It’s dependably tasty, quick, and basically everywhere now. Sure, the guac is extra, but they don’t cheat you on it.
When Chipotle first blew up, people thought it was THE healthy thing, no matter how you ordered. You could do no wrong at Chipotle (I mean, they don’t have fries!).
As far as fast food goes, there’s really nothing better, especially if you are trying to eat a high-protein or paleo diet: The meats are real meat, and you can load up on veggies and healthy fat. There are tons of filling, healthy options — if you know how to order.
You know the burrito (with the 300-calorie tortilla — I know, gasp) isn’t the best option. If you’re like most people I know, you probably opt for a burrito bowl with either rice, beans, or both.
In order to eat paleo/high-protein at Chipotle, you’re going to need to order the salad — replacing the carb-heavy rice and beans with chopped romaine lettuce.
But then, even if you order a salad, there are still opportunities for wrong turns in the 10 feet between where you say “salad” and where you say “I’ll just fill my bottle with water” (like the well-hydrated environmentalist that you are).
my paleo chipotle order
Here is my paleo-friendly Chipotle order:
- Salad (no vinaigrette)
- Double chicken (#protein)
- Peppers and onions
- Pico de gallo
- Hot salsa (just a touch)
Notice: No rice, beans, sour cream, cheese, or tortilla. Take a deep breath. I know this may exclude what you might consider to be crucial burrito bowl ingredients.
Let’s compare the nutrition of my paleo order to a similar order, in bowl form (with rice, beans, cheese, and sour cream):
My paleo salad:
- Calories: 495 cals
- Fat: 29.5g
- Protein: 36g
- Carbs: 19g
- Fiber: 11g
Burrito bowl with brown rice, black beans, chicken, guac, pico, sour cream, cheese:
- Calories: 980 cals
- Fat: 50.5g
- Protein: 52.5g
- Carbs: 74g
- Fiber: 20.5g
Yes, there might be more protein and fiber in the burrito bowl — but 52.5 grams is way more protein than I need for one meal, and I can get the fiber elsewhere (without the extra 50 g of carbs!).
Use Chipotle’s nutrition calculator to get the stats on your usual order! Play around with different toppings to see how you can create a healthier option that works for you.
yes, I know guac is extra (nutritious)
One could argue that guacamole adds quite a bit of heft to this meal, (at 230 calories and 22g of fat). This is totally true – leave it out if you’re really trying to cut your caloric intake. Here’s my case for why I always pay that extra $1.79:
- 22g of healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated): regulates blood sugar, lowers cholesterol, controls blood pressure
- 6g of fiber: helps you stay full longer
They really do give you a manly portion of guac though – if you’re having a Chipotle #datenight, consider sharing one person’s serving of guac between the two of you.
dude, where are my carbs?
Athletes: On big training days, you need carbs for recovery. Here are some options:
- Pick up a banana (or pack one ahead of time) and eat it as your dessert.
- Get one portion of rice and split it with your #swolemate/gym buddy.
I’d avoid beans and tortillas, which will do you more digestive and blood sugar damage than anything else.
If you’re not an athlete: I promise you don’t need the carbs. You might not feel quite as stuffed with this paleo-friendly order, but I promise that you’ll feel full.
Listen – I feel you on the cheese thing. Mexican food and cheese are like peanut butter and jelly: It’s hard to think of one without the other.
I eat cheese on salads and with charcuterie – when I can taste it. But in a Chipotle salad bowl, the cheese flavor is silenced by the bold flavors of the other ingredients – so save yourself some calories and fat and skip the cheese.
You might feel like the priest in Nacho Libre when you try your first paleo-friendly chipotle bowl: “Where are the spices? Where are the chips?”
The spices are definitely there. The chips, on the other hand, should get the ax every time, because they are completely devoid of any kind of nutrition. The adult-sized bag has 570 calories! Just don’t.
If quitting chips cold turkey is too much for you, order the kid-sized bag of chips (an actually reasonable portion, at 145 calories). Try to finish your salad before you open the chips. See if you still need them (you’ll probably be full!).
salt + water
Though better than other fast food places, Chipotle still makes all of its food with a big punch of sodium. Chug a glass of water before, during, and after the meal (that’s at least 3 glasses).
make good choices!
Trust me – you can have your paleo Chipotle, and enjoy it too.
You won’t wreck your insides or slip into a food coma, but you will get to enjoy the flavors of (some Colorado entrepreneur’s interpretation of) Mexico.
We all know that stuff is addictive. Chipotle wisely.