Sandwiches for Weight Loss

Choose right and a sandwich can serve you well on a weight loss diet. Sandwiches offer a quick fix for a meal. And they don’t have to be the same old boring thing if you are willing to engage in a bit of creativity. Do be careful, however, to minimize the carb and fat calories. Both can add up fast if you’re not paying attention!

In this article I’ll share tips on the many choices you have for making a low calorie sandwich. And I’ll share a few new sandwich recipes to give you ideas for preparing sandwiches unique to YOUR food preferences.

Because calories are so limited on 1200 to 1500 calorie diets, you’ll want your sandwich ingredients to supply most if not all of what you need for a well-rounded healthy lunch. When making your sandwiches, I would encourage you to focus first on getting plenty of lean protein and dietary fiber. You want enough of these two components to make a sandwich that will satisfy your hunger for at least 2-3 hours in addition to fulfilling your nutritional needs.


Aim for having 2-4 ounces of lean, high quality meat or a serving of another protein food. If lean meat, poultry, or fish are part of your diet then some of your options might include sliced chicken or turkey breasts, tuna fish, lean ham, Canadian bacon, sliced pork tenderloin, lean roast beef, salmon, or canned chicken. Lean meat might be sliced, diced, shaved, or shredded.

Another option might be lean “heat and eat” low calorie frozen burgers such as turkey burgers or veggie burgers. Just be sure to read the nutrition facts label and ingredient labels carefully to make sure you are getting what you want.

Other excellent low calorie, nutritious protein foods to consider include hard-boiled eggs, beans (legumes), low fat cottage cheese, reduced fat cheese slices, and tofu. Nut butters are a good source of protein as well as a source of healthy fat but they are high calorie. Keep your portion size small and a little can add flavor to a sandwich.

  • Tuna Fish
  • Salmon
  • Seafood such as shrimp
  • Lean Ham
  • Canadian Bacon
  • Sliced Pork Tenderloin
  • Lean Roast Beef
  • Salmon
  • Canned Chicken
  • Turkey Burgers
  • Veggie Burgers
  • Low Fat Cottage Cheese
  • Tofu
  • Eggs (hard boiled eggs, egg salad, scrambled)
  • Low Fat Cottage Cheese
  • Laughing Cow Cheese Wedges


Veggies can’t be beat for low calorie texture and flavor. Most veggies offer some dietary fiber. However, certain vegetables are a particularly good choice. Your best bet are sandwich-friendly green leafy vegetables such as mixed salad greens, spinach, romaine lettuce, cabbage, kale, and more. These greens can be eaten fresh when washed and clean OR after lightly sautéing as wilted greens.

Other veggies that may not have as much dietary fiber but are still an excellent choice include cooked asparagus, chopped celery, sliced black olives, cucumber slices, sliced radishes, grated carrots, and sliced or diced red or green bell peppers. Artichoke hearts and grilled sliced eggplant are another option.

Don’t forget fruit for making a sandwich tasty and unique. Thinly sliced apples or pears, for example, make an excellent addition.

  • Mixed Salad Greens
  • Spinach
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Asparagus
  • Chopped Celery
  • Sliced Black Olives
  • Cucumber Slices
  • Sliced Radishes
  • Sliced Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Grated Carrots
  • Sliced or Diced Red or Green Bell Peppers
  • Artichoke Hearts
  • Grilled Sliced Eggplant
  • Apples
  • Pears


In a previous two-part article I wrote about buying commercial leavened bread (sliced loaf bread) and what you need to know to minimize calories and maximize nutrition and taste. Choosing the best low calorie sandwich bread can be tricky.

As I indicated in that article you can also consider using unleavened bread or crackers for making sandwiches. Here’s a short list of some you might try. Let me know what other options you might have where you live!

  • Sandwich Thins (Arnold, Pepperidge Farms, Kroger’s, etc.)
  • Thomas Bagel Thins
  • Whole Wheat Tortillas (check the calorie count!)
  • Whole Wheat English Muffins
  • Whole Grain Pita Bread (check calorie count!)
  • Other whole grain breads
  • Wasa Rye Crisp Crackers


There are so many possibilities for spreads. Many of which are healthier choices than regular mayonnaise. If you like mayonnaise, do choose the reduced fat version. My husband likes the reduced fat olive oil version of mayonnaise. I’ve switched from using any kind of mayonnaise on my sandwiches to using alternative choices.

