5 Sandwich Swaps That Could Save You Hundreds of Calories

By , Kirsten Nunez
When it comes to sandwiches, anything goes. They’re basically blank canvases waiting to be adorned with your favorite fixings and toppings. In turn, you can easily experiment with different ingredients—and enjoy all of them in every bite.
There’s just one catch, though: If you’re not careful, those very ingredients can turn your sandwich into an energy-dense meal. After all, much like carbs and fats, all sandwiches are not equal.
Luckily, it’s possible to make one that’s low in calories and full of flavor. It comes down to replacing traditional sandwich fixings with lighter, more wholesome ingredients. Before you know it, you can have your sandwich and eat it, too.

1. Use hummus instead of mayonnaise.

Mayo might be a sandwich staple, but it’s also high in the calorie department. Just one tablespoon of regular mayonnaise has 94 calories! Needless to say, it alone can ruin an otherwise healthy sandwich.  
Try hummus instead, which has just 36 calories per tablespoon—almost a third of mayo. Plus, as a stellar source of plant-based protein and fiber, hummus will keep you feeling full and satisfied throughout the day.

2. Choose whole-grain bread instead of white bread.

For an easy sandwich swap, use whole grain in place of white. It’s a simple switch that will cut out refined carbs, one of the best things you can do for your health. Fueling up on complex carbs instead will power you through the day, plus you'll see the caloric load of your sandwich drop as well. And as for the calories you do eat? They’ll be more nutritionally dense, thanks to the fiber, vitamins and minerals in whole grains.

3. Reach for a bread replacement.

Yes, your mother always made your sandwiches with Wonder bread with the crusts cut off, but bread is not your only option. If you want to keep the focus on the flavorful ingredients, opt for a high-fiber, whole-grain tortilla instead. Tortillas are especially useful for holding together "loose" ingredients—like beans or peas—and messier fillings, such as avocado egg salad.
For an even lighter option, grab a leafy green to use as a wrap. They’re not only low in calories, but full of vitamins and minerals, too. What more can you ask for? Try Swiss chard, collard greens or kale for a sturdy base. You can even use smaller leaves to make mini “sliders.” If you need some inspiration, check out this tasty sesame chicken lettuce wrap recipe.

4. Substitute portobello mushrooms for deli meat.

Ditch the processed deli meat for “meaty” veggies like portobello mushrooms. This simple swap will not only help you cut back on calories, but you'll also be avoiding the preservatives and sodium that hide in deli meats.
All it takes is some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and spices to dress up portobello mushroom caps. Then, just roast them in the oven or throw them on the grill before popping them on your sandwich (grilled portobello burgers, anyone?) and allowing them to be the star of the show.
If you’re not a fan of mushrooms or have an allergy, try vegetables like eggplant and cauliflower.

5. Add flavor with spices.

While condiments can elevate a sandwich, they’re often jam-packed with calories and sodium. Some sauces, like ketchup and barbecue sauce, are also hidden sources of sugar.
Reach for spices and herbs, instead. With the right combination, you can add low-calorie flavor to your favorite sandwich. For example, if you love ranch dressing, make a homemade ranch seasoning mix. You’ll need spices like parsley, dill, garlic powder, onion powder, chives and black pepper. Sprinkle it on your sandwich fillings or mix with olive oil and add a light drizzle. If you love tomatoes on your sandwich, adding some basil leaves the mix will add an extra burst of complementary flavor. Mix and match and experiment until you find the combos that you love.
What’s your go-to sandwich hack? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author Kirsten Nunez is a health and lifestyle writer, editor and author. She has a Master of Science in Nutrition and is currently based in New York. Kirsten spends her days writing articles and dreaming up healthy recipes.

