For those who want their food healthy, delicious, and ethically unassailable, the news hit hard: Chipotle, the non-GMO burrito palace with the sustainable food policies that made it OK for even Bernie Sanders voters to eat fast food again, had been sideswiped by an e. coli outbreak.
The bacteria, which comes from livestock and causes severe stomach cramps and other symptoms too gross to mention, sickened at least 43 people who ate in 17 different Chipotle restaurants between October 13 and November 6—primarily in Oregon and Washington state, but also in California, Minnesota, New York, and Ohio.
But while the company and investigators at the Centers for Disease Control monitor the situation—and report that no one has reported getting sick in the last several weeks—we recommend exercising caution when you’re ready to return to the Mexican grill. Not because of e. coli—that situation looks pretty well in hand. But rather, because some of Chipotle’s burritos can pack as many calories as not one, not two, but three fast-food burgers! Even though calorie counts are clearly posted, it can be easy to lose track in the face of so many yummy options just beyond the plexiglas grill. And sometimes, the sodium counts rival that of even the Big Mac—especially if you order the chips.
To discover the best and worst meals at Chipotle, Eat This, Not That! ranked them by category, from meats to fixings, burritos to salads, and the best and worst combos in each category. Read on for the eye-opening results, and while we’re on the subject of fast food, don’t miss our essential list of Every Menu Item at McDonald’s—Ranked!!
PROTEINS…FROM WORST TO BEST
Chipotle won raves for offering a vegetarian protein. But read on to find out which filling is the best for you.
If you're looking for a meatless option at Chipotle, we've got bad news. This spicy organic tofu contains the highest amount of fat, sodium, carbs and sugar of all their proteins. Although it has the fewest calories, it also contains the least protein. The bottom line: You’re better off sticking with veggies.
NUTRITION: 145 calories, 10 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 555 mg sodium, 9 g carbs, 3.5 g fiber, 4.5 g sugars, 8 g protein.
Chipotle touts this as antibiotic- and hormone-free shredded pork, seasoned with salt and pepper, juniper berries, thyme and bay leaves, braised and shredded by hand. These trail barbacoa for one reason—they contain 12 grams of fat (6.5 of which are saturated). Read on for 25 Things Fast Food Chains Don’t Want You to Know!
NUTRITION: 210 calories,12 g fat (6.5 g saturated), 450 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 23 g protein
This seasoned beef, marinated overnight and hand shredded, contains fewer calories than both the chicken and steak—but more sodium and less protein.
NUTRITION: 165 calories, 7 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 530 mg sodium, 2 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 24 g protein
Surprisingly, Chipotle’s steak and chicken are neck-and-neck. Marinated in the same chipotle pepper and grilled, the steak contains just 10 more calories and milligrams of sodium, but less half a gram of fat and one gram of saturated fat. But because of its protein and sugar counts, chicken is still at a slight advantage.
NUTRITION: 190 calories, 6.5 g fat (2 g saturated), 320 mg sodium, 2 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 1 g sugars, 30 g protein
AND THE BEST PROTEIN AT CHIPOTLE IS…CHICKEN
Chipotle prides itself on obtaining meats that are raised on a pasture or in deeply bedded pens and are both antibiotic and hormone-free. Their chicken is marinated in spicy chipotle pepper and grilled. It contains 180 calories, the lowest amount of sodium of its counterparts and 32 grams of protein. This is your best choice. Speaking of proteins, click here for The 29 Best-Ever Proteins for Weight Loss!
NUTRITION: 180 calories, 7 g fat (3 g saturated), 310 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0.5 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 32 g protein
RICE…FROM WORST TO BEST
You know brown is better, but do you know why? Whole wheat contains three parts of the grain, all nutrient rich and fiber-filling. And although both Chipotle’s brown and white rice are healthfully prepared—steamed, seasoned with lemon and lime and sprinkled with cilantro—and 210 calories, go for the brown. It contains 150 less milligrams of sodium, 4 fewer grams of carbs and 1.5 more grams of belly-flattening fiber. Click here to discover the other secret 25 Best Carbs for Weight Loss!
