Because of my buddies absolutely epic ad campaign from several years ago for Chipotle, most people think it’s a very healthy fast-food option – and it definitely can be! They generally have good sourcing methods, focus on in-house prep as much as the health department will allow, and practice fairly responsible corporate practices that keeps them true to their initial (high quality) founding principles.
So what is your best, healthiest play at Chipotle?
Here is what I order when I’m craving a lunch in a concrete floored, high-stooled, “Mexican” place.
- Bowl – either chicken or veggie. Their chicken is pasture raised (mostly) and is antibiotic and hormone free, has the lowest sodium on the menu, and a great protein profile. People often ask why not the pork? It’s because there’s a lot of fat. Steak isn’t grass fed, so that’s out. And the sofrito? It’s highly processed soy, full of sodium, carbs, fat, and sugar – and not much protein.
- Light amount of brown rice (replace with lettuce if you’re watching carbs!)
- Veggies (yes – on top of the chicken – they don’t care!). I don’t love the sodium, but eating romaine is fairly pointless, so load up on the peppers and onions for some nutrient density.
- Black beans (although pinto are fine – only a few more milligrams of sodium)
- The fresh tomato and green salsas. Skip the corn – insane amounts of fat for…corn.
- Lettuce (it’s romaine, but it’s barely better than nothing)
- Guac if you don’t mind the extra calories (or if you’re only going for the veggie bowl) and YES I KNOW IT’S EXTRA!
- Chipotle Tabasco sauce.
- Water. All the water.
This bowl clocks in around 570 calories, almost 50 grams of protein, 1/3 the carbs of a burrito. Still has over 1000mg of sodium, but that’s why you need to crush the water.
What I don’t want you doing is ordering burritos (they are pointless, carb and sodium loaded, and empty calories), soft tacos (how would you like 2 days worth of sodium in two teeny tacos?), or even hard tacos (which suffer from the same problems as the soft ones).
I also really, really don’t want you ordering the chips – no matter how good they look. Yes, I know they are ‘fresh’ and ‘homemade’ and also have the same number of calories as a Big Mac, almost the same amount of fat and almost none of the protein. Let that sink in.
There you go – your survival guide for Chipotle. You aren’t making the absolute healthiest choice, but at least you aren’t “making a run for the border.”