8 Unhealthiest Fast-Food Subs To Stay Away From Right Now
The perfect beach or picnic food is a sub made exactly how you like it. You can pack it full of your favorite deli meat, veggies, and condiments, and then wrap it up and take it on the go. Or, you can make a few, cut them in half, and share them with friends. If you're craving this type of sandwich but are running out of time, you can also always swing through a place like Subway, Jersey Mike's, or Jimmy John's for a quick fast-food sub instead.
The only major downside to opting for a fast-food sub instead of making your own is that you don't have a lot of control over the calorie, fat, and sodium content. And like all fast food, anything you order is likely going to be higher in these nutritional components than if you were to make one at home. But thankfully, many of these fast-food sub restaurants have healthier alternatives—it's just a matter of knowing what to choose and what to skip.
To help you avoid the more unhealthy fast-food subs next time you're ordering out, we talked with registered dietitian Mary Sabat MS, RDN, LD about the worst ones at popular restaurants like Subway, Jersey Mike's, Firehouse, Quiznos, and Jimmy Johns. Read on, and for more fast-food tips, check out the 10 Unhealthiest Fast-Food Hot Dogs to Stay Away From Right Now.
Subway Foot-Long Spicy Italian
Perhaps one of the most popular fast-food sub joints, Subway specializes in "build your own" subs, salads, and wraps. While there are plenty of lighter options, such as a 6-inch Turkey Sub or one of their signature No Bready Bowls, they also carry a ton of unhealthy subs you'll want to steer clear of.
Take the Foot-Long Spicy Italian, for instance. "This sub is high in calories, fat, and sodium," says Sabat, "and the spicy Italian meats are typically processed and high in saturated fat and sodium, contributing to an increased risk of heart disease and high blood pressure."
Quiznos Large Classic Italian
According to Sabat, another fast-food sub you may want to avoid—or at least order in a smaller size—is Quiznos' Large Classic Italian. "This sub is high in calories, fat, and sodium," says Sabat, "and the combination of Italian meats, cheese, and dressing results in a high fat content, which may contribute to weight gain and other potential health issues."
Quiznos does offer a 4-inch or 8-inch option for their subs, so if you're really craving the Italian, go for one of these smaller sizes.
Quiznos Large Chipotle Steak & Cheddar
Another not-so-great sandwich option at Quiznos is their Chipotle Steak & Cheddar. In a large 12-inch size, you're getting more than your daily recommended limit of saturated fat, as well as 0.5 grams of dangerous trans fat. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), trans fats can raise your bad cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Jimmy John's Beach Club
Jimmy John's is known for its deliciously simple subs and toasted French bread. But just because these subs are on the simple side doesn't mean they're healthy. In fact, Sabat suggests skipping their famous Beach Club sandwich if you're watching your nutrition.
"The Jimmy John's Beach Club is high in calories, fat, and sodium, and the high-fat content comes from the combination of meats, cheese, and mayo-based dressing, which can lead to weight gain and increased risk of heart disease."
To order something on the lighter side, try one of their Little John subs, which are 6.5 inches long instead of 8, or order your favorite sub as an "unwich," which just means it's wrapped in lettuce instead of bread.
Jersey Mike's Giant Original Italian
Whether you're looking for a cold or hot sub, Jersey Mike's most likely has something you'll love. Just beware of the fact that many of the popular subs at Jersey Mike's are also loaded with calories, saturated fat, and sodium, and their Classic Italian Sub is no exception.
With this sub in "giant" size, you'll be getting twice as much saturated fat as your recommended daily limit, as well as almost twice the recommended maximum of sodium as well. Not only that, but you're getting 1.2 grams of trans fat, which the World Health Organization says you should limit to 2.2 grams per day, or none at all if you can help it.
Sabat says this sub should be avoided or limited, as "The combination of Italian meats, cheese, and mayo-based dressing contributes to the high-fat content and sodium levels, which can increase the risk of obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure."
Jersey Mike's Big Kahuna Cheese Steak
If you think the sodium count can't get much worse in one sub than in the Jersey Mike's Italian sandwich, think again. Their Big Kahuna Cheese Steak, which is similar to a Philly Cheese Steak but with jalapeño peppers, comes with about 4,800 milligrams of sodium per sandwich, which is well over twice your daily limit. In fact, the AHA says that 2,300 milligrams is the recommended limit per day, but that they actually think no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium is more idea. If you take that into consideration, you'll see that this sandwich is over three times this amount.
Firehouse Large Italian Sub
You've probably noticed that there's a bit of a trend with this list of unhealthy fast-food subs, in that many of the sandwiches featured are Italian-style. This is often because Italian sandwiches are packed full of different types of processed red meat, automatically raising their saturated fat and sodium levels. According to Sabat, the same can be said for the Italian sub at Firehouse.
"This sub is extremely high in calories, fat, carbs, and sodium, and the Italian meats, cheese, and mayo-based dressing leads to excessive calorie intake." Not only that, but the 1.2 grams of trans fat and amount of saturated fat that reaches almost triple the recommended daily limit are not doing your heart health any favors.
Firehouse Large Meatball Sub
Lastly, it wouldn't be a list of calorie-dense sandwiches without including at least one meatball sub. The original Meatball Sub at Firehouse comes with a whopping 2,635 calories per large size and 6,335 milligrams of sodium. If you feel you must indulge in a meatball sub, either head somewhere else, make your own at home, or order a smaller size. However, just be warned that even the small size Meatball Sub from Firehouse has almost a day's worth of sodium at 2,264 milligrams!
- Source: https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/sodium.htm
- Source: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/saturated-fats#:~:text=AHA%20Recommendation,of%20calories%20from%20saturated%20fat.
- Source: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/trans-fat
- Source: https://www.fda.gov/food/nutrition-education-resources-materials/sodium-your-diet#:~:text=However%2C%20the%20Dietary%20Guidelines%20for,1%20teaspoon%20of%20table%20salt!
- Source: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sodium/how-much-sodium-should-i-eat-per-day