Taco Bell meals are surprisingly lower in calories, fat, and cholesterol than their Chipotle counterparts -- even when it comes to a pound-per-pound comparison. There's still a silver lining for the millions of fast-food eaters who choose Chipotle as a healthier option, but don't expect to lose any weight.
Business Insider compared the two restaurants using the Taco Bell Supreme beef burrito with a replica made from the Chipotle menu. Taco Bell's burrito comes with seasoned beef, lettuce, beans, red sauce, cheese, tomatoes, onions, and sour cream inside a flour tortilla, whereas the closest Chipotle equivalent has steak, black beans, tomatillo-red chili salsa, lettuce, cheese, and sour cream inside a flour tortilla.
The two meals are almost exactly the same -- well, not really. Taco Bell's Supreme Beef Burrito had about half the calories, fat, and one-fifth the cholesterol of the Chipotle burrito. To be fair, it's also considerably smaller.
The stats for the Taco Bell Supreme beef burrito are as follows.
Still, there's one silver lining, the Chipotle burrito is more nutritious with about twice as much protein and 50 percent more fiber. For some people, that may seem like a fair deal.
You might be thinking, sure, Chipotle is unhealthy if you get the most fattening items on the menu, but the restaurant itself is still healthier because they have healthier options.
That's also a slight misconception, according to nutritional information on Quartz Magazine. In their comparison, they use the Veggie burrito bowl -- with brown rice, black beans, fajita veggies, tomato salsa, and cheese -- as a "light" meal at Chipotle. No sour cream or avocados for the healthy eater.
Note: the burrito bowls are actually healthier than the salads, because the chain's custom dressing has 270 calories and 4.5 grams of saturated fat.
The Taco Bell light meal is the Cantina Power Bowl, which not only has chicken meat, but sour cream and guacamole. Taco Bell's bowl has slightly more calories (490) than the Chipotle competitor (460). Fat is also similar for the two healthy options. The Taco Bell bowl has 20 grams of fat; Chipotle has 16.
Of course, comparing low-fat light menus has little real meaning, and most Chipotle customers know it.
The New York Times reports that the average Chipotle order has about 1,070 calories, meaning most people go well beyond the steak burrito described above. Some orders can go as high as 2,400 calories.
It's simply too difficult not to indulge in the hip Mexican fast-food restaurant. Then again, can Taco Bell fans say they don't sometimes get more than one Supreme Beef burrito?
In the end, no matter where customers go to eat, the same basic rule applies: eating too much will make you gain weight.
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