ordering paleo at: jimmy johns (3 best unwiches)

Last week, I posted about ordering paleo at Chipotle. It was (by far) my most popular blog post of all time! Exciting stuff. The support for my blog has been crazy humbling. Thank you everyone who reads, comments, shares, and likes.

Also — clearly, you’re trying to tell me something.

Eating out is kind of a trap, which is why smart people like Michael Pollan say that cooking at home is almost guaranteed to improve your health.

Unless you really do your research when eating out, it’s pretty easy to accidentally make tiny unhealthy decisions that can have a major impact on your health. I think that’s why the Chipotle post was so well-received — you need someone to do the homework for you! Here you go.

Consider, for a moment, the Jimmy Johns pickle.

Adding a pickle to your order is probably the most passive decision you will make in a day.

“Do you want a pickle?” 

“Yeah, sure.”

There are plenty of things to FREAK out about at JJ’s (like the fact that they finish making your sandwich before you even say your whole order, or how good the jalapeno chips are, or the fact that they’ll basically deliver your sandwich into your hand, no matter where you are), but the pickle isn’t at the top of that list.


No, people don’t say that. On the topic of pickles, the most enthusiastic response you’ll probably get is, “Yeah, sure.”

Guess what? If you’re a woman, that pickle is basically the only sodium the Mayo Clinic says you should have today (if you’re a dude, you can have one more bite of a pickle and then you’re done).

Into 20 tiny calories, they managed to pack in 2,090 mg of sodium. Your daily recommended intake is 2,300 mg. 😮

Of course, if you added, say, a sandwich to that heart attack pickle, tack on a minimum of 1,300 mg of sodium. (Several sandwiches have over 2,000 mg, FYI… which is still less than that pickle).

If you aren’t gasping, YOU SHOULD BE. I’m gasping about how you aren’t gasping about this!

But wait, there’s hope!

I did some number crunching for you.

The easiest way to lighten up your JJ’s order is to cut the bread out — completely (surprise, surprise). Luckily, they have become masters of the lettuce wrap, so it doesn’t get all over your new white pants when you eat it (just don’t unwrap the whole thing at once) (and probably don’t wear white pants when you’re eating a sandwich).

You’ll love the fresh crunch of the lettuce, and you might love these numbers even more.

Turkey Tom (#4), and a strong case for the unwich

Let’s look at the Turkey Tom (#4), with each of the bread options:

  • French bread:
    • Calories: 510
    • Carbs: 56g
    • Sodium: 1240mg
  • 9-Grain bread:
    • Calories: 575
    • Carbs: 67g
    • Sodium: 1310mg
  • Unwich:
    • Calories: 440
    • Carbs: 4g
    • Sodium: 670mg

WHAT! Where did all those numbers go? Amazing.

A few observations: “Wheat” and “grain” breads are, for the most part, a trap – they often contain added sugar, to recreate the mouthfeel of white bread. For the Turkey Tom, that means 11g of extra carbs, and 70mg of extra sodium. Meanwhile, an unwich version of that same sandwich (turkey breast, lettuce, tomato, and mayo) is sitting pretty, under 440 calories, 4g carbs, and half the sodium as the bread-y versions.

Another observation: Why does the bread have so much sodium? Cray.

Of course, the Turkey Tom is one of the 8” subs — the Giant Club sandwiches use more bread. For those sandwiches, the stakes are even higher — you have even more to gain by losing the bread. For these larger sandwiches, skipping the bread means cutting the calories and sodium in half.

3 best Jimmy John’s unwiches

So what should you get at Jimmy John’s? I’d suggest one of these unwiches — without the mayo (full of weird vegetable oils). I don’t believe in the “Plain Slim” section of the menu because that just means you don’t include vegetables. So, from the “8” Sub” and “Giant Club Sandwiches” sections, here are the healthiest paleo options:

If you’re not super hungry

Turkey Tom (#4) unwich with extra turkey, no mayo, add hot peppers, oregano — ~160 calories, ~28g protein, 3g carbs

If you just had a monster workout

Hunter’s Club Unwich, no mayo, add oregano, add hot peppers, drink lots of water — 277 calories, 38g protein, 4g carbs

If you’re craving chips or a pickle (aka salt)

Beach Club, no mayo, add oregano, drink lots of water — 310 calories, 30g protein, 8g carbs

other ground rules

Unfortunately, Jimmy John’s doesn’t have a nutrition calculator like Chipotle. In general, here are some rules to follow when ordering (if the above options don’t speak to you):


Meats: turkey, ham, roast beef, bacon (bro-tein!)

Veggies (all): lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, avocado, hot cherry peppers, onions (vitamins on vitamins, plus fiber)

Other toppings: oregano, mustard (low cal flavor boosters!)


Meats: Vito meat (capicola, salami), tuna (full of sodium, unhealthy fat, or both)

Other toppings: Provolone cheese, mayonnaise, Italian vinaigrette (unhealthy fats!)

make it a meal/helpful tips

Plan ahead when you’re in a JJ’s mood: have a honeycrisp apple and a cucumber handy as your side dishes. The cucumber is hydrating and gives you the bite of a pickle. The apple adds 5 grams of fiber to keep you full, while satisfying your sweet tooth (or, order a package of these gluten-free ginnybakes coconut oatmeal bliss cookies on Amazon and pack one as your dessert). Bonus tip: Freeze them in a Ziploc so they last longer.

If it’s chips you’re craving, pack some Terra Sweet Potato Chips.

Drink water before and throughout the meal.

If you need mayo, get good stuff like Tessamae’s. Otherwise, try switching to mustard, which is full of flavor and low on calories.

now go forth and order!

As I said with Chipotle — make good choices! When it comes to eating out, plan ahead and it will be infinitely easier to make a smart choice. Pack your own sides that will satisfy any cravings, and drink plenty of water. You got this. 

Start your order here.

Happy Monday! ❤

One thought on “ordering paleo at: jimmy johns (3 best unwiches)

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