Build a Healthier Chipotle Meal

Chipotle has become a popular option for people craving Mexican cuisine who want something quick but healthier than the drive-through. (Prefer to hit Taco Bell instead? Here's what you need to order.)  The ability to create your own burrito using fresh and nutritious ingredients has got to be good for us, right?

Yes, but proceed with caution. There's a potential downside to unlimited choices. The average Chipotle burrito contains over 1,000 calories. No athlete, no matter how vigorous his or her training regimen, needs that many calories in one sitting.

There's a smarter, healthier way to eat at Chipotle. It just takes a little knowledge. Here's how to build a better burrito, bowl or salad at Chipotle. (Read Eat Mexican for Muscle Repair.)

Nutrition Facts

Step 1 is to get familiar with the nutrition profile of menu ingredients. Knowing the fat and calorie content of specific items will help you decide if it's worth putting on your plate.

Grains and Legumes (4-ounce serving)

  • One soft 13-inch flour tortilla: 290 calories, 44 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams protein and 2 grams of fiber
  • Cilantro-Lime White Rice: 170 calories, 4 grams of fat, 31 grams of carbohydrates and 2.5 grams of protein
  • Brown rice: 160 calories, 4 grams of fat, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber
  • Black beans: 120 calories, 1 gram of fat, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber
  • Pinto beans: 120 calories, 1 gram of fat, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber

Meat (4-ounce serving)

  • Barbacoa: 170 calories, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 24 grams of protein and 0 grams of fiber
  • Carnitas: 190 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1 gram of carbohydrates, 27 grams of protein and 0 grams of fiber
  • Chicken: 190 calories, 6.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of carbohydrates, 32 grams of protein and 0 grams of fiber
  • Steak: 190 calories, 6.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 30 grams of protein and 0 grams of fiber

Salsas (3.5-ounce serving)

  • Fresh Tomato Salsa: 20 calories, 0 grams of fat, 4 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of protein and 1 gram of fiber
  • Roasted Chili-Corn Salsa: 80 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber.

Salsas (2-ounce serving)

  • Tomatillo-Red Chili Salsa (hot): 40 calories, 1 gram of fat, 8 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber
  • Tomatillo-Green Chili Salsa (medium): 15 calories, 0 grams of fat, 3 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of protein and 1 gram of fiber

Vegetables

  • Guacamole (3.5-ounce serving0: 150 calories, 13 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber
  • Romaine Lettuce: 5 calories, 0 grams of fat, 1 gram of carbohydrates, 0 grams of protein and 1 gram of fiber
  • Fajita Vegetables (2.5-ounce serving): 20 calories, .5 grams of fat, 4 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of protein and 1 gram of fiber

Add-Ons

  • Cheese (1-ounce serving): 100 calories, 8.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of protein and 0 grams of fiber
  • Sour cream (2-ounce serving): 120 calories, 10 grams of fat, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of protein and 0 grams of fiber
  • Chips: 570 calories, 27 grams of fat, 73 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber

Tips for Building a Healthier Meal

  • Choose between rice and tortilla; if you want rice, ask your server to go light on it
  • Add black and pinto beans; they are full of protein and fiber and a good source of nutritionally dense calories
  • Load up on veggies; the salsa options, lettuce and fajita vegetables are low in calories and provide vitamins and other micronutrients
  • Like it hot; hot salsa can improve digestion and boost your metabolism to help you burn more calories
  • Say no to sour cream (or ask for less); 10 grams of fat are not worth the tradeoff of 120 calories
  • Pick guacamole. It's full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and healthy fats
  • Saw that bad boy in half and save part of it for another meal. At least start by splitting it. Then take your time and enjoy your meal before reaching for the other half
  • Skip the chips. If you're still hungry, eat the other half of the burrito.

See STACK's Chipotle Pick & Pass option for a hunger-squashing burrito bowl.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: PROTEIN | NUTRITION | FIBER | CALORIES | CARBOHYDRATES | VEGETABLES | BEANS | CHILI | SALSA