Chipotle Gluten-Free Options for Athletes
It is important for athletes following a gluten-free diet to know what options they can order at restaurants. Let’s take a look at what gluten is. Then we will explore gluten-free menu options at Chipotle that can help athletes with meeting their sports nutrition needs.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a naturally occurring protein found in wheat and other grains including barley, rye, and crossbreeds of these grains. Gluten helps provide structure, texture, and elasticity to food products. Since gluten is heat stable, it may be added to processed foods to help the product retain moisture, enhance texture, and maintain form (1).
Carbohydrates for Athletes
Carbohydrate-rich foods should be at the foundation of an athlete’s meal plan. Carbohydrates provide athletes with the energy needed to perform at their best during training and competition. Similar to gas used to fuel a car, carbohydrates provide fuel for the body to run on during activity.
Gluten-Free Carbohydrates for Athletes
Given that gluten is contained in wheat, barley, and rye, athletes may wonder how they can meet their carbohydrate needs. Be assured, there are numerous ways athletes can get carbohydrates in their diet aside from these grains.
Athletes following a gluten-free diet can get carbohydrates in their diet from a variety of food groups, including:
- Gluten-Free Grains
- Starchy vegetables, beans, and legumes
For athletes with Celiac Disease, a wheat allergy, or sensitivity to gluten, choosing gluten-free carbohydrates is important.
Chipotle Gluten-Free Options for Athletes
All the nutrition information included in this article comes from the Chipotle® website. Menu options and nutrition information may change as products are updated. For the most current nutrition information, refer to the Chipotle website.
Chipotle Gluten-Free Carbohydrate Options
The Chipotle website clearly labels the allergens that each menu item contains. Athletes following a gluten-free diet will need to avoid flour tortillas used to prepare burritos and tacos at Chipotle.
Chipotle Gluten-Free Rice
Although athletes following a gluten-free diet need to avoid burritos made with flour tortillas at Chipotle, they can still enjoy a high-carbohydrate, gluten-free Chipotle bowl. Chipotle offers gluten-free brown and white rice which can be used as the base of a healthy Chipotle bowl for athletes.
One 4-oz serving of Chipotle rice provides the following:
- Chipotle-Lime Brown Rice: 36 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein
- Chipotle-Lime White Rice: 40 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein
In addition to rice, the pinto beans and black beans at Chipotle are both gluten-free. The beans not only provide carbohydrates, they contain fiber and protein as well.
One, 4-oz serving of Chipotle beans provides the following:
- Black Beans: 22 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fiber, 8 grams protein
- Pinto Beans: 21 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams fiber, 8 grams protein
Post-Workout Chipotle Bowl
When athletes have limited time to recover between workouts, consuming adequate carbohydrates to refill energy stores is important (2). Thus, athletes can consider ordering extra rice to be added to their Chiptole bowl following a workout.
A double serving of rice will provide 72-80 grams of carbohydrates. Adding extra rice to a Chipotle bowl is a great way to support an athlete with meeting their recovery nutrition carbohydrate needs.
Chipotle Gluten-Free Protein Options
There are a variety of ways athletes following a gluten-free diet can build a high-protein meal at Chipotle. Chicken, steak, carnitas, and barbacoa are all listed as gluten-free protein options on the Chipotle website.
When selecting a protein to include in a Chipotle bowl, athletes want to look for lean-sources of protein that contain limited amounts of saturated fat. At Chipotle, lean source of protein include:
- Chicken: 32 grams of protein, 3 grams saturated fat
- Steak: 21 grams of protein, 2.5 grams saturated fat
- Barbacoa: 24 grams of protein, 2.5 grams saturated fat
Plant-Based, Gluten-Free Protein Options
Athletes following a plant-based, gluten-free diet can consider adding sofritas to their burrito bowl. Sofritas are a plant-based protein made with soy beans (tofu). The soy beans are cooked with a variety of spices, such as cumin, garlic, chili, poblano peppers, and onions for flavor.
Each serving of sofritas provides 8 grams of protein. Sofritas are listed as being a gluten-free option on the Chipotle website.
Athletes can further boost the nutrient content of their bowl by adding in a variety of freshly made salsas, lettuce, and fajita veggies, which are naturally gluten-free. The Roasted Chili-Corn Salsa, in particular, is an easy way to boost the carbohydrate content of an athlete’s bowl, providing 16 grams of carbohydrates per 4-oz serving.
Guacamole is another healthy topping that athletes following a gluten-free diet can add to their Chipotle bowl. A 4-oz serving of guacamole provides 8 grams of carbohydrates and 6 grams of dietary fiber. Avocados are a nutrient-dense food that provide healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals; thus, they are a nutritious addition to an athlete’s Chipotle bowl.
Ready to Enjoy a Gluten-Free Meal at Chipotle
You now have a variety of ideas for building a gluten-free meal at Chipotle that can help athletes with meeting their sports nutrition needs. As a reminder, menu options and nutrition information may change as products are updated. It is always best to check the Chipotle website prior to ordering to ensure the meal meets your specific dietary needs.
For additional gluten-free tips for athletes, check out my blog: Gluten Free Pre-Workout Meals and Snacks for Athletes.
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About the Author
Mandy is a Sports Dietitian Nutritionist in the San Antonio, TX area. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, a Licensed Athletic Trainer, and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine. Mandy has experience working with athletes at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. She believes the key to reaching one’s full potential, both in everyday life and in sports performance, relies on a healthy nutritional foundation. Learn more about the work Mandy does here.