CILANTRO LIME WHITE RICE
NUTRITION: 210 calories, 4 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 345 mg sodium, 40 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 3.5 g protein
CILANTRO LIME BROWN RICE
NUTRITION: 210 calories, 5.5 g fat (1 g saturated), 195 mg sodium, 36 g carbs, 2.5 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 4 g protein
BEANS…FROM WORST TO BEST:
Chipotle’s bean options vary only slightly. Both are rich in satiating fiber and low in fat and sugars. When it comes down it, black beans pull ahead with 40 fewer milligrams of sodium and one more gram of protein. Enjoying them are just one of our essential 50 Ways to Lose 10 Pounds—Fast.
NUTRITION: 115 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 300 mg sodium, 21 g carbs, 10 g fiber, 1 g sugars, 6 g protein.
NUTRITION: 120 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 260 mg sodium, 22 g carbs, 12 g fiber, 1 g sugars, 7 g protein
VEGGIES…FROM WORST TO BEST
Although the fajita veggies contain 170 milligrams of sodium, they're more nutritionally dense than romaine lettuce. Both are safe choices and won’t wreak havoc on your waistline. But if you're watching your sodium, go with romaine. And if you’re pairing that with a soda, read this list of 38 Top Diet Sodas—Ranked!!
NUTRITION: 20 calories, 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated), 170 mg sodium, 4 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 2 g sugars, 1 g protein.
NUTRITION: 5 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 0 mg sodium, 1 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 0 g protein.
SALSAS…FROM WORST TO BEST
Think you can't go wrong with a little tomato dip? Think again.
ROASTED CHILI CORN SALSA
Chipotle’s worst salsa option is the Roasted Chili-Corn, which contains white sweet corn, poblaño peppers, jalapeños and cilantro. Sounds healthy, right? The calorie and fat counts say otherwise.
NUTRITION: 80 calories, 15 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 300 mg sodium, 16 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 4 g sugars, 3 g protein.
TOMATILLO RED CHILI SALSA
Next comes Green’s sibling: Pureed tomatillos and red chiles, with pepper, garlic, cumin and Tabasco. It's a low-calorie, high-sodium addition to any dish.
NUTRITION: 30 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 500 mg sodium, 4 g carbs, 1.5 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 0 g protein.
TOMATILLO GREEN CHILI SALSA
This salsa isn't far behind the #1 choice. In fact, if it weren't for its sodium content, this guy might have taken first. Seasoned roasted tomatoes, tomatillos and jalapeños have just 15 calories with 4 grams of carbs.
NUTRITION: 15 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 255 mg sodium, 4 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 1.5 g sugars, 0 g protein.
AND THE BEST SALSA AT CHIPOTLE IS…FRESH TOMATO SALSA
When it comes to salsas, the simpler the better. Fresh Tomato contains the basics— vine-ripened tomatoes, red onion, cilantro and spices. It also has the least amount of sodium of the bunch. Choosing the right veg keeps the celebs slim; discover their other fat-blasting tricks with these 30 Skinny Secrets from the World's Sexiest Women
NUTRITION: 20 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 210 mg sodium, 5 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 3 g sugars, 1 g protein.
FATS…FROM WORST TO BEST:
When it comes to fatty toppings, a little bit goes a long way — the calories, fat and sodium add up fast. Because Chipotle tends to pile on the guac (mmm, guac), ask for a half portion to keep calories in check. Better yet, ask for a half portion on the side.
Despite the moderate calories and sodium, this a big fat mistake.
NUTRITION: 115 calories, 9.5 g fat (7 g saturated), 30 mg sodium, 1 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 2 g sugars, 2 g protein.
Shredded white cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses create a high saturated fat and sodium count.
NUTRITION: 100 calories, 7.5 g fat (5 g saturated), 190 mg sodium, 1 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 6 g protein.
