How to Order Healthier at Panera Bread

Panera Bread

December 28, 2020

By Beth Lipton

Panera Bread is so often the solution for a quick breakfast or a lunch on the go, but how can you make sure your choice is a healthy one? Here are 3 tips to get you started.

1. Look at the nutrition information.

“Before you decide, always look at the nutrition information that’s available,” says Milwaukee-based registered dietitian nutritionist Nicole Kerneen. “People often judge choices by how they sound instead of the reality,” she warns. Plus, “many restaurant meals are wildly out of balance.” This is especially true, she adds, when it comes to sugar.

“In a lot of restaurants, not just Panera Bread, there’s a ton of sugar added to things,” says Kerneen. Two biggies to watch out for? “Look out if there’s dried fruit in the salad or sugars in the dressing.”

2. Load up on protein, fiber, healthy fats, and veggies — and skip the carbs.

Kerneen suggests finding options with protein, fiber, and lots of vegetables to feel fuller longer.

For New York-based fitness and wellness professional Troy Brooks, what he orders depends on what else is going on that day, but he looks for nutrient-dense options that have essential fats. “If I’m not doing an intense workout that day, I’ll ask for eggs and a few pieces of bacon,” he says. “I’ll skip the carbs, and maybe get some black coffee.”

3. Get a half sandwich.

If you’re head to Panera for lunch and want to keep calories low, Kerneen recommends ordering a half sandwich with a side salad (instead of chips). A half Toasted Frontega Chicken Sandwich with a side Tomato Basil and Cucumber salad has 450 calories, compared to 730 for the whole sandwich.

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