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Are burritos bad for you if you're trying to lose weight?

Sonia from Pheonix, Arizona asked me about bean and cheese burritos and whether these are "bad" if you're trying to lose weight. After checking recipes and my database of ingredient nutrition, I was pleasantly surprised to find that far from being a guilty pleasure, burritos can be eaten reasonably healthily as part of a balanced weight loss programme.

Here's what I told Sonia:

It depends what you mean by “bad”. If you’re trying to limit calories to lose weight, I guess it depends whether the burrito is one of your main meals or an extra “snack”.

I reckon an average cheese & bean burrito from a restaurant is about 200 calories per 100 grammes of food and the calories are coming from about 55% carbohydrates, 15% proteins and 30% fats.

A burrito probably weighs about 200 grammes, so if this is a meal, at 400 calories it’s not too bad.

If it’s an extra snack, then it’s 400 extra calories and you better start the diet again tomorrow!

Seriously though, I generally recommend that if you want to lose weight and stay healthy, combine it with exercise and try to get at least 30% of your calories from protein (so more beans), around 30% of your calories from fats and no more than 40% of your calories from carbohydrates.

This way, you’ll convince your body to hold on to or even build muscle and give up fat. Without the exercise and with too high a proportion of carbs, your body will give up muscle instead of fat.

I hope this helps, and if I can help any more, feel free to ask.

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