AND THE BEST OPTION IN THE FATS CATEGORY IS…GUACAMOLE
Yes, the guac! The green goop is your healthiest choice. Avocados are rich in healthy monounsaturated fats. According to a study in the journal Diabetes Care, a diet rich in monounsaturated fat may actually prevent belly fat by switching off certain fat genes! Click here for more amazing tips: 55 Best-Ever Ways to Boost Your Metabolism
NUTRITION: 230 calories, 22 g fat (3.5 g saturated), 375 mg sodium, 8 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 1 g sugars, 2 g protein.
BURRITOS… From Worst to Best
No matter how healthy you keep your burrito fillings, there’s no way to shake off the salt. Why? The tortilla itself is packed with 690 mg of sodium — just under a half a day’s recommended intake! Still, we compiled a list of options, from worst to "best." Order one, and you’re falling prey to the 30 Bad Habits That Lead to a Fat Belly
WITH WHITE RICE, BLACK BEANS, FAJITAS VEGGIES, ROASTED CHILI-CORN SALSA, ROMAINE LETTUCE, SOUR CREAM, CHEESE, AND GUAC
This fully loaded burrito has just under two days' worth of salt, six days' RDA of saturated fat and nearly an entire day’s recommended allowance of fat! Not to mention that it serves up more carbs than you’d find in nearly eight whole-grain dinner rolls! Although almost everything in this burrito is carb-heavy, the tortilla (46 grams) and white rice (40 grams) tip the scales.
NUTRITION: 1,390 calories, 68 g fat (23.5 g saturated fat), 2,810 mg sodium, 139 g carbs, 27 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 54.5 g protein.
WITH WHITE RICE, FRESH TOMATILLO-RED SALSA, PINTO BEANS, GUAC, ROMAINE LETTUCE, CHEESE AND SOUR CREAM
Seasoned BBQ beef and all the fixings adds up to a whopping 1,270 calories, 61 grams of fat, 124 grams of carbs and nearly two days' worth of sodium! Surprisingly, this isn't the worst Chipotle burrito combination you could make, but it’s pretty darn close.
NUTRITION: 1270 calories, 61 g fat (19.5 g saturated fat), 2,960 mg sodium, 124 g carbs, 23.5 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 50.5 g protein.
WITH BLACK BEANS, FAJITA VEGGIES, CHEESE AND ROASTED CHILI-CORN SALSA
This steak wrap has 91 grams of carbs and 1,980 milligrams of sodium. On the bright side, it’s under 1,000 calories, has 54 grams of protein and the black beans contribute 19 grams of gut-friendly fiber, making it far from the worst option. If you must order a steak burrito with cheese, opt for the Tomatillo-Green Salsa and save 65 calories, 15 grams of fat and 12 grams of carbs.
NUTRITION: 810 calories, 27 g fat (8 g saturated), 1980 mg sodium, 91 g carbs, 19 g fiber, 8 g sugars, 54 g protein.
WITH FAJITA VEGGIES, ROMAINE LETTUCE, GUAC AND FRESH TOMATO SALSA
Despite this burrito's healthier fillings, the 2,000-milligram sodium count — primarily from the tortilla (690 mg) and tofu (555 mg) — is a big white flag. And the carb content is far from moderate. However, this burrito contains half the carbs and calories of our worst option and has 16 grams of satiating fiber.
NUTRITION: 720 calories, 42.5 g fat (6 g saturated), 2000 mg sodium, 73 g carbs, 15.5 g fiber, 10.5 g sugars, 19 g protein
AND THE BEST BURRITO AT CHIPOTLE IS… CHICKEN BURRITO WITH FAJITA VEGGIES AND CHEESE
If you're looking for the lowest-calorie option, a chicken burrito with fajita veggies and cheese has 600 calories and 25 grams of fat — only one-third the damage you can do with the other fat-laden burritos. The combo also can boast 46 grams of muscle-building protein. Just beware that this meal nearly taps out your daily sodium allowance, so if you’re watching the salt, ditch the tortilla and opt for a bowl. And don’t do these other 25 Things You're Doing to Slow Your Metabolism!
