avoid.
To guide you in making healthier choices when ordering from popular sub restaurants like Subway, Jersey Mike’s, Firehouse, Quiznos, and Jimmy John’s, we consulted registered dietitian Mary Sabat MS, RDN, LD, who shared insights on the worst sub-options to avoid.
Subway Foot-Long Spicy Italian
Each foot-long sub contains 940 calories, 48 grams of fat (including 18 grams of saturated fat), 2,600 milligrams of sodium, 90 grams of carbohydrates (with 6 grams of fiber and 10 grams of sugar), and 38 grams of protein.
Subway, known for its customizable subs, salads, and wraps, remains a popular fast-food sub joint. While lighter options are available, such as the 6-inch Turkey Sub or their signature No Bready Bowls, it is essential to be cautious of the numerous unhealthy sub choices offered.
An example is the Foot-Long Spicy Italian sub, which should be approached with care. Sabat claims, “This sub is loaded with calories, fat and sodium.
” The spicy Italian meats used in this sub are often processed and high in saturated fat and sodium, Increased exposure can increase the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.
Quiznos Large Classic Italian
Each 12-inch sub contains 1,260 calories, 63 grams of fat (including 22 grams of saturated fat and 1 gram of trans fat), 3,760 milligrams of sodium, 115 grams of carbohydrates (with 8 grams of fiber and 13 grams of sugar), and 61 grams of protein.
According to Sabat, another fast-food sub that might be best to avoid, or at least choose in a smaller size, is Quiznos’ Large Classic Italian sub.
“This sub is high in calories, fat, and sodium,” Sabat cautions, “and the combination of Italian meats, cheese, and dressing contributes to a high-fat content, potentially leading to weight gain and other health issues.”
Quiznos provides 4-inch or 8-inch options for their subs, so if you crave Italian relief, opting for one of these smaller sizes would be a wiser choice.
Quiznos Large Chipotle Steak & Cheddar
For each 12-inch sub, it contains 1,290 calories, 68 grams of fat (including 19 grams of saturated fat and 0.5 grams of trans fat), 2,990 milligrams of sodium, 110 grams of carbohydrates (with 6 grams of fiber and 8 grams of sugar), and 59 grams of protein.
Another sandwich option at Quiznos that may not be the healthiest choice is their Chipotle Steak & Cheddar sub. Opting for the large 12-inch size means surpassing the recommended daily limit for saturated fat and consuming 0.5 grams of trans fat.
The American Heart Association (AHA) warns that trans fats can elevate bad cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Jimmy John’s Beach Club
Each 8-inch sub contains 860 calories, 40 grams of fat (including 13 grams of saturated fat), 1,940 milligrams of sodium, 74 grams of carbohydrates (with 7 grams of fiber and Two grams of sugar) and 45 grams of protein.
Jimmy John’s is renowned for its delightfully uncomplicated subs and toasted French bread. However, simplicity does not necessarily equate to healthiness. Sabat advises against indulging in their famous Beach Club sandwich if you’re mindful of your nutrition.
“Jimmy John’s Beach Club offers high levels of calories, fat and sodium. The high-fat content is attributed to the combination of meats, cheese, and mayo-based dressing, which can contribute to weight gain and an increased risk of heart disease.”
To opt for a lighter alternative, consider trying one of their Little John subs, which are 6.5 inches long instead of 8 inches. Alternatively, you can order your favorite sub as a “Dunwich,” meaning it will be wrapped in lettuce instead of bread.
Jersey Mike’s Giant Original Italian
For each giant-sized sub, it contains 1,760 calories, 103.5 grams of fat (including 27.7 grams of saturated fat and 1.2 grams of trans fat), 4,562.6 milligrams of sodium, 127.4 grams of carbohydrates (with 7.9 grams of fiber and 18.3 grams of sugar), and 81.2 grams of protein.
Whether you prefer a cold or hot sub, Jersey Mike’s offers a wide selection to satisfy your cravings. However, it’s important to be aware that many of the popular replacements at Jersey Mike’s are laden with calories, saturated fat, and sodium, and their Classic Italian Sub is no exception.
Opting for this sub’s “giant” size means consuming twice the recommended daily limit of saturated fat and nearly double the recommended maximum sodium intake.
Additionally, it contains 1.2 grams of trans fat, which the World Health Organization advises limiting to 2.2 grams per day or avoiding altogether.
Sabat advises avoiding or limiting consumption of this sub due to its high-fat content, sodium levels, and the combination of Italian meats, cheese, and mayo-based dressing. These factors can increase the risk of obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Jersey Mike’s Big Kahuna Cheese Steak
For each giant-sized sub, it contains 1,530 calories, 70.3 grams of fat (including 32.9 grams of saturated fat and 1 gram of trans fat), 4,799.6 milligrams of sodium, 134.6 grams of carbohydrates (with 6.9 grams of fiber and 17 grams of sugar), and 95.8 grams of protein.
If you believe the sodium content in the Jersey Mike’s Italian sandwich couldn’t get any worse, brace yourself for the Big Kahuna Cheese Steak. This sandwich, similar to a Philly Cheese Steak but with jalapeño peppers, contains 4,800 milligrams of sodium per serving.
This amount is well over twice the recommended daily limit the American Heart Association (AHA) set. The AHA suggests that no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day are ideal.
When you consider this recommendation, you’ll realize that the sodium content in this sandwich exceeds three times the recommended amount.
For each large-sized sub, it contains 2,600 calories, 135 grams of fat (including 33.5 grams of saturated fat and 1.2 grams of trans fat), 7,050 milligrams of sodium, 215 grams of carbohydrates (with 11 grams of fiber and 56 grams of sugar), and 132 grams of protein.
An evident trend can be observed among this list of unhealthy fast-food subs, with many featuring Italian-style sandwiches.
It is largely due to the inclusion of various processed red meats in Italian sandwiches, significantly elevating their saturated fat and sodium levels. The same applies to the Italian sub at Firehouse, according to Sabat.
“This sub has an exceptionally high concentration of calories, fat, carbs and sodium content. Combining Italian meats, cheese, and mayo-based dressing contributes to excessive calorie intake.
” Moreover, the presence of 1.2 grams of trans fat and saturated fat that exceeds nearly triple the recommended daily limit poses a risk to heart health.
Firehouse Large Meatball Sub
For each large-sized sub, it contains 2,635 calories, 158.5 grams of fat (including 61.5 grams of saturated fat and 1.2 grams of trans fat), 6,335 milligrams of sodium, 194 grams of carbohydrates (with 12 grams of fiber and 29 grams of sugar), and 117 grams of protein.
To complete the list of calorie-dense sandwiches, we must include at least one meatball sub. The original Meatball Sub at Firehouse boasts an astounding 2,635 calories in the large size, accompanied by a staggering 6,335 milligrams of sodium.
If you’re determined to indulge in a meatball sub, it’s advisable to seek alternatives elsewhere, prepare one at home, or opt for a smaller size.
Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that even the small-size Meatball Sub from Firehouse contains almost a day’s worth of sodium, with 2,264 milligrams. Exercise caution when making your choice.