Chipotle Mexican Grill is a popular fast-casual restaurant that boasts nearly 2,500 locations around the globe.
The restaurant is favored for its fully customizable menu, which offers items like tacos, burritos, and salads, as well as an array of sauces, proteins, and toppings.
Depending on what you pick, Chipotle can be either a convenient and nutritious fast-food option or an unhealthy, high-calorie indulgence.
Here are 6 simple tips to make your next Chipotle meal healthier.
A healthy base for your meal is the first step to a nutritious, well-rounded meal.
To get started, try swapping your burrito for a salad or burrito bowl to cut down on calories and carbs.
Most items on the Chipotle menu also come with your choice of rice.
If you’re looking to lose weight, you can skip the rice to keep the calorie content low. Alternatively, try selecting brown rice instead of white to boost the fiber and micronutrient content of your meal.
Skipping the rice or choosing a burrito bowl or salad instead of a burrito can cut down on calories and carbs. Also, switching to brown rice and/or corn tortillas increases your intake of fiber and certain micronutrients.
Regardless of whether you opt for a burrito bowl, taco, or salad, piling on veggies is a great way to increase the amount of fiber, vitamins, and minerals in your meal.
In addition to keeping you feeling fuller for longer, fiber may enhance weight loss, stabilize blood sugar levels, promote regularity, and support heart health (2).
Try adding the following veggies to your order to round out your meal:
- fajita vegetables
- roasted chili-corn salsa
- fresh tomato salsa
- tomatillo green or red chili salsa
- romaine lettuce
Add extra veggies to your meal to increase your intake of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
If you’re trying to lose weight, it may be a good idea to skip the high-calorie toppings when building your meal.
Some high-calorie ingredients at Chipotle include:
- sour cream
- flour tortillas
Cheese, sour cream, and queso sauce are all high in fat and quickly pack extra calories into your meal (1).
Certain types of meat and protein fillings are also higher in fat and calories than others. For example, carnitas contain 40% more calories than steak or sofritas, a tofu-based protein option (1).
Chicken is a nutritious alternative, containing nearly half the amount of fat found in carnitas and a whopping 32 grams of protein per serving (1).
If you’re trying to lose weight, limit high-calorie toppings like cheese, sour cream, queso, and guacamole. Choosing healthy meat and protein toppings like sofritas and chicken can also help keep your calorie intake in check.
Side dishes are just as important as the main course when it comes to making a healthy meal.
Certain sides are loaded with fat, sodium, and calories, all of which can add up quickly.
For example, a single order of chips and queso packs 770 calories, 41 grams of fat, and 82 grams of carbs. It also supplies 790 mg of sodium in a single serving, or about 34% of the daily limit recommended by the American Heart Association (1, 5).
Next time, skip the chips and get your guacamole or salsa to go. Then try pairing these sauces with whole-grain crackers or fresh veggies like carrots or cucumbers at home for a healthy and filling snack.
Some side dishes are high in fat, calories, and sodium. Get your guacamole or salsa to go and pair them with whole-grain crackers or fresh veggies for a healthy snack at home.
Picking a healthy beverage to accompany your food is a great way to balance your meal.
It’s important to keep in mind that not all beverages are created equal — soda, sweetened tea, and fruit juice are examples of beverages that are high in sugar and calories.
Consuming too much added sugar can not only contribute to weight gain and high blood sugar levels but also increase your risk of developing serious health conditions, such as liver problems, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes (6).
Choosing water and unsweetened tea is a good way to reduce your intake of added sugar and calories and help round out your meal.
Soda, sweetened tea, and fruit juice are all high in added sugar, which can contribute to several health problems. Water and unsweetened tea are healthier options.
Chipotle is notorious for providing large portion sizes.
Depending on what you pick, a single order from Chipotle may contain enough food for at least two full meals.
Taking half of your order to go and saving it for later is a great strategy to prevent overeating and stay on track with your health goals.
Halving your order reduces its calorie, carb, fat, and sodium content and transforms a high-calorie feast into several weight-loss-friendly meals.
Taking half of your order to go can help prevent overeating, keep you on track with your health goals, and reduce the calorie, carb, fat, and sodium content of your meal.
Depending on what you order, Chipotle can be either an unhealthy indulgence or a dieter’s dream.
Making a few simple swaps in your order can turn nearly any main course into a healthy meal.
Starting with a healthy base, picking nutritious toppings and sides, choosing a low-sugar beverage, and taking half of your order to go can all help ensure that you get a nutritious meal.