Subway is one of those places that people either really love, or really hate. They have quite a collection of haters who judge their methods, but Subway does a good job of making reasonably nutritious food (that tastes decent), in a short amount of time and for a reasonably inexpensive price tag, especially when you consider that they strive to be sustainable.
But not all of their menu items hit the mark. And while Subway does tend to live up to its reputation as a healthier alternative to conventional fast food restaurants, it’s not written into the by-laws of the chain — you can make it as bad for you as you want. Spend some time at the counter and you learn just how quickly the calories can pile up.
Bearing all this in mind, here are some things you should never order at Subway.
Chicken and bacon ranch melt
While it may sound innocent, the Subway chicken and bacon ranch melt wrap is one of the worst choices at Subway. For one, it’s a sodium bomb that gives you more than your entire daily intake of salt. alone This makes the chicken bacon ranch sandwich a highly questionable option. Registered dietitian Elizabeth Shaw told Mashed, "The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommend limiting your intake to no more than 2300 milligrams a day, and knowing you’re already over the day’s limit in one meal makes it more challenging to navigate the rest of your day."
Additionally, the chicken bacon ranch sandwich clocks in at 850 calories per serving, accompanied by 42 grams of fat and 155 milligrams of cholesterol. Shaw notes about the sandwich, "Now, I’m not saying there aren’t great options at Subway or other fast food chains, but rather know your body, your health, and your needs before making your decision. Foods like processed meats (read bacon and precooked, processed chicken), dressings, and breads contain large amounts of sodium."
And Shaw has quick solutions. She says, "So, if you’re craving, say bacon and chicken, it’s not to say those foods are off limits at Subway, but rather, #simpleswap them on a salad versus a sandwich to help save a few hundred milligrams of sodium!"
The problem with Subway’s tunafish sandwich is that it’s drenched in mayonnaise. This is problematic not only because it turns the tuna into a soupy ingredient, which kills the texture, but also because it adds enough calories and fat content to render the sandwich unhealthy. The Classic tuna, when served on a six-inch roll without cheese or additional condiments, has 470 calories and 25 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of which are saturated. And it only gets worse if you add cheese.
Double meat sandwiches
I don’t think ordering double meat is always a bad thing. This is especially true if, for example, you’re getting a chopped salad with rotisserie chicken. By ordering double meat, you’re also doubling the amount of lean protein you’re getting. And since you’ve already omitted the bread, your meal is still healthier all around.
But in the case of calorie-dense subs like the B.M.T or a meatball sub? Doubling the meat is going to jack up the calories, sodium, and fat on your sandwich. And while it may pack some flavor, it’s not worth packing all of your food consumption into one meal. So if you’re going to double the meat, skip the sandwich and stick with the salads.
Chicken Teriyaki & Chipotle Chicken
Grabbing a healthy lunch on-the-go is tough, and it turns out that even though you think you might be making good choices, that’s not always the case. If you’re trying to stay away from the high sodium content of cold cuts, Subway’s Chicken Teriyaki or Chipotle Chicken might seem like a good idea. But according to at least one Redditor and former employee, these might be a poor choice for a different reason.
Buried in the thread "Subway Q&A — Ask me Anything Subway Related," several employees and former employees talked about how the thing they absolutely avoided was anything with the chicken strips you get in these two subs. While most meat, they say, has a two-day shelf life, this chicken is an exception. This chicken has an official maximum of a four-day shelf life, but even that was just sort of a technicality. Some employees testified they were reprimanded for throwing it out on day five, and that they’d seen batches sitting for up to nine days.
Subway has been putting money into it’s meatless marketing game for years. They have a variety of vegetarian options, including the staple Veggie Delight and some more recent, regional vegetarian options like falafel. And this is in addition to their already meat-free salad options.
But try as they might, Subway just can’t quite get it right on the meatless front. The Veggie Delight, although one of the trademarked Fresh Fit sandwiches, is really just a meat-centered sandwich without the meat. And the cheese isn’t calculated in the advertised, "fit" nutritional content — who eats one of these without cheese? Vegetarians, you’re better off elsewhere.
