Posted on 21 Oct 2015
5 min read
You’re probably wondering what the hell is Huel?
Well, Huel is nutritionally complete human fuel.
And by that I mean it differs from a supplement in that rather than supplementing your diet it can completely replace food.
As they state, Huel is “everything your body needs, nothing more.”
This is a concept I’ve been fascinated with for a long time, as being very busy all the time, working in an office environment and constantly working while on the go means preparing, cooking, transporting and even eating food can become something which is very time consuming.
I’d love to be able to drink all my nutrition and spend the time I usually do meal-prepping doing something more productive or chilling with friends.
So I put the product to the test, to see if it really could replace food, and, more importantly as a burger lover, whether I’d be able to tolerate it.
How does Huel differ from a traditional meal replacement?
Well, a meal replacement powder is usually designed to replace maybe one or two meals a day max, to aid in weight loss.
Huel doesn’t attempt to do this, and instead provides 100% of your nutritional requirements, and then some.
The product comes in a couple of big pouches which will last you a whole seven days for around £45.
You are advised to measure out the powder into either four 125 gram meals or five slightly smaller 100 gram meals, and I opted for the four meals.
The macros are absolutely solid in my opinion, with a 100 gram ‘meal’ containing a nearly perfect:
Probably the most impressive feature of Huel is its ingredients list.
If you’re a London-based vegan, gluten free, restaurant-complaining 100% full-on tosser, you’ll love that it contains: “No added sugar, no meat or animal products, no dairy, no soy, no eggs, making it suitable for those with even the most complex dietary requirements.”
And honestly, they really kill it here, particularly when you look at the fact that 2.7 grams of the 13 grams of fat per 100 grams are from Omega 3s, or that 40 grams of carbs contains a silly 0.7 grams of sugar.
You can see that the formula hasn’t cut any corners when it comes to excellent health.
Hats off to James Collier for that formula, and also for including a hefty 150 grams of protein per day.
This is likely more than most people consume in a day and is a welcome sight, especially considering the government’s shitty RDA of 55 grams for a man.
And it contains no dairy.
Basically while you’re on this product, you’ll feel pretty amazing all day.
I’ve heard some say the taste of Huel is unbearable, and a friend who tried it was practically about to puke up while drinking, but I actually quite like it.
It’s a bit like drinking vanilla flavoured cereal, and it’s a very mild taste.
Maybe it’s the years of conditioning my brain to eat the same chicken, rice and broccoli meals, but I really enjoy the taste.
I also hear from their social media that they are working on different sweetness and flavours.
The texture isn’t so great as it’s pretty thick and does actually take quite a while to drink as you have to chug it down slowly.
However, being this thick might have something to do with the fact that it actually makes you feel quite full for a good couple of hours.
It mixes well with 500ml of water in a shaker cup, although I did have a couple of lumps a few times.
I really didn’t want to focus this review on whether the product can be used to completely replace food, as there have been a tonne of these kind of reviews lately, but I also know people want the question answered.
And to put it simply:
No you cannot live off Huel alone.
I lasted a grand total of two days before relapsing and binge eating a full-on greasy burger and chips.
But my reasons might be different from others, purely because of the calories I usually consume (currently 3,600 per day).
This means that a day of Huel was 1,600 less calories, and on the second day I was so hungry after training that I’d already had my day’s worth of Huel by 3pm!
The days I spent on Huel alone I felt great though, probably due to the lack of crappy sugar I was consuming, meaning there weren’t any insulin spikes and resulting crashes.
So what is Huel really for if it can’t replace food?
Well, as the founder Julian says, he uses it all day and then eats a meal with his family in the evening.
And I think this is definitely what it’s for: being a convenient way to get in nutrition in the day, but not replacing all of your food.
And in this sense it’s very good value for money as a week’s supply can quite easily last you two weeks.
While Huel couldn’t replace all of my food, it has more recently become a valuable tool for hacking my diet.
If I’ve run out of meals but know I need to get decent nutrition in, Huel is there.
If I’m travelling around all day and don’t have the option of chilling or reheating my meals, I can carry Huel as insurance, and protection against the emergency supermarket sandwich.
It’s a product that I think would work very well for those camping, training for long periods of time, and just generally for people who want a quick nutrient intake but without feeling like shit.