NUTRITION: 600 calories, 25 g fat (9 g saturated), 1360 mg sodium, 51 g carbs, 4.5 g fiber, 2 g sugars, 46 g protein.
BOWLS…FROM WORST TO BEST
Aside from being a total salt bomb, the tortilla is basically a flavorless, nutritionally void carb blanket. You don’t need it. We suggest ordering a burrito bowl instead. It has all the flavors of a classic burrito for a fraction of the calories and salt. Add a protein, a carb and a healthy fat to keep your meal lean and nutritionally balanced. Rules of thumb: Pick a rice or a bean, because they both provide carbs. Choose just one fatty add-in such as guac, cheese or sour cream. We opted for the guac, because it's rich in monounsaturated and oleic fatty acids, which have been shown to spot-reduce abdominal fat. (Eating good fats is just one of The Best Ways to Get a Flat Stomach Without Going to the Gym)!
WITH BROWN RICE, BLACK BEANS, ROASTED CHILI-CORN SALSA, SOUR CREAM, ROMAINE LETTUCE, GUAC AND CHEESE
The fat and meat choices make this one of the worst Chipotle combos. Sour cream, cheese, guac and pork contribute to 51 grams of fat, and even without the salt-laden white tortilla, this bowl still has 89 grams of carbs and 1,970 milligrams of sodium. You might as well get a burrito. (But don't.)
NUTRITION: 1090 calories, 59.5 g fat (23 g saturated fat), 1970 mg sodium, 89 g carbs, 25.5 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 48 g protein.
WITH BROWN RICE, BLACK BEANS, FAJITA VEGGIES, TOMATILLO RED-CHILI SALSA, SOUR CREAM, CHEESE AND GUAC
Before you order this one, consider skipping the sour cream and the cheese or guac (not both). That can save you up to 355 calories, 23 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat and 405 milligrams of sodium. If you must order sour cream, ask for it on the side and use it sparingly. Ordering this bowl as-is means you'll tap your entire daily sodium quota and half your calorie bank. To blast fat faster, click here for 50 Ways to Lose 10 Pounds—Fast!
NUTRITION: 990 calories, 53 g fat (19 g saturated fat), 2250 mg sodium, 78 g carbs, 24 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 46 g protein
WITH WHITE RICE, PINTO BEANS, FRESH TOMATO SALSA, SOUR CREAM, ROMAINE LETTUCE AND CHEESE
Sofritas is salty enough without a flour-rich blanket. But even with addition of white rice, pintos, salsa, sour cream and cheese, this bowl is just 710 calories with 17 grams of fiber. Clean this order up by swapping the white rice for brown.
NUTRITION: 710 calories, 32 g fat (14 g saturated fat), 1630 mg sodium, 78 g carbs, 16.5 g fiber, 10.5 g sugar, 26.5 g protein.
WITH WHITE RICE, PINTO BEANS, TOMATILLO GREEN CHILE SALSA, ROMAINE AND SOUR CREAM
Although it's not our first bean choice, legumes such as pinto beans are a virtually fat-free source of potassium, protein and belly-filling fiber, which help slow digestion and stabilize blood sugar. In total, this bowl has two-thirds of the average man's protein RDA with 12 grams of fiber. For 650 calories and 21 grams of fat, you can enjoy steak without added carbs and fat.
NUTRITION: 650 calories, 21 g fat (9.5 g saturated), 1250 mg sodium, 69 g carbs, 12 g fiber, 5.5 g sugar, 41.5 g protein.
