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The #1 Unhealthiest Order at 12 Sandwich Chains, According to Dietitians

Discover the worst offenders when it comes to calories, fat, and sodium at popular sandwich chains.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

When it comes to ordering a sandwich, it's often seen as a healthy choice. It has all the right building blocks for a balanced meal: protein, carbs, fats, and sometimes veggies! However, not all sandwiches are created equal. Many unhealthy sandwiches come packed with extra calories from oils, marinades, dressings, and mayo. And if that isn't enough, most sandwich chains offer generous 12-inch bread options, providing even more room for those dense calories to accumulate

So, we decided to get expert advice from dietitians to uncover the top orders they advise against at 12 popular sandwich chains. But first, let's break down what makes a sandwich unhealthy:

  • Total calories: If you're ordering the 12-inch size, might be walking away with more empty calories than you bargained for from ingredients like mayo or oil. Often, these extras aren't super filling but still significantly increase the calorie total of your meal.
  • Total fat: Fat is not an inherently "bad" ingredient, but on a fast food sandwich, it can quickly add up from cheese, marinades, oils, mayo, and other condiments. Saturated fats, in particular, can up the risk for chronic diseases like heart disease or diabetes.
  • Sodium: Americans should ideally keep their salt intake below 2,300 milligrams per day according to dietary guidelines. But many sandwiches at popular chains meet or exceed this recommendation, packing a sodium punch that can impact your health.

While grabbing a sandwich on the go every now and then won't derail your health goals, if you frequently stop at these chains without considering the nutrition info, it might be time to pause and explore healthier options. Ready to discover the 12 unhealthiest orders at top sandwich chains? Read on. And for what to order instead, don't miss The #1 Healthiest Order at 14 Sandwich Chains, According to Dietitians.

Subway Jerk Spiced Steak Wrap

Subway Jerk Spiced Steak Wrap
Nutrition (Per 1 wrap):
Calories: 850
Fat: 33 g (Saturated fat: 8 g)
Sodium: 1,660 mg
Carbs:106 g (Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 7 g)
Protein: 31 g

Subway's Jerk Spiced Steak Wrap clocks in at 850 calories per serving. With 1,660 milligrams of sodium and 8 grams of saturated fat, you will meet nearly half of your recommended daily intake of both nutrients with one meal. Choosing foods with high sodium and saturated fat might increase your risk for heart disease and other chronic diseases.

 7 Unhealthiest Subway Orders, According to Dietitians

Quiznos Classic Italian Sub

quiznos classic italian sub
Nutrition (Per 12-inch sub):
Calories: 1,335
Fat: 72 g (Saturated fat: 22.5 g)
Sodium: 3,810 mg
Carbs: 119 g (Fiber: 8 g, Sugar: 15 g)
Protein: 57 g

"Sandwiches are ideal for grab-and-go meals, but what you enjoy between those two slices of bread, or even the bread itself can lead to a sandwich that's less than ideal when it comes to your health," says Heidi McIndoo, MS RD, of FoodieMomRD. Unfortunately, that is true with the Classic Italian Sub at Quiznos. With a whopping 72 grams of total fat and 3,810 milligrams of sodium, you will more than exceed your daily recommendations for both, according to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. "If you can't get past your craving, consider the 4-inch option for an occasional treat," McIndoo adds.

Jersey Mike's Buffalo Chicken Cheese Steak

jersey mikes Buffalo Chicken Cheese Steak
Jersey Mike's
Nutrition (Per 6 inch sandwich):
Calories: 930
Fat: 47 g (Saturated fat: 14 g)
Sodium: 3,344 mg
Carbs: 76 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 13 g)
Protein: 48 g

"While it might seem like a good choice with a lean protein such as chicken, it is laden with calorie, sodium, and fat-laden sauces which makes this an unhealthy option," says Michelle Rauch MSc, RDN, of The Actors Fund. For just the 6-inch sub, you'll meet nearly 150% of your daily sodium recommendations. A high salt diet could increase your risk of blood pressure or other chronic conditions.

 12 Best & Worst Jersey Mike's Subs, According to an RD

Firehouse Subs Smokehouse Beef and Cheddar Brisket

firehouse subs smokehouse beef cheddar brisket
Firehouse Subs
Nutrition (Per 1 Large sandwich): large
Calories: 1,510
Fat: 59 g (Saturated fat: 18 g)
Sodium: 1,707 mg
Carbs: 59 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 15 g)
Protein: 31 g

The Smokehouse Beef and Cheddar Brisket is one of the unhealthiest items at Firehouse Subs. "A large sub contains 1,500 calories, 18 grams of saturated fat, and over 1,700 milligrams of sodium. For perspective, these amounts are what many of us should be limiting to in an entire day and is 165% of the daily maximum for saturated fat," says Melissa Mitri, MS, RD, Nutrition Writer and Owner of Melissa Mitri Nutrition.

Blimpie Meatball Parmigiana

Blimpie Meatball Parmigiana
Nutrition (Per 1 sub):
Calories: 730
Fat: 36 g (Saturated fat: 16 g)
Sodium: 2,040 mg
Carbs: 58 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 7 g)
Protein: 44 g

"If you're looking for a healthy option from the Blimpie menu, the Meatball Parmigiana may not be the best choice," says Amy Woodman, RD, of Farmington Valley Nutrition and Wellness. The regular-sized sandwich packs nearly a complete day's worth of saturated fat and sodium. "With the highest amount of saturated fat of any sandwich on the menu, the regular-sized sandwich contains 16 grams of saturated fat, which is 80% of the daily value. If you opt for the large sandwich, that doubles to 32 grams of saturated fat," Woodman shares.

