Do you prepare your own sandwich for lunch each day? Bringing your own lunch to work is a simple and effective method for weight loss while on the job. However, it’s important to be mindful of the toppings you use, such as avocado, mayonnaise, and mustard, as they can significantly alter the sandwich’s nutritional value and calorie count. Without proper care, a seemingly “healthy” sandwich could easily exceed 400-500 calories. Luckily, you can effortlessly reduce the calorie count of your sandwich with some savvy tips and nutritional knowledge.
The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one sandwich (155g) with ham, cheese, and mayonnaise.
- Calories: 361
- Fat: 16.7
- Sodium: 1320mg
- Carbohydrates: 32.5g
- Fiber: 2.3g
- Sugars: 5gProtein: 19.3g
A typical sandwich that you make at home includes bread, one or two of your favorite condiments, and lunch meat. You may even add a few veggies for crunch and flavor. If you make that sandwich at home you can control the ingredients, cut calories, and boost nutrition.
But what if you pick one up at the market? It’s harder to control sandwich calories when you buy them pre-made. The nutritional value and calorie counts can vary significantly.
Typical Sandwich Calories
- Turkey sandwich calories can range from 160 to nearly 500 calories depending on the amount of meat you add and the condiment choices.
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich calories range from about 350 to 500 depending on how much peanut butter you use. A single serving of peanut butter is just two tablespoons.
- Peanut butter sandwich calories are more reasonable as long as you control the amount of peanut butter that you use. A PB sandwich on white bread usually ranges from 200-300 calories.
- Nutella sandwich calories are similar to peanut butter sandwich calories ranging from about 300 to 500. A single serving of Nutella is about two tablespoons and it provides 200 calories.
- Ham sandwich calories are generally (more) diet-friendly when you omit the cheese. You can make one for under 200 calories, but if you add butter—as many people do—and enjoy it on a french baguette your sandwich will top 400 calories or more.
- Subway sandwich calories vary significantly from 230 to nearly 1000 calories. It’s smart to compare Subway nutrition facts to find the healthiest choice if you like to eat there.
- Egg salad sandwich calories are sky-high due to the fact that the filling is full of fat. Egg salad alone can add 350 calories. Add bread and you might have a sandwich that tops 500 calories.
- Chicken salad sandwich calories are comparable to egg salad calories, ranging from about 400-600 or more.
- Egg and cheese sandwich calories usually range from about 250-over 400 calories. These popular breakfast sandwiches often come on a croissant or a biscuit and that can drive the calories higher. You can find a healthier breakfast sandwich by checking ingredients and calorie counts online before you dine in.
So how do you keep your sandwich from derailing your diet? Use this guide to cut calories from your sandwich.
How to Cut Sandwich Calories
With just a few tweaks and healthy swaps, you can create a nutritious and healthy sandwich that is lower in calories but still full of flavor and lasting satisfaction.
Choose Low-Calorie Sandwich Bread
Delicious, thick, crusty bread, bagels, baguettes, croissants, and hearty rolls can be full of fat and calories. These choices might also boost your starchy carb intake for the day. Instead, choose diet-friendly bread or a bread alternative.
- Arnold Bakery Light: 100% Whole Wheat Bread: 40 calories per slice
- Nature’s Own Wheat Bread: 40 calories per slice
- Pepperidge Farm Light Style Bread: 45 calories per slice
- Joseph’s Flax, Oat Bran & Whole Wheat Flour Pita Bread: 60 calories per pita
- La Tortilla Factory Low Carb, High Fiber Tortillas: 70 calories per tortilla
If you prefer a more natural approach, try making a sandwich with no bread at all. Wrap your healthy sandwich filling in bibb lettuce or make a sandwich using a peeled and seeded cucumber as the shell. They don’t travel as well as traditional sandwiches but if you carry them in a plastic container they aren’t as messy.
Choose Diet-Friendly Sandwich Meats
Once you’ve chosen your healthy bread, you’ll build your sandwich around a meat or meat-free filling. Get creative and combine different choices to find new flavors.
However, be wary of meat or fish spreads that sound healthy. Many brands of salmon spread, for example, contain protein and healthy nutrients, but the fish is often combined with cream cheese so the spread is very high in calories.
- Thinly sliced deli ham: 60 calories per serving
- Thinly sliced deli turkey: 60 calories per serving
- Thinly sliced deli roast beef: 80 calories per serving
- Thinly sliced deli chicken: 50 calories per serving
- Grilled eggplant: 20 calories (grilled without oil)
- Grilled portobello mushroom: 15 calories (grilled without oil)
If you are watching your sodium intake, look for healthier low-sodium lunch meats at your local market.
Load Up on Diet-Friendly Veggie Toppings
Pack your sandwich with as many naturally fat-free or low-fat toppings as possible. These nutrient-rich veggies add spice, flavor, and crunch to your sandwich so it tastes more filling and decadent.
- Banana peppers
- Green peppers sliced thin
- Jalapeno peppers sliced thin
- Shredded cabbage
- Plain or grilled onions
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Basil leaves
- Alfalfa or bean sprouts
- Iceberg lettuce, spinach, bibb lettuce, or greens of your choice
Choose Low-Calorie Condiments
The spread that you choose for your sandwich takes up the least space in your low-calorie sandwich but can provide the most fat. If you add plenty of toppings from the list above then you may not want to add any spread at all.
- Yellow mustard: 3 calories
- Dijon mustard: 4 calories
- Ketchup: 19 calories
- Relish: 20 calories
- Avocado or guacamole: 23 calories
- Barbecue sauce: 30 calories
- Olive tapenade: 30 calories
- Avocado: 40 calories
- Jelly: 55 calories
- Salad dressing: 73 calories
- Pesto: 80 calories
- Tahini: 89 calories
- Aioli: 100 calories
- Butter: 100 calories
- Olive oil: 119 calories
Highest Calorie Sandwich Choices
So what are the worst sandwich choices for your diet? Usually, the sandwiches you buy in convenience stores or order at restaurants are highest in fat and calories. Deli sandwiches can also derail your diet. An 8-inch Philly Cheesesteak, for example, provides about 710 calories and 24 grams of fat.
Most of the time, restaurant, and deli sandwiches are oversized and include the condiments that are highest in fat and calories. If you order a sandwich when you’re on the go, cut in half. Share one half of the sandwich with a friend or wrap it up and take it home for a later meal.