The cold cut combo
When I hear the words "cold cut combo," I’m inclined to think of meats like turkey and roast beef. But that’s more like the Subway Club sandwich, comprised of turkey, roast beef, and ham. The Cold Cut Combo is in fact comprised of ham, salami, and bologna (all turkey-based). Dietitian Elizabeth Shaw said, "The Cold Cut Combo contains over 1,000 milligrams of sodium per 6-inch sandwich. To put this in perspective, an In-N-Out Hamburger, with the secret sauce, has only 650 milligrams of sodium!"
For Shaw, making some swaps at Subway can result in a healthier meal. She said, "Instead of a plethora of high sodium meats wrapped into one sandwich, opt for one meat and instead load with veggies and avocado for that healthy fat. It’s worth the extra money for the addition and believe me, the research is out there supporting those heart healthy benefits of the beloved green goddess, avocados."
Steak, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich
Subway didn’t serve conventional breakfast at all until 2010, when it finally found a way to break into the breakfast market. But they still have a bit of work to do to make it healthier. Registered Dietitian, Kelly Puryear told Mashed, "While Subway’s steak, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich may look like a healthy and tasty way to start your day with only 450 calories and 28 grams of protein, this (rather small) breakfast sandwich is loaded with sodium and a whopping 18 grams of fat!" So you’re better off dropping the steak from the sandwich and sticking with the egg and cheese if you’re going to do breakfast at Subway. That way, you’ll consume less fat, calories, and sodium.
I didn’t know that Subway had a secret menu until very recently. I was in line, and the person in front of me ordered something that sounded like "the beast." That got my attention! So I nosily watched as the sandwich was constructed, as the sandwich artist peeled and dealt slices of meat on top of one another.
What I was actually witnessing was someone ordering "The Feast," which is a sandwich on the secret menu that has literally all of their deli meats on it: turkey, ham, roast beef, salami, pepperoni, and whatever else they stock at your local Subway location.
That’s a lot of meat — so much that I wondered how the cheese, vegetables, and condiments would fit. But they did, and the sandwich was folded over and wrapped like any other. And as fascinating as it was to discover, I don’t see myself ordering it anytime soon. I can’t even imagine the calorie and fat content, let alone the sodium. I’m just not sure it’s worth the novelty.
Anything with chicken
In 2017, Subway was the subject of some controversy. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) released results from a study that found Subway’s chicken was only 50 percent actual chicken. The rest of the DNA in both oven-roasted chicken and chicken strips was found to be soy. Initially, things were looking pretty bad for the sandwich restaurant.
Subway responded quickly. They sent their chicken to two independent companies for testing, and the tests found their chicken was comprised of far less soy than the CBC claimed to have found.
But the damage may be done, even though Subway sued over the results. How can you trust you won’t be served a soy sandwich after results like this? Just to be safe, you may want to skip the chicken completely.
Those extra veggie toppings
Sure, it might seem like you’re doing the responsible — and adult — thing by getting your sub with an extra helping of vegetables, but given some insider news that came out in 2017, you might want to think twice about that — or at least look carefully before you order.
Subway closed hundreds of locations in 2017, and people wanted to know what was going on. Business Insider talked to a few franchisees who spilled the beans on just why the quality of the food was slipping, and a huge part of that was their corporate-enforced vegetable deliveries. Most stores, sources said, were only allowed to get veggies deliveries once a week. If the stores were super-busy, corporate allowed them two deliveries a week.
Corporate offices wouldn’t comment on whether or not the claims were true, but franchisees say that lettuce you’re asking for may have been sitting around for days. They describe their own veggies as tasting like "shredded paper" and being "a massive problem," so before you tell your sandwich artist to pile on the veggies, take a good look at them first.
While all Subway’s veggies can be a little dodgy, a huge number of online complaints focus on their tomatoes. According to a former employee in the Reddit thread "Subway Q&A — Ask me Anything Subway Related," they refused to eat the tomatoes. They said shipments would come in either unripe or so overripe they would squish when they were cutting them, and the manager still insisted they be served.
Customers have noticed, too, and have taken to social media in everything from Facebook posts to blogs in order to complain about the state of Subway’s tomatoes. It’s not just a one-time deal, and you’ll find there are a ton of photos of unripe, pale-looking tomatoes out there, with white centers and a taste you just know is pretty much non-existent. Comments on some posts point out that tomatoes are usually shipped before they’re completely ripe, and it’s the responsibility of the stores to finish ripening them before they serve them up to customers. That doesn’t seem to happen all the time with Subway, so maybe it’s just better to skip the tomatoes.