Staying Paleo at Subway

Eating the paleo way at Subway

When you are sticking to the paleo diet, sometimes you find yourself at places that will make it difficult for you. Eating is at times both social and practical. People tend to  eat in groups, and sometimes you find yourself in a group that wants to eat what you don’t. Other times you just need some calories to keep you going, and convenience is what you are looking for.

Subway falls in both categories for me. Socially speaking, my family loves Subway. I did too, before I gave up bread. They still go there quite often, and when they run out to grab sandwiches for lunch, I don’t want them to have to make a special trip for me. From the practical standpoint, Subway sandwich shops are everywhere, so I used to grab a footlong, toasted roast beef with swiss on jalapaño cheese bread about two or three times a week. I plan ahead with my food a lot more than I used to, so I rarely need to grab food for convenience sake, but there are those times still when I find it is 3:00, and I haven’t had lunch yet. On those days Subway can be very tempting when you drive past one on every corner.  So, is it possible to eat paleo at Subway?

Subway without the bread

Pop quiz: what’s the first thing they ask you at Subway? That’s right. “What kind of bread do you want?” My answer used to be either Italian herb and cheese or jalapaño cheese bread if they had it. Today the answer is: “I’ll have a chopped salad please.” The paleo diet hinges on eating nutrient-rich food and cutting the empty calories you get from grains. For a fast food restaurant, Subway actually has lots of nutrient-dense foods paleo types crave. You just have to ditch the bread. You can order whatever protein you want in your Chopped Salad, and they have lots of lean meats to choose from, but their meats have been heavily processed according to You may be better off going vegitarian. I still like their salami, and get the spicy italian chpopped in my salad. Since I don’t eat there as often as I used to,  I don’t worry about the processsed meat. Just know the turky, chicken, and other lean meats are just as processed as the salami, so don’t trick yourself into thinking they are “healthier options.”

Nutrient-rich fast food

The first thing your “Sandwich Artist” will do when you request a chopped salad is grab a giant black bowl and wait for you to tell them what you want. They’ll assume you want their iceberg lettuce. Iceberg lettuce isn’t the most nutritious member of the lettuce family, but it isn’t as poor in nutrients as it has a reputation for. Iceberg lettuce is filling, and high in vitamin K which supports skeletal health and helps you form blood clots. Throw in some tomatoes for some vitamin C, potassium, vitamin K1, and vitamin B9.  I really like raw spinach, so I always have them throw in a couple of handfulls of spinach for  folate, vitamin C, niacin, riboflavin, and potassium, and iron. One relatively new ingredient Subway offers now is guacamole. It isn’t the most flavorful guacamole I have ever had, but is made with real  avocados, which is often referred to as a supper food.  Here’s why, according to a single 3.5 ounce (100 gram) serving of avocado, you get:

  • Vitamin K: 26% of the RDA.
  • Folate: 20% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin C: 17% of the RDA.
  • Potassium: 14% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin B5: 14% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin B6: 13% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin E: 10% of the RDA.

An avocado has more potassium than a banana. Potassium is important because it supports healthy blood pressure levels. It is also loaded with monounsaturated fatty acids which has been proven to  help lower triglyceride levels. Make sure they don’t short change you on the guac. It costs extra, but it is the healthiest thing on the menu. Don’t forget the onions. In addition to adding flavor, according to  onions help with the absorption of other vitamins,  act as an anti-bacterial, improve cardiovascular performance, and lower blood sugar, which is particularly important for me since my blood sugar spikes easily. I like spicy food, so I also add jalapaños for flavor, and some vitamin C. Always add cucumbers. according to world’, cucumbers are very nutrient dense and contain phytonutrients which provide us with antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory benefits.

The Verdict

It won’t be the best salad you’ve ever had in your life, but you can do a lot worse in the fast food world than Subway. If you are on the go and need  to eat, their chopped salad is a good option. While not organic, you can get nutrient density you are looking for on a paleo diet and it tastes pretty good.


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