The 8 Worst Fast-Food Sandwiches to Stay Away from Right Now

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Compared to other fast-food favorites, sandwiches usually don’t do as much harm—or they don’t need to. If you’re choosing between pizza, fries, and sandwiches, for example, the latter is probably easiest to adapt to something more nutritious.

But opting for the lesser of evils isn’t always a healthy choice in itself. Registered Dietitian Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, Points out, creamy sauces, heaps of processed meat, and thick bread slices can propel a sandwich into dangerously high-calorie and high-fat territory.

She also points out that the super-sized nature of many fast-food sandwiches is problematic, especially when they come with bells and whistles, like soda, chips, fries, and cookies. Indeed, there are many ways for eating a fast-food sandwich to be unhealthy.

But Goodson also points out that modifying your sandwiches can be a good, healthy strategy. She recommends considering “skinny” options, which use less bread, and going ‘easy’ or ‘light’ on sauces and mayonnaise to cut down on some of the calories and fat on your sandwich of choice. spread like If all else fails, put the sauce to the side and pour it on its own, sparingly.

After receiving this general information from Goodson, we consulted Typical Sandwiches to Stay Off the Market, 10 fast-food burgers to stay away from right now, according to R.D.

McDonald's Filet or Fish

per sandwich: 390 calories, 19 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 580 mg sodium, 39 g carbs (2 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 16 g protein

While McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish Sandwich is the ideal choice for non-beef eaters who want to dine from the chain, it won’t give you any benefit from a nutritional standpoint. McDonald’s take on its own wild-caught Alaskan pollock — this sandwich uses fish — is low in calories and fat, with high amounts of protein. It changes drastically once fried and topped with a heavy, cream-based tartar sauce that nearly triples the macronutrients in this dish. So essentially you’re eating a little fish with a tablespoon of pure fat—and not the good kind.

Arabic Beef N Cheddar Sandwich on the Wood Block
Courtesy of Arabic

per sandwich: 740 calories, 39 g fat (14 g saturated fat), 2,530 mg sodium, 45 g carbs (2 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 23 g protein

Arby’s is certainly a beloved fast-food option, with new offerings added to the menu frequently. But if you’re thinking of ordering this bad boy, which features a half-pound roast beef on onion bread, topped with a cheddar cheese sauce and red ranch, maybe think again.

Goodson acknowledges that there is less bread here, which reduces the calories a bit. But, she says, “most people should have more than half a pound of beef per serving,” and that will load your sandwich with extra calories and sodium. And don’t forget that ranch — a thick, creamy sauce that makes everything delicious — also adds more calories and fat to this sandwich.

Instead, Goodson suggests opting for Arby’s Classic Roast Beef Sandwich, which will still satisfy your roast beef craving but won’t overload you with processed meat.

Subway Steak Cali Fresh Sandwich
Courtesy of Subway

per sandwich: 1,240 calories, 72 g fat (23 g saturated fat), 2,860 mg sodium, 45 g carbs (12 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 66 g protein

Unlike Arby’s, Subway hasn’t had a great few years. The brand is constantly updating its menu and strives for any kind of good PR. Unfortunately, their Steak Cali Fresh Sub and its sodium content don’t help in that department.

Footlong sandwiches feature steak, bacon, smashed avocado, and mozzarella, as well as a choice of veggies. According to Goodson, it is its sheer size that is really the issue.

“There are some delicious, healthy-ish toppings in here like steak, mozzarella, and avocado,” she says, “but they all turn into a calorie overload when you eat more than the serving size.” Not to mention, bacon definitely increases satiety on top of that the amount of fat and sodium.”

If you find yourself at Subway and want to eat healthier, she recommends a 6-inch Veggie Delight on Hearty Multigrain Bread with Oil and Vinegar, Lettuce, Spinach, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Green Peppers and Red Onions.

Potbelly Mama's Meatball Sandwich
Courtesy of Potbelly

per sandwich: 1,350 calories, 70 g fat (31 g saturated fat), 2,970 mg sodium, 73 g carbs (5 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 44 g protein

Consider the name of the sandwich, and it’s clear you’re in for a sumptuous feast of comfort food served with meatballs, provolone cheese, and marinara sauce. But when you choose the oversized sandwich and have this sandwich on white bread, it becomes one of the worst subscriptions out there.

