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The Anatomy Of A Subway Sandwich — Will The Real Subway Please Stand Up?

Subway interior

*We had kind things to say about Chipotle in our first fast food review; Subway, not so much.

America has turned into a nutritionist culture. Subway, in a way, is the microcosm of that culture; an eating paradigm obsessed with numbers, calorie counts, grams of fat, and other nutritional metrics — not the food or ingredients stockpiled into one black-and-white nutrition label, to represent science that couldn’t be more gray.

On paper, Subway looks stellar. That’s what their entire “6 grams of fat or less” marketing campaign is predicated on — which in-and-of-itself is ludicrous, because of the natural good/bad dichotomy of dietary fat — but peel back the numbers, juxtapose it with the ingredients, and you’ve got engineered mayhem.

Nutritional mayhem that that you likely can’t read at first glance, pronounce, or fully comprehend.

Take something as innocuous as the Oven Roasted Chicken Sandwich, made with only grilled chicken breast, wheat bread, and veggies. It looks like a slam dunk healthy choice, especially with its svelte 320 cal/5g fat/5g fiber/23g protein profile, right? Here’s the true anatomy of your Subway grilled chicken, from top to bottom:1



 subway ingredients, subway chicken ingredients, subway sandwich ingredients


And if you make a quick pivot to teriyaki glazed chicken breast strips, with added banana peppers, for example, tack on the following:2

CHICKEN STRIPS (Teriyaki glazed): Subway Chicken Breast Strips (see above), teriyaki glaze (water, corn syrup, soy sauce (water, wheat, soybean, salt, sodium benzoate [a preservative]), rice vinegar, modified corn starch, sugar, tomato paste, ginger, vinegar, garlic, sesame oil, sesame seed, salt, dehydrated green onion, dehydrated red bell pepper, natural flavours, autolyzed yeast extract, dehydrated garlic, sodium benzoate (a preservative), spices, citric acid, soybean oil, dry yeast (torula), dehydrated onion.). Contains soy, wheat and sesame.3

BANANA PEPPERS: Banana peppers, water, distilled vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, sodium benzoate (preservative), sodium metabisulfite (preservative), yellow #5, natural flavors, polysorbate 80.4

Point is: grilled chicken should be chicken, with some herbs and spices, salt, EVOO, perhaps; not autolyzed yeast extract, disodium guanylate, and succinic acid. Banana peppers should NOT have yellow 5, or polysorbate 80. Subway is nutritional engineering wrapped in a lean, shimmering package, which it’s managed to pull off quite well.

And if you want the rest of the story on their egg whites, ham, breads, dressings, et al., go have a field day sorting through Subway’s official (albeit hidden) ingredients page.


The Final Word

If you’re in a bind, Subway won’t kill you; it still sits above McDonald’s, BK, Wendy’s etc. in the fast food power rankings. But don’t trick yourself into thinking that Subway is harmless, or worse, a health food — it absolutely doesn’t belong in the lunchtime repertoire of any diet.

It’s not real food; your body deserves better.


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Bryan DiSanto

Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Instagram (@BRYDISANTO) & Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto
  1. Subway’s Oven Roasted Chicken Sandwich []
  2. Subway .com — US Product Ingredients []
  3. Subway .com — US Product Ingredients []
  4. Subway .com — US Product Ingredients []