Magazine cover image Subscribe Now to the magazine

Best & Worst Breakfast Sandwiches

We reveal the swaps at your favorite restaurants that will start your morning off right.
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 mcyou 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.

Get 5 Free Gifts When You Subscribe!

Look, feel and live great while getting on the path to better health with the new Eat This, Not That! Magazine.

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.

Get 5 Free Gifts When You Subscribe!

Look, feel and live great while getting on the path to better health with the new Eat This, Not That! Magazine.

Filed Under