The truth about Chipotle: Most orders are terrible for you

Broken down by calories, fat and sodium, the popular burritos begin to lose their appeal

By Lindsay Abrams
Published February 17, 2015 4:07PM (EST)
    (Ken Wolter/Shutterstock)
(Ken Wolter/Shutterstock)

The New York Times' Upshot asks: How many calories do really consume at Chipotle?

The answer, which shouldn't come as a surprise to any, is: a hell of a lot. Most orders, an analysis of online orders revealed, contain more than 1,000 calories. That's half the recommended daily allowance for adults. It's also what the "standard" order -- a meat burrito with cheese, salsa, lettuce, sour cream and rice and beans -- adds up to. The story for sodium and saturated fat is even worse: most meals, the Upshot reports, carry a full day's worth, or 2,400 milligrams, of the former and 75 percent, or 20 grams, of the latter.

(Check out a more detailed breakdown of the stats, as well as an explanation of how they were calculated, at the Times.)

It's not like it's impossible to eat healthfully at Chipotle, but it's definitely not the norm. If you want to limit your lunch to 545 calories or fewer, for example, the Upshot recommends a veggie bowl with rice, pinto beans, salsa, sour cream and cheese, or a carnitas burrito with salsa and nothing else. Yet even those lighter options contain a hefty amount of sodium (75 percent of the recommended daily value in the burrito) and saturated fat (60 percent of the recommended daily value in the veggie bowl). A spokesperson for Chipotle recommended "a burrito bowl with white rice, black beans, chicken, fresh tomato salsa, sour cream and lettuce" for 625 calories -- but more than 90 percent of the meals analyzed came in above that.

It seems almost unfair to single out Chipotle this way -- the fact that fast food isn't typically good for you can hardly be called news. But that Chipotle is, in fact, fast food is something the "Food With Integrity" chain happens to be very good at helping us forget. Your standard Chipotle burrito, after all, has more calories than a Big Mac -- not, of course, that that's necessarily a better alternative.

Lindsay Abrams

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