  • Hummus
  • Avocado
  • Relish (there are many different kinds of relish)
  • Low Fat Cottage Cheese
  • Apple Butter (those with 30 calories or less per tbsp.)
  • Low Fat Plain Regular or Greek Yogurt
  • Bean Spread
  • Salsa
  • Puree of Dark Green Veggies
  • Laughing Cow Light Cheese
  • Tapenade
  • Tzatziki
  • Pesto (just a little goes a long way)

I wrote about these in some depth in my article on Nutritious Low Calorie Spreads and more.  I’d encourage you to click through if you’d like to learn more.

I hope the sandwich ingredients I’ve shared here will inspire you to get creative with making low calorie, nutritious sandwiches that you’ll enjoy eating!

Try Something New: Sandwich Recipes

Avocado Spinach Egg Salad

This sandwich may not sound good but if you like the ingredients: egg, avocado, and spinach you’ve got to give it a try! I tried a version of it today and it was delicious! I didn’t have any spinach but I made a sandwich with 1 hard-boiled egg, about ¼ of an avocado, some diced celery and a bit of sea salt seasoning. I used Arnold whole wheat sandwich thins for the bread. Delicious and filling!

Sautéed Mushrooms and Cheese Sandwich

Sautee about 1 cup of sliced mushrooms with just a bit of olive or canola oil then add a couple of slices of reduced fat cheese (50 calories each) and allow to melt on top. Serve between 2 slices of low calorie lightly toasted bread. For easier handling, serve in a low cal whole-wheat wrap or half pita. This makes a great low fat version of the traditional high fat grilled cheese sandwich.

Turkey, Pesto, and Cheese Sandwich

Lightly spread a slice or two of bread with pesto (about a tbsp. or less to minimize calories). Lightly toast or bake the bread slices for a minute or two for better flavor.

Now top one slice of toasted pesto bread with 2-4 oz. of sliced turkey or other lean meat or lean meat combo, one slice of reduced fat cheese, and chopped or sliced tomatoes. Add some mixed salad greens if you’d like and top with the other slice of bread.

I like this recipe but then I like pesto. If you don’t like pesto you might try relish instead.

Have I succeeded in encouraging you to try something new? Low calorie nutritious sandwiches can be good! Get creative and you can stick with a low calorie diet for weight loss and enjoy your meals at the same time. What do you make that is a little out of the ordinary? Let me know!

  • Cara March 30, 2012, 1:31 pm

    Hi Lori,
    Im wondering if you can help me out! Ive just recently started working out again after about 5 months of nothing because I was travelling (although active also actively enjoying food!). I really enjoy working out and I workout hard – weights but intermittent with cardio as well as jogging. As im also trying to lose the weight I have put on I have been sticking to a 1500 calorie plan. However I have noticed that I am feeling really washed out probably from the workouts and I was hoping would have more energy! I really am feeling the need for sugar – its not real hunger cos its not in my stomach and also food doesnt make it disappear, its just exhaustion. Coffee helps a bit and ive begun drinking a lot. I also look a bit drained – particularly around my eyes.
    Is this normal? I remember it used to happen but didnt think much of it until I realised it wasnt happening when I wasnt exercising.
    Is it just par for the course, or will my body adapt?
    Im drinking plenty of water, and have protein with everymeal and trying to avoid sweets. Carb wise.. i have oats (sort of im in Peru and they are made of Quinoa so I figure even better?) and a slice or two of bread a day. Loads of veges and fruit…
    Love to hear your thoughts! Thanks!!

    • Lori April 1, 2012, 12:58 pm

      Hi Cara,

      I’m finally finding a few free minutes to respond after my move on Friday to a new house. Whew!

      You’ve asked a number of good questions but I must say it’s very difficult to know what might be at issue without having more information. I don’t know anything about your age, height or weight for starters. I also know very little about the balance of your diet.

      However, even without the additional information what you are describing about the exhaustion and looking drained does not seem normal to me. You might not be getting enough calories given the that you say you workout hard. I suppose it’s possible you could have an iron deficiency and be anemic. Or you may simply not be getting enough nutrients overall or not enough sleep or rest. If this continues, I would ease up on the exercise or seek medical advice.

      As for the need for sugar. Well that could have a number of different explanations. It could simply be a craving because you have been good about avoiding sweets. Sometimes the more we avoid something the more we want it. If so, having a little in the way of sweets won’t hurt. On the other hand it might also be influenced by not eating enough. Or it could be that there are sweets in your environment and so you can’t help but feel enticed to want some. These are just a few of the many possibilities.

      I genuinely hope you find an answer to your questions soon and begin to feel better!