4 Ways to Cut Calories from Your Sandwich

Cindy Ma
by Cindy Ma
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4 Ways to Cut Calories from Your Sandwich

We all know about the humble sandwich, a convenient meal that rarely fails to satisfy. However, loading on too many add-ons and condiments can transform your sandwich into a shocking calorie bomb. Although it may not seem like a lot, small swaps can make a huge difference in the end. Check out these nutrient dense sandwich ingredients to stack a flavorful, nutritious sandwich without tanking your calorie goal!

1. Start with a light bun.
The bun is your carbohydrate-rich energy source packed with plenty of B vitamins and fiber, a beneficial nutrient to keep you “regular” and stabilize blood sugar to help keep your cravings at bay. While whole-wheat bread is good choice, you can also change up your sandwich game with a whole-wheat wrap or pita.

Item (serving size)CaloriesFat (g)Carbs (g)Fiber (g)Sugar (g)Protein (g)
100% whole-wheat bread (2 slices)160228438
Whole-wheat tortilla (8-inch diameter)130419414
Whole-wheat pita (2 small, 4-inch diameter)145130326

Looking to save even more calories? Think outside the bun, and use large, leafy vegetables instead of bread. For those who struggle to eat within their calorie goal, vegetable wraps are an ingenious idea that kill two birds with one stone, shaving calories and getting an extra dose of vegetables.

Item (serving size)CaloriesFat (g)Carbs (g)Fiber (g)Sugar (g)Protein (g)
Cabbage (4 medium leaves)2005231
Lettuce (4 large leaves)1503111
Collard (1 large leaf)1202101
Endive (6 small leaves)1303201

2. Choose your lean protein.
Your protein-packed sandwich filling can help you feel satisfied sooner and for longer after a meal. When choosing the perfect protein to strengthen your sandwich recipe, opt for lean options like chicken breast over fatty cuts of pork to shave off nearly 100 calories! Also, watch out for processed lunch meats, as they are often high in sodium and may contain sodium nitrate, a preservative that increases your risk for cancer. Look for lean, high-protein, low-sodium varieties like:

Item (serving size)CaloriesFat (g)Carb (g)Protein (g)Sodium (mg)
Low-sodium turkey breast deli meat (2 ounces)601012360
Low sodium, extra-lean cured ham (2 ounces)601010320
Lean roast beef (2 ounces)108501545
Boneless, skinless chicken breast (3 ounces)130302644

For the vegetarian or flexitarian, load up on your essential amino acids with the following:

Item (serving size)CaloriesFat (g)Carbs (g)Protein (g)Sodium (mg)
Sliced boiled egg (1 large)7051662
Black bean burger patty (1 patty)11041310328
Swiss cheese (1 ounce slice)11081852
Provolone cheese (1 ounce slice)80517172
Part-skim mozzarella cheese (1 ounce slice)70517175

TIME-SAVING TIP: Use leftover proteins like rotisserie chicken or marinara with meatballs for a budget-friendly and simple sandwich. Frozen turkey or black bean burger patties are convenient, too!

3. Stuff your sandwich with fiber-packed veggies.
Most sandwiches and burgers include the standard tomato and lettuce, but they don’t make much of an impact on your fiber quota for the day. Up your fiber intake with an array of low-calorie vegetables that are also loaded with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Layer on as many veggies as possible like these fresh choices:

Item (serving size)CaloriesFat (g)Carb (g)Fiber (g)Protein (g)
Baby spinach (1 cup)70111
Mushroom (1/2 cup)80111
Sliced cucumber (1/2 cup)80210
Bell pepper (10 rings)140311
Onion (2 medium slices)110310

TIME-SAVING TIP: Leftover side dishes, like roasted butternut squash and stir-fry veggies or salads are great sandwich fillers. Precut all your veggies (and fruit, if you’re gutsy) at the beginning of the week, so that you can assemble and go during your busy workdays.

4. Boost flavor with your favorite spread.
Condiments give your sandwich the extra push it needs to cross the border from bland to delicious. But, watch out for high-sodium or high-sugar condiments like ketchup and barbecue sauce. Choose minimally processed condiments lower in salt, fat and sugar like:

Item (serving size)CaloriesFat (g)Carbs (g)Protein (g) Sodium (mg)
Light mayonnaise (1 tablespoon)36310124
Guacamole (2 tablespoons)45320110
Hummus (2 tablespoons)50242114

Overall, the possibilities in making a healthy sandwich are endless, so have fun, get creative and we hope that we’ve given you fresh ideas for making easy, delicious, healthy sandwiches! Check out some of these recipes, and start cooking:

1. Grilled Cuban | Clean Eating Magazine

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 231; Total Fat: 6g; Saturated Fat: 3g; Monounsaturated Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 36mg; Sodium: 617mg; Carbohydrate: 24g; Dietary Fiber: 4g; Sugar: 4g; Protein: 20g

2. Turkey Panini with Sun-dried Tomatoes | Clean Eating

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 260; Total Fat: 6g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Monounsaturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 25mg; Sodium: 830mg; Carbohydrate: 34g; Dietary Fiber: 5g; Sugar: 4g; Protein: 16g

3. Turkey Apple & Chutney Sandwich | The Salt Solution Cookbook

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 254; Total Fat: 5g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Monounsaturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 23mg; Sodium: 578mg; Carbohydrate: 36g; Dietary Fiber: 4g; Sugar: 12g; Protein: 19g

4. Open-Face Steak Sandwich | MyFitnessPal’s Original Recipes

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 296; Total Fat: 16g; Saturated Fat: 6g; Monounsaturated Fat: 4g; Cholesterol: 57mg; Sodium: 432mg; Carbohydrate: 18g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; Sugar: 2g; Protein: 20g

5. Soy-Marinated Pork Sandwich | Cooking Light

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 290; Total Fat: 7g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Monounsaturated Fat: 3g; Cholesterol: 55mg; Sodium: 352mg; Carbohydrate: 30g; Dietary Fiber: 4g; Sugar: 10g; Protein: 25g

6. Grilled Blue Cheese & Pear | Clean Eating

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 244; Total Fat: 5g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Monounsaturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 8mg; Sodium: 302mg; Carbohydrate: 36g; Dietary Fiber: 6g; Sugar: 13g; Protein: 10g

7. Open-Faced Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich | Avocadoes From Mexico

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 354; Total Fat: 24g; Saturated Fat: 5g; Monounsaturated Fat: 13g; Cholesterol: 280mg; Sodium: 397mg; Carbohydrate: 24g; Dietary Fiber: 9g; Sugar: 8g; Protein: 14g

8. Curry Chickpea Salad | Dietitian Debbie Dishes

Nutrition (per serving with burger bun): Calories: 247; Total Fat: 4g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Monounsaturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 1mg; Sodium: 429mg; Carbohydrate: 43g; Dietary Fiber: 8g; Sugar: 5g; Protein: 12g

About the Author

Cindy Ma
Cindy Ma

Cindy holds a bachelor’s in nutritional science from UC Berkeley. By sharing her knowledge of nutrition, Cindy aspires to empower others to reach their full potential by living a healthy lifestyle and embracing a positive body image. She enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, exploring cultures through food, and exercising with friends. Connect with her on Twitter.


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