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Is Moe's Southwest Grill Bad For You?



Short answer

While Moe's Southwest Grill offers customizable Tex-Mex dishes with potential health benefits, mindful customization is crucial. Opting for lean proteins, fiber-rich veggies, and being mindful of high-calorie and high-sodium add-ons can make meals healthier. However, hidden calories and high sodium levels in some dishes could pose dietary challenges. Therefore, Moe's can be a good choice if selections are made carefully.



Long answer

Nutritional Overview of Moe's Southwest Grill Menu

When evaluating the nutritional landscape of Moe's Southwest Grill, it's essential to navigate through the menu with a balanced perspective. This popular fast-casual restaurant offers a variety of customizable Tex-Mex dishes, such as burritos, tacos, and bowls, allowing patrons the flexibility to tailor their meals according to dietary preferences and nutritional needs. Below, we delve into the crucial components of their menu, spotlighting both the potential health benefits and areas of concern.

Caloric Content

The caloric content of Moe's offerings can vary significantly, depending on the chosen ingredients. A standard homewrecker burrito, for instance, can exceed 1,000 calories, particularly when filled with options like cheese, sour cream, and guacamole. Conversely, choosing a bowl with grilled chicken, beans, vegetables, and salsa can create a satisfying meal under 600 calories. Awareness of the caloric density of ingredients enables smarter choices.


Moe's menu provides a broad spectrum of macronutrient distribution, catering to various dietary goals. High-protein options are plentiful, thanks to offerings like grilled chicken, steak, and tofu. However, the carbohydrate content can soar with additions like rice, beans, and tortilla, impacting those monitoring their carb intake. Fat content is another variable, as items like cheese, guacamole, and salad dressings can quickly elevate a meal's fat percentage, emphasizing the importance of balanced customization.

Fiber and Micronutrient Content

Choosing veggie-rich dishes at Moe's can bolster your fiber intake, critical for digestive health and satiety. Ingredients like black beans, pinto beans, and a variety of vegetables contribute to a higher fiber content, which is often lacking in fast-food diets. Moreover, these ingredients, alongside options like cilantro lime rice and fresh salsa, offer an array of vitamins and minerals, supporting overall wellness.

Sodium Levels

One area of concern is the sodium content, which can be notably high in many of Moe's dishes. Meals can exceed the American Heart Association's recommended daily limit of 2,300 milligrams of sodium, especially when including seasoned proteins, cheese, and dressings. Opting for lower-sodium items and customizing your meal with fresh toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers can help manage sodium intake.

Sugar Content

Sugar content in Moe's menu items is generally low, especially in savory dishes. However, items like sweet tea and cookies are high in added sugars, contributing to the potential for excessive sugar consumption. Being mindful of the sugar content in beverages and desserts is crucial for maintaining a balanced diet.

In conclusion, while Moe's Southwest Grill offers a range of customizable options catering to diverse dietary preferences, mindful customization is key to maximizing nutritional benefits and minimizing potential drawbacks. Opting for a balance of lean proteins, fiber-rich vegetables and legumes, and being cautious with high-calorie and high-sodium add-ons can contribute to a healthier meal choice.

Hidden Calories in Popular Moe's Dishes

Navigating the menu at Moe's Southwest Grill can be both exciting and overwhelming with its vast array of customizable options designed to cater to a variety of dietary needs and preferences. However, hidden within the layers of delicious burritos, tacos, and nachos, are caloric dens that might surprise the health-conscious diner. Let's uncover the hidden calories in some of Moe's most popular dishes, highlighting the importance of making informed choices for those monitoring their caloric intake.

Homewrecker Burrito

  • Base Calories: Starting at 785 calories without add-ons, the Homewrecker Burrito can quickly escalate in caloric content as you pile on additional toppings. For instance, adding queso can introduce another 120 calories, while a scoop of guacamole adds about 150 calories. Thus, a fully-loaded Homewrecker could easily exceed 1,000 calories.

Joey Bag of Donuts Burrito

  • Base Calories: The Joey Bag of Donuts Burrito begins at a slightly lower base of around 635 calories. However, much like its Homewrecker counterpart, the addition of extra cheese, sour cream, or guacamole can quickly double the calorie count, pushing it beyond the 900-calorie mark.

Stacked Nachos

  • Base Calories: Initially, the Stacked Nachos dish might seem harmless, starting at approximately 950 calories. Yet, this number can significantly increase with added toppings. For example, topping your nachos with beef or pork can add around 200 calories, and drizzling extra queso on top can add another 120 calories. It's not uncommon for a fully-dressed serving of Stacked Nachos to amass over 1,300 calories.

Quesadillas (Chicken, Steak, or Tofu)

  • Base Calories: The quesadillas at Moe's can also be deceptively high in calories, starting at about 700 calories for a basic cheese quesadilla. Adding chicken, steak, or tofu can increase this number by 100 to 200 calories, not including additional toppings and sauces which can further elevate the calorie content.

Making informed choices at Moe's Southwest Grill involves acknowledging these hidden caloric densities. Opt for smaller portions or customize your meal with healthier options like adding extra vegetables in place of high-calorie toppings. Also, consider sharing a dish or saving half for later to manage portion sizes more effectively. By being mindful of these hidden calories, diners can enjoy the flavors of Moe's without compromising their dietary goals.

