- No food should ever be off-limits. Remember, everything in moderation.
- Not all fast food is the same. Some options are way better than others!
Looking at Chipotle in this case, it actually has a ton of healthy options for you to choose from.
Since Chipotle is built around the idea of choosing your own ingredients and building your meal from the ground up, it makes it incredibly easy to customize your meal to fit your diet preferences.
How ordering at Chipotle works
At most fast food restaurants, you’re simply selecting an item from the menu. Take Burger King, for example. If you want a Whopper, you’d simply order that right off the menu. Sure, you can ask for simple substitutions, like no cheese or extra pickles, but generally speaking, the meal is already built for you.
Chipotle works a little bit differently. At Chipotle, you select the type of food you want, and then you get to build that meal exactly the way you prefer it by selecting the meat, vegetables, toppings, etc.
At the time of writing this post, Chipotle offers these options:
- Burrito Bowl
- Lifestyle Bowl
Select any of those and customize them however you’d like!
Which option is right for you? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for. Let’s dive in a little deeper.
What meat does Chipotle offer?
The star of most of the menu items at Chipotle is the meat (unless you’re vegan, of course).
How do the nutrition facts of each meat stack up? I’m so glad you asked. Let’s compare the different protein options that Chipotle offers.
Keep in mind that the nutrition here is based on a single serving of meat, which will generally be the same for burritos, burrito bowls, salads, and 3 tacos.
180 Calories, 7g Fat, 0g Carbs, 32g Protein
If you’re looking to maximize your protein intake, look no further than chicken! While it is grilled and not fried, which keeps the fat content lower, it is marinated overnight in an adobo sauce, leading to some extra calories & fat than you might be used to seeing in typical chicken breast.
And if your definition of healthy is not simply based on calories and protein, check this out from Chipotle: “We currently source only Responsibly Raised birds, which means they’re fed a 100% vegetarian diet with no antibiotics, but we’re always striving to raise our standards even higher.”
150 Calories, 6g Fat, 1g Carbs, 21g Protein
While not quite as high in protein as the chicken, steak is an awesome option as well. With only 150 calories per serving and 21g of protein, it is a great source of protein.
Wondering what cut Chipotle uses for their steak? Well, it’s a combination of a ton of different cuts: bottom rounds, top rounds, eye of rounds, inside round, outside round, sirloin, knuckle, ball tip, and sirloin top.
No wonder it tastes so good.
170 Calories, 7g Fat, 2g Carbs, 24g Protein
If not for Chipotle, I’d have no idea what barbacoa was. Based on the nutrition alone, you can see it is very similar to the steak, and that’s because it is also a beef option! While the steak comes from a whole bunch of different cuts, barbacoa comes mainly from the shoulder, which is higher in fat.
Since this meat is slow-cooked, it allows it to be easily shredded at the end. If sliced steak is not your style, shredded barbacoa may be the way to go. But keep in mind, it is spicy!
210 Calories, 12g Fat, 0g Carbs, 23g Protein
Carnitas are the highest calorie & fat option of all the meat at Chipotle. Essentially, carnitas is Mexican pulled pork. And if you’ve ever had pulled pork, you know that the tenderness comes from the fact that pork has a higher fat content (typically being made from pork shoulder).
If your calories are a concern and you want to keep them lower, carnitas may not be the ideal protein choice. While it’s certainly not a bad choice, opting for the steak instead can easily save you 60 calories in your meal!
150 Calories, 10g Fat, 9g Carbs, 8g Protein
Vegans, rejoice! Chipotle has a vegan “meat” option, and its name is Sofritas. While lower in protein than the meat options, if you’re looking for a vegetarian substitute, this is the way to go.
Sofritas is tofu, prepared in the style of chopped meat. It has all the flavors you come to love from Chipotle, without any of the animal products (tofu is made from soy beans, in case you didn’t know!)
But what about saturated fat?
While consuming saturated fat is not automatically detrimental, I fully understand that it’s something a lot of people like to monitor.
When it comes to meat, you can expect some level of saturated fat, but some options are definitely better than others. Here’s how each stacks up:
- Chicken: 3g
- Steak: 2.5g
- Barbacoa: 2.5g
- Carnitas: 7g
- Sofritas: 1.5g
Healthy eating tips at chipotle
Okay, we broke down the protein options at Chipotle. It seems silly to break down every single ingredient- I mean, that’s why I made you this handy little graphic!
