Alarm didn't go off? No eggs in the fridge? No matter the hold up, we tell you how to make the healthiest choice on your next fast-food breakfast sandwich.

Joyce Hendley, M.S. and Jessica Ball, M.S., R.D.
Updated October 01, 2019
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Breakfast is important—it fuels your morning and may help keep your hunger in check so you don't overdo it at lunch. But mornings can be hectic and you may not always have the extra time to spend whipping up a breakfast to take on the go. When you're strapped for time and need a satisfying breakfast on the run, a fast-food breakfast sandwich can be oh-so-tasty and convenient. Our favorite menu hacks offer a good jump start, with plenty of protein, a little fiber—and vegetables whenever we can find them.

Panera Bread

The Best

Panera Avocado, Egg White & Spinach Breakfast Sandwich

360 calories / 19 g protein / 5 g fiber / 690 mg sodium

Between the Vermont cheddar, spinach and tomato, and avocado slices, there's plenty of flavor, color and satisfaction tucked into this sprouted-grain "bagel flat."


The Worst

Panera Bread French Toast Bagel with Sausage, Egg & Cheese

670 calories / 29 g protein / 2 g fiber / 1,280 mg sodium

The combination of sausage and cheese really adds on the sodium. Putting it on a bagel alone adds substantially to the calories and sodium (350 calories and 620 mg of sodium from just the bagel).

Photo via Starbucks.com

Starbucks

The Best

Starbucks Reduced-Fat Turkey Bacon and Egg White Breakfast Sandwich

230 calories / 18 g protein / 3 g fiber / 550 mg sodium

Why don't more fast-food sandwiches come on whole-wheat English muffins? Starbucks takes it up a notch with flavorful sharp cheddar and a little smoke from turkey bacon.

The Worst

Starbucks Sausage & Cheddar Classic Breakfast Sandwich

500 calories / 19 g protein / 0 g fiber / 920 mg sodium

Choosing sausage over the turkey bacon in the healthier sandwich makes a big impact on calories and sodium.

Subway

The Best

Subway Egg and Cheese 6-inch breakfast sandwich, hold the cheese, with tomatoes, cucumbers and onions

310 calories / 18 g protein / 5 g fiber / 680 mg sodium

We love how Subway lets us build-our-own: Here, we pile on the (free, fiber-rich) vegetables for a flavorful, crunchtastic sandwich.

The Worst

Subway Steak, Egg and Cheese 6-inch breakfast sandwich

450 calories / 28 g protein / 4 g fiber / 1,260 mg sodium

Subway's build your own can make it easy to get ahead of yourself with high calorie and high sodium toppings, such as steak and cheese.

Photo via McDonalds.com

McDonalds

The Best

McDonald's Egg McMuffin®

300 calories / 18 g protein / 2 g fiber / 820 mg sodium

This basic breakfast sandwich has fewer calories and less saturated fat than any of the McDonald's options with sausage, bacon or served on biscuits or McGriddles®.

The Worst

McDonald's Sausage, Egg & Cheese McGriddle®

560 calories / 20 g protein / 2 g fiber / 1,360 mg sodium

By choosing a breakfast sandwich that has sausage and is served on a pancake-type bun, called a McGriddle®, you add extra calories and sodium.

Au Bon Pain

The Best

Egg whites, Cheddar & Avocado on a Skinny Wheat Bagel

360 calories / 19 g protein / 9 g fiber / 590 mg sodium

A breakfast sandwich on a bagel, and avocado to boot? Yes please. Especially when the bagel is lower in carbs, soft, and full of nutty whole grains.

The Worst

Au Bon Pain Sausage, Egg and Cheddar on Asiago Bagel

810 calories / 41 g protein / 2 g fiber / 1,340 mg sodium

Although everyone has different calorie needs, 810 calories is high for one meal for most people. To put those calories in perspective, for 810 calories you could have 2 slices of toast, 2 eggs, a pat of butter, a 16 oz. nonfat latte, a banana, an orange and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter. Or a Big Mac and small fries with 40 calories to spare.

Photo via EinsteinBros.com

Einstein Brothers

The Best

Einstein Brothers Avocado Toast with 1 egg on a Thintastic Whole-Wheat Bagel

330 calories / 16 g protein / 7 g fiber / 540 mg sodium

This is what happens when avocado toast meets an egg-on-bagel sandwich, and it's all good, especially when the bagel's lower in carbs and full of whole grains.

The Worst

Einstein Brothers Chorizo Sunrise on a Green Chile Gourmet Bagel

840 calories / 36 g protein / TK g fiber / TK mg sodium

Though this signature sandwich boasts a southwestern flair, it has much more calories and sodium than the vast majority of people need at breakfast.

Taco Bell

The Best

Taco Bell Breakfast Soft Taco "Fresco" Style with extra Egg, no bacon, plus Guacamole

240 calories / 9 g protein / 2 g fiber / 510 mg sodium

These simple customizations cut back on sodium and add extra protein for a taco with staying power. Plus, a healthy dollop of fresh guac and pico de gallo make it mouthwatering.


The Worst

Taco Bell Breakfast Crunchwrap with Sausage

690 calories / 21 g protein / 4 g fiber / 1,210 mg sodium

Due to its much larger portion size, the breakfast crunchwrap with sausage is the highest calorie breakfast item on Taco Bell's menu.

Photo via WhiteCastle.com

White Castle

The Best

White Castle Breakfast Toast Sandwich with Egg and Jalapeno Cheese

280 calories / 11 g protein / 2 g fiber / 560 mg sodium

Sure, the Castle's known for sliders, and there are breakfast versions, but it's too easy to eat 'em by the handful. We favor this substantial sandwich, with egg, a little bacon and a kick of heat.

The Worst

White Castle Waffle Breakfast Slider with Sausage, Egg and Cheese

490 calories / 15 g protein / 0 g fiber / 730 mg sodium

The waffle exterior of this sandwich packs on the calories without any fiber, meaning it'll likely lead to an energy crash and craving for more food earlier than you expected.

Bottom Line

It's possible to make a smart choice at any of these fast-food restaurants. For the healthiest choice, skip the sausage to cut down on sodium, opt for a lighter bread choice to save calories (choose an English muffin, wrap or toast over a bagel, croissant, pancake or biscuit) and go for the whole-grain option whenever available for added fiber. Plus, if you're at a place where you can customize, ask them to add veggies! Broccoli, tomato and avocado are all great additions to breakfast sandwiches.

Related:

The Healthiest Orders at Starbucks

Nutritionist-Approved Healthy Choices at Panera

How to Create a "Desk-Side Pantry" for Easy Office Lunches

Breakfast in Hand | EatingWell October 2019
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