Keto at Chipotle

How to Eat Keto at Chiptole
Daniel Thompson

on April 19, 2019

As far as the ketogenic lifestyle is concerned, Chipotle is at the top of the list as far as fast food goes. Several low-carb protein options and easy customization make this fast-casual Mexican grill an ideal choice for keto-ers, who are used to the unappealing practice of peeling the buns off of a typical drive-thru hamburger.

This year, Chipotle Mexican Grill announced the addition of several new “Lifestyle Bowls” designed to help customers keep their New Year’s resolutions of eating healthier.

Chipotle crafted these new menu items with several of the hottest diet trends in mind. Lovers of the Colorado-based burrito chain now have the ability to stick to their Whole30, Ketogenic, or Paleo lifestyles thanks to these new, customizable salad bowl options.

How to Order at Chipotle on a Keto Diet

Base

You really only have two options here - romaine lettuce (a keto salad bowl which includes the guac!) or a burrito bowl (the same thing but without the lettuce and guac is extra). By now you know you have to pass that giant tortilla warmer as Chipotle tortillas contain 50g of carbohydrates. I suppose you could have one, while ensuring to avoid a single carb for the rest of the day.

Protein

Next comes the protein. All of the protein options at Chipotle are fairly low-carb with the exception of the sofriots, they have 12 grams per serving. The protein list looks a little something like this:

  • Barbacoa - 1g net carbs
  • Streak - 0g net carbs
  • Chicken - 0g net carbs
  • Carnitas - 0g net carbs

Cheese

As we move down the line, the next thing you’ll want to add is cheese. Your options here are a standard Monterrey Jack cheese or if you're feeling adventurous queso.

  • Monterrey Jack - 1g net carbs
  • Queso - 3.5g net carbs

Fajita Veggies

If you’re looking to bulk up your bowl with more veggies, add some fajita vegetables. These charred onions and bell peppers are relatively low in carbs and contribute a bit of fiber as well.

  • Fajita Veggies - 4g net carbs

Salsa

Next, we arrive at the salsas. The salsas on the line at Chipotle will add a few net carbs to your meal but they're also going to make your meal a whole lot tastier. 

  • Fresh Tomato Salsa - 3g net carbs
  • Tomatillo Green-Chilli Salsa - 4g net carbs
  • Tomatillo Red-Chilli Salsa - 3g net carbs

Other Sauces

Lastly, the ever controversial up charge for guac, we both know we're paying $2 for that guac.

  • Guacamole - 2g net carbs and 2 George Washingtons
  • Sour Cream - 2g net carbs and 0 George Washingtons

I'll take both, thank you.

A word on these carbohydrate calculations and more specifically the term net carbs; because your body doesn’t digest these carbs like sugar, many followers of the keto lifestyle say it’s ok to subtract those dietary fiber carbs. This leaves the level of carbs in Chipotle’s guacamole at a much more manageable 2 grams.

What I Ordered Last Time I Was At Chipotle

Romaine Lettuce - 0g net carbs. Leafy raw green vegetables should be a staple in any diet. Aside from adding a little crunch you can't even tell it's there. I call that free nutrients. 

Chicken (Double Protein Bowl) - 0g net carbs. So far, so good. You may want to avoid doubling down on the protein depending on how active you are and what your goals are. 

Monterrey Jack Cheese - 1g net carbs. What can I say I don't find Queso to be terribly appealing. It reminds me a little too much of Cheese Whiz, which never did it for me.

Fresh Tomato Salsa -3g net carbs. 

Guacamole - 2g net carbs. Like I said, we both know we're paying that extra $2.

Sour Cream - 2g net carbs

My Meals Macros: 580 calories, 43g of fat, 27g net protein, 7g net carbs (4g of which are sugar) and a whole lot of sodium (1400mg). The Chipotle nutrition calculator is quite good and lets you pick and choose your ingredients and will calculate the macros in each meal.

We're all going to have those days where we don't have time to cook, we forget our lunch or we are traveling. Are the macros perfect? Absolutely not. Do I wish it had a little less sodium, yes but it's pretty good given it's fast food.

Meal Macros: Chipotle's for Keto

What to Avoid at Chipotle

By understanding the rules of the keto diet and which items at Chipotle are a no brainer for someone sticking to this lifestyle, all that is left are the classic no-nos found on the menu.

Beans

Both black and pinto beans are carbohydrate bombs that will set you back in terms of ketosis. It’s best to avoid these altogether.

  • Black beans - 15g net carbs
  • Pinto beans - 13g net carbs

Rice

White rice is out of the question, as it’s a simple sugar. Although brown rice is generally a better option (in terms of overall health) because it’s more nutrient dense and contains a lot more fiber, at 36 grams of carbs, brown rice should stay out of your bowl if you’re eating keto.

  • White rice - 39g net carbs
  • Brown rice - 34g net carbs

Tortillas

  • Tortillas - 47g net carbs
  • Tortilla chips - 66g net carbs
  • Corn tacos - 26g net carbs
  • Flour tacos - 39g net carbs

Roasted Chili-Corn Salsa

The roasted chili-corn salsa is the only high-carb culprit when it comes to the salsas. This is mostly because of the added sugar. At 13 grams of carbs per serving, it’s best to avoid this sugary sauce.

  • Chili-Corn Salsa - 13g net carbs

Dressings

You will have to avoid the Chipotle honey vinaigrette as it contains 17g of net carbs

  • Chipotle honey vinaigrette - 17g net carbs

 

New On-Menu Chipotle Keto Salad

As mentioned above, Chipotle unveiled a new salad bowl that is specifically for those following the ketogenic diet. It starts with a bed of romaine lettuce which gets topped with carnitas, cheese, red salsa, and guacamole.

This diet regimen-inspired salad bowl packs a lot of keto-friendly fats —  42 grams, has 32 grams of protein while limiting the net carbs to 7g. 

The paleo salad bowl contains 12g of net carbs, while the whole30 salad bowl contains just 10g of net carbs.

These options have always been available, they're just an on-menu item now.

Cost

When it comes to the price of dining, keto options are almost always going to be more expensive. Let’s face it: carbs are cheap.

While Chipotle does upcharge for several hot ticket items at its restaurants, the high carbohydrate foods among them — rice, beans, tortillas — are usually free. On the bright side, if you usually order chips, the keto diet will save you a few bucks by avoiding these carb-heavy snacks.

There is another silver lining of eating keto-friendly at Chipotle. Because of the naturally-satiating nature of high-fat and protein-rich foods, followers of the keto lifestyle will feel full faster, which could help you save money by stretching one meal into two.

Wrapping it Up

Overall, it’s not all that tough to stay in ketosis eating at Chipotle. They’ve got plenty of good (and, in our opinion tasty) options you can snag that are high in fat, and don’t have many carbs.

As a rule of thumb, if you’re trying to go low carb at this particular restaurant, you’re going to be eating salads, and you’ll want to stay away from burritos, rice bowls, and chips.

Most meats are totally up for grabs (although the sofritas aren't worth the carbs in our opinion), and any salsa other than the fire roasted chili-corn salsa will be keto-friendly. Don’t feel like you have to skimp on the cheese, and guac can certainly help the keto-oriented eater stay on track while still adding a bit of flair.

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