We know Chipotle as one of the healthier fast-food restaurants using more fresh ingredients than most other joints. Many "healthy" Chipotle menu items can still pack a massive punch of calories - follow our guide to ordering the healthiest meal at Chipotle to fit into any diet.
Fast food is about as far away from healthy food as it gets.
Over the last few years, we've seen this slowly begin to change, with more healthy options popping up for those of us that want a nutritious meal during our busiest days when there is little time left to cook.
Is Chipotle bad for you?
Chipotle is one of the pioneers in the new, healthier fast-food age. This Mexican-American fast-casual restaurant offers build-your-own burritos, tacos, and Chipotle bowls, with plenty of fresh, colorful veggies and ingredients to offer.
Chowing down on a fresh Chipotle burrito trumps a cheeseburger and fries from a nutritional standpoint, but one massive burrito averages 1070 calories, which is nearly ⅔ of some daily calorie intakes.
Building your motivation to eat healthier can be challenging enough, so it can be frustrating to make healthy food choices that end up being hidden calorie and fat bombs.
Don't give up on Chipotle altogether if you're looking for a healthy lunch - you just need to familiarize yourself with the healthiest chipotle options so you can find your new favorite healthy chipotle order without the excess calories.
We're guiding you through the best and worst of Chipotle's menu and naming the healthiest thing at Chipotle.
Choose a Base: Burrito or Bowl?
One of the first choices you make when you walk up to the Chipotle counter is the base of your dish: burrito, burrito bowl, lifestyle bowl, taco, or quesadilla.
This brings us to our first healthy decision, and it's a simple one…
Toss the Wrap
When choosing healthy food at Chipotle, cut out the extra carbs that a tortilla or taco adds to the equation.
And while you lower your carb intake, the calorie savings from switching to a Chipotle burrito bowl are astounding - one large flour tortilla at the restaurants contains a whopping 320 calories and 600 mg of sodium.
Don't worry! You don't need to skip the carbs altogether. Most Chipotle meals already come with rice, so there is little need to double up with the tortilla - you'll be plenty satisfied without one.
Try a Bowl: Burrito Bowls, Salad, & Lifestyle Bowls
We know what you're thinking - salads are boring. A Chipotle salad is far better than one you'd make at home because they have every fresh, Mexican-style topping to build the salad of your dreams.
When you order a Chipotle bowl like this one, you build everything you'd want inside your burrito but without the calorie-heavy wrap.
Salad bowls start with a base of greens and a vinaigrette on which you can add all of your favorite toppings.
The salad bowl is relatively similar to a burrito bowl but even lower in carbs and calories, as you've cut out one of the top calorie boosters - rice.
The lifestyle bowl is an in-house solution to create more healthy options at Chipotle that fit into more diets from Whole 30 to low-carb and the Keto diet.
You can get a Chipotle Keto bowl with vegetarian, vegan, or meat-based options - they remove high-carb ingredients like the rice, and include lots of veggies and healthy fats from guacamole to make sure the meal is still filling.
These bowls are convenient as they come with a pre-determined ingredient list, so you don't have to build your own - say goodbye to the guesswork and trust the Chipotle veggie bowl is one of the healthier options to maximize your Chipotle nutrition.
Toppings and Add-Ins: The Best and The Worst
Are you eyeing up the endless line of toppings and wondering which are best? Here are the best Chipotle healthy options for toppings and some of the worst.
Best: Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice
This cauliflower-based rice gives a similar texture to traditional rice for a fraction of the calories - one serving contains just 40 calories, so eat up!
Worst: Cilantro-Lime White or Brown Rice
While this flavored rice is pretty tasty, it contains much more than just cilantro and lime. A regular-sized scoop contains 210 calories and a hefty serving of carbs.
These carbs ruin your diet, so if you want to enjoy your meal with real rice, ask the staff to give you a smaller serving.
Brown rice is a slightly better option than white, as it contains less sodium and marginally more fiber, which will fill you up for longer.
If you love white rice but want the benefits of both, ask for a mixture of both white and brown rice in your bowl.
Best: Most Protein Options
The steak and sofritas proteins contain 150 calories while the highest calorie protein, carnitas, includes 210.
Most of the meat protein options at Chipotle are relatively comparable, so choose your favorite and go for it.
Meats tend to be a fairly significant source of saturated fat, which we should only eat in small portions - therefore, if you want to cut down on your saturated fat intake, skip the meat, pick a vegetarian option, and load up on pinto or black beans instead.
Bonus: you'll save a bit of money!
Best: Load Up on Veggies
The veggies are what makes Chipotle really shine as a healthy fast food option, so load up as much as you like on lettuce and grilled fajita vegetables that contain a lot of fiber and nutrients and very few extra calories.
Best: Pinto & Black Beans
A serving of either pinto or black beans contains 130 calories, but it also adds another 8g of lean, plant-based protein to turn your burrito bowl into a protein power bowl.
There is no question that avocados are high in calories and fat, but we think guacamole's nutritional benefits more than make up for those downsides.
Guacamole's healthy unsaturated fats will keep you full for longer and completely satisfied while aiding almost all of your bodily functions.
Best: Tomatillo Green Chili Salsa
The tomatillo salsa is the lowest in sodium of Chipotle's salsa options.
Worst: Salty Salsa
It makes us scratch our heads that fresh salsa isn't the healthiest salsa option at Chipotle, but it's high in sodium and, according to some employees, not chopped fresh in-house like other Chipotle ingredients.
Stay away from all salsas and opt for the healthiest option we mentioned, the tomatillo green chili salsa.
Worst: Sour Cream, Monterey Jack, & Queso Blanco
High-fat food like sour cream isn't inherently bad, but it's a high-calorie and -fat dairy product that contains very little protein - it hardly seems worth it.
Monterey Jack is probably the best option between the two because it has more protein, but it's high-calorie without much nutrition to offer.
Queso blanco contains 120 calories per serving - that's ten calories more than a serving of sour cream!
Stay away from the queso to lower your calories.
Chipotle Salt Content
Chipotle sodium content can be staggering. Many meals contain as much as 2,400 mg of sodium - that's the total recommended daily sodium intake by the FDA used in just one meal!
While our tips will help cut down on your sodium intake, it's impossible to avoid consuming at least a moderate amount of sodium in Chipotle meals.
Strangely, the Chipotle nutrition calculator doesn't include a sodium count, which feels a little suspect to us.
All in All: How Healthy is Chipotle?
Can Chipotle be healthy?
You can easily enjoy a meal while finding ways to eat healthy at Chipotle - stick to our recommendations above to keep the calories from multiplying in front of your eyes.
Skips the chips, soda, and other sides offered - the healthiest way to finish off a meal at Chipotle is with a big glass of water!