Thursday, October 23, 2014

Healthy Choices at Chipotle

Yesterday I had dinner with my best friend. It can hard to see each other because she's finishing up taking classes so she lives on campus while I now live at home out in the suburbs. We try to catch up during the week over dinner since I work close to her apartment. She's been crazy busy lately, though, so I was glad that we finally had the time to catch up!

We decided to go to Chipotle and it's one of my favorite places to go because it's delicious and so easy to work with macro-wise. I don't care what anyone says, you can always find something eating out that works for you! I won't say it'll be easy but it's totally possible. Some guesstimating might be necessary so you have to learn to be flexible.

I needed something lower on the carb side (I was saving a majority of my carbs for protein pancakes because let's be honest pancakes > burritos) but high in protein. So I chose the chicken salad!

My order had romaine lettuce, chicken, fajita vegetables, and the tomato salsa (10g carbs, 35g protein, and 7g fat). I already knew ahead of time what to get because of Chipotle's handy online nutrition calculator. A lot of restaurants will post nutrition facts nowadays plus myfitnesspal has a great database of foods that I can look in there. So it's always a great idea to check there! That way you're not scrambling to make it all fit after you've gotten your order.

Generally, my advice when going to Chipotle is skip the burrito. Yes, I know it's delicious and wonderful and everything you could hope for but it is hardly ever macro-friendly. It's better to stick with a burrito bowl which means you get all the flavor without ruining your macros. In my freshman year of college, I ate the burritos all the time until I looked up the nutrition facts and decided it'd be better to switch off to something else. And I honestly haven't felt as though I've missed out at all!

So, using the online nutrition calculator here are some ideas that you can try out!

- Chicken Burrito Bowl: chicken, rice (white or brown, doesn't matter), fajita vegetables, and fresh tomato salsa
        Macros: 420 calories, 40g carbs, 38g protein, and 14g fat

- Steak Burrito Bowl: steak, black beans, fajita vegetables and green tomatillo salsa
        Macros: 350 calories, 32g carbs, 39g protein, and 8g fat

- Carnitas Salad: carnitas, romaine lettuce, pinto beans, and tomato salsa
        Macros: 365 calories, 27g carbs, 34g protein, and 14g fat

- Barbacoa Salad: barbacoa, romaine lettuce, corn, and fresh tomato salsa
        Macros: 275 calories, 24g carbs, 29g protein, and 8g fat

- Chicken & Steak Salad: 1/2 portion of chicken, 1/2 portion of steak, black beans, romaine lettuce, and red tomatillo salsa
       Macros: 340 calories, 29g carbs, 40g protein, and 9g fat

Just some basic guidelines that I've learned about balancing things out. I usually always try to get chicken as my protein because it's the leanest. Which means I'll get more protein with less fat to account for in my macros. It's perfectly fine to pick a fattier meat like the carnitas but keep in mind of that extra fat which means it might not be the best idea to add sour cream or guacamole as a topping.

I did a quick calculation and just the carnitas and sour cream alone you're looking at over 20g of fat, which is half of my daily intake at the moment. Of course if you have a higher fat macro then you're more than welcome to have it, I'm just saying be careful because things like that can add up quickly.

Another tip is don't get the salad dressing. I find that if I just add a salsa like the fresh tomato or green chili, it's more than enough for a dressing. I just mix it around and it gives the lettuce plenty of flavor and moisture. That's a quick and easy way for me to save calories and macros.

If you need low-carb like I did, steer clear of the rice or beans. You can probably do one or the other but just not both. I would probably go with the beans since they're also lower in fat than the rice but again it's up to your individual macro needs. I hardly ever get the sour cream or cheese because of the extra fat or the guacamole because it's an extra cost. If I didn't have to pay extra for it, though, I'd totally macro hoard to get that to fit ;)

Lastly, don't be afraid to get creative with your toppings to match your macros! If you really want the carnitas but not all the fat then I'd recommend getting a half portion with a less fattier protein. I've done that with the chicken before and it works out great! You get half the fat but can still have the food that you want, win-win situation as far as I'm concerned. I've tried plenty of different combinations before and never had any problems with ordering it. If you have a specialty order just make sure you're nice about asking :)

So, there you have it! Some macro-friendly ideas to try while eating at Chipotle. If you guys want some ideas for other restaurants, let me know and I'd be happy to do more posts on the subject. I love getting suggestions from you guys!

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