AND THE BEST BOWL AT CHIPOTLE IS… CHICKEN BOWL
WITH BROWN RICE, FAJITA VEGETABLES, FRESH TOMATO SALSA, ROMAINE LETTUCE AND ½ SERVING OF GUAC
Steamed whole-grain brown rice, fajita veggies, protein-rich grilled chicken and flab-fighting guacamole make for one nutrient-packed bowl! And with just 550 calories and one-third the carbs of a burrito, this meal won’t demolish your diet. Plus, you’ll get 49 grams of metabolism-boosting protein. Just skip the soda and order a large water to help counteract that sodium count. Consuming too much sodium could be the No. 1 Reason Why You're Not Losing Belly Fat!
NUTRITION: 550 calories, 23 g fat (5.25 g saturated), 1,072 mg sodium, 49 g carbs, 9 g fiber, 5.5 g sugar, 39 g protein
TACOS…FROM WORST TO BEST
The first decision you need to make when you order tacos is the tortilla. Chipotle offers three options: crispy corn, soft corn and soft flour. You already know the soft flour tortilla is loaded with salt, calories and fat. So let’s focus on the crispy corn and the soft corn tortillas: Both have 210 calories, 30 milligrams of sodium, 3 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber, and their carbs vary by just 5 grams. However, soft corn tortillas contain no fat, while both the soft flour tortillas and crispy corn tortillas have 7.5 grams (3 grams saturated). Go for the soft corn tortillas, and save the fat and sodium for fillings! And then read these 50 Ways to Lose 10 Pounds—Fast!
SOFRITAS SOFT FLOUR TACOS
WITH PINTO BEANS, WHITE RICE, FAJITA VEGETABLES, ROASTED CHILI-CORN SALSA, SOUR CREAM, CHEESE, GUAC AND ROMAINE
This is by far one of the worst options. In fact, these soft-flour tacos are a health disaster. They're sky-high in fat, carbs and sodium—nearly two days' worth of salt, to be exact—and contain 14.5 grams of sugar! According to a 2015 article in Nutrition Review, which surveyed dozens of studies conducted between 1972 and 2012, the more added sugar you consume, the less healthy food you’ll eat the rest of the day. Steer clear, unless you want man boobs!
NUTRITION: 1,275 calories, 63.5 g fat (20.5 g saturated fat), 2,835 mg sodium, 140 g carbs, 27.5 g fiber, 14.5 g sugar, 37.5 g protein
BARBACOA SOFT CORN TACOS
WITH BLACK BEANS, WHITE RICE, FAJITA VEGETABLES, TOMATILLO GREEN-CHILI SALSA, GUAC AND ROMAINE
Although this order contains some of our first-choice ingredients, the final product is anything but diet friendly. You get three tacos for just under 1,000 calories, 1965 milligrams of sodium and 125 grams of carbs. If it sounds like a high cost for such a small amount of food, it is! Save more than 300 calories by choosing rice or beans and asking for half an order of guac.
NUTRITION: 970 calories, 34.5 g fat (6.5 g saturated fat), 1965 mg sodium, 125 g carbs, 27 g fiber, 5.5 g sugar, 40.5 g protein
STEAK CRISPY CORN TACOS
WITH PINTO BEANS, BROWN RICE, TOMATILLO RED-CHILI SALSA, SOUR CREAM AND ROMAINE
If you prefer your tacos crunchy, you'll probably opt for the crispy corn tortillas. This combo includes iron-rich steak, belly-slimming pintos, fiber-dense brown rice and fiery, metabolism-boosting salsa. On the other hand, it also contains nutrient-lacking romaine and diet-sabotaging sour cream, adding up to way too much saturated fat, sodium and carbs. Opt for a half-order of guac instead! In a study published in Nutrition Journal, participants who ate half a fresh avocado with lunch reported a 40 percent decreased desire to eat for hours afterward!
