Huel Review – Brand | The European Flagship
One of the giants of the industry with strong basis: quality, affordable and healthy
Opinion | Products | Nutrition | FAQ | Extra Info | How to Huel | Conclusion | Verdict | Deals
Huel, short for Human Fuel, is a fast growing UK based meal replacement brand who boast having sold 25million meals. On a mission “to make nutritionally complete, convenient, affordable food, with minimum impact on the environment and animals”, Huel holds strong ethical and environmental ideals that resonate through their products – which are suitable for both vegetarians and vegans. Products come with minimal packaging, limited scoops and have a long shelf-life which limits the amount waste each order creates. Without further ado, let’s dive into this indepth Huel review to learn what more has this company to offer us.
Huel is an excellent brand, with a great image, which also delivers an amazing product at an affordable price. Their meal replacement powder’s strongest selling point might be its texture and feeling, very thick and almost food-like, as well as being fairly neutral in taste; which I feel make it ideal for newcomers and veterans alike.
But be warned, some people do not like the taste of Huel. I would recommend starting with the 2 bags, one Vanilla and one Unflavoured & Unsweetened (or Berry). There are ways to customize your Huel, too; so do not give up in the first try.
The standards for this feedback is going to be higher than the average review, since Huel is a major player, thus more is to be expected from it.
- Product range.
- Nutritional value of products and research behind it.
- Information available on the website.
- Website UI.
- Forums and customer support.
Huel does not have the craziest product range out there (that honor probably goes to Feed.), but it has products that cover different needs; a chewable breakfast (or fancy dinner), a bar to eat on the go, and one of the best powders on the market (standard, gluten free and sports certified). On top of that, they offer a wide array of flavourings. You have room to play with Huel.
While the offer is certainly considerable, finding your options in the site and getting the information you need it is not. The user interface and user experience of the Huel website are really good and pleasing.
Speaking about pleasing, perhaps what I value the most about Huel is the amount of information they provide. From excellent nutritional pages, to how to lose/gain weight with Huel and to how the ingredients are made. You can be a beginner, read around the information they provide and have a clear idea of what you are buying (obviously everything is going to be sugar coated, a little bit).
In similar terms, due to all the information they provide, you can get a sense of security, a sense that they have thought about every angle of the product before delivering it to you.
Finally, I must say that their forums are the most active among meal replacement brands. They have an UK, a USA and a German forum, where all sort of questions are asked and aswered continuously. They are a great place to state your doubts, share your experiences or start Huel journeys. Worth a visit.
- No starter pack.
- Granola packaging.
- Worldwide shipping.
- Huel Bar’s nutrition.
Huel has a great confidence in their products and no strong need to do aggressive marketing, since the meals are selling by themselves. However, not having a starter pack where the customer can try all your products is not good for the customer. Even though, they have tried it before and have gotten negative feedback, I think that the users deserve to have a easy way to start with everything.
Huel powder’s packaging is minimal waste. However, Huel Granola’s is not. It is protected by a cardboard box, plus a plastic bag, and the granola itself occupies less than 37% of the volume. While I suspect there are reasons for this, I feel like a single plastic bag should be enough (like many other granola products found in the supermarkets).
Another hard issue is worldwide shipping. Most big brands offer this, but in reality is not feasible because of the shipping costs end up being higher than the product’s worth. However, Pulve (a Dutch brand) does offer free worldwide shipping in orders above €133; thus, I do not see why Huel should not be able to do the same.
Lastly, it is worth mentioning that I hope they keep improving Huel Bar’s nutritional values. Doing a meal replacement bar is a challenge, but Huel bar is high in both saturated fats and sugars. Plus, it is not recommended to consume more than 4 a day. I think that Huel should be able to deliver a bar that can replace every meal.
Bonus: I also find the scoop size a little frustrating as Huel provide a 38g scoop for a recommended 100g or 125g serving…you do the math. Convenience is a key factor so it would be good to see these align for greater ease and to remove the need for scales when wanting to be accurate.
- RTD product.