Sodium Content and Its Health Implications

When examining the nutritional profiles of fast-casual restaurants like Moe's Southwest Grill, one of the critical factors to consider is the sodium content of their menu items. Sodium is a necessary mineral for bodily functions, such as nerve transmission and muscle contraction. However, excessive intake can lead to adverse health effects.

Most menu items at Moe's Southwest Grill, as with many fast-food and fast-casual restaurants, tend to have high sodium levels. For instance, some of their most popular burritos, bowls, and tacos can contain sodium amounts that exceed half of the American Heart Association's recommended daily limit of 2,300 milligrams for adults. This becomes a concern considering that the guideline further suggests an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults, particularly those with hypertension or prehypertension.

Health Implications of High Sodium Intake:

  • Hypertension (High Blood Pressure): Consuming high levels of sodium can increase blood pressure, a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
  • Heart Disease: High sodium intake is associated with an increased risk of a variety of cardiovascular diseases beyond just hypertension, including heart failure and coronary artery disease.
  • Kidney Damage: Excessive salt intake can put a strain on the kidneys, potentially leading to kidney disease over time by causing the body to retain more water, which in turn increases the pressure on this vital organ.
  • Bone Loss: There is evidence to suggest that high sodium consumption may exacerbate calcium loss, a mineral essential for bone health.

Given these implications, it is advisable for individuals, especially those with existing health concerns such as high blood pressure, to be mindful of their sodium intake when dining out. Moe's Southwest Grill does offer some lower sodium options, and customers can take proactive steps by requesting nutritional information, customizing their orders to exclude high-sodium ingredients, or opting for smaller portion sizes.

Moreover, recent studies highlight the importance of a balanced diet in mitigating the effects of high sodium intake. For example, a diet rich in potassium has been shown to help counteract some of the adverse effects of sodium on blood pressure. Thus, incorporating items high in potassium, such as avocados or spinach, into meals at Moe's may help balance sodium's impact.

In conclusion, while it is crucial to enjoy meals from places like Moe's Southwest Grill in moderation, paying attention to sodium content is essential for maintaining good health. By making informed choices and taking advantage of the customizable menu options, patrons can enjoy their favorite dishes without overindulging in sodium.

Trans Fats and Cooking Oils Used at Moe's

Understanding the implications of trans fats and the types of cooking oils used in restaurants is key to making informed dietary choices. Moe's Southwest Grill, like many fast-casual dining establishments, has adapted its cooking practices over the years to meet public health guidelines and consumer demands for healthier options. This section explores the types of fats and oils used at Moe's, focusing on the presence of trans fats, which have been linked to various health issues.

Trans fats are a type of unsaturated fat with trans-isomer fatty acids. They are mostly manufactured fats created through an industrial process called hydrogenation, which is used to turn liquid vegetable oils into solid fats at room temperature. The consumption of trans fats has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. In response to these health concerns, many food service providers, including Moe's Southwest Grill, have made significant changes to their use of cooking oils and fats.

At Moe's, the commitment to reducing unhealthy fats extends to the careful selection of cooking oils. The restaurant chain uses oils that are low in saturated fats and free of artificial trans fats. Most notably, Moe's has shifted towards using heart-healthy options such as canola and soybean oils. These oils are preferred for their higher content of unsaturated fats, which can help reduce cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease when used in moderation.

Moreover, transparency about the ingredients used in its food preparation allows customers to make well-informed choices. Moe's nutritional information, available on their website and upon request in their locations, details the breakdown of fats, including trans fats, giving patrons the power to choose dishes that align with their dietary preferences and restrictions.

It's worth noting that while trans fats are particularly harmful to cardiovascular health, not all fats are bad. The move by Moe's to utilize oils rich in unsaturated fats (both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats) echoes nutritionists' advice on including healthy fats in one's diet. These fats play essential roles in the body, including supporting cell growth, protecting organs, and aiding in nutrient absorption.

In summary, Moe's Southwest Grill's approach to cooking oils and fats highlights an important shift in the fast-casual dining industry towards healthier, more transparent food preparation practices. By prioritizing oils low in saturated and trans fats, Moe's is helping patrons make choices that can positively affect their long-term health.

Freshness and Quality of Ingredients

The emphasis on fresh ingredients is a cornerstone of Moe's Southwest Grill's appeal. This popular chain prides itself on using freshly prepared, high-quality ingredients in all its dishes. From the crispy vegetables to the tender meats, Moe's emphasizes its commitment to freshness and quality, aiming to deliver meals that are both delicious and nutritious. But what does this mean for your health? Let's dive deeper into the components that make up Moe's offerings.

First and foremost, Moe's sources a variety of vegetables and salsas that are prepared daily. This practice ensures that the nutrients, which can degrade over time in pre-cut or pre-packaged veggies, are preserved as much as possible. Vegetables are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which are crucial for a healthy diet. The daily preparation of these ingredients helps maintain their nutritional integrity, offering a more beneficial meal option compared to fast foods relying on frozen or processed alternatives.