“The reality is that meatballs are very caloric because they are most often not made from minced ground beef or pork,” says Goodson. “And the marinara sauce is probably the ingredient increasing the sodium content on this sandwich.”

While everyone loves a meatball sub, if you’re aiming to stay healthy, she recommends going for white meat and reasonable portion sizes. In the potbelly, it can be a basic shape of Turkish breast and Swiss on multigrain bread. Plus, she adds, you can (and should!) load it up with all your favorite vegetables!

Quiznos Classic Italian Sub
Courtesy of Quiznos

per sandwich: 1,400 calories, 78 g fat (25 g saturated fat), 4,150 mg sodium, 115 g carbs (8 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 61 g protein

Quiznos’ 12-inch Classic Italian is number four on the unhealthy fast-food sandwich list. This item is made with four different types of meat, including pepperoni, salami, pickled capicola, and smoked ham, which translates to a lot of flavor—and a lot of fat and sodium as well.

“Here are some light toppings, like melted provolone, black olives, fresh lettuce, tomato, onion, banana pepper, and red wine vinaigrette, the size of this sandwich and the amount of meat that takes the calories, along with the fat, through the roof. , and sodium,” says Goodson.

She recommends choosing the 4-Inch Spicy Monterey Sandwich over Wheat Bread, which will save you calories (that’s a fraction of the calorie count), while also reducing the amount of sodium and fat.

Firehouse Sub Smokehouse Beef Cheddar Brisket
Courtesy of Firehouse Subscriptions

per sandwich: 1,915 calories, 137 g fat (42 g saturated fat), 4,668 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (1 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 61 g protein

The sodium content on this sub is out of control. With more than twice the recommended sodium level for an entire day in just one sandwich, the Smokehouse Beef and Cheddar Brisket, which additionally comes with mayo and BBQ sauce, should be avoided at all costs if you value your heart health. Huh.

As Goodson explains, “While you can eat lean meat and cheese as part of a healthy diet, the larger size of this sandwich means more meat and more cheese, thus increasing the amount of calories and fat.” Tack on some mayo and BBQ sauce and those numbers go through the roof.”

Instead, she suggests, the next time you’re on a firehouse subscription, go for the Medium Turkey Sub on Wheat Bread. This sandwich rings in at about a third of the calories and fat and less than half the sodium.

Jersey Mike's Club Sub
Courtesy of Jersey Mike

per sandwich: 2,170 calories, 151 g fat (33 g saturated fat), 4,464 mg sodium, 122 g carbs (8 g fiber, 14 g sugar), 84 g protein

This club sub is a classic American throwback, stuffed with ham, turkey, bacon, provolone cheese, onion, lettuce, tomato, oil, vinegar, salt, and mayonnaise. However, given the calories and fat and sodium content, all we can say is that there must be a better way to enjoy this popular favorite.

“While none of these ingredients are terrible on their own, things like bacon, oil, and mayonnaise put together really pack a calorie punch,” says Goodson. The size of this sandwich is an additional issue.

Instead of indulging in a 2000-calorie sandwich, Goodson recommends Jersey Mike’s regular-size Grilled Portabella Mushrooms and Swiss on Wheat Bread.

relatedThe 6 Best Heart-Healthy Fast Food Orders, According to Dietitians

jimmy johns jj arrogant
Courtesy of Jimmy Johns

per sandwich: 2,160 calories, 99 g fat (30 g saturated fat), 7,750 mg sodium, 78 g carbs (6 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 78 g protein

Just look at this thing! From the sheer size and nickname of this Jimmy John’s sandwich, you’ll know why it took the spot of the #1 unhealthy sandwich on our list.

Consider what goes into this Gargantuan sandwich: five different meats, including salami, capcolo, turkey, roast beef, and ham. There’s no scenario in which that amount of meat doesn’t turn into a sodium bomb—and, given its sodium content, it’s enough to make your heart stop. The gargantuan is then topped with provolone cheese, onion, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, oil and vinegar along with a spice of oregano and basil.

“The mayonnaise and oil combo really tackles the extra fat and calories,” says Goodson. “This sandwich has more than three times the recommended sodium per day, so it’s definitely one to avoid.”

But fear not, JJ’s has a great healthy option, too. The 8-inch Slim comes on 4 whole wheat bread, and the only two set ingredients are turkey and bread. From there, load up this sandwich with all your favorite vegetables, and you have a much healthier option.

A previous version of this article was originally published on August 10, 2022.

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