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10 Sandwiches to Skip, 10 to Enjoy

At many popular sandwich chains, you can unwittingly gobble up a diet disaster -- unless you know how to order. Browse our gallery of the 10 worst sandwiches, items that are packed with hidden calories. Then check out 10 better choices at the same restaurants. And beware the turkey sandwich, which has become a blank canvas for fattening additions of all kinds. 

Schlotzsky's: Worst Bet

The Deluxe Original-Style Sandwich has double servings of smoked ham, two kinds of salami, and three types of cheese. Layered in between, there are a few healthy things -- like black olives, red onion, lettuce, and tomato -- but that's not enough to offset the fat, calories, and sodium. All that meat and cheese equals a whopping 980 calories, 46 g fat, 18 g saturated fat, and 3,880 mg sodium.

Schlotzsky's: Better Bet

The Small Chicken Breast Sandwich is a better choice at Schlotzsky's. It has only 330 calories -- fewer than half the calories of the "original-style" sandwich -- along with a slim 2 g fat and no saturated fat. Chicken, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and fat-free spicy ranch dressing on a sourdough bun keep the calories and fat in check. But watch out for the sky-high 1,150 mg of sodium.

Quiznos: Worst Bet

The large Italian Meatball Sub is loaded with meatballs, double mozzarella, and marinara sauce. It weighs in at an amazing 1,530 calories, 81 g fat, 28 g saturated fat, and 3,580 mg sodium. That's more fat and salt than anyone should eat in a day.

Quiznos: Better Bet

A small Turkey Lite sandwich is a slim, tasty choice with only 310 calories, 6 g fat, and 1.5 g saturated fat. But it has a lot of sodium with a whopping 1,270 mg. Fat-free balsamic vinaigrette replaces mayo for great flavor with no fat. Choose wheat bread, and this small sandwich makes you feel full thanks to high fiber in the bread, plus lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers and the satisfying lean protein in the turkey. If you need more, a piece of fruit can complete this healthy meal.

Blimpie: Worst Bet

Again, meatballs are bad news. The large Meatball Parmigiana has beef and pork blended meatballs covered in marinara sauce, melted provolone, and sprinkled Parmesan. All that meat and cheese equals 1,120 calories, 58 g fat, 26 g saturated fat, and 3,640 mg sodium. When ordering at a restaurant, beware of specialty breads, which often have extra calories.

Blimpie: Better Bet

Order the 6-inch Roast Beef and Provolone on wheat for a healthy and satisfying sandwich. The tally is: 430 calories, 16 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 970 mg sodium, and 6 g fiber. Keep these other Blimpie subs under 400 calories by skipping the cheese and sauce: ham, turkey, veggie, or club. Have it on wheat for a healthy dose of fiber.

Arby's: Worst Bet

Arby's Roast Turkey Ranch & Bacon Market FreshSandwich has bacon, turkey, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and ranch sauce -- all adding up to a colossal 800 calories, 35 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, and a shocking 2,250 mg sodium. "Market Fresh" has a healthful ring, but the fat and calories put this sandwich closer to a greasy burger and fries.

Arby's: Better Bet

A plain, Regular Roast Beef Sandwich is a decent choice for controlling calories. But skip the melted cheese, mayo, and the "horsey" sauce (50 calories and 5 g of fat in a tiny packet.) Arby's sauce adds flavor with zero fat and only 15 calories. The nutrient tally before additions is 360 calories, 14 g fat, 5 g saturated fat. The high sodium content may be a deal-breaker for some at 970 mg.

Burger King: Worst Bet

"Crisp" is a red flag for high-fat, fried food. And the Tender Crisp Chicken Sandwich is a classic example of fried chicken on a bun slathered with creamy, high-fat dressing. It tops out at 700 calories, 42 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, and 1,430 mg sodium -- about the same calories and fat as a Whopper with cheese.

