A salad beats a sandwich, though you have to choose your salad wisely.
Take Panera. Most of its sandwiches (not the half sandwich in a You Pick 2) and paninis start out with 300 to 500 calories from the ciabatta, french baguette, focaccia, tomato basil, honey wheat, or three cheese bread. Who needs all that (mostly) white flour? The Sierra Turkey on Asiago Cheese Focaccia gets 690 of its 820 calories from the focaccia (510) and the chipotle mayonnaise (180).
Only a few breads, like the sourdough, keep the calories down to 200. And expect roughly 700 to 900 milligrams of sodium—at least half a day’s worth—from most of the breads alone. With fillings, most sandwiches hit 600 to 900 calories and 1,000 to 2,500 mg of sodium.
In contrast, a full salad starts with greens (maybe even spinach) and raw veggies. With dressing, chicken, cheese, and other usual add-ons, the totals typically hit 400 to 600 calories. And the veggies’ potassium may counter some of the damage done by the sodium (700 to 1,500 mg).
Note: at Panera, you can skip ingredients like crispy wonton strips or croutons, which have about 100 calories each. And you can save another 100 by using just half the dressing. Whatever you order, don’t forget to add 180 calories if you get a baguette on the side.
Tip: Wraps aren’t much different from sandwiches. You’re just trading the bread for a 300-calorie white-flour tortilla.
Other relevant links:
- These substitutions will help you cut unhealthy fat from your diet. See: Tips for Minimizing Saturated Fat Intake
- A useful infographic on how to make healthier sandwiches. See: How to Build a Better Sandwich
- Paninis pack more calories than other sandwiches. See: Calories in Food: Are Paninis Worse for You than Other Sandwiches?