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10 Best Subway Sandwich Tips

Here's everything you need know to save calories, nix carbs, and feel good about eating at your favorite sub shop.

Whether you find yourself in a food court, airport, or at a highway pit stop, Subway is often a beacon of light for health-conscious eaters. Offering colorful salads and veggie-filled sandwiches in a market that's overrun by a sea of deep-fried beige junk, the sub joint is one of the best grab-and-go chains around. Sure, just like at any restaurant there are some dishes that are better left behind the counter, but the bulk of the menu gets our stamp of approval. (Was that a sigh of relief we just heard?)

Here, we tell you how to order a tasty and healthy meal at the sub shop—and fill you in on some little-known facts about your favorite lunch destination, too! This way, you can impress your dining companions with your extensive Subway knowledge next time you find yourself eagerly waiting for that sandwich to get nice and toasted. And while we've got your attention, don't miss our exclusive report, 25 Super-Healthy Lunches Under 400 Calories. They're the perfect solution for those days when you actually have some extra time for meal prep.

It's Easy to Nix 170 Calories From Your Order

Trying to slim down? Swap your sub for a salad. According to Subway's Senior Dietitian, Lanette Kovachi, MS, RDN, any sub can be made into a veggie-filled salad—even if it's not on the menu. This smart swap can save you about 170 calories, on average. "It will also up your vegetable intake to about 2.5 cups, which is a day's worth," Kovachi tells us.

They Make 7.5 Million Sandwiches Daily

Get this: There are more than 400,000 "Sandwich Artists" around the world who create and serve 7.5 million—yup, million!—Subway sandwiches per day. Loving carbs is apparently universal—but they're not all created equal. Pick the right choices for your body with the help our guide The 25 Best Carbs That Will Uncover Your Abs.

Celebs Work There

In his former life, actor Jason Biggs (American Pie) worked as a Subway Sandwich Artist. Who's to say that the girl who always fixes you your Italian B.M.T. won't follow in his footsteps? You better get her signature while you still can.

You Can Get Your Sandwich With Fewer Carbs

If you're trying to nix carbs from your diet, salads aren't your only option. "Another hack to cut the calories and carbs from any sandwich is to ask to have bread 'scooped' out," Kovachi offers. This special request will give you a sandwich with far less soft, fluffy bread below the crust.

They Don't Drug Their Chickens

Despite the fact that the Center for Disease Control says "antibiotics should be used in food-producing animals only under veterinary oversight," antibiotics are routinely used to help animals grow faster. Why does that matter? Continual use of these drugs helps create bacteria that's immune to standard antibiotics. The potential result: The next time you get really sick, there may no longer be a drug that can make you healthy.

Fortunately some restaurants, like Subway, have made a commitment to source better-for-you meat. The sandwich chain now only serves chickens raised without antibiotics and is on track to only serve turkey raised without antibiotics by 2019. They also aim to offer pork and beef products from animals raised without antibiotics by 2025. To find out if your other favorite eateries are tainting their meat, don't miss our report, Every Fast Food Chain—Ranked by Antibiotics.

(A Canadian study recently found that only half of Subway's oven-roasted patty is made with real chicken, but the chain denies it.)

They Bake Their Own Cookies

While some chains sell pastries that come in a bag, Subway bakes their cookies fresh daily in each restaurant. Despite the fact that they're fresh and free of artificial colors and preservatives, that doesn't change the fact that a cookie, is, well, still a cookie, which means they're calorie-dense. The best bet for your waistline is the oatmeal raisin, which has 200 calories and 16 grams of sugar. The chocolate chip chunk is the next best bet with 210 calories and 17 grams of the sweet stuff. Although they may be better than the competition, those are still extra calories your body doesn't need. If you want to indulge, we suggest splitting one with a friend. For even more healthy ways to indulge your sugar cravings, don't miss these 25 Ways to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth.

Nutritionists Eat There

Courtesy of Subway

If the grub at Subway is healthy enough for nutritionists, rest assured that if you order the right dish, you can grab a meal at the chain without falling off track with your diet. "I visit Subway once a week with my oldest son on his way home from a long day of after-school activities," says Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN. "We grab a sandwich for dinner, and I love the healthier choices they have introduced in the past few years. My go-to at Subway is a bowl of the black bean soup and the veggie delight salad with added fresh avocado. Loaded with fiber, this meal is vegetarian, filling, flavorful, heart-healthy, void of all refined flour and full of antioxidants." Jim White, Owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios, is another health expert who frequents the sandwich shop. "I eat at Subway at least once a week… [I like to get a] 6-inch whole-wheat sub, with roasted chicken, lettuce, tomato, onions, green peppers, and cucumbers. For my condiment, I use Dijon mustard rather than mayo because it's low-cal but still has lots of flavor." Sounds delish!

The Business Was Started With a $1,000 Loan

Get this: Co-founder Fred DeLuca opened his first restaurant with a $1,000 loan in 1965. In those days, the eatery was called Pete's Submarines. However, it sounded too much like "pizza marines," so it was eventually changed to Subway.

They Have Your Health In Mind

Added sugars are a major concern these days. And that's because we now know that eating too much of the sweet stuff has been connected to everything from heart disease and high blood pressure to saggy skin and obesity. The good news is that most Subway sandwiches contain fewer than 10 percent of calories from sugar and salads have even less. To say goodbye to added sugars—and goodbye to your belly—order your copy of the Zero Sugar Diet today!

They Feed The Hungry

Every year on National Sandwich Day, Subway donates meals to the hunger organization, Feeding America. This past November, the sub chain donated more than 11 million meals!


Dana Leigh Smith
Dana has written for Women's Health, Prevention, Reader's Digest, and countless other publications. Read more about Dana Leigh