Beware Chipotle’s Burrito Bowl!

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I enjoy Chipotle. They have good fresh food. I learned long ago however that good fresh food does not always mean good for the waist line. Most everyone http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-chipotle-restaurant-chelsea-new-york-mexican-grill-chain-more-than-restaurants-around-world-image39039407watching their weight knows to avoid the burrito at Chipotle and opt for the burrito bowl instead. The burrito is more like a body pillow—the tortilla alone adding an additional 300 calories.

So indeed the burrito bowl is better. Nonetheless the calories can really add up if you’re not careful. Lesson learned from my client. “I should have looked up the information before I went. But I honestly had no idea. I thought I was eating so healthy.” Yes, she was but as I’ve written before it’s easy to overeat even healthy food.

This was the choice she made. Really terrific options if you consider them individually—chicken (terrific lean protein), black beans (fabulous fiber and good protein), fajita vegetables (veggies, yay!), brown rice (love whole grains!), corn salsa (corn—a whole grain—and veggies), and guacamole (avocado—good healthy fat!). Yet once the layers start adding on, so do the calories.

Blog pic - burrito bowl before

Look what happens when all added together—whew, over 800 calories and 1,600 mg of sodium (70 percent of the recommended daily intake). I must say though, fiber is beyond fabulous at one whole day’s worth for a woman!

(This choice I might note is absolutely fine for a growing boy, active male, or super active young female. However the majority of my clientele don’t fall into those categories.)

What would have been better? Looking at Chipotle’s online nutrition calculator, I made a few modifications and came up with this. I would though ask for double maybe even triple the fajita veggies—at 20 cal per serving, can’t beat that.

Blog pic - burrito bowl after

Even with the extra veggies and a bit of saturated fat from the cheese in my modified version, we’re still looking at a significantly better option with far fewer calories (less than 500) and sodium. Fiber is still terrific at over 15 grams.

I am very much looking forward to the end of 2015 when all restaurants with over 20 locations will be required to list caloric information at point-of-purchase, on menu boards and menus. Many have already started to. Granted calories don’t tell the whole story—sodium, saturated fat, sugar, fiber, etc are important but at least there will be disclosure. Disclosure much need by consumers who want to know.


Registered dietitian nutritionist Jennifer Neily has long been an advocate for disclosure on restaurant menus. Working individually with patients and clients for nearly 20 years, Neily has realized when it comes to dining out, restaurants can pose a major challenge to healthful eating. Even if people are more aware of better choices it still can result in caloric intake beyond what it takes to maintain a healthy weight.

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10 Comments

  1. Shannon

    Hmmmm….this sounds vaguely familiar!!! Lesson learned.

    Reply
    • Neily

      Hmmmm….inspiration comes from so many places! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Colin

    But how are we supposed to guarantee that the server puts the proper serving size in the bowl? Alwas seems that there are 2 servings in the bowl.

    Reply
    • Neily

      Good point! There are no guarantees. However my experience is restaurants – especially those with many locations – standardize portions for quality/quantity control.

      Reply
  3. Jean | DelightfulRepast.com

    I love the Chipotle chicken burrito, but I’ve never eaten a whole one. I’ve always made two, or even three, meals of it. At my age and activity level it would be ridiculous to eat a whole one. When I was a teenager with, apparently, the metabolism of a racehorse, it would have been fine. 😀

    Reply
    • Neily

      I know! The problem is often people think it IS only one serving and end up eating it entirely. #iftheyonlyknew Thanks for your comment 🙂

      Reply
  4. Aichata

    Surprised I was !! Now I got to check the amount of calories that I have been eating at chipotle special the sodium and saturated ones

    Reply
    • Neily

      Glad you learned something! -Neily

      Reply
  5. Joy

    I have a friend who works at Chipotle and they are supposed to be enough for two servings! They need to let Americans know that. I think they give you a whole container of of sour cream on top haha!

    Reply
    • Neily

      Not surprised! Most people do think it’s one serving 😮
      Thanks for your comment Joy! -Neily

      Reply

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