Explain to me why I'm right (or wrong)
January 18, 2012 8:01 AM   Subscribe

Nutrition Filter: A&W Teen burger vs. Subway Club. Similar-ish nutritional information but the Subway Club is a better choice in terms of health.... right?

My partner and I are having a "discussion". For supper I intend to get a six inch subway club (no mayo). He intends to get an A&W Teen Burger. He thinks that his meal will be basically the same as mine because the calories, fat, etc aren't that different. I think it is a lot more complicated than that, but I am having trouble coming up with a solid argument for why his is a less healthy option.
posted by gwenlister to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Mostly equal.
posted by unixrat at 8:10 AM on January 18, 2012

Unless you put a ton of veggies on the club, seems like they'd be about the same.
posted by lunasol at 8:17 AM on January 18, 2012

If everything on the nutrition label is the same then you're mostly equal.

The X-factor is really in any additional vitamins, anti-oxidents and other nutrients that you'd pick up by have a more balanced meal (primarily from a wider range and likely greater amount of vegetables).
posted by bitdamaged at 8:19 AM on January 18, 2012

For reference, here are the numbers from the respective websites:

A&W Teen Burger:
  • 500 cal (235 from fat)
  • 26 g fat (11 saturated, 0.5 trans)
  • 70 mg cholesterol
  • 1220 mg sodium
  • 46 g carbohydrates
  • 1 g dietary fiber
  • 8 g sugar
  • 25 g protein
  • Vitamin A: 6% RDA
  • Vitamin C: 10% RDA
  • Calcium: 15% RDA
Subway Club:
  • 310 cal (40 from fat)
  • 4.5 g fat (1.5 saturated, 0 trans)
  • 40 mg cholesterol
  • 880 mg sodium
  • 46 g carbohydrates
  • 5 g dietary fiber
  • 7 g sugar
  • 23 g protein
  • Vitamin A: 8% RDA
  • Vitamin C: 20% RDA
  • Calcium: 30% RDA
I'm not where you're getting that the fat levels "aren't that different." There's over five times as much fat (!) in the Teen Burger, which is the primary reason for the calorie difference.

To put it another way, if the above numbers are correct, the Teen Burger is the equivalent of the Subway Club plus about tablespoon and a half of butter.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:19 AM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

Neither commercial ground beef nor deli meat are particularly healthy choices, not just from a caloric perspective, but from a chemical and food safety perspective.
posted by judith at 8:20 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

He was including mayo since if he got the sub he would be putting mayo on it.
posted by gwenlister at 8:20 AM on January 18, 2012

I don't think it's enough difference to make or break a diet but looking at their respective nutritional information pages it looks like the burger is somewhat worse in many respects: More calories, more grams of fat, more trans fat, more saturated fat, less fiber.

I would not agree that they "aren't that different".
posted by ghharr at 8:21 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

If if they are "equal" -- That only works if that's all you eat. Is he really going to be satisfied by a single Teen Burger? What about an hour after the meal? Personally, I'd rather have the Subway because at least then i'd be sorta full. Once you add fries or whatnot to the A&W, or eat again in an hour, then obviously Subway wins.

On preview -- if the nutritional facts above are correct, then no way are those two are even similar. The teen burger has more than 50% more calories, 5x the fat, almost twice the cholesterol. Ugh.
posted by cgg at 8:23 AM on January 18, 2012

Even adding regular mayo (assuming you go with the Subway standard serving size, which is probably unlikely) the Sandwich comes out ahead.
posted by ghharr at 8:23 AM on January 18, 2012

Fat-wise, you'd need to slather a quarter-cup of mayonnaise on the Subway Club to give it as much fat as the Teen Burger. (One tablespoon of mayo has about 5 grams of fat.)
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:24 AM on January 18, 2012

(Oh, and I misspoke above — I was assuming that butter was pure fat, but it's not. The equivalent to the 1/4 cup of mayonnaise, fat- and calorie-wise, would be closer to two tablespoons of butter.)
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:26 AM on January 18, 2012

Sorry, but I'd totally go for the teen burger. More fat means more satiation and less blood sugar spike from the white-bread bun. And more delicious, by far.

I tried to look up the Subway Club online and it was described as a "low-fat flavor fiesta." Then I lol'ed.
posted by area.man at 8:27 AM on January 18, 2012

Sure it is a lot more complicated than simply comparing a few macronutrients. You could compare relative healthiness of the fats (saturated, unsaturated, trans, mono, etc.), the quality of the carbohydrates (sugars versus more complext carbs, processed grains versus whole grains), the relative amounts of potentially negative nutrients like sodium or additives like the nitrates in the processed meats like ham, and the relative amounts of healthy nutrients like vitamins and minerals. Of course there are various uncertainties and controversies about some of this stuff, for example the degree and nature of how dietary fats and cholesterol actually contribute to your lipid levels.

