Call it the Chipotle Diet.
Chipotle has unseated Subway as the healthy fast food of choice, with people across the internet heralding the positive effects of eating at the burrito chain.
One California man found fame by eating Chipotle for several months and retaining a bodybuilder physique. Followers of the trendy Whole30 diet, which bans processed foods, say Chipotle has the best options of any chain restaurant. Online testimonials herald the benefits of eating the chain’s food to lose weight.
“The fact they have convinced consumers that the product is healthy is incredible,” Darren Tristano, executive vice president at food industry research firm Technomic, told Business Insider. “We’re talking about 1300 calorie burritos.”
But as Chipotle enjoys consistent sales growth, Subway, which arguably invented the idea of “fresh” fast food two decades ago, is facing a steep decline.
Subway’s US sales last year fell by 3%, the most of any of the top 25 fast-food chains, Drew Harwell reports at The Washington Post. Subway also fell two spots to become the third-most-popular fast-food restaurant for the first time in seven years.
Longtime spokesman Jared Fogle, who popularised “The Subway Diet” after losing 245 pounds eating low-calorie sandwiches, parted ways with the company after his house was searched in an FBI investigation and one woman accused him of making inappropriate comments about middle-school girls.
Americans who once praised Subway’s low-fat offerings are now concerned the chain’s lunch meats and sauces are overly processed with fillers and additives.
“What Americans see as healthy has evolved,” Drew Harwell at The Washington Post writes. “Subway hasn’t.”
Generational differences also contributed to Chipotle’s newfound popularity as a health food, according to Tristano.
“Millennials care less about calories and more about where their food comes from,” he said.
While previous generations counted calories, millennials care more about food being “fresh, less processed and with fewer artificial ingredients,” Morgan Stanley writes.
Chipotle famously serves meats without human antibiotics and chops ingredients fresh daily.
But its calorie counts after often higher than a typical meal at McDonald’s.
Fans of the Chipotle Diet insist that it’s easy to modify calorie counts to a reasonable portion.
Andrew Hawryluk, the man who has eaten Chipotle for 156 days in a row and runs the website Chipotlife, orders a burrito bowl and avoids beans, cheese, and sour cream.
Hawryluk’s 605 calorie concoction includes white rice, chicken, guacamole, and lettuce.
“It’s like modified paleo,” he told Business Insider, referencing the popular diet that bans dairy and processed grains. “It’s an undeniably delicious meal.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.