Chipotle has a bit of a health halo thanks to their preservative-free philosophy and healthier picks like brown rice, but even the most well-intentioned eater in the Chipotle line can rack up a hefty calorie score if they're not methodical about creating a healthy order. Some meals at Chipotle can rake in over 1,000 calories, thus putting it in the same caloric league as a trip to McDonald's. Don't be fooled next time you're ordering a bowl, and follow these healthy guidelines for a clean, wholesome meal.

By Sara Tane
Updated: August 12, 2016
Sara Tane

There is maybe no greater feeling than inching forward in the line at Chipotle, patiently waiting to spew out your order—this please, extra that, a little more of that, too.

With this privilege, comes great responsibility. Before you know it, the burrito bowl that you thought was a healthier choice in comparison to fast food could actually be packing over 1,000 calories. Check out Chipotle's nutrition calculator to see how many calories are packed in your go-to order (warning: the results might surprise you). Here are some useful tips to help keep the calories down without having to sacrifice your favorite Chipotle components.

  1. Say "ta-ta" to the tortilla: The burrito tortilla alone has 300 calories. If you want to keep it and make your order lower in calories, well, that’s going to be one wimpy burrito. Instead, ask for a tortilla on the side and split it with your Chipotle partner, or get your meal in corn tacos (soft or hard, 210 calories).
  2. Opt for brown: Always go for brown rice—it has less sodium and more fiber—and at 210 calories, it’s a hearty base for you bowl. Plus, it counts toward your daily whole grain tally.
  3. Mind the meat: All the meat and tofu options nutritionally fall between sofritas (145 calories) and carnitas (210 calories), so we think that you should get what you like. If you’re indecisive, get half and half of your favorite two for no extra cost.
  4. Save by splitting: If you want to get really thrifty, split your salad in half. Add your own salad greens to bulk it up and get TWO meals out of one trip to Chipotle.
Sara Tane

  • Barter the beans: A Chipotle meal with meat or tofu and beans (120 calories) has close to or more than 400 calories without any extra components. That’s not really leaving you much space for anything else. Pick one or the other and be on your merry way, or ask for half a scoop of each to please all your cravings.
  • Beware of dairy: We hate to burst your dairy-loving bubble, but the cheese (100 calories) and sour cream (115 calories) can skyrocket your calories. If sour cream is a necessity, avoid the sometimes heavy-handed spoonfuls of sour cream and ask for it on the side so that your meal isn’t drowning in unnecessary calories. There's plenty in one container for more than one person.
  • Splurge on salsa: All three tomato salsas are a great addition to your meal. Sitting at under 30 calories each, they introduce extra flavor (and heat, if you go for medium or hot) without wrecking the nutritional value. Sodium numbers are high in the Fresh Tomato Salsa (550mg) and Tomatillo Red-Chili Salsa (500mg), so keep that in mind. You can also introduce loads of flavor and fire with a few drops of hot sauce, which Chipotle restaurants often stash near their utensils and napkins.
  • Be a fan of fajita: Chipotle's fajita vegetables are low calorie (20 calories) and packed with flavor. Sodium is also low with only 170mg, so ask for double to add lots of high-fiber bulk to your bowl. That's music to our ears.
  • Consider corn salsa: At 80 calories, this is one of the lighter options to add to your bowl. However, if you already have a tortilla or rice, adding corn might be overkill on the carbohydrates for one meal. If you're not concerned, we say go for it. Sodium is 330mg.
  • Sara

  • To guac or not to guac? For 210 calories AND extra money, guacamole is surely a financial and nutritional investment. If it breaks your heart to enter Chipotle and not get their famous green dip, ask for it on the side and split it with a friend, or save the rest for later. Just skip the chips (570 calories), and enjoy the guacamole mixed into your meal.
  • Avoid the vinaigrette: If you're choosing salad to cut calories, be aware of your salad dressing. One serving has 270 calories and 850mg sodium. If your calorie numbers are low and you have the room, then feel free to splurge. Otherwise, load up on toppings and use tomato salsas as your dressing. Save your calories for something more substantial.
  • Download the app: Eating smart at Chipotle is all about give and take. If you're afraid you simply won't be able to resist spoonfuls toppings while you order down the counter, use the Chipotle app. You can order your meal ahead of time so that you're not persuaded in a quivering moment of weakness to throw on the cheese and sour cream—and don't forget the guac. Build your order, send it in, pick it up, and get on with your day without overloading your calorie goals.