- Better worldwide shipping terms.
- Retail presence.
I must admit that Huel is doing many things right. However, they do seem to fall behind in producing new products or flavours. This seems to be because they adhere to strong standards and do not feel the urge to change drastically. Nonetheless, RTDs are looking to be a good way to enter the retail market, and with Jimmyjoy releasing their RTD, Saturo moving to the US and Soylent coming to the UK; I feel that the time is now for a Huel RTD (confirmed is coming soon).
Besides, another thing I am hoping to see from Huel is improvements in the packaging. From Huel Granola’s excessive packaging to some biodegradable option for Huel Powder or Huel bars. I know they have been looking into it, but I hope see some actual moves soon.
Regarding to shipping, it would also be great if Huel could offer free worldwide shipping, even if the threshold was fairly high (€150-200).
Finally, I really hope Huel goes into retail soon. There have been talks about Huel negotiating with UK supermarkets, but nothing has been set in stone. With the recent fundings, I hope they fix this and start selling their products in store.
Huel has the position, the brand image, the recognition and now the money. I hope they keep up with the good work, because they have the power to shape the meal replacement industry and help introducing it mainstream.
What PRODUCTS does Huel offer?
Huel offers a vast array of products in different forms and shapes. They have 3 powdered meal replacements: the Standard variation, the Gluten Free variation and the Professional iteration. On top of that, they offer a Granola based breakfast option (although some users claim to live solely of it) and a meal replacecement bar. Besides, they also produce up to 11 flavour boost to improve or change the flavour of the Huel powders.
All Huel products are vegan and offer a gluten free option, except the Granola (which is not gluten free). However, I will discuss that in detail in the nutrition section. Let’s have a look to what products Huel offers.
Huel v2.3 Powder
- Meal Replacement
- 30P/40C/30F % of Energy from
- 1.2g of sugars/2.3g of Saturated Fats per serving
- Price w/ subscription: €1.54/400kcal
- Price no subscription: €1.71/400kcal
- Lowest: €1.54/400kcal
- Allergen: Gluten*
Huel v2.3 Professional Powder
- Meal Replacement
- 30P/40C/30F % of Energy from
- 1.2g of sugars/2.3g of Saturated Fats per serving
- Price w/ subscription: €1.67/400kcal
- Price no subscription: €1.86/400kcal
- Lowest: €1.67/400kcal
- Meal Replacement
- 25P/53C/22F % of Energy from
- 11.2g of sugars/3.2g of Saturated Fats per serving
- Price w/ subscription: €2.25/bar
- Price no subscription: €2.5/bar
- Lowest: €2.25/bar
Huel v1.1 Granola
- Meal Replacement
- 26P/48C/26F % of Energy from
- 5.7g of sugars/1.9g of Saturated Fats per serving
- Price w/ subscription: €1.42/400kcal
- Price no subscription: €1.57/400kcal
- Lowest: €1.42/400kcal
- Allergen: Gluten
- Meal Replacement
- 20P/38C/42F % of Energy from
- 4.3g of sugars/3.9g of Saturated Fats per serving
- Price w/ subscription: €4.4/400kcal
- Price no subscription: €3.96/400kcal
- Lowest: €1.42/400kcal
Huel Flavour Boosts
- Meal Replacement
- Price: €0.12/serving
- Price: €9/bag
- 75 serving per bag
- 11 flavours
Brief Huel v2.3, Huel Gluten Free and Huel Professional Review
I will have a look to these products in-depth in another review (coming out soon). All products are basically the same, with some minor exceptions.
Huel Gluten Free uses the same formula as the standard variation, comes in the same bags and offers the same amount of calories per serving; however, it uses gluten free oats instead of the normal oats. The price is a little higher than the normal Huel at €1.77/400kcal with subscription and €1.91/400kcal without.
Huel Professional is batch tested for banned substances in sports. Even though none of the Huel products contains any banned substances, only those tested by Informed-Sports are approved. Thus, while everything nutritionally is identical to the standard version, the price is slightly higher €1.67/400kcal with subscription and €1.86/400kcal without.
