The Healthiest Orders at Chipotle According to Nutritionists
Chipotle for Every Type of Diet
Don't be deceived by the option to add a mountain of guac, sour cream, or queso: "In all honesty, as a dietitian, Chipotle tops my go-to list for quick and easy meals in a pinch," says Micah Siva, a registered dietitian based in London.
Of course, not *everything* they serve works for all eating styles or nutrition goals. But because of their customizable menu model, Chipotle has the potential to be a nutritious option for anyone on the go or looking for a meal that satisfies dietary needs, she says. "They offer a range of vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, which are components to a balanced meal." That means you can grab a keto-friendly lunch just as easily as a pre-workout snack. (Plus, their nutrition calculator makes getting nutrition info a whole lot easier.)
Not sure what the best choice is for your diet? Here's what to try based on your eating style or nutrition goals.
Weight Loss: Veggie-Loaded Salad Bowl
"If weight loss is your goal, there are plenty of options for you," Siva says. Her pick: a salad bowl with romaine lettuce, black beans, fajita veggies, fresh tomato salsa, and guacamole. "Hold off on the dressing and let the guacamole and salsa spice up your salad," she advises.
Feel free to add in a serving of chicken or steak for an extra bit of protein, too. "And while it's high in calories, guacamole is full of monounsaturated (heart-healthy) fats that make you feel fuller longer. Fat is not the enemy!" Even with the guac, you're sitting at 415 calories—not too shabby.
Muscle Gain: Steak Burrito Bowl
While every body has different needs, there are two things definitely required if you're trying to build muscle: ample protein and enough calories. "I would suggest eating a high-protein meal two to three hours before, or up to two hours after, your workout," Siva says. Keep in mind that it's best to spread out your protein intake evenly throughout the day to maximize benefits—so you probably don't need the extra serving of protein in your burrito.
Her pick is a burrito bowl with brown rice, steak, black beans, fajita vegetables, tomato salsa, and romaine lettuce (feel free to add guacamole if you like). This clocks in at 540 calories with 13.5 grams of fat, 69 grams of carbs, and 34 grams of protein.
Pre-Workout Snack: Build Your Own Kid's Meal
Yes, really. "Depending on how many hours you have between now and your workout, you may want to stick to something small before your exercise session," says Allison Knott, a registered dietitian and founder of ANEWtrition. If you're less than three hours away, opt for the crispy tortillas over the soft tortillas for a lower-sodium option. "You can still get everything you would with an adult meal, but with a bonus—the kid's meal comes with a side of fruit as an option!" she adds.
Keto Diet: Steak Salad Bowl
If you follow a high-fat, low-carb diet, you would want to avoid any of the items that contribute carbohydrates to your meal, which means sticking with proteins, vegetables, and higher-fat options while passing on tortillas, rice, and beans, Siva explains.
All of the meats at Chipotle are carb-free except barbacoa, which has 1 gram of carbs per serving. Siva also gives the green light to fajita veggies, lettuce, queso, sour cream, and cheese. For the healthiest option, she recommends a salad bowl with steak, fajita vegetables, tomatillo green salsa, cheese, and guacamole. And don't skimp on the veggies, she says—that's where all the fiber and micronutrients are.
(If you're newer to keto, snag some tips and tricks from this keto meal plan for beginners.)
Vegetarian: Sofritas Burrito Bowl
Vegetarians rejoice! "Chipotle is making going meatless super easy with a few delicious meat-free proteins," says Knott. "Beans are always a solid vegetarian protein choice, but Chipotle took it up a notch with sofritas, shredded organic tofu seasoned with chipotle chilies, and roasted poblanos." Yum!
Pretty much everything else on the menu is fair game for vegetarians (with the exception of meat, of course), so build a burrito bowl with all the fixin's and call it a day.
A burrito bowl with sofritas, black beans, lettuce, brown rice, tomato salsa, cheese, and sour cream clocks in at 650 calories and a solid 23 grams of plant-based protein.
Endurance Athlete: Build Your Own Burrito
"Carbohydrates are the primary source of fuel for working muscles and are necessary for replenishing glycogen in muscles after a long-distance workout or race," Knott explains. If you're in the midst of heavy training, then half of your plate should be a carbohydrate source. "This could easily be accomplished with a build your own burrito stuffed with chicken, brown rice, pinto beans, fajita vegetables, lettuce, and the roasted chili-corn salsa," she adds.
This combo provides almost 130 grams of carbs. But since everyone is different, some athletes may need more or less carbs depending on where they are in their training, Knott says. "To adjust carbohydrates, either double up on rice and beans for added carbs or skip the tortilla and opt for a burrito bowl to lower total carbohydrates."
Vegan: Sofritas Burrito
"Like the vegetarians, vegans also have a lot to celebrate at Chipotle," Knott says. Of course meat, cheese, and sour cream are off-limits, as well as Chipotle's salad dressing, which contains honey. That means a burrito is your best bet. With sofritas, pinto beans, fajita vegetables, tomatillo salsa, and romaine lettuce, you can score an easy 25 grams of protein and 16 grams of fiber, all for 640 calories.
Sound too heavy? Skip the tortilla and make it a salad instead, using an extra serving of salsa as dressing for just 345 calories.
Paleo: Chicken Salad Bowl
Staying true to paleo is surprisingly easy at Chipotle, which may be why CrossFitters are such fans of the fast-casual spot. "Skip the tortilla, and any other grain offered such as white or brown rice, and ask for lettuce and fajita vegetables as a base," Knott recommends. "Add your choice of meat, preferably chicken or steak as these are the leanest options. Top with more lettuce, salsa, and guacamole."
(Heads up: Here's the difference between the paleo and keto diets.)