You're Probably Eating An Insane Amount Of Calories At Chipotle

by Sean Levinson

One order at Chipotle has been exposed as half a day's calories wrapped inside a single burrito.

The New York Times studied the calories of over 3,000 Chipotle meals ordered on GrubHub from July to December 2012 and found a great deal of them to contain two or three meals worth of calories.

Before delving into the specifics of each type of meal, let it first be known that in a given day, most adults are recommended to eat between 1,600 and 2,400 calories, depending on things like body type and activity level.

A standard Chipotle order (or a meat burrito with cheese, salsa, lettuce, sour cream, rice and beans) typically exceeds 1,000 calories.

One in 10 meals recorded exceeded 1,600.

The meals with the lowest calorie count (545 or less) included the veggie bowl, carnitas burrito and steak crispy tacos, but those consisted of just 5 percent of the GrubHub orders, and the burrito contained nothing but meat and salsa.

Making up 25 percent of the orders were the 850-880 calories in a chicken bowl, veggie burrito and barbacoa soft tacos.

The average Chipotle meal, or 50 percent of the GrubHub orders, contained 1,070 calories or lower.

This could be a steak burrito, chicken burrito or a smaller order like a bowl or taco with a side of chips, which are 570 calories on their own.

Over 14 percent of orders also contained 2,400 milligrams of sodium and more than 10 percent had 20 grams of saturated fat.

That's a day's worth of salt and 75 percent of the daily recommendation for saturated fat, according to the Times.

Calories reached 1,300 and higher once chips and guacamole (or an extra 770 calories) became a staple.

These sides are the primary reason 75 percent of meals had 1,350 calories or lower. Adding them to the 535-calorie veggie bowl resulted in 1,330 calories.

Combine them with a steak or chicken burrito, and you get the calorie count of 95 percent of meals: 1,790 calories or lower.

But as Chris Arnold, Chipotle's communications director, told the Times, it's not just the sides that make everything so much higher in calories.

One can easily stay under 700 calories by getting a burrito bowl, but just 2 percent of the burritos in the data set were in that range.

That's because a tortilla is 300 calories all by itself.

So Chipotle is only moderately unhealthy until chips, guacamole and tortillas come into play.

Maybe save dessert for next time?

Citations: At Chipotle How Many Calories Do People Really Eat (The New York Times)