Eat to Perform

“Is Chipotle Stealing Your Gains?” by Paul Nobles

This is from a Facebook post on my timeline from March 31st.   I probably post something about being robbed of double meat at Chipotle every couple of weeks; that’s how common this issue is and it’s not just one or two locations!  It happens all over because there’s no standard for what “double meat” actually means.

“Best double chicken story to date, this one might actually become a blog post (well look at that…). So I do the standard “delayed” method but I could already see that the new guy was a light scooper. First scoop is light and he passes it down the line – I figure I am better off working with the salsa lady. Salsa lady gets busy though, so I am forced to deal with the light scooper. I ask him for double chicken and he gives me what essentially amounts to one scoop.

So I say to him, “Come on man, that’s not double chicken.” (I try the “we’re all men here” approach.)  DUDE STARES ME DOWN! I kid you not. At this point I say to him, “If it’s like that let’s get a food scale and if that’s 8 ounces of chicken I’ll pay double.”  He says nothing and salsa gal steps in and scoops out some chicken and looks at him like he is nuts. Kid straight up wanted to throw down over some double chicken.” 

Are You Paying Extra For Nothing?

 

Yesterday (May 26th) I made another post (on our Facebook page) about Chipotle Mexican Grill.  Like I said, this happens ALL THE TIME!  If you aren’t familiar, Chipotle gives you the option to pay extra for items like meat or guacamole.  For this discussion, we are talking about the extra meat.  By the way, if you don’t eat Chipotle (and maybe even if you do), the process of reverse engineering a Chipotle Bowl might not be riveting for you.

First, I am going to tackle the “cooked” versus “uncooked” conundrum regarding weighing meat (or any food for that matter).  For example, I know that the nutrition facts on Chipotle’s website list the cooked macros.  HOW do I know that?  Well first of all, I have asked.  This is Exhibit A and I re-confirmed today with the manager at my local store.

Exhibit A: Chicken nutrition facts from Chipotle’s website

While that is compelling, some guy on the internet once called Chipotle HQ and they said pre-cooked too, so I am going to present to you exhibit B below.  The relevant number here is the protein; most packaged meats show pre-cooked weight and therefore many people assumed incorrectly that I was besmirching Chipotle without warrant.  When you cook meat, it loses weight and as a general rule, multiplying it by .66 – .75 is a pretty close estimation of cooked weight (it varies based on type of meat and how much fat is in the meat, of course).  This is easily confirmed by simply weighing the pre-cooked meat, cooking it, and then weighing it again after you cook it.

It’s actually kind of a big deal if you are measuring ALL of your food as cooked because most food log trackers show macros pre-cooked.  This is why most people made the assumption yesterday, and why I’m addressing the topic.  Exhibit B, below, shows that Chipotle thigh meat is in fact measured cooked. I’m basing this on the comparison between Chipotle’s grilled chicken and organic chicken thighs (thighs are higher in fat than say breasts which allows them to retain flavor better).

Speaking of fat, the apparent fat content of Chiptole’s chicken is also interesting.  Notice that this does not account for oils used in the cooking process, so that number seems off to me.  If you think it’s not that big of a deal, that’s 216 calories.  If you ate Chipotle every day for a month, that could potentially be 6,480 calories unaccounted for just in fat.  That’s almost 2 pounds of body mass (3500 Calories is one pound).  I know Chipotle has been under fire for having too many Calories in their food but for someone trying to be more conscious of their intake, they might want to opt for the higher option just to be safe.

Exhibit B

Here was the picture that caused all of the controversy:

Exhibit C, triple chicken should be 12 ounces. While it seems close enough I had to ask to get to this level and he put almost a scoop to to get me here. Guessing the original was less than 9 ounces which is slightly more than double.

Amazingly, when you are a middle aged guy with a mohawk that complains daily and then blogs about it sometimes you actually get what you pay for:

Exhibit D, two full scoops

This is what a single serving of chicken looks like:

Exhibit E

Lastly, (at least for the chicken) I thought I would show an example of what people believed I should be getting in the original post where it was suggested that the 4 ounces was pre-cooked weight:

Exhibit F, What a serving would look like if it was in fact based on pre-cooked weight which I believe I have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s not at this point 😉

Here is what an empty 4 ounce cup weighs along with servings of Barbacoa and Steak on the side.  The issue is that employees of Chipotle view these serving cups as 4 ounces without respect for the volume of different foods:

 

On their nutrition facts it lists Barbacoa as 4 ounces (I would say this is “close enough”)

Not 4 ounces of Chipotle Steak

OK, so if you don’t know me, you probably don’t know that this post was mostly written with a smile on my face and was mostly meant to be funny. With that said, I think there are a few takeaways:

First, If you aren’t getting what you are paying for you should speak up. This article really points out that Chipotle has a SERIOUS issue with order size and frankly they aren’t close a lot of the time. While I don’t eat at McDonald’s often I do know that when I order a Quarter Pounder it cooks down to roughly .3 pounds EVERY SINGLE TIME! It’s even advertised as such.  Chipotle seems to be straddling the line between pre-cooked and cooked and while it doesn’t need to be exact, it should at least be close, and as the pictures above show, that’s not the case.  Also, as I am sure people will see from the comments on this post, I AM NOT ALONE.  That’s why this issue resonates with people.

Here is the deal…I will probably eat Chipotle today because it’s deadlift day, but make no mistake about it — I will fight for what I paid for because that’s the whole point of buying something.  I also think someone needs to take a look at that fat number for thighs.  I can tell you personally I use the higher number when tracking my food and I would suggest most of you should as well or opt for a different type of meat.  I’m not saying it’s wrong but it looks off to me, and if it’s going to be wrong, I would rather have it be wrong and go under rather than going over.

For reference, check out the Chipotle Nutrition Calculator.