It made me think of my years at university stuck in a friend’s dorm room sessioning reports three days before hand in, fuelled solely by Monster Energy and biscuits.
If only I had Huel, I might have gotten a first class honours…
You can usually get Huel for the cheapest price by shopping here at Amazon.
And for first orders they also throw in a free t-shirt and blender bottle, which is a nice touch.
Have you tried Huel?
Thinking of giving it a go?
Is it really the future of food?
Sound off in the comments section below!
Nice review and thanks for the honesty Will.
I’m currently putting together my nutrition plan for my next “lean” bulk.
Currently I’m looking for a decent solution as a final meal before bed which will provide everything my body will need to continue healing.
Would you say Huel is a good option?
Yes I’d say Huel is deffo a good option for what you need.
Some have even said on the Huel forums that they have it warm, which might be nice as a last meal.
I like your honest assessment of whether or not you can truly replace FOOD.
Which, of course, you can’t.
My question for products like this is similar to questions for any other provider of food substances:
What is the environmental impact of your product?
Huel is theoretically “food” so it must be based on raw materials that qualify as food.
So how much waste is created by taking whole food items and engineering it down to the goop?
That’s a good question, I think they do try to be as environmentally friendly as possible.
Might be worth dropping the question on the Huel forums: http://discuss.huel.com.
The founders tend to reply to a lot of stuff on there too which is cool.
You mentioned the environmental impact of the Huel product and I must say, the “food industry” compared to the “powdered food” industry are incomparable.
One destroys whilst the latter is revolutionary due to its minimal impact.
The “food” industry is one of the greatest causes of environmental degradation internationally and Huel – in my opinion – is the solution to a global issue that could literally change the world.
On the face of it, this product is quite frankly bizarre.
So it’s plant based, that’s good, again on the face of it – for the environment, it will be better than animal derived equivalents, but what is this?
Ok, so it provides complete nutrition, or does it.
Here’s the deal…
Nutrition is total, and it starts with digestion and this starts in the mouth by chewing, it’s that simple.
You do not chew this food.
That’s a problem right out the gates, the soft textured foods that we have artificially created cause problems.
People overeat, as they will with this product, they won’t chew their food, that causes problems with their teeth – particularly the need for braces in the younger population.
And well, where is the social aspect when it comes to eating – that’s known as wellbeing.
It’s a tough one to recommend based on these factors.
Of course, further evidence and research is required, but in all honesty, it’s not sustainable and that isn’t subjective commenting.
You can use Huel to make cookies, bread, biscuits, etc.
So actually, yes, yes you can use it to completely replace food.
By chewing it you will go through the full digestive process.
On the subject of chewing, you do actually sort of chew Huel a bit as it’s quite thick.
It wasn’t something I’d noticed when trying it out to be honest.
And you’re right about the saturated fats, something I do consume a lot of as a heavy lifter (testosterone please!).
But I think most people are still scared of sat fats and having more may put them off (particularly the kind of people who drink this).
On another note: sucks to be the guys commenting on this post bitching about how the product is made.
Imagine being that boring.
Haha good point ^^
This product did intrigue me because I know that I have a far from balanced diet.
I work in the ambulance service and I do 12+ hour shifts, days or nights.
My eating pattern is all over the place and I love junk food.
After I get paid I generally ‘treat’ myself to a takeaway and try to eat well but the convenience of McDonald’s often takes hold.
Then I’m poor and my diet will consist mainly of cheap pasta dishes made in bulk to last me 2-3 days or lots of sandwiches which are also cheap.
I don’t go to the gym because I’m usually so exhausted and on my days off the last thing I want to do is knacker myself out even more.
I know this is a vicious cycle and it makes me feel shit knowing this!
I’ve just bought the £45 week’s supply and it does suggest to replace 2-3 meals a day before going 100% Huel.#
I love food too much to give that level of commitment but I’m happy to spread the Huel over 2 weeks and see how I go.
It would be interesting to see how it works during long night shifts, often I get hangry because we just don’t get the time to eat between jobs so I’ll take a couple of spare sandwiches just in case!
I like the taste and texture so far, the monotony of eating the same thing I’ve mastered with my tuna pasta bulk meals lol!
