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Tremendous Upside w/ Dave & Niraj

Subway is deceptiveFood
Hey, check out this commercial! Subway's sandwiches are so much healthier than a Burger King chicken sandwich! Wait a second, is it really? Sure, they compared the fat content, but let's see what's really going on here:
In a currently airing commercial, they compare a particular Subway sandwich with chicken to a Burger King sandwich with chicken. They cherry pick the fat numbers as an illustration of the relative healthy qualities of each sandwich - the Subway sandwich predictable has little fat, while the Burger King sandwich has an excessive amount. The viewer can then extrapolate from this context free statistic that the Subway sandwich is good for you, while the Burger King sandwich is not. My problem is not that Subway is lying about the Burger King sandwich being good for you - the sandwich they chose for their illustration (the Tender Crisp) is a whopper (ha!) to the body - but both the assertion that Subway sandwiches are good for you and the way they go about doing it.

Subway deliberately chooses the worst (nutritionally speaking) chicken sandwich Burger King makes. Let's look at one of the worst sandwiches Subway makes - the tuna sub. The 6" version has 530 calories and 31 grams of fat, not to mention over 1000 mg of sodium. The chicken teriyaki (the subject of the commercial, I believe) has over 1200 mg of sodium - almost the entire recommended daily requirement. Burger King makes a chicken whopper - this has only 570 calories and 25 grams of fat - very similar to the Subway tuna (a sandwich that you might foolishly think was actually going to be good for you). I hate cherry picked statistics.

I don't mean to be too hard on Subway here - I actually like some of their sandwiches, I like that you can get fresh vegetables on them (which is in my opinion really the thing that sets them apart from other fast food restaurants). But Subway is still fast food - this means it is processed with way too much salt, and there are plenty of unhealthy options on their menu. You need to be especially careful if you order a 12" sub.
I'm posting about this because of what I recently discovered. I was trying to look up nutrition facts for myself on Subway's website and I saw that they listed the 6 grams of fat subs in their own section, and many of them have over 1000mg of sodium in them. Then, I saw some fine print all the way at the bottom of the page:
Subs with 6 grams of fat or less include Italian or wheat bread, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, green peppers and olives. All other sandwich values include cheese unless otherwise noted.
So the 6g of fat subs don't include cheese or any sauce/mayo. While you might not have cheese, your sub is going to be really dry with just the ingredients they're counting. And whatever you add to change that (sauce, mayo, oil) is going to be where a bunch more fat and calories come from! So I took a look at Burger King and McDonalds just to see, and surprise! When you select a sandwich, they give you the nutrition for everything in it. And the sandwiches with cheese are listed differently. So you get all the ingredients for a sandwich (including mayo, ketchup, whatever) selected by default, and then you can uncheck whatever ingredients you don't get. And I'm pretty sure that selecting a healthy option at one of those places will be a lot closer to some of the sandwiches at Subway when you count all the ingredients you actually get.

Between not including ingredients and just focusing on the fat content comparison (instead of calories and sodium where Subway can get quite high), Subway's being sneaky and making themselves appear to be a healthier option than they really are.

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  • [Untitled]
    Posted by: dave on Apr 19th, 2007 | 09:49am

    Yes, it's true that it's not to hard to eat unhealthy at Subway.

    That said, it's a lot easier to eat healthy there than at other places.

    You can start with a 300 calorie 6" and add another 100 calories with cheese and either honey mustard or sweet onion sauce, and pile it with other good stuff like onions and banana peppers.

    It's true the McChicken only has 360 calories, but it's harder to eat just that, without getting fries or anything else.

    • [Untitled]
      Posted by: niraj on Apr 19th, 2007 | 11:45am

      Yes, that's true. I was just surprised to see how much closer the choices are to each other than Subway would have you believe. And the other day Rishi was mentioning some outrageously bad nutrition figures for Chipotle which was not as surprising but still much higher than I would have expected:

      Among [the Center for Science in the Public Interest]'s findings:
      • Chipotle's Chicken Burrito (with black beans, rice,
        cheese, and salsa) weighs in at nearly 1,000 calories and
        12 grams of saturated fat.
      • Chipotle's Vegetarian Burrito (with black beans,
        rice, cheese, guacamole, and salsa) weighs over a pound
        and provides 1,120 calories and three-quarters of a day's
        worth of saturated fat (14 grams).
      • Chipotle's Barbacoa Burrito (with shredded beef,
        pinto beans, rice, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, and
        salsa) hits nearly 1,300 calories and three-quarters of a
        day's worth of saturated fat. That's the equivalent of a
        Quarter Pounder, a large order of fries, and a large Coke.
      • Chipotle's Chicken Burrito Bols--burritos without the
        340-calorie flour tortillas--are CSPI's only recommended
        "Better Bites" at Chipotle. A Bol with chicken, black
        beans, lettuce, and salsa, has just 430 calories and four
        grams of saturated fat. Rice instead of lettuce adds about
        200 calories.

  • Watch the sugars, too
    Posted by: Anonymous on Apr 20th, 2007 | 12:13pm

    I also just read Subway's ingredient list at:

    and discovered they add plenty of sugars to all the breads AND meats. There is no bread or meat without sugar added, and rarely at the bottom of the list--it's the second, third, fourth ingredient.

    Another interesting point is that they use high-fructose corn syrup (a VERY processed, ultra-refined sugar) in the "healthier" wheat bread, where the Italian white bread just uses sugar.

    The only sugar-free items were the mayo, ranch dressing, plain mustards (not honey mustard), cheeses and vegetables.

    So if you really want to be cautious, stick to the salads. :)

  • [Untitled]
    Posted by: dave on Apr 20th, 2007 | 12:14pm

    That's some good advince, and no, that's not from me.

    • subway bread
      Posted by: Anonymous on May 2nd, 2007 | 10:41am

      diabetics should monitor glucose levels when eating the bread and some of the salad dressings as well

      • [Untitled]
        Posted by: Anonymous on Feb 29th, 2008 | 04:27pm

        Dude, sick.
        I just had subway today thinking "they're probably lying to me....let me check it out." So from now on, fuck the wheat bread veggie delight....Im sticking with italian bread and no cheese!

        • High Fructose Corn Syrup
          Posted by: Anonymous on Apr 14th, 2008 | 08:48am

          Las week I had the BMT on Honey Oat with Chipotle Sauce. Two hours after I ate my blood sugar was 180. Two days later the same sandwich with Italian Bread and Mayo- my blood sugar was 120. High Fructose Corn Syrup at work!

          • sauce cheese
            Posted by: Anonymous on Apr 23rd, 2008 | 03:22pm

            come on's not that hard to get pepper, oil and vinegar instead of mayo or honey mustard is it?

            Plus with subway you get all sorts of veggies. Burger king the most your getting is some tomato, a lil lettuce, a lil onion, and a few pickels.

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