I’ve always been against meal replacements as they’re often full of artificial ingredients and nasty chemicals that have no business being marketed as ‘food’. I’ve always believed in real food first, supplements second, meal replacements never. To be clear, when I say meal replacements I do not mean a healthy, nutritious smoothie that you have blended yourself for breakfast, I also do not mean that protein shake you have after a workout, what I mean is that chemical-laden powder that is supposed to turn into soup when you add hot water.
However, I received an email about a meal replacement that made me far too curious to turn down. That email was about Huel, the new powdered food designed to have all of our daily nutritional needs without the nasty chemicals and crappy ingredients. Huel is said to contain all of the carbs, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals that our bodies need, so technically you could have Huel for all your meals and snacks and not need anything else. These high claims, along with the tagline of ‘The future of food’ made me so curious that I just had to try it.
So what is Huel made from?
Huel does not contain any meat or animal products, dairy, soy, eggs or added sugar, so it is suitable for a number of dietary requirements. Huel lists the full ingredients on their website. The main ingredients include brown rice protein, pea protein, sunflower seeds, coconut, flaxseed, oats and a vitamin and mineral blend. It is sweetened with sucralose, which is the last ingredient in the list.
The oats in Huel are ultra-fine powdered oats which are easy to mix and make up the main carb source. Oats have a low GI so will help to keep your blood sugars steady and keep you fuller for longer. The main fat sources are from sunflower seeds, flaxseed and coconut. Sunflower seeds and flaxseed provide essential fatty acids and the coconut provides a healthy source of energy. Finally, the protein comes from pea and rice protein as well as the oats. Based on an average 2000 calorie daily serving, Huel provides 150g of protein a day which can often be difficult to achieve from food alone.
If you follow macros, Huel provides a 30:30:40 ration in protein, fat and carbs respectively. The carb ratio is higher than I’d like, but Huel says “Carbohydrates are not essential per se, but they do have significant benefits to sustaining even energy levels and are significantly cheaper helping to make Huel more affordable”.
Why bother with Huel?
Like I said, I do not agree with meal replacements, but Huel is the first I’ve seen with a far superior nutrition compared to those diet meal replacements in the past. It was for this reason I decided I had to try it and see what I thought of it. Also, since receiving the results from my food intolerance test, I have struggled to completely cut out dairy and yeast, so I saw this as an opportunity to go ‘cold turkey’ for a few days.
I couldn’t bare the thought of not eating food for five days, so although Huel is being marketed as a replacement for an entire day’s worth of meals I only replaced my breakfast and dinner, eating salad for lunch.
Is Huel any good?
Huel actually tastes good in my opinion, I like the subtle vanilla taste. I blended Huel with water in my Nutribullet as I was told it can be a bit gritty if just mixed in a shaker. That makes sense due to the pea and rice protein as well as the flaxseed. My Nutribullet gave me a smooth shake. The macro ratio of Huel doesn’t suit me as I personally need less carbs and a higher ratio of fat, so I added chia seeds, a tbsp of almond butter and a tsp of cinnamon because, well I love cinnamon.
Depending on how many meals you are replacing with Huel and how many calories you need, you simply increase the number of scoops of Huel. On the first day I made my breakfast and dinner shakes with three scoops, equalling approximately 458 calories, plus the extra from my chia seeds and almond butter. I found this very filling and couldn’t finish them. After that I reduced my scoops down to two which equals about 306 calories, plus the extra for the chia seeds and almond butter. I then added a Nakd bar as a snack along with my salad at lunch to ensure I was getting enough calories in my day.
I found Huel very convenient as it took me less than a minute to make which was a delight in the mornings, when I am usually running late. On the days that I go to the gym after work, I do not get home until after 9pm so I never want to eat a heavy meal. Huel was perfect as it acted as my post-workout protein shake and dinner in one and meant I didn’t have to go to bed with a heavy stomach.
I was surprised that I didn’t get bored of Huel after having it for five days, but I think that is because I place a greater value on my lunches. I eat the same breakfast most days anyway and on the days when I get home late from the gym I don’t want to eat dinner. I couldn’t replace all of my meals with Huel, nor would I ever want to.
Personally, I believe Huel should be sent to third world countries where people are seriously lacking in nutrients and are ill because of it. Think of all the malnourished children Huel could help. Us Westerners would only need Huel when we didn’t have time to cook a full meal, or if we wanted to give our digestive systems a break. We can get all of our macro and micro-nutrient needs from the food that is available to us, those in third world countries can’t. I’d love it if Huel set up a charity where we could opt to buy a packet to send to a third world country when we buy our own packets. How great would that be?
Would I use Huel again? Yes, definitely. When I get home after 9pm from the gym and do not want to eat dinner, Huel will ensure I am not under eating or missing out on my macro and micro-nutrient needs. If I want to make a smoothie for breakfast, but have run out of spinach and fruit then Huel will be a fine step-in. But will I ever stop eating food in favour of Huel? Absolutely not and to be honest, it kind of annoys me that it is being marketed in this way. But hey, the marketing ploy worked as it caught my attention and got me curious enough to want to try it.
Buy it: Huel 28 meals in Vanilla