I really hope this works for me!
How are you getting on with it Chris?
It seems to be the perfect solution for your line of work.
Just started using it today – it tastes lovely I could drink this all day.
As I’m a lover of smoothies hey presto in goes a scoop making my drink more nutritious.
I’m not expecting it to replace my meals but certaainly gong to get more nutrition into my body now I’m quite excited about this product.
I think this isn’t much different to all the other meal replacements out there and with such a vast array of nutrients in one meal nutrient to nutrient contraindications are inevitable.
Minerals compete for absorption sites as do vitamins so the idea of ‘all 26 essential nutrients’ is redundant.
Protein intake is way to high for an average person not breaking down muscle so this should not be aimed specifically at those who already involved in intense exercise and not at a sedentary person.
I also notice virtually no saturated (cholesterol and hormone maintaining) fat as well which could potentially be a bad thing.
There’s nothing special about this, it’s an attempt to create the perfect meal but no such meal exists in reality even in the ideal world as our physiology does not allow for it.
But I would use this as a pre-breakfast shake first thing a.m and most likely it is a good option for those lazy eaters who don’t cook who have terrible diets, but nothing more.
I’m getting married in July and I need to drop a stone and a half.
I’ve started the gym and I’m dieting.
I used to eat nothing but crap.
Would this help me shed quicker?
I recently used Huel to keep track of my calories and maintain weight in the build-up to one of my fights.
Worked perfectly for me!
4 scoops x 4 per day plus a light meal in the middle of the day.
As for the comments of environmental impact, surely this reduces food wastage?
Not to mention the emissions of animal agriculture??
I think if the government were to get involved and subsidise some of the costs, the potential for Huel could be endless…
Recipes could be used for school and hospital meals… and world hunger.
Without being cliched… Huel has made my life a lot easier.
I’m thinking about trying Huel for weight loss, as I work long hours and eat crap, and I’m lazy, make that LAZY.
I’ve ordered ready meals that come in packs of 7 variety meals off Musclefood, so my plan is, look up my calorie requirement, age, height, weight, age, LAZYNESS, have the one evening meal and make up the rest of the calories for the day out of a Huel lunch and breakfast.
I noticed people going on about using a dash of coffee, or a plain unflavoured Huel, and using flavour packs, I’m going to try a coffee one at breakfast and nutribullet some fruit into the stuff for lunch.
Got to ask, as I can’t seem to see (may have missed it), in the article you says it comes in big pouches that will last 7 days, is that 7 per pouch or both?
And as an additional question, for that 7 days how many meals is that?
After doing some research, I decided to try Huel.
It was because I was eating a lot of crap in the evenings, and my partner who suffers from Chronic Fatigue has been having a bad spell where she is not eating enough.
I train for triathlons/do weight training, etc etc.
Huel seems to have helped us both.
People who are bitching about the taste – just blend it with half banana / pear and yes, blending takes away the powdery feeling more or less.
I actually really like the Vanilla flavour!
I LOVE food and the intention was not to eliminate food totally but replace my evening meal.
Also, I highly doubt everyone who is cribbing about the nutrients, “eating gloop” etc etc, is getting all their daily nutrients from the food they eat on a day to day basis – just look at Huel as an addition/replacement for a certain number of meals – to provide you at least some of the nutrients you are lacking! (and I am certain all of us do not intake enough nutrients given food and modern lifestyles).
I have been using Huel for 2 months as my only food.
I have the vanilla flavour which tastes great.
I have 3 shakes in the day and then have 2 more in the evening with some fruit either strawberries or peaches to make it into a sort of evening meal.
I am a continental truck driver who is also vegan and am training at weekends while away in the truck for a ultra marathon.
I can honestly say that I feel great, more energy, I do not feel bloated and my stomach feels great as well.
I never feel hungry and because of my job I spend 5 weeks away in the truck at a time it really works for me and my training.
Being a vegan and eating healthy before but struggling a bit to get the calories etc from living in the truck this has been great.
When I go home I have a couple of solid meals for a change.
If you want to be healthy and get all the nutrients you need and keep the weight off then it takes discipline and this does require that but for me the results are worth it.
I’m experimenting with it.
Initially just to replace my lunch, and the occasional breakfast.