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ELFISHER56 5/17/2019
My favorite sandwich of all time is one I invented myself. I use a whole wheat pita putting 3TBS. of hummus inside. This is followed by bean sprouts, thinly sliced avocado, romaine lettuce shredded along with diced fresh tomato. Even if you find yourself cheating on this and eating two, at least you're cheating on something super healthy. Cheers! Report
2DAWN4 2/13/2019
I use mushrooms as a meat sub all the time! Report
So glad to see this article, I thought I was weird using hummus instead of mayo. Trader Joe's eggplant hummus my favorite. Also I use Mission low carb tortill as 60 calories,toast, fold in half and cut in half like regular sandwich. Report
DARCY-B 2/12/2019
I would never have come up with some of these on my own. Thanks! Report
ANHELIC 1/29/2019
Thank you. Report
EJHEINRICH2 1/28/2019
Some of these ideas are very helpful. Thank you Report
Great suggestions! Try hummus, there are many kinds of hummus. Report
MARTHASC 1/25/2019
Good info. Report
LRCOTE 1/24/2019
I love wraps and pitas. Some days you really want the bread, and U do treat myself. Report
CHRIS3874 1/24/2019
Why humus?Not everyone is in love with GARLIC Report
TRISHAWAY1 1/24/2019
Try Sara Lee's delightful whole grain. Only 45 Calories a slice. Great ideas. Report
KITTYHAWK1949 1/24/2019
I like the sandwich thins but it only saves about 20 calories (but every calorie counts) or sometimes just use one slice of bread and have the lettuce on top to replace the other bread. Report
Really like the bread and mayo substitutions. TY. Report
EMGERBER 1/24/2019
Good information to know and to help make changes in your eating plan. Report
FERRETLOVER1 1/24/2019
Great ideas! Report
This article made me realise I've NEVER seen cottage cheese in France (been here 11 years) but I did recently buy a Spice Grinder called Easy Roasts which, as well as Salt & Pepper, contains Garlic, Onion, Rosemary, Sage, Parsley & Bay leaves. I don't each a sandwich very often but I might give it a try. It's fab on roasted vegetables. Report
SISBELL02 1/22/2019
Thanks for the tips! Report
PEGJW111 1/18/2019
A sandwich isn't a sandwich without bread! Whole wheat works for me. ?? Report
NANCYPAT1 1/18/2019
Great suggestions! Report
NANCYPAT1 1/18/2019
Great suggestions! Report
NANCYPAT1 1/18/2019
Great suggestions! Report
NANCYPAT1 1/18/2019
Great suggestions! Report
I only buy whole wheat bread, but I also love my sandwiches on wraps, which are usually higher in fiber and lower in calories than two slices. I use mayo on turkey sandwiches, but always buy canola oil mayo, which only has 45 cal/tablespoon. Report
FLATROSIE 1/8/2019
Yellow mustard instead of mayo or butter adds moisture and zip! Report
KATHYJO56 1/6/2019
I love the hummus instead of mayo idea Report
MNABOY 1/2/2019
Thanks Report
KHALIA2 12/25/2018
Thanks for these great ideas! Report
PWILLOW1 12/17/2018
Good ideas. Thanks Report
LOCKDOC48 12/17/2018
Cut your bread calories in half, use sandwich thins or bagel thins. Report
NANCYPAT1 12/16/2018
Thanks Report
GABY1948 12/16/2018
Love this! Report
MAXIET 12/16/2018
Good ideas
LIDDY09 12/15/2018
Very helpful. Thanks. Report
Very informative Report
GABY1948 12/13/2018
Thank you Report
ETHELMERZ 12/13/2018
Sara Lee 45 calorie a slice bread, simple answer. That lettuce wrap thing is awful, who thought of that, lettuce tastes awful! Everything falls out. Just buy the lower calorie bread, for heavens sake! Report
PATRICIA-CR 12/12/2018
Actually, good swaps! Report
SHOAPIE 12/12/2018
Good ideas except the hummus. Report
1CRAZYDOG 12/12/2018
great ideas! Report
PLCHAPPELL 12/12/2018
I use chompies low carb bread. Report
JAMER123 12/11/2018
Some good ideas. Thank you. Report
AMYRCMK 12/11/2018
Thank you Report
97MONTY 12/11/2018
Thanks Report
PICKIE98 12/11/2018
I eat sugar free whole grain bread with no dressings or sauces. I really taste the interior without that. Report
CHRIS3874 12/11/2018
Thanks but why hummus? Whast's wrong with just butter in moderation or nothing? Report
MSROZZIE 12/11/2018
Thanks for the need-to-know information! Report
CECTARR 12/11/2018
SPINECCO 12/11/2018
Thanks for sharing. Report
PLATINUM755 12/11/2018
Hummus is a great alternative to using mustard instead of mayonnaise. I also substituted infused greek yogurt. Report
LIS193 12/11/2018
Thanks Report