Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant.

Fast Food Survival Guide: How To Order Chipotle While Traveling

As a man who has traveled all over this world, i’m all too familiar with the world of fast food. Whether its at airports or drive-ins, travelers are at the mercy of fast food. Eating at these places can be havoc to a person who wants to get in shape. Faced with limited options you feel you have no choice.

Not anymore!

MicVinny is kicking off his Fast Food Survival Guide series of blog posts to aid travelers in making the right choices while on the road. No matter where your travel takes you, you will have the information you need to make lean healthy choices. No longer will you feel intimated and out of control.

Today’s topic is all about America’s favorite Tex Mex joint, Chipotle.

Chipotle History

Chipotle made a name for itself by picking the freshest ingredients and having animals raised in humane conditions. This strong stance instantly gained them loyal customers who craved healthier fast food options. When compared to the classic westernized Mexican fast food joints (Taco Bell, Del Taco) , Chipotle is definitely in a class of its own.

Their business model has been so successful that other Tex Mex restaurants (Moes, Qdoba) started copying their swag. The long lines at Chipotle tell you that not only is their values high, but the food is also good as well.

When visiting their website, you see how much effort they put into making the consumer aware of where their products come from. That’s something most people don’t consider when eating fast food.

Remember you are what you eat, so it’s always a good thing to know where that food has come from. In today’s quick pace society we don’t typically think that way. Is it no wonder why so many of us get sick when eating fast food while traveling?

How Chipotle Works

It’s rare to pass a Chipotle during lunch time and not see a long line of customers waiting to get their food. Despite the line, the order process is pretty smooth. Chipotle is a quick cafeteria style restaurant. You just go up to the counter and choose your meal:

Meal Options

  • Burrito
  • Bowl
  • Crispy Corn Taco
  • Soft corn taco
  • Soft Flour taco
  • Salad

Protein Options

  • Steak
  • Carnitas (Pork)
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Chorizo
  • Sofritas (Tofu)

Starch Options

  • Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice
  • Cilantro-Lime White Rice
  • Black Beans
  • Pinto Beans

Veggie Options

  • Fajita Veggies
  • Lettuce

Other Toppings

  • Cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Salsa
  • Guacamole

The fact that you can choose whatever sides you want makes Chipotle a popular hip place to eat.

Breakdown Of A Typical Meal

Chipotle burritoThe most popular item on the menu is burritos. Let’s see what a typical “healthy” Chicken Burrito meal looks like:

Ingredients: Flour tortilla, Chicken, White Rice, Black Beans, Salsa, Sour Cream, Cheese, Lettuce, Chips, Izze soda

Protein: 65.5 grams
Carbs: 221 grams
Fat: 65 grams
Total Calories: 1770

Now i’m not going to bash this typical meal. It’s the normal meal folks get when visiting Chipotle and forced with making a decision on the spot. Your stomach is rumbling and you just want something delicious to eat.

Steps To Make Chipotle Even Healthier

Emphasize Protein

Protein is the most important nutrient to get right when eating out. Eating enough protein will cause you not to be hungry due to satiety. When protein sources are cooked properly (grilled,baked) with minimal added oils, they cause your body to achieve the state of having your hunger truly satisfied. Lucky for us Chipotle does a good job of preparing their protein sources.

Typical fast food portion sizes do not give you enough protein. Since you have several protein options available you will need to get use to doubling or tripling the amount of protein in your Chipotle meal.

Know What Type Of Meal This Is For You

Is this the only meal you will be eating for the day?
Is this a post workout meal?
Will you be working out today at all?

These are important questions to ask because your answer will determine what ingredients you should be included in your meal. If you will only be eating one big meal for the day, then you would want to make sure you get as much nutrition as possible in this meal to cover your calorie needs.

If this is a post workout meal (meaning you did some type of resistance training exercise 30 mins – 3 hours prior) then you would want to make sure that this meal contains a high amount of protein and carbohydrates with minimum amount of fat to aid in muscle recovery/building.

If this is just a regular non workout meal, then you just want to make sure you don’t go crazy with your calories because you my be eating several meals this day. You don’t have to count every single calorie, but calories do matter when trying to stay lean on the road.

Get a side of veggies

The more green vegetables you eat the better you’ll typically feel. Unfortunately, Chipotle doesn’t have a vast green vegetable selection outside of romaine lettuce and guacamole. Due to this, make sure you get 1 or more servings of the Fajita Veggies. You need to be eating vegetables. This may not be the most ideal but its better than skipping your vegetables. I’ll get into guacamole later.

Ditch The Sugary Drinks

You don’t need any soda! Drink some water or get some unsweetened tea. Sodas are just wasted calories.

Avoid The Extra FatsGuacamole on top of a Chiptole burrito bowl

This is where guacamole comes into the conversation. Guacamole is not an easy yes or no answer. It falls into that dreaded “it depends” category.

Avocados contain lots of healthy monounsaturated fats. They are highly recommend if you are emphasizing fats in your diet (think paleo diet). Due to their high fat content, a small amount of avocados contain a lot of calories.

That’s where people normally misjudge this great food. That’s why this falls into the “it depends” category

Once you know what type of meal this is for you, that information will provide you with the answer about guacamole. If this is a post-workout meal, you don’t need the guacamole. If this is your only meal for the day, there’s a chance you may need the guacamole to meet your calorie needs. If this is just a normal meal for yourself, most likely you will not need the guacamole.

Cheese contains the same amount of grams from protein and fat. So use the same “what type of meal is this” judgement for cheese.

As delicious as sour cream is, there’s no healthy need for it. If you are eating to gain weight and need more calories, go for it! But the majority who are reading this won’t need sour cream.

Ordering From Chipotle: The Old You Vs. The New You

The old version of you would normally go into Chipotle, stand in line and get a burrito or taco with all the fix-ins. You would pile on as much as possible so you could get your money’s worth.

Now that you’ve read my advice, your approach will be different. The additions/subtractions you will now be making will cost differently than what you use to pay. It’s true that my survival guide will make that meal more expensive but if you think about the long term you will realize that it’s actually cheaper.

If you eat a typical Chipotle meal with all the fix-ins you seriously will end up with several serious medical problems in your future. Despite the healthy farm raised ingredients, you still would not be eating properly to take advantage of those “healthy” options.

With just the few changes i’m making, you will not have the same doctor bills down the road. You will not be spending months and years trying to lose weight that you gained from all those countless vacations, business trips and quick runs to Chipotle.

Burrito Bowl from Chipote

Ordering Example 1: Chicken Burrito Bowl

Let me redo the Chicken Burrito meal from earlier into a Burrito Bowl meal

Ingredients: 2x Chicken, White Rice, Black Beans, Fajita Veggies, Salsa, Lettuce

Protein: 75.5 grams
Carbs: 68 grams
Fat: 19.5 grams
Total Calories: 740

That’s 1,000 less calories than your original selection with much more protein! That’s not too bad!

Ordering Example 2 : Chicken Burrito

For those who love to hold their burritos, you still can by using the following.

Ingredients: Flour Tortilla, 2x Chicken, White Rice, Black Beans, Fajita Veggies, Salsa, Lettuce

Protein: 82.5 grams
Carbs: 114 grams
Fat: 29.5 grams
Total Calories: 1040

Those ratios are still manageable if you’ve just done a workout and/or this is your biggest meal of the day.


It may not seem worth the effort at first, but over time these small changes are the key factors into leading you down the path of that slim body you’ve always wanted to have.