But I have done a number of HUEL only days and having it more regularly than planned, as it is so convenient.
So far feel very healthy, and on to my second order.
Done a YouTube review if anyone interested:
Ha ha, some suckers will literally buy any shit.
You’re probably fat and lazy, if you haven’t tried it don’t knock the people who have!!!
Hi, just started on Huel.
The main reason was to try and control my IBS, which is triggered by Gluten, wheat, lactose and dairy foods.
I train three times a week and am interested to see how it will affect my energy levels.
I will be going full Huel for the first few weeks as an experiment, 4 x 100g per day.
Enjoyed that review.
Incessant Facebook adverts landed me here, but I tend to have an open mind about these types of things.
Mind you, I have never actually purchased a meal replacement before.
In terms of shakes, I use Whey Protein from My Protein as a single meal replacement, but usually cook the rest, or spend a day during the week to power-cook and freeze.
I work out 4-5 times a week.
Actually I am currently working through the T25 workout to be precise.
Currently waiting on a job to come through.
When it does I think I might give this a go.
There is no way on God’s green earth I would use it as a full replacement, but I’d certainly give it a go to replace one meal a day; or two at the very most if I was absolutely fucked for time and had no options.
Really interesting review, thanks!
I just bought the £45 starter pack to try Huel out.
I work as a supervisor in a restaurant and my meal patterns are all over the place. I end up living off chips and chocolate for convenience =/
So the aim is to replace those snacks with this!!
Agree with your review completely, it should be used to supplement a diet and fill gaps that would otherwise be satisfied with crap food and created by a lazy attitude to preparation.
Only issue I had with your review is that you based your conclusion on whether you could survive on Huel full time on an unfair test.
You answered “no” even though you only consumed 1600 calories.
You normally consume 3600 calories a day.
Adjustment would be if you consumed 3600 calories of Huel, would you have been fine?
(I appreciate that this was not the purpose of your review, but a definitive statement should have therefore been omitted all together).
My 2-cents on Huel (used it for over a year easily):
Work a 9/5 and train 7 days.
I sometimes drop 400 calories from Huel.
I sometimes drop 1500 calories from Huel.
I have done entire days on it.
You won’t die, but you won’t feel sated the same way you do with food.
This is down to the physiological protocol that your body goes through when digesting certain foods and nothing to do with micro/macros.
Understand that if trapped on a desert island with nothing but Huel, you would survive, you wouldn’t enjoy it though.
Although personally I love the unflavored stuff, probably for similar reasons as you Will.
I’ve seen many posts online now saying that: Huel doesn’t replace “real” food, and that you can’t live off it.
How does that make sense?
Huel is made from real food, and is more nutritious than 99% of the food people eat.
I also don’t see the logic behind people overeating because it’s liquid food; on the contrary, I see people eating less because you’re filling your stomach with liquids + fiber, and the body senses intake of all essential nutrients.
I would agree, however, that our brain needs stimulation, thereby variety of taste and texture is something we crave, but it’s not necessary for survival.
But when I hear someone say that a burger is real food and Huel is not… the truth is the opposite from a nutritional standpoint.
I’ve been living purely on Huel for two months now no end in sight.
I feel great although a bit tired as I’m dieting so cutting calories a bit.
But it is 100% possible to live just on Huel.
Is it as great as eating steaks and burgers?
Of course not.
But one can subsist just fine and feel great.
I should also mention I work out 7 days a week two days weight lifting one day cardio rinse repeat.
I’ve been drinking Huel Vanilla for 8 months.
I replace 3-4 meals with it, and I don’t see how I’ll ever get tired of it.
I actually prefer Huel before regular meals because I feel so good from it (also I hate food prepping and microwave-heated foods).
But I do enjoy a “real”, freshly cooked meal after my workout in the evening.
Weight is on-point without having to try, skin is cleared up and I’m energised and full all day.
I mix my Huel with the Huel bottle filled to the max with water.
It makes it less thick and easy to drink.
Also I don’t drink it fast, I enjoy it for about 30-40 minutes which in turn makes me feel full longer.
Just ordered a new batch of fuel and I’m going to keep going till I get sick of it, I thought I would have been sick of it by now, but nope.
Really nicely written article, honest and straight up about everything.