Walking + Subs = Weight Loss

How Does the Subway Diet Work?

Subway Founder Peter Buck
Subway Founder Peter Buck. James Marshall/Corbis Documentary

I have gained weight eating fast food. So I was astonished by the story of Jared Fogle, who lost 245 pounds eating nothing but fast food - Subway sandwiches twice a day for almost a year. He went from a 425-pound couch potato to a 180-pound daily walker.

Jared maintained his weight loss for over 3 years and became a Subway spokesman in 2000. He inspired many others to try his portion-control method of losing weight.

Subway featured five of these successful dieters in their "Friends of Jared" ads. In 2015, Fogle was charged with receiving and distributing child pornography and paying for sex with minors. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to prison.

Portion Control

Portion control and low fat is the secret of Jared's "Subway Diet." Subway has 12 sandwiches and seven salads with under 6 grams of fat. Jared ate a 6" turkey sub and a bag of baked chips for lunch and a 12" veggie sub for dinner, with extra veggies and no cheese, oil or mayo. This totals about 1000 calories per day. The convenience of a Subway restaurant right next to his apartment made it easy for him to choose their well-advertised low fat sandwiches. As the weight dropped, he stuck with what was working.

Walking and Exercise

At 425 pounds, Jared was a stranger to exercise. When he got down to 300 pounds he began walking rather than taking the bus, then began walking everywhere he went, getting in about 1.5 miles a day.

 Jared maintained most of his weight loss. He admits to regaining 40 pounds by 2009. This spurred him to reduce his calories and take up training to run a marathon. He completed the ING New York City Marathon in November, 2010 with a respectable time of 5:13. His efforts led to further weight loss, as can be seen in our photo of Jared leading the Portland Grand Floral Walk in June, 2011.

Kimberly Johnston Loses Over 110 Pounds with Subway Diet and Walking

An interview with Kimberly Johnston, who went from 316 to 200 pounds (and still losing) on a diet and exercise program inspired by Jared Fogle.

How did Jared's story inspire you?

I saw him on an Oprah Winfrey show and immediately connected with him. I thought, "This is something I could do!". Why did it affect me that way? I don't really know except something inside my soul, mind and body connected at that very moment and I found the ultimate strength and determination. The very next day I started eating subs and working out. I made small changes that could last a lifetime. I looked at it as a healthy lifestyle change not a quick fix. It hasn't been easy but it sure has been worth it!

Did you include walking as part of your weight loss strategy?

Yes, definitely. When I was at my highest weight I could barely walk to the mailbox, but slowly and surely I kept at it. Now power-walking is my favorite form of exercise. I walk 2 miles- 3 times a week.

What other exercise did you use?

I also incorporate light weight-lifting for strength toning and TaeBo/Kick-boxing. I find all these help my walking performance and improve my agility, flexibility, and energy levels.

Did having low fat, healthy fast food available help you stick with your reduced calorie diet?

YES! Like most people, I juggle fifteen things at one time, from Girl Scouts to college to work, so convenience was a big plus and a necessity. Knowing I could grab a healthy sub for myself or the entire family made me feel better. I also wasn't tempted to choose something unhealthy as I would have been at other fast food places. The subs were fresh and laden with healthy vegetables; tempting to the eyes as well as the mouth!

How is your life different now?

Life used to pass me by, now it can't catch up with me!

Instead of struggling to walk to a mailbox, I'm seeing what new way I can challenge my body. I make healthy food choices and reach for a bottled water rather than a soda. I feel good about who I am and what I have accomplished. I loved myself before but now I love how I treat myself as well.

Zoë Gemelli Loses 147 Pounds with Subway Sandwiches and Walking

Zoë Gemelli, went from 305 to 158 pounds on a diet and exercise program inspired by Jared Fogel. I caught up with her for an interview on how she accomplished this.

How did Jared's story inspire you?

Well, I was reading the Toronto Star one day, and there was this news piece on Jared and how much weight he lost eating at Subway and walking. My first reaction was "Hey, this guy is just like me! Cool!" Then I saw the USA Today article on a placard in a Subway restaurant and I was still saying "Cool!"
It was nice to know that there was someone else out there succeeding at something that I was also doing.

Did you include walking and exercise as part of your weight loss strategy?

I walked, jogged and rode a bike everywhere. I had always been an avid walker, but I found that cycling was the best for doubling as my transportation to and from school and work. I still do walk, but it is usually when I want a change in pace and if I have more time. The one thing I love the most about walking is that it is also a time for reflection. On a bike I'm focused on the road, the traffic and pedestrians, but walking is 'my time' and I need that.

Did having low fat, healthy fast food available help you stick with your reduced calorie diet?

ABSOLUTELY!!! I am a journalist, still at college, I work part-time and I write for many publications, so the words 'on-the-go' exemplify my life. Subway made perfect sense to me; low fat, low carbs and right around every corner. There were no other alternatives that were as fresh either.

How is your life different now?

In every way possible. I'm healthier, much more confident, wise to what my body wants and needs and no longer self-effacing. I also quit smoking part way through, which had a huge impact on my health as well. About the only thing that changed, that I wish didn't​, was that I am no longer able to pick-up as much weight wise, the leverage that I had, the extra 147 pounds, kept me grounded when I would carry home 10 bags of groceries. Now, I fall over. It's a funny sight I'm sure. But in general I am finally proud of myself on many levels, and that is apparent in how I approach everything in my life now. (Without trying to sound too Zen!)

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