Each one of them comes in bags of 14 meals (7,000kcal) with a meal in this case representing a 125g serving. Nutritional information is presented based on either a 100g (400kcal) serving or a 125g (500kcal) serving (4x125g or 5x100g portions for a diet of 2,000kcal).
Huel offers 5 pre-mixed flavours: Berry, Coffee, Original, Unflavoured & Unsweetened and Vanilla. Apart from the Professional Huel, which sadly only comes in Vanilla flavour.
Nutritionally, Huel powders are known for being very balanced, with an energy split of 40% from carbs, 30% from protein and 30% from fats. This means that Huel shakes are increadibly high in protein, when comparing to the almost any other shake (29.5g/400kcal as opposed to Soylent’s 20g/400kcal or Plenny Shake Sport’s 27.2g/400kcal).If you are not an sport athlete or have any intolerances for gluten, do not buy anything but the Standard version. Paying extra will not give you anything.
Brief Huel Granola Review
Huel Granola is the last product Huel has released and the only one in the whole line-up that is not available in a gluten free format. Huel Granola is designed to offer a “chewable” meal alternative, so you do not get bored of just drinking your meals (similar to what currently Queal is developing with the Queal Instant Oats).
Each Granola serving (65g) offers you with 214kcal, with a 26P/48C/26F energy split. It is clear that this product is different not only on how it is consumed, but also on what nutritionally offers. Huel Granola is richer in sugars than the powder version (9.3g/100g vs 1.2g/100g), mainly because it contains brown rice syrup and raw cane sugar. However, each serving only gives 6.22% of the RI for sugars, so you would not have any problems.
Huel Granola is fairly rich in protein with 14.1g per serving and a full day of Huel Granola would provide you with 132g. That is beyond what many “sport” meal replacements offer you. Despite the fact that the amino acid profile is likely to be different to the standard variation, Huel Granola could be a very good source of protein.
Nevertheless, one thing I would like to take into acount is that Huel Granola is not to be consumed with water, but with milk (dairy, almond, rice, coconut) most of the times. Thus, this will add extra calories and a different macronutrient profile depending on the type of milk chosen.
Brief Huel Bar Review –Read the full Review
Meal replacement bars tend to be the least healthy alternative of all types of meal replacements. It is really hard to find a competent product. Huel’s bar offers 250kcal per serving in a 52C/22F/25P energy split. Huel hallmarks high protein, vegan and gluten free are true in this bar. Each bar also provides with at least 15% of every micronutrient, so in theory you should be able to live solely off them.
Bars are often high in saturated fats. As such, Huel bar is higher in saturated fats than the powder and the granola version (4.9g/100g vs 2.3g/100g vs 3.1g/100g, respectively). In fact, each bar offers 16% of the RI (which would total 128% if you only ate Huel bars) and saturated fats are higher than monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which is not ideal. Thus, I would recommend consuming them in moderation.
On the bright side, there is 3 flavours to choose from: cocoa, cocoa & orange and coffee (which contains 0.059g of caffeine per serving). As far as the pricing goes, Huel bars are in the middle of the pack, slightly more expensive than Queal GO (€2.5/315kcal) or Twennybar (€2/384kcal).
Because of the pricing, the amount of bars you would have to eat, the nutritional differences and the fact that they can have a laxative effect, I would not recommend using Huel bars as sole source of food.
Brief Huel Ready to Drink Review –Read the full Review
Huel is one of the last big brands hoping on the RTD hype train. Everyone was expecting it, and because of the wait the expectations were set very high. Perhaps, too high. Many expected a miraculous solution where there were no plastic bottles and it was the best meal replacement ever. No need to say this was not the case.
But beyond the expectations, Huel RTD is an OK product. Not great, just OK. There are many issues, such as the price, which starts at €4.4/400kcal (most expensive, almost) or £3.96. There are bulk and subscriber discounts, however, this is a ridicoulously high starting price. Particularly, if we consider Saturo (market leader in RTDs in EU) sells at £2.14/400kcal.
