Is Chipotle Healthy? Nutritionists Weigh In


If you’re still counting on traditional rice to fill you up, opt for a half serve of brown rice. It has the same calories as white rice however it contains 1.8 grams of fiber, compared to the 0.4 grams of fiber in white rice.

Sour cream and cheese

If you’re craving richness and creaminess, choose guacamole. The green goodness will help satisfy cravings for less-nutritious additions. “Be mindful of adding too many high-calorie toppings, or choose one high-calorie topping and make the rest mostly vegetable-based. Instead of adding cheese, sour cream, and guacamole, choose just guacamole, salsa, and beans which have fewer calories and more fiber,” says Samuels.

How to make a chipotle meal healthier

There’s nothing like standing before Chipotle’s array of colorful toppings to test your iron will. Particularly if you’ve grown used to a certain order over the years, like adding every creamy condiment or bulking up with double rice. But if you want to make your favorite orders healthier, here’s where to start.

Get that guac

Know anyone who groans about paying extra for avocado as if it’s their god-given right? When it comes to health, the extra $2.70 might be worth it. Chipotle uses Hass avocados, which are high in monounsaturated fat (6.7 g per half avocado). This has been linked to preventing heart disease and lowering blood pressure. Due to the fat content, avocados are calorie-rich, so if you’re monitoring your weight, consider a half serve.

Avocado carbohydrates are composed of about 80% dietary fiber, meaning a 100 gram serve of avocado provides 6.7 grams of fiber. This meets 24% of your daily requirement. Consuming fiber-rich foods can help regulate the immune system, maintain a healthy digestive system, and prevent constipation.

A study that analyzed the diets of 17,567 US adults found that those who ate avocado had better quality diets and consumed more nutrients than non-avocado consumers, as well as had lower body weights and a lower risk of metabolic syndrome.

Eat your veggies

Rather than packing your burrito with carbohydrates you don’t need, ask for more vegetables. “It’s smart to start with a dense vegetable base, then think about what else you’re craving and add it in smaller portions. You can build a healthy bowl or salad loaded with vegetables and protein but still have a few chips on the side if that’s what you’re craving,” says Zhu.

This will provide more fiber and vitamins to keep you feeling full for longer. It’s a more nutritious option than adding rice, plus it will offer more interesting flavors and textures. “I find that many people skip over the peppers and onions but it’s one of my favorite add-ons. So add the peppers and onions, cauliflower rice, and any of the salsas to boost your vegetable intake. Or try one of the salads on offer,” says Atlanta-based registered dietitian Marisa Moore, RDN, LD.

Bean it up

Rather than filling up on rice or tortilla, Moore recommends beans. “Keep hunger at bay with the black or pinto beans which deliver filling fiber and plant-based protein,” she says. Studies have found that bean-rich diets are linked to lower rates of cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and diabetes.

Black and pinto beans are also high in folate, manganese, and vitamin B1. By adding beans, you’re also adding 8 grams of protein, which is useful if you’re vegetarian or vegan and require a plant-based source of protein.

How to make Chipotle work if you’re vegan, keto, or paleo

Thanks to Chipotle’s customizable menu, the chain is good for those with dietary requirements. Plus the launch of Chipotle’s lifestyle bowls in 2019 means there are now dedicated meals for vegan, vegetarian, keto, paleo, high protein, and wholefood diets.

The vegan lifestyle bowl contains cauliflower rice, salsas, black beans, lettuce, and sofritas (a soybean-based protein). “These ingredients come together for a balanced meal with protein, healthy fats, and fiber, which will keep us full and satisfied,” says Zhu. The bowl contains 18 grams of dietary fiber and 22 grams of protein.

For those following the keto diet, Samuels recommends this simple order: “Choose the keto bowl, which is made with cauliflower rice, or you can do a salad bowl. Skip the rice and beans, but add fat from sour cream, cheese, and guacamole. Get your protein from animal proteins (chicken, pork, or beef),” says Samuels.

When it comes to paleo options, you can customize your meal. Samuels suggests starting with a salad or cauliflower rice bowl, then adding animal protein, skipping dairy add-ons (cheese and sour cream) and grains (rice and tortillas), and finishing with the honey vinaigrette. “Keep in mind that while you have options that are gluten-free, grain-free, and legume-free, most of the proteins and vegetables are cooked in industrial seed oils which are recommended in small amounts only on Whole 30/Paleo,” says Samuels.


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