When we think of healthy fast food, many of us automatically think of fast food chains that don’t deep fry and have fresh, add-your-own items like popular chain, Chipotle. It seems as though the only thing Chipotle and McDonald’s have in common was that McDonald’s was an early investor in Chipoltle before they went public. But is a meal from Chipotle really all that much better for you than one from McDonald’s?
Marketwatch takes a look and the findings are startling: One Chipotle burrito can be twice the calories of a Big Mac and have nearly a full day’s worth of calories. A burrito with chicken, white rice, black beans, fajita vegetables, tomatillo-green chili salsa, guacamole and cheese with a side order of chips is 1,695 calories — and has 690 milligrams of sodium. (Chipotle states 2,300 milligrams of sodium are the recommended limits for a 2,000 calorie daily diet.)
A Big Mac — with two beef patties, cheese, onions, lettuce, pickles, “special” sauce, and buns made with high fructose corn syrup — has 530 calories, and 960 milligrams of sodium. A large order of french fries adds another 510 calories.
And what about the drinks that accompany these meals? “Both Chipotle and McDonald’s have soda fountains with the usual junk,” says Mike Jacobsen, executive director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. He is referring to sugary drinks. A large 32-ounce cup in Chipotle may sometimes come with inspirational quotes from Jonathan Safran Foer, Toni Morrison and Malcolm Gladwell, but that size still has around 248 calories for a regular Coca-Cola, he adds.
“One good thing about Chipotle is that burritos generally have beans, which are a great source of dietary fiber and a substitute for meat,” Jacobsen says.
Of course, there are more healthful menu choices at both Chipotle and McDonald’s and more information is available online for those who want to do more research about other menu items.
So what’s the lesson here? The only truly healthy fast food are the ones prepared by you, at home. Everything else needs to be researched and eaten accordingly to your dietary needs and weight loss goals. Remember, everything in moderation.