Chipotle is Not Unhealthy

One of my pet peeves is the misconception that Chipotle is unhealthy for you. Nearly everyone I talk to about Chipotle believes that Chipotle is as bad for them as is McDonald. By the way, Chipotle is not owned by McDonald and does not source its ingredients like McDonald does. One would believe that Chipotle’s perpetual advertising of its dedication to locally sourcing organic foods would dispel such false beliefs, but evidently, that is not the case.

When talking about the nutritional value of Chipotle, it is important to realize that, yes, Chipotle can be unhealthy, but more often than not, Chipotle is not unhealthy.

Those who believe Chipotle is a burrito-shaped missile that will harm a healthy lifestyle argue that Chipotle burritos have so much calories. However, whenever I eat Chipotle, I manage to eat less than 500 calories, which is a reasonable amount of calories for a meal. The only reason Chipotle racks up calories is because of the flour tortillas, sour cream, and cheese. Avoiding those three ingredients will make it nearly impossible to eat too much when ordering an item at Chipotle.Flour tortillas contain 270 calories each, while sour cream and cheese contain 120 and 100 calories each, per serving, respectively.

My Average Burrito Bowl

My usual choice at Chipotle is a burrito bowl with rice, fajita vegetables, chicken, tomato, corn, red-hot salsa, and lettuce. Such burrito bowl keeps me full and satisfied for at least three hours—oftentimes one or two hours more. The total calorie count for such fulfilling, refreshing, and delicious burrito bowl? 485 calories. Not only is the calorie count so low, but there are 41 grams of protein in my burrito bowl. Since I weigh 125 pounds, 41 grams of protein is more than half my daily recommended allowance of protein.

Now, let’s consider what happens if I put the three calorie-heavy ingredients into my burrito bowl—turning the bowl into a real burrito. My burrito would now pack a whopping 995 calories—nearly half the daily recommended allowance of calories for the average male adult. Clearly, my burrito is now considered unhealthy because of the huge amount of calories.

However, even that argument is not truly correct. Why? Because my average meal is not the size of a 995 calorie burrito. Rather, I would normally eat a little over half the size of that burrito. So if I eat the same mass of food through a Chipotle burrito as I eat during a normal meal, my calorie consumption drastically decreases compared to if I were to eat the whole burrito. The bottom line is, you can’t blame Chipotle for being unhealthy simply because it provides a lot of food. If you have a lot of any food, you will be looking at high calorie counts.

After sifting through all the misinformation on why Chipotle is unhealthy, one should break down a burrito down into its individual parts. Deconstructing a burrito will yield a long list of healthy foods such as a ripe juicy tomato, an ear of corn, a skinless, grilled chicken breast, a handful of peppers, a stalk of romaine lettuce, and maybe some beans.

Ironically, the aforementioned ingredients can be used to create a salad; only the ratio of lettuce to other ingredients vary when determining whether a mix of the ingredients is a salad or burrito bowl.

Chipotle with Lettuce on Top

The one flaw of Chipotle is that its foods contain a lot of sodium. Although sodium will not make you fat, sodium can cause other health problems if taken in excess. Thus, if Chipotle could reduce the sodium in its foods in half, I don’t see why I could not live off Chipotle for the rest of my life.

The takeaway message for this article is to order smart at Chipotle and to stop spreading misinformation about Chipotle. Skip the tortilla, sour cream, and cheese, but pass along the good news.

About Earl

Hi, my name is Earl. I am a student who loves to analyze food and eat healthy. My careful eye for food has caused me to become interested in the science behind food and cooking, and I write about my explorations into food on my website While I believe in sticking to whole, natural foods, I'm not afraid to work with avant-garde ingredients and equipment such as constant temperature water baths and sodium alginate. I also love photography, technology, and journalism.

18. July 2010 von Earl
Categories: Favorites, Health | Tags: , | 23 comments

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