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Portion Police: Burritos

Randy Mayor
Why just a slightly wider tortilla can add a lot more calories to your dinner than you might think.

If it's burrito night at home and you upgrade from a 6-inch-wide tortilla to an 8-inch-wide tortilla, that's a 2-inch difference; 2 is a third of 6 so the burrito will be one-third bigger, right? Ah, not so fast, grasshopper. Long-forgotten math insists that when diameter gets a little bigger, area gets a lot bigger. (You must take half the diameter, the radius, square it, and multiply by pi.) The area increases by much more than a third, and so do the calories if you fill that area with tasty filling. Below, we reveal the math for a chicken, black bean, salsa, and cheese burrito.


  • Tortilla: 94 calories + 4 oz. filling: 138 calories = 232 calories


  • Tortilla: 146 calories + 7 oz. filling: 241 calories = 387 calories
    With 78% more surface area and fillings, the calories in a bigger burrito jump by 67%.


  • Tortilla: 218 calories + 11 oz. filling: 379 calories = 597 calories
    Surface area, fillings, calories up by another 55%.