Another “issue” is that when comparing to other Huel products, Huel RTD is low in protein (20g/400kcal vs 29g/400kcal). I do not think it is an issue nutritionally, but more in terms of disregarding Huel’s nutritional trademark (high protein meal replacements).
All in all, each bottle is 500ml and serves 400kcal, with a macronutrient split of 38C/20/42F. Really high in fats, which does not make it any different from other RTDs in the market (Soylent Drink, Saturo, Mana Drink, Plenny Drink). However, it is the only vegan RTD that does not contain soy.
They are currently out for pre-order in two flavours: Berry and Vanilla. The shipping of the product will begin on the 28th of December.
Brief Huel Flavour Boost Review
Flavour boosts are great for companies because they allow them to expand the flavour options without some of the logistical and manufacturing problems having them pre-mixed would cause them. However, from a user experience point of view and environmental standpoint, I do not really agree with the model.
Nevertheless, Huel offers up to 11 flavour boosts, including: Mint Chocolate, Caramel, Strawberry, Mocha, Chocolate, Banana, Rhubarb and Custard, Pinneapple and Coconut, Toffee, Cacao and Matcha tea. Some of these flavours are very British, but there is no denying that they offer a whole new array of experiences.
More does not always mean better, and so it is in this case. The flavouring pouches do not make Huel taste as good as the pre-mixed versions. However, for the ridiculous price of €0.12 or £0.10 per serving you can get a whole new experience. This highlights another problem, which is that even if it is minimal, you need to pay extra for to tastes these flavours.
Nutritionally, each flavouring serving is so small (2g) that they do not make any difference in the overall shake.
- Huel Toffee Flavour Boost ingredients: Maltodextrin, Gum Arabic, Natural Flavouring, Sweetener (E960 – Stevia).
- Huel Rhubarb & Custard Flavour Boost ingredients: Maltodextrin, Gum Arabic, Natural Flavouring, Sweetener (E960 – Stevia).
- Huel Mocha Flavour Boost ingredients: Maltodextrin, Gum Arabic, Natural Flavouring, Cocoa Powder, Sweetener (E960 – Stevia). (Note: the natural flavour does contain some caffeine.)
- Huel Pineapple & Coconut Flavour Boost ingredients: Maltodextrin, Gum Arabic, Natural Flavouring, Citric Acid, Sweetener (E960 – Stevia).
- Huel Banana Flavour Boost ingredients: Maltodextrin, Gum Arabic, Natural Flavouring, Sweetener (E960 – Stevia).
- Huel Chocolate Flavour Boost ingredients: Maltodextrin, Gum Arabic, Cocoa Powder, Natural Flavouring, Sweetener (E960 – Stevia).
- Huel Cacao Flavour Boost ingredients: Maltodextrin, Gum Arabic, Cacao Powder, Natural Flavouring, Sweetener (E960 – Stevia).
- Huel Matcha Tea Flavour Boost ingredients: Maltodextrin, Gum Arabic, Matcha Tea Extract, Natural Flavouring, Sweetener (E960 – Stevia).
- Huel Caramel Flavour Boost ingredients: Maltodextrin, Natural Flavouring, Sweetner (E960 – Stevia)
- Huel Strawberry Flavour Boost ingredients: Maltodextrin, Natural Flavouring, Citric Acid, Sweetener (E960 – Stevia).
Huel does not offer any Starter Packs or sample packs per se. Even if they used to do one shot samples and 3 serving samples, the had negative feedback from the users (mostly related to unexperienced handling of the starter packs) and thus they stop doing them, sadly.
Currently, you get a free shaker and a free t-shirt when you first order Huel (2 bags with 28 meals, about €60 or £45). They also provide you with a booklet to help you get started with Hule. You can always use our referral code to get €10/£10 off in your first order too.
Huel’s meal replacement powders have a nutritionally balanced design that provides at least 100% of the UK Government’s ‘Reference Nutrient Intakes‘ and the EU’s ‘Daily Recommended Amount‘. Huel aims to offer a vegan meal replacement sourced from real foods; including, pea and rice protein, oats, flaxseed, sunflower seeds and coconut.