NUTRITION: 875 calories, 30 g fat (13 g saturated fat), 1375 mg sodium, 95 g carbs, 21 g fiber, 4.5 g sugar, 45 g protein
CHICKEN SOFT FLOUR TACOS
WITH BLACK BEANS, FRESH TOMATO SALSA, ½ ORDER OF GUAC AND ROMAINE
Kill the soft flour tortillas, and this is a healthful meal. It contains our top-choice meat, fiber-filled black beans, fresh tomato salsa, and half the usual portion of heart-healthy guac. With them, however, you get an entire day’s worth of sodium and an extra 7.5 grams of fat and 39 grams of carbs. Swap in soft corn tortillas instead for another ETNT-approved Chipotle taco order.
NUTRITION: 705 calories, 26.5 g fat (7.3 g saturated fat), 1538 mg sodium, 71 g carbs, 19.5 g fiber, 4.5 g sugar, 47 g protein
AND THE BEST TACOS AT CHIPOTLE ARE… SOFT CORN TACOS WITH BLACK BEANS, BROWN RICE, FAJITA VEGETABLES AND CHEESE
These meat-free tacos are your best option, at 660 calories and 21 grams of protein. Although full-fat cheese packs more calories, it's also more filling, which aids weight loss. A 2013 study review in the European Journal of Nutrition found that people who eat full-fat dairy are less likely to suffer from obesity than those who opt for low-fat dairy. (To add this benefit to your total diet, check out our list of the Best Full-Fat Foods)! Celebrate Taco Tuesday any day of the week with this flavorful and nutrient-dense order.
NUTRITION: 660 calories, 14.5 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 845 mg sodium, 108 g carbs, 21.5 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 21 g protein
SALADS…FROM WORST TO BEST
Chipotle’s salads are composed of their signature ingredients over a bed of romaine lettuce. Unlike the Bowls, whose base may be rice or beans, the majority of this dish is the green stuff. However, that doesn’t mean that calories, fat, and sodium counts can’t creep up, because they do—fast. A serving of vinaigrette dressing is 2 ounces, or almost 4 tablespoons, which has 270 calories, 25 grams of fat and 850 milligrams of sodium. Ask for the dressing on the side and use about half. Here are our picks for the best and worst salad.
##WITH WHITE RICE, BLACK BEANS, FAJITA VEGGIES, ROASTED CHILI-CORN SALSA, SOUR CREAM, CHEESE, GUAC AND VINAIGRETTE
If you’re an avid ETNT reader, you know that the word “salad” can be a trick. So you won’t be shocked to learn that the worst Chipotle salad has more calories than the worst tacos and bowl — and more fat than the worst combo in all three prior categories! With 114 grams of carbs and 22.5 grams of saturated fat, the salad's whopping 56 grams of protein won't benefit your body. (Think that’s bad? Read this to discover the 40 Most Horrifying Things Found in Food!)
NUTRITION: 1,345 calories, 77.5 g fat (22.5 g saturated fat), 2840 mg sodium, 114 g carbs, 26 g fiber, 24 g sugar, 56 g protein
##WITH BLACK BEANS, FAJITA VEGGIES, FRESH TOMATO SALSA AND ½ ORDER OF VINAIGRETTE
Chipotle’s antibiotic- and hormone-free grilled chicken pairs with brain-boosting black beans to pack this salad’s 43 grams of protein. We opted for fresh tomato salsa because dozens of studies suggest a relationship between regular intake of lycopene (an antioxidant found in tomatoes) and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, skin damage and certain cancers. Plus they’re super low-cal! For under 500 calories, you get 17 grams of slimming fiber and just 21 grams of fat.
NUTRITION: 485 calories, 21 g fat (3.3 g saturated fat), 1,375 mg sodium, 42 g carbs, 16.5 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 42.3 g protein
AND FINALLY…THE CHIPS!
Oh, we so want to tell you to eat the chips. But there’s the truth is, they have 8 more calories than a Big Mac, with only 5 grams less fat and twice the carbs—and a third of the protein. You’d be better off dipping some chicken into a half-order of guac. Hey, that sounds pretty good right about now!
Nutrition: 570 calories, 27 g fat (3.5 g saturated), 420 mg sodium, 73 g carbs, 8 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 8 g protein