Jared Fogle took an unusual approach to losing some of his 425 pounds. He decided to go out for a sandwich. In fact, he visited a Subway restaurant twice daily for the next year, dropping an amazing 245 pounds in the process.
What Fogle calls his "Subway Diet" helped him trim his waist nearly in half, from 60 to 34 inches.
"Most people think of fast food as a way to gain weight, not lose it," said Fogle. "But I discovered how to enjoy lots of fast food without all the fat."
Fogle got the idea when he saw a sign for Subway sandwiches promising "Seven Under Six Grams of Fat." It was a far cry from the fat-laden burgers and pizza that were formerly mainstays of his diet.
The 22-year-old Indiana University student says his Subway diet consisted of little else. Fogle ate a 6-inch turkey sub for lunch and a foot-long veggie sub for dinner. He enjoyed a small bag of baked potato chips with lunch and permitted himself diet soft drinks throughout the day. He skipped breakfast and held the cheese and mayonnaise for a diet that totaled under 10 grams of fat and about 1,000 calories per day.
Fogle loaded his sandwiches with tons of lettuce, green peppers, banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, and pickles, topped with a bit of spicy mustard.
"It felt a little like feasting, rather than totally depriving myself," said Fogle.
Dietitian Tina Ruggiero, of New York City, describes this dieting approach as "portion control." Describing weight loss strategies in the November 1999 issue of Men's Health, she said that by eating predictable portions, dieters need not bother with counting calories. She also said that including lots of fiber as part of a reduced-calorie diet can help by making dieters feel full.
Fogle admits his diet was extreme and he suggests talking to a physician before doing anything like it. He also makes clear that he combined his diet with a walking program, as doctors recommend.
It is not a strategy that would work in just any fast food restaurant. For example, eating one-pound hamburger and one larger hamburger each day at another leading fast food restaurant would have weighed down Fogle with 62 grams of fat.
Bad press for greasy fast food burgers has convinced many consumers that it's practically impossible to eat well when eating convenience foods.
Fogle turned that logic on its head, proving that convenience and low-fat, calorie-conscious eating can go together. Fogle's successful formula is about to turn him into a celebrity. Starting January 3, 1999, his story will be told in a TV commercial for Subway. The 30-second spot, created by the advertising agency Publicis & Hal Riney, is scheduled to air in major cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Seattle, Houston, Cleveland, and Indianapolis.
Subway officials say that Fogle's story, aside from being inspirational, helps highlight Subway's commitment to providing a wide selection of menu items under 350 calories and 6 grams of fat. For example, its turkey sandwich provides only 282 calories and 4 grams of fat in a 183-gram serving. (Fogle added just a small number of extra calories with added toppings.)
As Subway's TV spot makes clear, Fogle's diet was his own creation and it would not be appropriate for everyone. "We're proud of Jared's accomplishment," said Subway director of marketing Chris Carroll, "and we are proud to have played a part in it."
"Jared showed the world that convenient food can be healthy and low in fat." Carroll added. "Of course, it had to taste good, too, for him to eat more than 600 in a row!"