When it comes to proteins, Moe's emphasizes the use of grass-fed steak and all-natural chicken and pork. Grass-fed meats are often higher in certain nutrients, including antioxidants, vitamins, and a beneficial fat known as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) compared to their conventionally fed counterparts. This focus on higher quality meat reflects a healthier profile for the consumer, not only in terms of lower antibiotic and hormone use but also in the potential health benefits associated with these nutrient differences.

Another highlight is Moe's commitment to offering options for various dietary needs, including vegetarian and gluten-free choices. This inclusivity not only broadens the appeal of their menu but also underscores the importance of catering to health-conscious individuals and those with specific dietary restrictions. By providing a range of options, Moe's allows customers to customize their meals to fit their nutritional requirements and preferences, a practice that aligns well with contemporary dietary trends and needs.

However, it's important to note that while Moe's offers fresh and quality ingredients, the healthiness of a meal ultimately depends on the specific choices a customer makes. High-calorie dressings, large portions of cheese, and fried items can add significant amounts of saturated fats and calories to a meal. Hence, patrons are encouraged to make balanced choices and consider the nutritional content of their selected options.

In summary, Moe's Southwest Grill's focus on freshness and quality of ingredients presents a healthier alternative compared to many fast-food options. By emphasizing the use of fresh vegetables, high-quality meats, and accommodating various dietary preferences, Moe's demonstrates a commitment to playing a positive role in consumers' dietary habits. As with any meal choice, mindful selection is key to maximizing the health benefits while enjoying the flavors Moe's has to offer.

Customizing Moe's Orders for Healthier Alternatives

One of the best features of Moe's Southwest Grill is its customizable menu, which allows for a wide range of dietary preferences and health objectives. Making informed choices can transform a potentially calorie-dense meal into a nutritious option, packed with fresh ingredients and bold flavors without the guilt. Here’s how to navigate Moe's menu for healthier alternatives:

  • Opt for Whole Grains: Choose a whole grain tortilla for your burritos or opt for a bowl to skip the extra carbs. Whole grains offer more fiber, which can help maintain a healthy weight and reduce heart disease risks.
  • Select Lean Proteins: Moe's offers various protein options, including grilled chicken, tofu, and fish. These lean proteins are lower in calories and saturated fats compared to red meats, making them a healthier choice for heart and overall health.
  • Load Up on Vegetables: Adding a variety of vegetables to your order not only enhances the flavor but also increases the nutritional value of your meal. Vegetables are high in essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber, while being low in calories.
  • Be Wise with Sides and Sauces: Some sides and sauces can significantly increase the calorie and sodium content of your meal. Choose salsas and pico de gallo over cheese dips and sour cream. Opt for the guacamole to add healthy fats to your meal, but be mindful of portions.
  • Pay Attention to Portion Sizes: Portion control is crucial, as even the healthiest options can lead to weight gain if consumed in large amounts. Consider sharing a meal or saving half for later to keep calorie intake in check.

Remember, the key to a healthier meal at Moe's is not just about what you add, but also what you can subtract or substitute. By making these smart swaps and adjustments, you can enjoy the rich flavors of Moe's Southwest Grill while adhering to your dietary goals. Always consider your overall daily nutritional needs and consult with a nutritionist or dietitian if you have specific health conditions or dietary concerns.

Frequently asked questions

Moe's Southwest Grill provides gluten-free options by allowing customers to choose bowls or salads instead of dishes that contain flour tortillas. Additionally, most of their proteins, vegetables, and toppings are naturally gluten-free, making it easier for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease to dine safely.

Yes, Moe's Southwest Grill offers keto-friendly options. To adhere to a keto diet, you can customize your meal by choosing high-protein items like grilled chicken, steak, or tofu, and adding low-carb vegetables. Opt for a bowl instead of a burrito or taco to skip the high-carb tortillas. Avoid beans, rice, and corn to stay within keto guidelines.

Yes, Moe's Southwest Grill caters to vegetarians by offering plant-based protein options. Tofu is a notable vegetarian protein available at Moe's, allowing vegetarians and vegans to enjoy customizable bowls, tacos, and salads while adhering to their dietary preferences.

To reduce calorie intake at Moe's Southwest Grill, consider opting for bowls with a base of greens instead of rice, choosing lean proteins like grilled chicken or tofu, and loading up on fresh vegetables. Avoid high-calorie toppings such as cheese and sour cream, and choose salsas for flavor. Also, be mindful of portion sizes, perhaps sharing a meal or saving half for later.

Ask a question about Moe's Southwest Grill and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • bloating
  • increased thirst
  • swelling

Possible long-term side effects

  • hypertension
  • heart disease
  • kidney damage
  • bone loss
  • increased risk of type 2 diabetes

Ingredients to be aware of

  • high sodium levels
  • saturated fats
  • added sugars
  • artificial trans fats


  • high in fiber
  • rich in vitamins and minerals
  • customizable for dietary needs

Healthier alternatives

  • whole grain options
  • lean proteins
  • vegetables
  • salsas
  • portion control

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 05-02-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 05-02-2024

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