Huel’s Powder version is the nutritionally most complete one, and it scores an A in the Nutriscore ranking (top score). This is a ranking created by the French Health Department to analyse the quality of foods and ingredients.
Funnily enough there is a little mess with the Huel’s serving sizes. The recommended preparation of 3 scoops (which appears on the nutrition labels) gives you around 450kcal. However, the US recommended serving is 500kcal (125g), and others like to have a 400kcal (100g) Huel.
Nevertheless, all have a 30P/40C/30F energy split (30/37/30 and 3 from fiber, to be exact). This balanced split is low in carbohydrates according to the EFSA guidelines (45-65% is the recommended range); and fairly high in fats and, particularly, protein. Fats are more energy rich, which reduces the need of more powder. Regarding to protein, there are very very few shakes that offer such a high energy percentage from them.
Each Huel Granola serving provides you with 216kcal (60g). However, you need to take into account that you will most likely be adding milk to this, thus the calories of the meal will change according to it.
The energy split of this product is 48C/26P/26F (or 42C/26P/26F and 6% from fiber). Comparing to the powder version, it is higher in carbohydrates (oats are the main ingredient), but nutritionally it fits within the dietary guidelines very nicely. This does not mean that Huel Granola is better than Huel Powder, per se.
Huel Bar’s provide you with 250kcal per serving (67g). Most of the energy will come from carbohydrates (41C/25P/28F and 6% from fiber). The differences with Huel Granola are minimal in the macronutrient energy split, but there are differences in the origin of those macros.
Each Huel product packs high protein quantities with their powder meal replacements offering 29.6g of protein per meal for a total 148g a day – if you were to only consume Huel during the day. This is above the 0.83g of protein per kg of body weight recommendation by the European Food Safety Agency (ESFA). Do not panic though, since this number represents the lower limit, and Huel is within the recommended range. High protein diets help to satiate hunger and too much protein is yet to be linked to any dietary diseases.
With each serving providing 14.1g of protein, eating only Huel Granola for the day would give you 132g of protein.
15.5g of protein per Huel Bar equal a total of 124g of protein a day. This is definitely more than enough for any average and mildly sportive adult.
All Huel products are vegan, thus they cannot use whey protein; which is often considered the best source. In order to substitute whey, Huel uses a blend of pea protein and rice (seen in other vegan shakes like Pulve) to provide a well rounded amino acid profile rich in Leucine.
The main reason for the blend is that pea protein is low in methionine (an essential amino acid), whereas rice has high methionine content. Rice protein also complements pea protein with extra leucine and lysine, which are essential for muscle building. Both sources have been proven to be great by many studies.
Besides, oats (particularly good for essential amino acids) and flaxseeds do also provide with extra protein.
Maybe what distinguishes Huel’s nutritional profile from others is the very low sugar quantities, only 0.9g per meal! This is an astonishing feat in a society subjected to hidden sugars, a cause of many illnesses such as diabetes. Huel, instead, offers high fibre high complex carbohydrate product, mainly coming from oats.
On the opposite hand, Huel Granola contains 5.6g of sugars per serving (or 9.3g per 100g). This equates to 6% of the RI per serving, which is still low sugar content; particularly when comparing to other granola products in the market filled with sugars. The sugars come from rice syrup and raw cane sugar.
Similarly, each Huel bar provides you with 11.2g of sugars (12% of RI). This is due to the fact that solid meal replacements (bars) have other manufacturing needs, and Huel uses different carbohydrate sources (namely date syrup) in their bars. While, eating only Huel bars will not put you above the RI for sugars, I would recommend eating them moderately.
Regarding the fat sources, Huel mainly uses Sunflower Oil Powder, flaxseeds and coconut powder, the latter for MCTs. Uh? Confused about what MCTs are? In short, they are good fats. Medium chain triglycerides (MCT for short) are able to be used directly as an energy source, as opposed to other fats which first need to be processed. Huel also contains low saturated fat levels, linked to heart diseases and cardiovascular problems.
