The sandwich is an art form. Thought to be invented in the 1700’s, this simple combination of two slices of bread and plenty of flavorful fillings is a great way to showcase your individuality. Unfortunately, sandwiches don’t tend to have complete nutrition information on them. As a result, it’s hard to figure out how many calories there are in a turkey sandwich.
Luckily, we can calculate this ourselves! Here’s a rundown of my favorite sandwich ingredients so that you can figure out how healthy (or unhealthy) your own sandwiches are.
How Many Calories Are In A Turkey Sandwich: The Estimate
If you’re strapped for time, here’s a quick rule of thumb. Subway guesses that their 6-inch turkey sandwiches have about 200 calories when loaded with veggies, mayo, and swiss. If you’re eating a reasonably sized sandwich that’s between two slices of normal bread you’re probably looking at a similar number.
If you have time, however, you’ll definitely want to calculate out the calories yourself! A loaded turkey sandwich can easily have close to a thousand calories, while a carefully constructed wrap might have less than 100.
In this case, size really matters, so at the very least you’ll want to guess whether or not your sandwich is bigger than a “normal” example. A sandwich on bigger bread with more meat will have more calories.
Turkey Sandwich Nutrition Facts: The Complete Picture
The best way to accurately estimate how many calories are in your turkey sandwich is to sum up the calories in all of the ingredients. These are some of my favorite things to put into a sandwich:
Sliced turkey breast tends to have about 22 calories per slice. This isn’t a lot on a per-slice basis, but it starts to add up pretty fast when you make a mountain of meat on your sandwich. Luckily, most of these calories are from protein, which is pretty healthy.
Bread is one of the most variable ingredients in your sandwich. There’s a huge difference between a reduced calorie oatmeal bread and a buttered, toasted slice of whole grain. Even without any condiments, bread can have up to 110 calories per slice. On the other hand, low-calorie varieties can weigh in at just under 50 calories per slice. A reasonable estimate for “normal” white bread is about 70 calories per slice.
Real mayo is one of the more calorie-rich sandwich ingredients, at least on a per-pound basis. Adding a big squeeze of 1 tablespoon of mayo to your sandwich tacks on about 100 calories. This is a bit more mayonnaise than most people I know use, but it’s definitely good to know how easily you can inflate your calorie count with some condiments.
Luckily, there are several low-calorie mayonnaise alternatives available. “Light” mayonnaise tends to have about 35 calories per tablespoon, meaning it’s a reduction of about 60%.
Unlike its white condiment cousin, mustard has hardly any calories. A healthy squeeze is something like 4 calories, meaning you can add lots of mustard without worry.
Lettuce has a very small amount of calories. A full, big leaf of lettuce has about 4 calories, depending on the size and variety of lettuce. Most of the sandwiches I make don’t use a full leaf, meaning they have less than 4 calories from all of the lettuce I use (and I think I use a lot!)
LIke lettuce, tomatoes aren’t particularly rich in calories. You’re looking at something like 3 calories per tomato slice. Just like with lettuce, a sandwich loaded with tomatoes isn’t going to wreck your diet.
As you might have guessed, pickles have a very, very small amount of calories. You’re often looking at under one calorie per slice. A full pickle (a large, whole one) has only 14 calories, so you can reasonably expect that all of the pickles in your sandwich will add less than 4.
Here’s where things start to get fun. Bacon has about 43 calories per strip. This means if you use three slices of bacon in your turkey sandwich you’re adding about 130 calories. If you’re not careful, you can easily eat a whole lot more than you meant to with this delicious sandwich addition!
While there are many varieties of cheese, they’re mostly between 90 and 110 calories per slice. Note that this means that three strips of bacon has only slightly more calories than a single slice of cheese. Be careful with dairy!
A cup of avocado has about 235 calories. Luckily, you’re usually not adding a whole cup to your sandwich. I think I tend to add about a quarter of that, meaning that my sandwiches have about 60 calories from avocados.
Adding It All Up
The amount of each ingredient that you use has a big impact on the finished product, at least as far as calories are concerned. An example sandwich with 20 calories of vegetables, 100 calories of mayo, 100 calories of cheese, 60 calories of avocado, and 130 calories of bread has something like 400 calories before meat. Adding 2 slices of turkey takes the total to 440. Adding 7 slices of turkey and 4 strips of bacon puts the total at close to 700. In other words, quantity matters!
You can modify your sandwiches to save quite a lot of calories. If you take anything away from this article it should be that veggies are nearly free as far as your diet is concerned, while mayonnaise, meat, bread, and cheese are very expensive. Be sure to pick and choose the ingredients that you like the best and make a series of decisions that make sense to you. If you really like mayo, for example, you might want to go with low-calorie bread to help offset the impact of your favorite condiment. If you don’t like mayo, on the other hand, you can splurge on high-calorie whole wheat bread and maybe even add a little butter.
Of course, your diet might be a little bit more involved than just cutting calories. If this is the case, be sure to take any relevant restrictions or requirements into account before you start looking at calories. It’s no good to swap out low-calorie bread if the bread won’t fit in your gluten-free diet, for example. These other factors should take priority over simple calorie counts.
One of the biggest problems with calorie counts is that it’s hard for people to understand what the numbers mean. An easy way to put things into perspective is to translate calories into exercise. A 10-minute run burns about 100 calories. This means that if you want a 500 calorie sandwich to have the same impact on your weight as a 200 calorie sandwich, you’d have to get about 30 minutes of cardio.
Finally, be sure that the things you’re putting into your sandwich are actually things you like eating. There’s no point in carefully constructing a lean, mean low-calorie sandwich that simply tastes bad. If you’re having trouble assembling a sandwich you want to eat, try looking to the internet for inspiration. A lot of the time, small substitutions (like low-calorie mayo) can make a pretty big difference in how the final product turns out.
Turkey Sandwich Calories: The Final Word
When it comes to sandwiches, there’s a lot of variance in calories. The best thing to do is to calculate out the rough amount of calories yourself! This way, you’ll have a great idea about which ingredients do what to the total. You’ll be able to make better healthy decisions when it comes to your food.