4 Chipotle Choices Less Healthy Than Their Fast Food Alternatives
Chipotle’s image thrives on what the company calls “food with integrity,” meaning that the ingredients used are tasty, freshly sourced, and produced in sustainable conditions. Although Chipotle has made a name for itself promoting responsible agricultural practices and food choices, the products put out by this Mexican eatery are oftentimes just as fat- and calorie-packed as their fast-food counterparts (sometimes more so!).
Read on for 4 examples where a Chipotle dish will leave you nutritionally worse for the wear than a popular fast food alternative.
Note: All nutrition data have been collected from the respective restaurants’ websites.
1. Chipotle Steak Burrito vs. McDonald’s Big Mac
The burrito is a signature Chipotle dish. For the sake of comparison, we’ve examined the nutritional values found in the commonly-ordered Steak Burrito with black beans, white rice, mild salsa, cheese, and lettuce. A Chipotle burrito fitting this description contains 920 calories and 29 grams of fat (8 grams saturated fat).
McDonald’s has a less sterling reputation than Chipotle in the “clean foods” department, but let’s see how its nutritional quality measures up: A standard Big Mac with all the fixings (special sauce, American cheese, lettuce, onions, pickles, sesame seed bun) consists of 530 calories and 27 grams of fat (10 grams of saturated fat).
Ordering a Big Mac will save you hundreds of calories versus the amount you’d be consuming with a burrito meal. The Big Mac also has less fat, though consists of slightly more saturated fat than the Chipotle option. Meanwhile, Chipotle’s Steak Burrito is the categorical loser in the sodium category, containing 2,335 milligrams compared to the Big Mac’s 960 (still not great, but the lesser of 2 evils).
The Steak Burrito does, however, prevail in the categories of protein and fiber: It’s packed with 54.5 grams of protein and an impressive 17.5 grams of fiber. The Big Mac contains just 24 grams and 3 grams of these nutritive substances, respectively.
2. Chipotle Salad vs. Burger King Chicken Caesar Salad
In the salad category, we’ll compare the nutritional qualities of a relatively sparse Chipotle salad, consisting of chicken, lettuce, pinto beans, fajita veggies, and vinaigrette dressing. The dish contains 595 calories and a whopping 33.5 grams of fat (7.5 grams saturated fat)!
A rough equivalent offering from Burger King, the Chicken Caesar Garden Fresh Salad With TenderGrill Chicken (romaine lettuce, chicken, Parmesan cheese, croutons, and Caesar dressing), totals 450 calories. This dish contains less fat and saturated fat — 27.5 grams and 4.5 grams, respectively — than its Chipotle counterpart. Burger King’s salad also wins out in the sodium category, containing 1,150 milligrams to Chipotle’s 1,635.
Chipotle’s salad does have the edge in both the protein and fiber categories, containing 40.5 satisfying grams of protein and 14.5 grams of fiber. Burger King’s salad, meanwhile, contains 35 grams of protein and only 3 grams of fiber.
3. Crispy-Shell Barbacoa Tacos vs. 3 KFC Extra Crispy Tenders
Think those Chipotle Pork Tacos might be a healthier alternative to crispy fried chicken from KFC? Think again! Opting for three of KFC’s Extra-Crispy Chicken Tenders — plus a side of mashed potatoes and gravy — will save you hundreds of calories (and a little bit of fat).
A selection of Chipotle’s Crispy Corn Shell Tacos (three per order) containing barbacoa, white rice, cheese, pinto beans, and salsa contains 795 calories, 27 grams of fat (10 grams saturated fat), and 1,925 milligrams of sodium.
Alternately, your crispy chicken tenders, mashed potatoes, and gravy at KFC totals out at 500 calories, 24 grams of fat (3.5 grams saturated fat), and 1,470 milligrams of sodium.
Once again, however, Chipotle’s contender wins out in the categories of protein and fiber: The tacos contain 43.5 grams and 18.5 grams of each, respectively. Meanwhile, those KFC chicken tenders and potatoes contain 35 grams of protein and just 4 grams of fiber, combined — meaning you may start feeling hungry again not too long after you’ve downed the dishes.
4. Chipotle Carnitas Burrito vs. Wendy’s Baconator
You might be under the impression that the Wendy’s Baconator is the most gluttonous dish in the fast food universe. The Baconator is a sinful combination of two (quarter-pound) patties, Applewood smoked bacon, mayonnaise, ketchup, and American cheese on a bun. As ridiculously indulgent as that may sound, you’ll be shocked when you learn how closely it measures up against your standard Chipotle fare.
The Baconator contains 510 calories and a staggering 57 grams of fat (23 grams saturated fat). Compare this alongside a carnitas burrito from Chipotle (with standard fixings: White rice, black beans, cheese, and a dollop of guacamole), which contains 1,125 calories, 54.5 grams of fat (15 grams saturated fat).
Admittedly, a Chipotle burrito is larger than a Baconator — but consider if you noshed on just half that Carnitas Burrito: You’d still be looking at 560 calories and 27 grams of fat (7.5 grams saturated fat). One major contributor of fat in this case is Chipotle’s delightfully tasty guacamole, which is loaded with 19 grams of fat per 3.5-ounce serving size.