I tried Huel’s powdered food product for a month – Here’s the verdict
Calling it a meal replacement would be a disservice.
Okay, so let me lay out the groundwork here. This is going to be part review, all personal journey, so I’m feeling a little exposed right now.
Ever since my daughter was born, I’ve struggled with my weight. I mean, I wasn’t exactly slim before but now it’s got to a point where I barely recognize myself. The late-night snacking, the erratic mealtimes, the “whatever is quickest” maxim for food preparation… All of my bad eating habits coalesced into the scales nearly topping out at 300lbs, with most of my clothes no longer fitting.
Clearly something had to be done, but what? Then one day an email came asking if I wanted to try Huel, this new, vegan, apparently 100% nutritionally complete food. I mean, normal dieting wasn’t working (and made me want to snack even more), the gym was out, so was exercise due to some knee issues. Now, I’d tried protein shakes and other dietary aids in the past, which didn’t really work but I was told Huel was different.
If you just want to hear the TL:DR, skip to the bottom section. Just know that a month drinking Huel for two of my daily meals has made me a believer.
So, what’s it all about?
Okay, so Huel isn’t just a meal replacement. No, really. Calling it a meal replacement would be a disservice. To my thinking, it’s mainly because the EU sets strict minimums on “meal replacements,” such as ingredients and a message about not using them for more than three weeks without talking to your doctor. See, meal replacements are usually for calorie-restricted diets, and Huel is more of a nutritionally-balanced meal in a cup, for when you don’t have time to cook anything.
A 400 Kcal serving has a macro split of 37:30:30:3 (carbohydrate, protein, fat, fiber) and all 27 essential vitamins and minerals. Does your daily multivitamin even do that? It’s even got probiotics, kombucha, additional phytonutrients (all of which are expensive if bought as individual supplements), and a brick-worth of fiber.
Oh, and it’s all vegan. All of it. The proteins come from peas, oats, brown rice, flaxseed and MCT. That means lots of amino acids, essential for your body to thrive. It’s got good fats, with flaxseed, sunflower, and coconut in the mix. Heck, even the carbs are from good sources, powdered oats and tapioca.
There’s Vanilla, Chocolate and Unflavored powder, gluten-free versions for those sensitive to it, a new Strawberry premix, and flavor enhancers that you add to the drink after mixing (My fav was the Chai mixed into Vanilla).
So, how is Huel?
Well, day one started with a weigh-in at the crack of dawn. 296 lbs. Yikes. I mean they always say weight gain creeps up on you, but there was proof, staring me in the face on my Withings Body Cardio smart scale. That little piece of equipment was vital to my weight loss effort. Previously, I’d relied on a non-connected scale, which had one major issue – me. Well, more specifically, me forgetting to write down my weigh-ins. Now I had a reminder, digitally saving every weight, every misstep, every triumph.
Okay, so time to crack open some Huel. Started with the ready to drink bottle, shook it a little as instructed, and opened the lid. Proceed to splatter Huel all over my face. Probably not the best delivery method… Anyway, four hours later and I’ve still got energy, no midday slump, and I’ve not even had coffee yet. Is this what eating a properly balanced breakfast does?
The rest of the first week went in pretty much the same fashion, although I started to mix it up with the Huel powder as well. That went better once I realized putting two ice cubes in the shaker really helped it blend with the water, just like the rattle in a spray can. End of week one total: Down 5lbs.
Okay, so maybe that was water weight or maybe I was just adjusting to the Huel, but week two put me almost back up to my starting weight. That’s fine, losing weight is a lifestyle change, not a sprint. On with week three, deflated but not defeated.
Now in week three, I started drinking the Huel powder in the morning, and a premix drink at lunchtime. That gave me the flexibility to go places since all I needed to do for lunch was to make sure I’d thrown a bottle of Huel into the car. I also noticed I wasn’t craving food at nighttime, so my body was adjusting to the lower calorie count. End of week three total: Down 10 lbs.
Week four was stressful, as my in-laws were about to visit but the apartment was in total disarray. Huel was literally my primary food source all week, grabbing a shaker whenever I remembered that I needed to eat to keep cleaning and reorganizing. I wouldn’t recommend this, but I got to the end of week four with another five-pound loss, making my total weight loss a pretty respectable 15 lbs after four weeks.
I’d call that a win. I’d changed one thing about my diet, and that set up other changes that are still going now, like not snacking late at night.
So, should I buy it?
Okay, so here’s the skinny. Like most meal systems, the only way to really know if Huel will work for you is to go and try it out for a couple of weeks. I mean, you might not like the flavor, the mixing process, anything of a hundred personal foibles that will make your experience sour. And you don’t want that, because, for any program to be sustainable, it needs to be enjoyable.
For me, I found using Huel to replace two meals a day almost effortless (once I got the hang of mixing the powder). A month might not seem long, but it’s long enough to form habits. It’s also long enough to see if any weight changes are actual changes, or if you were fooled by normal fluctuations. After a month, I was down 15 lbs, without making any other changes to my habits, and without feeling like I craved snacks.
It’s stayed off as well. I can’t say if it’ll work for you, but it definitely enhanced my normal energy levels (and my waistline). I can fit into a stack of clothes I was about to send to Goodwill, which makes me feel great.
You can grab a starter kit from Amazon that has a Huel plastic shaker and two pouches of the vegan, nutritionally complete Huel powder for $99 if you want to try it out. If it works for you, Huel’s website has more flavors, a low-carb version, flavor enhancers, snacks in bar form, and ready-to-drink bottles, along with a ton of recipes and other tips to release your inner Hueligan.
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Just a heads up, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale. Click here for more. Samples were provided for the purpose of this review.