Study: You’re Totally Underestimating the Calories in Your Chipotle Burrito

Photo by Flickr user Jeramey Jannene

Photo by Flickr user Jeramey Jannene

Confirming what you always feared was probably true, a new study found that many consumers wildly underestimate the number of calories in their beloved, brick-size Chipotle burritos. Um, whoops.


For the study, which was published in the journal Public Health Nutrition, Duke University researchers surveyed 326 people, who'd just ordered a Chipotle meal, and asked them to estimate how many calories they were about to consume. Orders included burritos, burrito bowls, salads and tacos. Ready for the kicker? The subjects underestimated the calorie counts of their meals by an average 21 percent.

"But," you say, "Chipotle posts their calorie counts right on their menus!" That's true—sort of. Chipotle posts calorie ranges—a burrito there could be anywhere between 350 and 970 calories, depending on what you put in it—so, on their own, those ranges are, well, pretty much useless.

Infinitely more useful would be knowing what's actually in the low- and high-calorie burritos that comprise the range, so we can make a more informed choice. Vox did some of the legwork so you can see examples, but FYI, the low-end burritos are essentially bean only and the high-end ones are loaded with things like chicken, rice, corn, cheese and more. Begging the question: Who the heck orders a just-beans burrito at Chipotle, am I right?

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  • Katrina

    Chipotle’s website has a nutrition calculator, and you can figure out a better estimate of calories based on what you put in them. Mine are usually like 1,000 (!) so I get the burrito bowl which makes them closer to 700.

    • Jessica

      This is what I do too! I’m a fan of the bowl and mine clocks in somewhere in the 400s – and I usually just bump it up to 500 for counting, since their ladlefuls aren’t exactly science.

      • Katrina

        Yeah, when getting a burrito I want all of the toppings, but when I get a bowl and am trying to be healthy – it’s a lot less calories. I think mine is probably like 600 normally. But yeah, it’s still an estimate but a better one!