Instead, I think it will be much more beneficial for me to give you some tips on how to get the most out of your next meal at Chipotle
Tips #1: Double up the meat
You can ask for double meat on any dish, which can go a very long way in maximizing your meal.
By getting double the meat, you’re obviously getting much more protein in, but it helps to make the meal much more filling. If you order a salad with double chicken, you’ll find that salad to be much more filling and satisfying.
Tip #2: Stick with salsa
When it comes to sauces and dips, those calories can really sneak up on you. Sour cream and queso both have over 100 calories per serving, which can really add up in your meal.
On the other hand, the range of salsa on the menu has anywhere from 15-30 calories per serving.
Since it’s not uncommon to use at least 2 servings of sauce, especially on something like a burrito bowl, this can lead to huge calorie savings.
Leaving off the sour cream and using fresh tomato salsa on your burrito bowl instead can save you 170 calories (assuming you have 2 servings). That’s quite the difference!
Tip #3: Watch out for the chips and guacamole
Look, I know it’s silly to tell you to avoid the side of chips or the guacamole. They’re both insanely delicious. However, I advise you monitor your intake of these if you’re trying to keep your calories low.
A side of chips, which you can easily polish off on your own, comes in at over 500 calories. Add a small cup of guacamole to dip ’em into, and you’re looking at nearly 900 calories!
If you absolutely want to enjoy those chips & guac (I mean, of course you do) then try to share them with a friend! While it’ll still add extra calories, you’re at least cutting those calories in half by sharing.
Tip #4: Carb swapping
I have absolutely nothing against carbs. In fact, I love carbs. But when calories are a concern, an easy place to turn to is the carbs.
Chipotle now offers cauliflower rice, which is a great sub for white or brown rice. However, I can tell you first hand that cauliflower rice is never as fulfilling as regular rice. So, I have a solution for you!
Go with half of each!
Instead of completely swapping that white rice for cauliflower rice, ask for half of each. The cauliflower will help to add volume to the dish for less calories, but you’ll still get the delicious flavor and texture of the rice you know and love.
Tip #5: When in doubt, go “light”
Most people don’t realize this, but you can ask for half scoops of any serving, just like you can ask for double!
I love adding beans to my burrito bowl, but since I typically opt for a double portion of meat, I don’t feel like I need all those beans. That’s where half scoops come into play! When ordering black beans or pinto beans, you can ask for a half scoop to easily save yourself 50-60 calories.
Similarly, I almost always ask for light dressing or sauce. While the amount if not going to be exactly half, you can save quite a bit of calories by asking for light dressing.
The chipotle honey vinaigrette has a sneaky high amount of calories at 220 per serving. By asking for light dressing, you can save yourself nearly 100 calories! Or, you can always ask for dressing or sauce on the side of you want to control the exact amount you use.
Keto options at Chipotle
While I don’t personally eat low carb, I know that many people out there do. The keto diet is very popular right now, and Chipotle is doing what they can to cater to that audience!
You can certainly build your own keto-friendly meal at Chipotle, but they have a few pre-made options for you to order to make things even easier.
590 Calories, 38g Fat, 20g Carbs (10g Net Carbs), and 43g Protein
Keto Salad Bowl
560 Calories, 37g Fat, 16g Carbs (7g Net Carbs), and 41g Protein
Chipotle also offers pre-made bowls for Whole30, Paleo, and Vegan diets, taking all the guesswork out for ya! These are all bowls that you can build on your own with the ingredient provided, but if you didn’t want to go that route, just know that they offer them on their menu!
Using the Chipotle nutrition calculator
I love putting nutrition guides like this together because I find it very helpful to have all the information laid out in a neat little graphic.
That being said, I want to direct you to Chipotle’s Nutrition Calculator, because they do an amazing job of allowing you to plug in exactly what you want to order to see how the calories and nutrition stack up! Play with the calculator before ordering so you know exactly what you’re getting.
PS: If you want to calculate your own calories & macros, check out the calculator I built here.
How accurate is the chipotle nutrition calculator?
The calculator, much like this nutrition guide, can never be 100% accurate. Since Chipotle is all made-to-order, there are a lot of variables that come into play.
Since each item is scooped out by hand, there is plenty of room for the amount to be different each time. If your server is in a great mood, maybe you get a nice heaping scoop of rice. If your server is having a terrible day, or you’re being rude, you might get a really lame scoop of steak.
Because of these things, no calculator will ever be 100% accurate, but when it comes to eating out, all we can do is estimate. These calculators do a great job of estimating, which is all we can ask for!