Arby's Nutrition Guide
Roast Beef Piled (Too) High

Arby's Nutrition Guide

cartoon Arby's glove mitt

In 1964 Arby's dared to be different when it introduced its famous roast beef sandwich. "Thinly sliced oven roasted beef piled high inside a sesame seed bun" seems like a health food choice in comparison to a standard drive-thru burger, right?

Well, not really.

If the roast beef is piled high enough, as with the Large Roast Beef Sandwich, you might as well eat a McDonald's Cheeseburger and small fries...similar calories and total fat. Though you'll get more cholesterol-raising saturated fat and more sodium by eating the roast beef sandwich.

That's the price you pay for eating roast beef!

And if you start adding cheese and bacon to your roast beef? Here's how Arby's asks that question:

"And what if somebody took the 'already irresistible' Beef 'n Cheddar with its juicy roast beef and tangy cheddar cheese sauce and added 4 pieces of thick cut pepper bacon?" Not surprisingly, Arby's calls it "the best idea ever."

Here's how I answer it: The numbers (along with your waistline and cholesterol) start skyrocketing.

  250-350 calorie option 400-500 calorie option 600-700 calorie option
Best Options (see the criteria I used) Ham & Swiss Melt Sandwich OR Kids Meal Mini Ham and Cheese Sandwich + grapes + diced apples OR Kids Meal Mini Turkey and Cheese Sandwich + grapes + diced apples Grilled Chicken Fillet Sandwich. Use 1/2 mayo. OR Santa Fe Salad with Grilled Chicken (no tortilla strips) + Light Buttermilk Dressing OR Martha's Vineyard Salad with 1/2 portion Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing Roast Turkey and Swiss Sandwich without the mayo OR Roast Ham and Swiss Sandwich without the mayo

How indulgent can you afford to be? (Establish your personal calorie count.)

A: Use the following rough guidelines:

250-350 calorie menu suggestions could be considered a "mini meal" for a larger or more active person, or a full meal for a smaller person or someone in need of a lower calorie intake.

400-500 calorie menu suggestions would be appropriate for an average size person or an active smaller person.

600-700 calorie menu suggestions would be appropriate for a very active or larger person.

Sometimes a roast beef sandwich does feel like the best idea ever. How to have one without ruining your healthy eating or weight loss plan? If roast beef is on the brain and nothing else will do, you simply need to keep in mind...

...size matters!

Arby's Nutrition Guide to Roast Beef

Opt for the Junior Roast Beef sandwich over the Regular, Medium, or Large. The Junior by itself supplies 1/4 - 1/3 of a day's worth of artery-clogging fat, and the numbers just start climbing as the extra layers of roast beef are piled on. Adding bacon and cheddar cheese sauce doesn't make things better.

If eating a simple junior size sandwich doesn't feel like enough volume to fill you up, scratch the notion of roast beef and opt for chicken instead. How about a Grilled Chicken Filet Sandwich? Nutritionally, it's a better choice, and it might do a better job of filling you up too!

Arby's Nutrition Guide to Sauce

  • Arby's Sauce...~15 calories and 1 gram of fat/Tablespoon
  • Horsey Sauce....Whoa, Nelly....62 calories and 5 grams of fat/Tablespoon....proceed lightly.
  • Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce...kinda like the horsey sauce...65 calories and 6 grams total fat/Tablespoon
  • with all mayonnaise, 1 Tablespoon (1 packet) =~100 calories, 11 grams total fat, 2 grams saturated fat
  • Spicy Three Pepper Sauce...22 calories and 1 gram total fat/Tablespoon

Arby's Nutrition Guide to Chicken

If you're in the mood for chicken, heading to Boston Market would be a better option.

Most of the chicken sandwich options at Arby's are "crispy"...a.k.a fried. The most reasonable option is The Grilled Chicken Filet Sandwich. You could do even better if you ask for no mayo. Use the Arby's sauce instead!

Arby's Nutrition Guide to Sandwiches, Wraps, and Subs

"Wraps," "sandwiches," and "subs" often "sound" like healthier options, but did you know:

  • Eating the "wrap" is like eating 3 slices of bread!
  • Eating the Ciabatta sub roll is like eating 4 pieces of bread!
  • Eating the "thick cut honey wheat bread" is like eating 4 1/2 pieces of bread!

That's 40-60% of the total calories in each item!

Make up for some of that bread action by skipping the mayo, the crispy fillings and the bacon.

Arby's Nutrition Guide to Sides

What trip to Arby's would be complete without a side of curly fries? It's funny how changing the shape of fries makes them taste even better! My only suggestion in the "side of fries" category...

...order small....And dip in Arby's sauce or ketchup instead of cheese sauce, ranch sour cream dip, or tangy southwest sauce...Also, avoid the Large Onion Petals like the plague--unless you have 10 Arby's-loving friends you plan to split them with!

Arby's Nutrition Guide to Salads

Wouldn't simply ordering a salad be the healthiest thing to do, you must be wondering?

Not necessarily. The Market Fresh Chicken Club Salad with Buttermilk Dressing will cost you over 800 calories, 59 grams fat, and 1877 mg sodium. In this case, the cost outweighs the benefit you'd gain from eating a little lettuce and a few slices of cucumber and cherry tomatoes.

Using the Buttermilk Ranch Dressing or Santa Fe Ranch Dressing is the calorie equivalent of topping your salad with a McDonald's Cheeseburger. These two dressings even have more total fat than the Double Cheeseburger!


Calories Total Fat grams Sat. Fat grams Sodium, mg.
Buttermilk Ranch 325 34 5 657
Santa Fe Ranch 296 31 5 692
Light Buttermilk Ranch 112 6 1 472
Raspberry Vinaigrette 194 14 2 387
McDonald's Cheeseburger 300 12 6 750

Better alternatives:

  • Santa Fe Salad with Grilled Chicken (skip the tortilla strips)
  • Martha's Vineyard Salad

What to dress with? Your lowest total fat, saturated fat and lowest calorie choice is the Light Buttermilk Ranch. Or, for similar fat and calories but less sodium, order the Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing and use only half. Or...

...perhaps you could get the salad "to go" and take it back to your office or home where you can use your own dressing. That's what I would do! (Meet me).

Arby's Nutrition Guide to Breakfast

Best option:

Egg and Cheese Sourdough. For just under 400 calories and less than 30% fat, your day is off to a reasonable start. (Just watch your intake of other salty, processed foods the rest of the day, as you'll be getting almost half a day's worth of sodium at breakfast.)

Want to see how your favorite meal stacks up? Get the nutrition facts for your favorite item combinations with this official Arby's Nutrition Guide.

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** Note: Arby's Nutrition Guide information current as of August, 2007 **