Burger King: Best Bet

The TenderGrill Chicken Sandwich on a Ciabatta bun is a juicy, grilled chicken filet topped with lettuce and tomato. Dressed with mayo, it has 410 calories, 16 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, and 830 mg of sodium. Skip the mayo for a slender 320 calorie sandwich. Pickles, onions, and mustard add kick without too many extra calories.

Panera: Worst Bet

The Signature Chipotle Chicken on Artisan French Bread contains 840 calories, 38 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, and 2,140 mg of sodium. The special sauce, bacon, and cheddar help turn chicken, a lean type of protein, into a calorie bomb. Unfortunately, many of the hot panini, signature, and café sandwiches hit the 700-900 calorie range.

Panera: Best Bet

Smoked Turkey Breast on Country Bread is a better choice at Panera. The restaurant uses 99% fat-free turkey and adds lettuce, tomato, mayo, and mustard for 430 calories, 3.5 g fat, and 1 g saturated fat. Sodium is high at 1,790 mg. Hats off to Panera for offering an apple as a side dish instead of bread or chips.

Boston Market: Worst Bet

The Homestyle Meatloaf CarverSandwich sounds wholesome, but "hearty" or just plain "fattening" might be better descriptions. It has 950 calories, 39 g fat, and 18 g of saturated fat -- the daily limit of this unhealthy fat for most people. With 2,160 mg of sodium, it nearly tops the daily limit for healthy adults (2,300 mg).

Boston Market: Better Bet

The Pulled BBQ Rotisserie Chicken Sandwich is a tasty choice at Boston Market. Roasting the chicken makes it moist and tender. It's relatively healthy compared to some of the other choices. It has 620 calories, 14 g fat, and 6 g saturated fat. But it has a whopping 1,890 mg of sodium. Take off the top layer of bread to cut calories or eat half and save half for another meal.

Subway: Worst Bet

The 6-inch Chicken and Bacon Ranch Melt is a fatty choice at a restaurant better known for its healthy options. This 6-inch sub weighs in at 570 calories, 28 g fat, 10 g saturated fat, and 1,050 mg sodium.

Subway: Best Bets

Keep your personal calorie count low with the 6-inch Black Forest Ham Sandwich. This 6-inch sub has 290 calories, 4.5 g fat, no saturated fat, and 800 mg sodium. The restaurant has other low-calorie choices: roast chicken, roast beef, club, turkey breast, turkey breast and ham, veggie delight, or sweet onion chicken teriyaki. Top them with lots of veggies to keep them in the range of 230-380 calories.

McDonald's: Worst Bet

The Crispy Chicken ClubSandwich has fried chicken, bacon, and mayo, which push this to 670 calories, 33 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, and 1,410 mg of sodium. Get grilled chicken instead of fried, mustard instead of mayo, and this becomes a better choice.

McDonald's: Best Bet

The Honey Mustard Snack Wrap pleases the palate without plumping your waistline. Each flour tortilla contains grilled chicken, shredded cheese, and lettuce for 250 calories, 8 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, and 650 mg sodium. Ranch or chipotle versions have just a few more calories.

Wendy's: Worst Bet

The Asiago Ranch Club With Homestyle Chicken can turn a quick lunch into a fatty affair that lingers on your hips. Wendy's tops their breaded, fried filet with 3 strips of bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mayo for 670 calories, 32 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, and 1,610 mg of sodium. If you swap the mayo for honey mustard and go grilled, you can slim down this club sandwich to about 530 calories.

Wendy's: Best Bet

Wendy's Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich boasts only 370 calories, 7 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, and 880 mg of sodium. This simple yet satisfying sandwich of grilled chicken, lettuce, and tomato is topped off with tangy honey mustard instead of slathered with high-fat mayo -- for a dietitian's delight.

Side Dishes and Drinks Count, Too

Before you order, glance at the calorie listing to be sure your choice is a "best bet." And watch menu items that come with a side dish. Sidekicks that send the calories soaring include giant drinks, fries, chips, and salads loaded with dressing. Better bets are non-calorie drinks, fat-free milk, water, and sides with fruits and veggies.

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Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on May 19, 2014