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Numbers Game: Answer

Next time you’re at Chipotle, keep in mind that you can save 230 calories and 65 percent of a day’s worth of saturated fat by passing on the cheese and sour cream.

The main factor behind these high numbers is that what should really be a “dollop” of sour cream turns out being about 6 to 8 tablespoons’ worth, depending on how scoop-happy your particular server is feeling that day.

Although Chipotle’s mix and match system makes it quite easy to end up with calorie and sodium-laden meals (a burrito with chicken, rice, beans, sour cream, cheese, corn salsa, and tomato salsa adds up to 1,130 calories and 125% of the daily recommended sodium limit,) it is also possible to enjoy a nutritious meal that doesn’t go quite as overboard.

For instance: substitute the above for three crispy tacos with black beans, onions and peppers, tomato salsa, cheese, and guacamole and you end up with 680 calories and 80% of a day’s worth of sodium.

Alhough quite high on the sodium scale, it is 40% lower than the first option!

The best news? That meal alone delivers a whooping 25 grams of fiber — 50% more than the first burrito option I presented.

That high fiber content, along with 24 grams of protein, and plentiful fats in the guacamole make for a satisfying and filling meal (I particularly point that out because I occassionally come across some people who equate meatless meals with birdfood that leaves you feeling hungry half an hour after finishing them.)

And whereas the chicken burrito adds up to 83 percent of the saturated fat limit, the crispy vegetarian taco shells lower that figure to 50 percent.

Surprisingly, three crispy taco shells offer 110 less calories and SIX HUNDRED less milligrams of sodium than the soft tortilla used to construct a burrito.

Easiest way to cut back on sodium? Stick to just one salsa.

The mild tomato and corn salsas each offer 500 – 600 milligrams (a quarter of a day’s worth) of sodium per scoopful.

Another easy way to cut back on calories is by getting all ingredients in a bowl, rather than a taco or tortilla. At the very least, you’ll save an additional 180 calories.



  1. Kristin said on August 27th, 2008

    I knew it! I used to think Chipotle was pretty healthy what with all the beans and vegetables they offer… There was a time in college I was eating a burrito at least once a week. Then I discovered my veggie burrito packs 1600 calories! eek! Even if I only ate half for lunch and saved the rest for later, I was still getting half of my days calories just from lunch. Makes it easy to pack on a freshman 15… or 30.

  2. Kristin said on August 27th, 2008

    Oh! Also worth noting is the fact that they once had nutrition information available on their website and they have since removed it. Read more about the so called “Calorie Coverup” here:

  3. Anonymous said on August 27th, 2008

    Hi Andy –

    We love Chipotle, but we have always known that they served delicious, calorie/fat/sodium laden food. Buyer Beware. The really outstanding thing about Chipotle is that the business practices of the company are very good. They offer decent wages (for the fast food sector) and benefits, and they try to obtain ingredients from ethical producers. Contrary to popular myth, they were never owned by McDonalds. They also sponsor good causes and have lots of special promotions at local outlets to promote important causes.

    Chipotle Rocks !

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