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Jimmy John's Italian Night Club

Jimmy John's Italian Night Club #9: Salami, Capocollo, Ham, Provolone, Onion, Lettuce, Tomato, Mayo, Oil & Vinegar
Jimmy John's
Nutrition (Per 16 inch):
Calories: 1,860
Fat: 91 g (Saturated fat: 27 g)
Sodium: 5,700 mg
Carbs: 153g (Fiber: 12g, Sugar: 10g)
Protein: 96g

Jimmy John's Italian Night Club takes the cake for the saltiest sub on this list. With a shocking 5,700 milligrams of sodium, you will quickly exceed your daily sodium needs by 200% with this one order. Even if you order the 8-inch, you'll still be over your recommended daily sodium intake for the day. This is the primary sandwich choice we recommend you avoid.

Which Wich ElvisWICH 12 Inch Sandwich

Which Wich ElvisWICH 12 Inch Sandwich
Which Wich
Nutrition (Per 12 inch sandwich):
Calories: 1,509
Fat: 65 g (Saturated fat: 16 g)
Sodium: 2,691 mg
Carbs: 183 g (Fiber: 14 g, Sugar: 58 g)
Protein: 57 g

Although we love the nod to Elvis with a banana-peanut butter combo, you can probably make this at home and save a lot of added calories. "The Elvis Wich Sandwich on white bread from Which Wich is one of the most unhealthy sandwich items due to its high levels of added sugar, saturated fat, and sodium," adds Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD, CPT owner of One Pot Wellness based in Indianapolis, IN.

"Made from a combination of peanut butter, honey, banana, candied bacon, and butter, one 12-inch Elviswich contains 65 grams of fat, including 11 grams of saturated fat. Additionally, it contains 1,480 milligrams of sodium. Plus, with 36 grams of added sugar, consuming this sandwich regularly may lead to an increased risk of chronic conditions like obesity and diabetes," Chun says.

Potbelly The Lucky 7

Potbelly The Lucky 7
Nutrition (Per 1 Sandwich):
Calories: 1,000
Fat: 59 g (Saturated fat: 20 g)
Sodium: 3,430 mg
Carbs: 68 g (Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 7 g)
Protein: 57 g

"While it may be a meat lover's dream, The Lucky 7 Sandwich at Potbelly is anything but lucky when it comes to your health. The BIGS version of this sandwich has more than double the daily recommended sodium amount and 150% of the daily recommended fat and saturated fat amounts per the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Definitely not a heart-healthy option," comments Nikki Glick, RD and owner of Gut Well Nutrition Services.

Glick recommends you opt for the Original Chicken Salad and Provolone sandwich for a healthier, yet delicious alternative.

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Au Bon Pain The Chipotle Turkey and Avocado

au bon pain chipotle turkey sandwich with avocado half on the side
Au Bon Pain / Facebook
Nutrition (Per 1 sandwich):
Calories: 770
Fat: 43 g (Saturated fat: 11 g)
Sodium: 1,700 mg
Carbs: 59 g (Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 5 g)
Protein: 38 g

"The Chipotle Turkey & Avocado sandwich from Au Bon Pan sounds like a good option between the turkey and avocado when in reality this menu item is an unhealthy option," shares Rauch. Beyond the 770 calories for the sandwich alone, this sandwich contains 74% of the recommended daily amount of sodium intake for most healthy adults and just over 110% of the recommended daily amount of sodium for those with medical conditions such as kidney disease and hypertension.

Remember that a diet high in added salt can increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

Panera Bread Pepperoni Melt

Panera Bread Pepperoni Melt
Panera Bread
Nutrition (Per 1 sandwich):
Calories: 1,010
Fat: 39 g (Saturated fat: 20 g)
Sodium: 2,600 mg
Carbs: 115 g (Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 48 g

Clocking in 1,010 calories and 2,600 milligrams of sodium, you will likely meet most of your daily calorie requirements and overshoot your recommended salt intake. Unless you are active or have a medical reason to consume large amounts of added salt, this should likely be a "sometimes" choice.

 Every Panera Sandwich—Ranked by Nutrition

Jason's Deli The Carmela

Jason's Deli The Carmela
Jason's Deli / Facebook
Nutrition (Per 1 sandwich):
Calories: 670
Fat: 37 g (Saturated fat: 9 g)
Sodium: 2,940 mg
Carbs: 48 g (Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3 g)
Protein: 41 g

One regular Carmela sandwich at Jason's Deli packs in 120% of your daily sodium needs and more than half of the recommended saturated fat intake. Plus, with just one gram of fiber, you won't get any additional gut-supporting benefits here. Fiber helps us stay full, and you'll be missing out on all of the amazing benefits that come with this gut-promoting nutrient.

Pret A Manger Chicken and Bacon

Pret A Manger Chicken and Bacon
Pret A Manger
Nutrition (Per 1 sandwich):
Calories: 670
Fat: 37 g (Saturated fat: 8 g)
Sodium: 1,420 mg
Carbs: 42 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 4 g)
Protein: 36 g

"This seemingly innocent sandwich carries 670 calories, and 37 grams of fat, of which 8 are saturated," Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD LD tells us. Plus, you'll meet over half of your recommended daily allowance for salt here. If you get this option without the bacon, you can save a good amount of sodium, but you will likely still take in a significant source of added salt with this order.

Caroline Thomason, RDN
Caroline is a women's health Registered Dietitian and diabetes educator based in Northern Virginia. Read more about Caroline