A 12 inch meatball sub can contain a significant number of calories. The exact amount will depend on the type of bread, meatballs, cheese, and toppings used. With so many customizable options, the calorie count can vary widely from one sandwich shop to another. Understanding the typical calorie ranges for each ingredient can help estimate the total calories in a footlong meatball sub.
Calories in Bread
Most meatball subs use an Italian or sub roll as the bread. A 6 inch sub roll generally contains 200-300 calories. Therefore, a 12 inch roll likely provides 400-600 calories. Options like white, wheat, or multigrain may have minor differences in calories. However, the standard sub roll usually packs around 500 calories for a footlong sandwich.
Common Types of Sub/Italian Rolls
- Italian Bread – 320 calories
- 9-Grain Wheat – 280 calories
- Honey Oat – 290 calories
- Parmesan Oregano – 300 calories
- Herb and Cheese – 310 calories
Calories in Meatballs
The number of meatballs on a sub can vary, but a common amount is 4-6 large meatballs for a footlong. Meatballs are typically made of a combination of beef, pork, and sometimes veal or chicken. A large 2 ounce meatball often has around 100 calories.
- 4 large meatballs (2 oz each) = 400 calories
- 5 large meatballs (2 oz each) = 500 calories
- 6 large meatballs (2 oz each) = 600 calories
The ingredients in the meatball recipe will also affect the calories. More calorie-dense ingredients like full-fat cheese and breadcrumbs can boost the calories compared to leaner turkey meatballs.
Calories Per Ounce in Different Meatball Types
- Beef – 120 calories
- Pork – 110 calories
- Turkey – 90 calories
- Chicken – 80 calories
- Veggie – 70 calories
Calories in Cheese
Cheese is another customizable topping that can significantly add to the total calories. A standard meatball sub may have 1-2 slices of provolone, mozzarella, or other Italian cheeses. Sliced cheese tends to have 50-80 calories per ounce.
- 2 slices provolone (1 oz each) = 100 calories
- 1 slice mozzarella (2 oz) = 140 calories
Other melty cheese choices like cheddar, Swiss, and American can also be used. Opting for low-fat varieties can save some calories.
Calories Per Ounce of Common Cheeses
- Provolone – 80 calories
- Mozzarella – 70 calories
- Swiss – 110 calories
- Cheddar – 120 calories
- American – 90 calories
Calories in Sauce
A meatball sub isn’t complete without sauce! Traditional options include marinara and pomodoro sauces. A thin layer of sauce spread over the bread typically adds around 50-150 calories to the sub, depending on the amount used.
- 2 Tbsp marinara sauce – 50 calories
- 1/4 cup pomodoro sauce – 100 calories
Garlic butter sauce can pack over 200 calories for a 1/4 cup serving. Heartier Bolognese-style sauces provide around 200-300 calories per 1/2 cup serving. Choosing red sauce options with vegetables like mushrooms and peppers can provide more nutrients.
Calories Per Serving of Popular Sauces
- Marinara – 50 calories (2 tbsp)
- Pomodoro – 60 calories (1/4 cup)
- Bolognese – 250 calories (1/2 cup)
- Garlic Butter – 230 calories (1/4 cup)
Calories in Toppings
Meatball subs allow for plenty of custom add-ons like peppers, onions, mushrooms, and more. These veggie toppings provide nutrients while adding minimal calories. For example:
- Banana peppers – 5 calories per pepper
- Jalapeños – 4 calories per pepper
- Mushrooms – 5 calories per mushroom
- Onions – 10 calories per 1/4 onion
Oil and vinegar can dress up a meatball sub. However, heavy-handed use of oil and dressings adds calories quickly. To keep the calorie count down, use added oils and condiments sparingly.
Calories Per Tablespoon of Common Toppings
- Olive oil – 119 calories
- Balsamic vinegar – 14 calories
- Ranch dressing – 145 calories
- Caesar dressing – 125 calories
Putting It All Together
As you can see, a footlong meatball sub can range wildly in calories based on the combination of ingredients. To estimate the total calories:
- Bread: 500 calories
- Meatballs: 400-600 calories
- Cheese: 100-150 calories
- Sauce: 50-300 calories
- Veggies: less than 50 calories
This puts a typical 12 inch meatball sub in the 1100-1600 calorie range before any oil, dressings, or extra cheese and meatballs are added. Choosing healthier options like turkey meatballs, wheat bread, and tomato sauce can lower the calories. Loading up with extra cheese and dressing or doubling the meat can increase the calories to well over 2000.
Nutrition Facts of a 12 Inch Meatball Sub
In addition to calories, a meatball sub provides a mix of carbs, protein, and fat. Here is an example nutrition label for a footlong meatball sub:
As shown, the meat, cheese, and bread provide substantial protein and a mix of fats. There are also a considerable number of carbs from the bread. Sodium is high, typical for a sandwich with cheese, meat, and bread. Sugars and fiber are moderate and come from the vegetables and bread. Overall, a meatball sub is high in calories, carbs, fat, and sodium compared to other subs.
How Meatball Sub Calories Compare to Other Subs
Meatball subs are one of the higher calorie options compared to other classic sub choices:
- Turkey sub – 600 calories
- Ham sub – 800 calories
- Roast beef sub – 700 calories
- Tuna sub – 550 calories
- Italian sub – 850 calories
- Meatball sub – 1100-1600 calories
Going for lower calorie subs like turkey, tuna, or veggie can be a way to cut calories while still enjoying a footlong sandwich. Or, opting for a 6 inch or 4 inch mini meatball sub reduces portion size to save calories.
Tips for Enjoying a Meatball Sub While Watching Calories
You can still enjoy the indulgence of a meatball sub without overdoing the calories. Here are some tips to build a more diet-friendly sandwich:
- Choose a 4 inch or 6 inch sub for smaller portion
- Pick wheat bread instead of white
- Load up on veggie toppings like peppers, onions, spinach
- Ask for sauce and oil-based dressings on the side
- Opt for low-fat mozzarella instead of provolone
- Select turkey or veggie meatballs
- Order a side salad instead of chips
- Split the sub in half and save the other portion for later
With some simple substitutions and smart decisions, you can enjoy the meatball sub you’re craving while still keeping calories under control.
A 12 inch meatball sub can range from 1100-1600 calories or more depending on the ingredients used. The bulk of calories comes from the carb-heavy bread, high-fat meatballs and cheese, and any sauces or dressings added. Choosing leaner meats, low-calorie toppings and sauces, and controlling portion size can all help reduce the total calorie count. While meatball subs are one of the higher calorie sandwich options, they can still be worked into a healthy diet when you pay attention to what goes into them and enjoy proper portion sizes.