That being said the Club is pretty much a clear win, the only positive nutrient the Teen wins on is protein, and since most meat-eating Westerners overconsume protein this isn't really a selling point. Neither one of these is health food and neither one is a catastrophe as an occasional substitute for real food but honestly, even from the simplistic perspective of macronutrients given the caloric difference and the prevalence of "bad" fats in the Teen it's fair to say the burger is basically twice as bad.
posted by nanojath at 8:28 AM on January 18, 2012

The Club has 5 times the fiber of the burger. Pooping is funny and all, but fiber has real health benefits.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:28 AM on January 18, 2012

Even with the mayo, the sub is still 420Cal, 16.5g fat (3.5g saturated). That's still 58% more fat, roughly three times as much saturated fat, more sodium, and still much less vegetable.
posted by ssg at 8:30 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

In addition to the other points above, to add to the "not equal" vote, the sub has twice the calcium and Vitamin C and almost 400 mg less sodium.
posted by Miko at 8:36 AM on January 18, 2012

That being said the Club is pretty much a clear win, the only positive nutrient the Teen wins on is protein, and since most meat-eating Westerners overconsume protein this isn't really a selling point.

If only.

(Full disclosure - I'm one of those people who think that Americans are fat because they eat too many carbs.)

My original answer was based upon the assumption that they are 'similar-ish' which doesn't seem to be the case upon further review.
posted by unixrat at 9:02 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Throw away the buns, eat the meat.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:45 AM on January 18, 2012

At almost every given point there, the Subway Club wins out by a modest to significant margin. If you put mayo and cheddar cheese on the Subway Club and swap to something like Italian Herb and Cheese bread, you're adding 210 calories, 20 grams of fat, and 355 mg sodium. Suddenly, it really is almost the same as the Teen Burger. So help you if you go for Roasted Garlic bread, that has an inhuman 1260mg of sodium according to the Subway site itself. I don't see the nutrition info on "Teen Sauce" and the amount of cheese on your partner's burger, but I'd assume it's not much different from the mayonnaise and cheese options on the Subway Club. The primary reason his choice is less healthy is because he's adding toppings that are rich in fat and sodium. If he says it's just not the same without, then any desire he has to eat healthy has a much bigger problem than enjoying a burger.

Here's one thing to consider. What are the two of you going to eat with that burger/sandwich? Generally, this is where he would lose the argument twice over along with his fondness for mayo. Pack your sandwich with veggies and if you get dressing, vinegar is best. Oil or mustard add a bit of fat/sodium respectively but are still decent.

Final call on it? He can't win this argument with mayo on his food unless you like roasted garlic bread or he's got a bottle of water while you suck down a large Coke. He needs healthier taste in condiments because the unhealthy devil is in the details.
posted by Saydur at 9:50 AM on January 18, 2012

I don't think either is healthier than the other. On one side you've got industrial ground beef with likely a white flour bun...on the other side you've likely also got a white flour bun with industrial cold cuts or whatever. Sure you can add some veggies to the subway but I'd be interested to see if the industrial veggies at subway have anywhere near equal nutritional value of freshly prepared veggies if you made the sandwich yourself.

You can't really call something "healthier" because it has fewer calories/fat/whatever. Mayo isn't inherently unhealthy, in fact, if you make it with a good oil it's just oil and eggs which are both healthy foods.

I'd say it's a tie.
posted by fromageball at 12:20 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Just for reference, the linked mayo information is incorrect. I just checked my bottle of Hellmann's (known as Best Foods West of the Rockies), and its numbers are twice what the link says.

Also agree that the devil is in the details: what are you eating with the meal? Fries versus Sun Chips? The Subway becomes an instant win. Just the individual sandwich and water? It is much closer. Burger + salad versus Subway + Chips? Burger + salad wins. Choose a burger without bacon or without special sauce? Burger wins.

Only speaking for myself, Subway is good, but it's not very satiating to me. I will want to eat more, sooner after a Subway meal. I'm also not a giant fan of their quality: I am quite likely to get a case of the "weird burps" after Subway. Either the meat's flavors will linger in an odd way, or the onions or lettuce will have been over-ripe.

(And also for reference, I'm also one of those people that things that protein/carbs/fat ought to be eaten in roughly equal ratios.)
posted by gjc at 5:59 AM on January 19, 2012

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