Many students believe one of the healthier meal options on campus lies at Chipotle Mexican Grill. This massive US-based chain serves Americanized Mexican food using a build-your-own entree style.
But when looking at the numbers, Chipotle may not be all it’s cracked up to be. By analyzing calorie counts, sodium level and overall nutrients in a basic entree, you may realize Chipotle may not be the best option when compared against other fast-food heavyweights, such as McDonald’s.
The main problem when eating at Chipotle comes with sodium intake. The CDC recommends that one should not eat more than 2,300 mg a day. High intakes of salt can increase blood pressure which can result in heart problems, stroke and heart disease.
At Chipotle, the tortilla shell and two scoops of white rice —the portion size for any entree — contain 950 mg of sodium, which is the same amount of sodium as the entirety of most frozen pizzas, and more ingredients only add to this.
Everything that can be added to a burrito or a bowl, excluding lettuce and sour cream, has over 250 mg of sodium. So, if one were to have a burrito with white rice, beans, pico, guac and corn, they would consume 2,720 mg of sodium, leaving little leeway to meet the sodium guidelines. Other nutrients total to 145g of carbohydrates, 57g of protein and 45 g of fat at 1,175 total calories.
Other fast-food joints like McDonald’s don’t do much better when it comes to regulating sodium in their meals, however, when directly compared to Chipotle, they seem like a similar alternative.
A Big Mac meal with fries and a Coca-Cola amounts to 1,310 mg of sodium, 127g of carbohydrates, 30g of protein and 45g of fat. The calorie counts are fairly similar, adding up to 1,020 total calories. Chipotle boasts more than double the sodium, similar fat counts, and more protein than the average McDonald’s meal.
While Chipotle frequently advertises their “real ingredients” and shows images of fresh, untainted products, one has no choice but to assume they are a healthy restaurant. Next time you’re craving a healthy meal option, try a salad or making a homemade burrito — Chipotle might not be your answer.