Best & Worst

Best & Worst Breakfast Sandwiches

The more you think about the breakfast sandwich, the more glorious it becomes. That soft, pillowy egg; that crispy, salty meat; that gooey, melty cheese; all perfectly nestled between the doughy goodness of toasted bread. It makes you believe all is right with the world. And yet, when you start to dissect what's actually in most breakfast sandwiches—(creepy additives), a boatload of salt, and enough cholesterol to make an artery stiffen in fear—you start to wonder where the morning went all wrong.

A breakfast sandwich ought to be a no-brainer: Studies show that fueling up with a healthy combination of protein and whole grains can dull hunger and prevent weight gain. So the next time you get the urge to wrap your hands around a portable breakfast treat, stick with these Eat This, Not That!-recommended options at your favorite restaurants.


McDonald's

The yellow blocks of foam we often find in breakfast sandwiches like the Steak Egg & Cheese Bagel at McDonalds aren't real eggs at all, but this creepy thing called ìegg blend, which has an ingredient list that reads like a hairspray bottle and often includes Propylene glycol, a solvent also found in (antifreeze). The good news is that you can often order a real egg, just by asking! At McDonalds, ask for a "round egg" with your order; the real-egg cue for Denny's servers is "cracked on the grill." The code word at IHOP? Shell eggs. You'll have to try your luck at other establishments, but it's worth a shot.

P.S. Ordering a flat bread or an English muffin instead of a roll or a bagel can slash calories on your portable delight by up to 50 percent!

Eat This

Egg McMuffin

Calories

300

Fat

12 g

Carbohydrates

31 g

Sodium

820 mg

Protein

18 g

Not That!

Steak Egg & Cheese Bagel

Calories

680

Fat

35 g

Carbohydrates

57 g

Sodium

1520 mg

Protein

33 g

Subway

If you want to cut down on saturated fat and add some extra nutrition to your morning ‘wich, then skip the cheese in the Egg & Cheese and pile on the veggies, instead. They’ll add flavor, color, and crunch, plus loads of vitamins and minerals. And though you might think that egg white in the Steak, Egg White and Cheese sounds like the healthy pick, think again. This menu item is even worse for you than the restaurant’s egg sandwich with bacon (yes, really). The fat content doesn’t differ at all from our best choice, but this sandwich is far higher in everything else—overall calories, sodium, and carbohydrates. No, thank you.

Eat This

Egg & Cheese

Calories

360

Fat

15 g

Saturated Fat

5 g

Carbohydrates

44 g

Sodium

860 mg

Protein

19 g

Not That!

Steak, Egg White & Cheese

Calories

430

Fat

15 g

Saturated Fat

5 g

Carbohydrates

47 g

Sodium

1,190 mg

Protein

28 g

Panera

"Wheat breads," "multi-grain," "whole grain" breads—they all offer the promise of whole-grain goodness, but often the reality is so much less than what's advertised. Your best bet is to stick to breads described as "whole wheat" or "whole grain." "Whole" being the key word.

Eat This

Breakfast Power Sandwich on Whole Grain

Calories

340

Fat

15 g

Carbohydrates

31 g

Sodium

920 mg

Protein

16 g

Not That!

Sausage, Egg, & Cheese on Ciabatta

Calories

550

Fat

29 g

Carbohydrates

44 g

Sodium

1,040 mg

Protein

27 g

Sonic

It’s no surprise, but the downsized version of this chain’s classic breakfast burrito is by far the best pick, mainly because of its more reasonable portion size. If you think this mini morning burrito will leave you feeling hungry, then instead of grabbing sides or extras at the drive-thru, think about throwing a piece of fresh fruit in your bag as you head out the door–something that’s portable and easy to eat on the go, like an apple or banana, is a choice that’s just as easy when you’re pressed for time but way better for you. Grab some water with your breakfast, too. They may have sized down on the portion, but the smaller burrito is still heavy on the sodium.

Eat This

Jr. Breakfast Burrito

Calories

280

Fat

15 g

Saturated Fat

7 g

Carbohydrates

23 g

Sodium

830 mg

Protein

13 g

Not That!

Ultimate Meat & Cheese Breakfast Burrito

Calories

800

Fat

56 g

Saturated Fat

16 g

Carbohydrates

46 g

Sodium

2,140 mg

Protein

29 g

Jack in the Box

There’s not a lot that’s good happening on this fast-food chain’s breakfast menu, but the Breakfast Jack is the one thing you can order here without maybe hating yourself afterward. This basic sandwich doesn’t have a lot of nutritional value—not a veggie in sight—but it does have fewer calories and less fat and sodium than just about everything else on the A.M. menu, especially the Grande Sausage Breakfast Burrito.

Eat This

Breakfast Jack

Calories

283

Fat

11 g

Saturated Fat

4 g

Carbohydrates

30 g

Sodium

780 mg

Protein

16 g

Not That!

Grande Sausage Breakfast Burrito

Calories

1,044

Fat

70 g

Saturated Fat

20 g

Carbohydrates

68 g

Sodium

2,131 mg

Protein

36 g

Dunkin' Donuts

Swapping a buttery croissant for an English muffin as your "carrier" (as termed by Dunkin Donuts) may be the no-brainer calorie-saver here. But processed meats, too, can add significant sodium and fat to your order. Meats like bacon and sausage are usually manufactured with a carcinogenic ingredient known as sodium nitrite. It's a color fixer that gives meat its bright color to make it look fresh, and when consumed in high doses has been linked to cancer. A study from the University of Hawaii found that processed meats increase the risk of pancreatic cancer by 67 percent. When you can, go ham!

Eat This

Ham, Egg, & Cheese on English Muffin

Calories

280

Fat

8 g

Carbohydrates

34 g

Sodium

770 mg

Protein

17 g

Not That!

Sausage, Egg, & Cheese Croissant

Calories

650

Fat

43 g

Carbohydrates

41 g

Sodium

1250 mg

Protein

24 g

Wendy's

This swap might seem a little unexpected, but chicken is not always the better meat. Especially at a fast-food joint like Wendy’s, chicken is often fried, which means lots of added calories, sodium and fat. You’re better off going meatless, or picking a menu item with an unfried protein, like this breakfast burrito in which the sausage is one ingredient used sparingly to add some flavor, but isn’t the main component.

Eat This

Sausage and Egg Burrito

Calories

280

Fat

20 g

Saturated Fat

7 g

Carbohydrates

14 g

Sodium

770 mg

Protein

12 g

Not That!

Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit

Calories

510

Fat

25 g

Saturated Fat

11 g

Carbohydrates

52 g

Sodium

1,400 mg

Protein

21 g




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