Huel has met impressive success since its inception in 2014, boasting more than 30 million meals sold. On the Huel website, the company states that its focus is on producing affordable, nutritional, and eco-friendly food replacement products that are suitable for those on the go.
Huel has a small variety of products, including water-soluble powder shakes, ready-made shakes, and flavor boosts. You can also buy cool merch from them, like tote bags, hoodies, mugs, and steel bottles.
Its creators are adamant that Huel is for everyone and place emphasis on those who are too busy to eat healthily and people who have restricted diets.
It might be unconventional, but it sounds good on paper. If Huel is as healthy as it claims to be, it could very well change the world. What choice did I have but to dig a little deeper?
Huel—a clever portmanteau of human fuel—is the name of both the company and the product. Back in 2012, Julian Hearn got the idea to create the perfect meal plan for optimal health.
Realizing that he’d come up with a program that was effective, healthy, but—most importantly—time-consuming, he set out to create nutritional instant meals. Huel’s first product, Huel Powder, was launched three years later.
This video explains how Huel introduced itself to the world:
The video does a good job of marketing Huel products to those who are probably already interested in them: vegans, health fanatics, eco-conscious minimalists, and adults who just don’t have the time to cook healthy food. But what about the people who don’t fall into those demographics?
No matter how you spin it, the idea of meal replacement is unappealing to most people, and it’s no surprise. Eating isn’t only a necessity, it’s a sensory experience, one that we often take for granted and miss sorely when we are deprived of it.
There is a little bit of irony on Huel’s website, as it remarks that our food has become unrecognizable. Yet the company has taken the very idea of eating and transformed it into something most would say is unnatural.
To give you a better idea of what Huel is and how to use it, there are two videos that paint a clear picture of it.
Luke Sherran made a simple (though slightly outdated) video describing his initial experience with Huel. And Andrew Coleman Smith’s review is less informative but more recent and is great if you want to get a good look at Huel products.
As for what Huel is not, it’s not a protein shake, detoxer, or performance booster. It’s intended (and therefore best) use is to complement an otherwise healthy lifestyle.
It’s hard to believe that a vegan, gluten-free, and almost entirely allergen-free product could be bad for you. The basis of this product is that its nutritional value is extremely high. Huel is proud that its products are complete meals that contain 100 percent of our recommended daily requirements.
But I have to be direct and say that it doesn’t look like it’s as beneficial as advertised. Remember: it’s real food that’s been turned into powder. Some goodness is bound to be lost in that process, and questionable ingredients are added to compensate.
The unflavored and unsweetened original Huel does not contain unnatural ingredients, so I’ll give them credit for that. Still, there are some concerns if you look at the components of each meal.
For example, it contains coconut oil—which is mostly saturated fat. Supplemented beta-carotene can also have damaging effects, as explained in this study, which concluded that supplemented vitamins could have adverse effects.
This review, which places Huel side by side with competing products, is a must watch. It brings to light how some of their “healthy” ingredients aren’t as good for you when processed.
All that aside, Huel is still rich in goodness, and as far as I can see, there is no evidence that suggests it is unhealthy. You can find the full of list of ingredients on their website.
Huel is a lot more than just healthy shakes and snacks. There are other positives for you to consider, like:
Huel is designed to be specific. You can measure out exactly how much you need, depending on whether you want to lose, maintain, or even gain weight. Weight loss with Huel is safer (and healthier) than most other diet plans and should definitely be looked into further if weight is something you struggle with.
That might seem like a mediocre benefit, but many health shakes have a reputation for tasting bad. Huel won’t offend your taste buds, and it goes down nicely. It’s not gourmet, and the taste could easily bore you if you make no effort to jazz it up, but having a nutritious drink that doesn’t taste awful is a good thing.
Just because it’s a meal replacement, doesn’t mean you have to take it as it is. If you want the nutritional value of it but aren’t quite ready to give solids up, you are at liberty to experiment until you are satisfied.
You could always try Huel’s different flavors (original, original and unsweetened, coffee, berry, vanilla, and mint-chocolate) or give the flavor boosters a try, if you find the taste stagnating.
If you want to add solid foods to it to improve the taste or texture, go ahead. No one will stop you. If you don’t want to give up fresh meals, you can have Huel alongside your solids too.
Just be mindful of your recommended calorie, vitamin, and mineral intake. If you are mixing Huel with solids, you don’t want to run the risk of getting too high a dose of fat soluble vitamins.
Check out this video the company made with tips and tricks to improve your experience.
Cooking is a wonderful thing, but it’s also time-consuming. Huel is a complete meal that takes less than two minutes to prepare, no matter where you are. You don’t have to cook either—just add water, give it a shake, and you’re good to go.
It also has an impressive shelf life, which means it may save you money in the long run.
I’ve already mentioned that Huel products are cruelty-free, which is wonderful. They’re also produced and packaged to create as little waste as possible.
On a more serious note, their ready-to-go nutritional meals could very well become a viable solution to world hunger. Perhaps that’s far-reaching, but the potential is definitely there.
Huel really is a good product, I don’t deny that. But nothing is perfect, and Huel is no exception. Here are a few things that are not so great about it:
I know, I listed this as a benefit, but it really is both. Huel doesn’t taste bad, but it could taste better. Since their aim is to be a meal replacement, you might find that you will miss the varying taste and textures of fresh food.
If Huel is your only food source, it will get old quickly, and no amount of bananas, coffee, or berries will make it any less bland.
As I mentioned earlier, Huel is processed food that is high in supplements. In many, if not most cases, going straight to the source to get your fill of vitamins is so much healthier than extracts.
Remember that supplements are not meant to be isolated, and taking them haphazardly could have negative effects on your body.
Huel is an example of how “natural ingredients” is a buzz term that doesn’t necessarily mean “good for you.”
If you are unaccustomed to protein shakes and meal replacements, Huel will probably leave you dissatisfied. It’s just not the same as food. There’s not much more to it.
If you struggle with eating well, Huel has the potential to be a fantastic addition to your diet. The same goes if you fall directly into their target market and need a healthy, ready-to-go food source that will fit into your lifestyle. It’s an innovative way to stay healthy, and I think it’s earned an honest chance.
But Huel is not for everyone. Although a selling point is its convenience, the truth is that it’s not—especially if you are unaccustomed to drinking your food and having limited choice in what you take in.
It will require some dedication, and a big change in mindset, to actively see results from Huel. The benefits are certainly there, but sticking to Huel’s grander scheme will be challenging if you don’t have a real reason to use it.
All in all, Huel isn’t bad. There’s no harm in trying it out for yourself, but my recommendation is not the most enthusiastic one I can give. Huel, like its taste, is all right. No more, no less.