Sunflower oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids and it is often paired with flaxseed oil to bring the omega-3/6 ratio down to 1/1-1/4. Coconut oil and powder are often used for MCTs and in a more limited way as normal fat source, due to its high saturated fat content. Just to clarify, MCTs from coconut oil are not high in saturated fats, because they are simply a different type of fats.
The breakfast option, Huel Granola, uses different fat sources, namely, seed oils (sunflower, flaxseed and pumpkin) and coconut oil (not MCT powder from coconut). As a consequence of using coconut oil, it is richer in saturated fats than the powder version, but still each serving will only provide you with 9% of RI.
Huel Granola will still offer you some MCTs and a great fatty acid profile and good omega-3/6 ratio.
The main sources of fats are flaxseed powder, sunflower oil and coconut oil. While, Huel Bars do provide with good amounts of essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, they are also considerably higher in saturated fats than the rest of products. With 3.2g per 250kcal serving (16% of RI), a day in Huel Bars would provide you with 128% of your daily saturated fats. Even if this is not considerably high, it is also true that the bars are richer in saturated fats than monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, which is related with higher cardiovascular disease risk.
This is another reason why I believe Huel Bars are better in moderation.
Every part of Huel’s nutrition is carefully measured. As such, all Huel products provide enough vitamins and minerals for your body to function according to the general guidelines, but they also choose to add extra of certain vitamins (like Vit C) in purpose for optimal nutrition. Following with the Vitamin C example, this is to enhance iron absorption and avoid other substances (phytic acid) from preventing it to enter the body.
Similarly, Huel also contains extra choline (vitamin B-like essential nutrient), even though it can be synthesized by the human body. This is due that dietary choline is easier to obtain, and western diets tend to run short in choline.
See below call out of where significantly more than 100%
- 300% Vit D2
- 375% Vit C
- 353% Phosphorous
- 290% Iron
- 447% Manganese
- 265% Selenium
- 480% Molybdenum
As for the source of the micronutrients, while Huel tries to obtain most from the prime ingredients, they do add a custom blend to reach the recommended amounts.
Phytowhat? I know it is a mouthful word, but in essence they are compounds found in plants and vegetables (mostly) that have benefitial effects in health (such as acting like antioxidants) and decreasing the risk of certain diseases.
Huel is rich in phytonutrients, namely, lycopene (antioxidant), lutein (antioxidant), zeaxanthin (prevention of macular degeneration), ferulic acid (antibacterial), avenathramides (anti-inflammatory), lignans (reduced carciovascular disease), tocols (antioxidants), phytic acid (antioxidant) and beta-glucans (lower blood cholesterol).
All the information about which Huel’s phytonutrients and their role can be found in their site.
What we found to be one of its strong points, in this Huel review, is the fact that is suitable for vegans. Their products contain no animal sources and are aimed to be less impactful on the environment. Furthermore, they also sell a gluten free variety, which means that Huel can be consumed by virtually everybody!
As final point, we want to mention that Huel uses sucralose in the powder as sweetener – while stevia is used as natural sweeteners in the flavourings. Despite the fact that sucralose might have had bad reputation, it has not been proven to be harmful to our health. So do not be concerned about it.
More about nutrition
If you are interested on knowing every little nutritional detail there is about Huel, I recommend you visiting Huel’s nutritional page, where they have many articles about the different sides of Huel’s nutrition.
- All Huel products are really high in protein with 25-30% of the energy coming from pea and rice protein blend.
- Huel is quite rich in fats, contains large quantities of omega-3, and is generally low in saturated fats (except Huel Bars). It also contains MCTs as fast energy sources.
- Carbohydrates mostly come from oats (complex), but Granola and Huel Bar do have some added sugars (nothing too high). All Huel products are rich in fiber.
- Huel package goes beyond macronutrients and also includes essential micronutrients and benefitial phytonutrients.
- Huel Powder is the nutritionally most balanced, together with Huel Granola. Huel Bar is something I would consume as supplement and not as my main food source.
More about Huel
Huel was first launched in June 2015, founded by Julian Hearn and James Collier (while the company was funded in 2014). The UK based meal replacement brand has been a success story pretty much since the beginning, since they sold an impressive 750,000 meals in their first year. That number increased up to 14M meals between January 2017- January 2018. For this year they expect to have sold up to 3 times that number. Absolutely, mind blowing numbers.
It is not only the amount of meals that has grown, but also the amount employees Huel has, in both Europe and the US. 66 members of the Huel team and growing, since they are currently hiring. Despite the size, the treatment towards customers and the attention to detail has not suffered, because as Huel says “it is not just about us”.
More about the founders
At the heart of the company, Huel’s founders offer up strong nutritional credibility and this is reflected in their product endorsements and nutritional balance.
Julian Hearn is a veteran of the entrepeneur world, with a full life of employement providing him with plenty of experience. After graduating in Bournemouth University in Marketing, he worked in multiple marketing and managerial positions, including Starbucks, Tesco and Waitrose. In 2008, he founded Mash Up Media Limited, which he sold 3 years later for millions to an American company, before starting with Huel in 2014.
James Collier is the nutrition specialist. He studied Nutrition at the University of Surrey and has been working in the industry since. Since 1999 he has acted as nutrition consultant for Healty Action (his company) and in 2000 created the MuscleTalk forum, one of the most well known bodybuilding forums in the UK. Thus, it is no surprise that he would be the right fit to found Huel, a meal replacement with such a high protein content.
This is a great little introduction to Huel and how it all started by Julian. Great interview by Startup Mircrodose for those interested in getting to know Huel better.
More about Huel’s beliefs
Huel is very clear estating what are the guidelines or the ideas by which the company grows and functions:
- Scientific evidence and expert support. James Collier is not the only nutritionist working at Huel. Three dietitians did a blind test back in 2016 comparing Soylent, Jimmyjoy and Huel. Huel was declared the winner. The formulas have changed since, but it would be interesting to see if the results would, too.
- Being affordable. While not the cheapest meal replacement in the market, it is true that €1.67/400kcal or £1.16/400kcal is not very expensive at all.
- Zero food waste and minimal overall waste. As Huel can be conserved up to 1 year it is true that it offers minimal waste after the manufacturing.
- High manufacturing standards.
- Being ethical. All Huel products are vegan and are sourced sustainably and ethically. While I do not 100% agree being vegan = being ethical, it is true that Huel cares about the topic.
- Being environmentally friendly. Huel says that because they are vegan and produce zero food waste they have smaller impact than many other conventional food. While this is true partially, I do believe Huel can do more in this regard (discussed below).
“Environmentally friendly”, “respectful with the environment”, “minimal waste” and other catch-phrases are often used in the meal replacement industry too lightly. Packaging is often one of the aspects, where you can see the extend to which the companies really care.
Before going into what I think Huel can improve, allow me to say that in general terms they do seem to care, as showcased by many discussions in their forums about packaging and zero waste. When comparing this with what you would otherwise produce, it is insignificant.
Huel Powder Bags
However, I am diverting. Huel’s powder products use a 3.5kg non-recyclable bag. It is non-recyclable because it is made from different types of plastic and takes too much effort to separate them in order to recycle. While Huel claims that they have been looking for recyclable and biodegradable alternatives they have decided the current bag due to:
- It is cheap. The bag needs to be affordable in order to keep the cost down.
- Strength. The bag needs to hold all the Huel in harsh conditions (handling during the shipment) without bursting.
- Protection against agents that will damage the nutrient, including, light, odour, water and air.
- It has minimal impact when comparing to “normal food” or RTD products.
Even though the reasons for the Huel Powder bag to stay as it is, I really hope we see some advancements, like Pulve’s biodegradable bag. Analysing the cost of making each bag, and which one is more environmentally friendly would be a task for another time, though.
Huel Granola Packaging
Regarding the Granola packaging I must say I am a little bit disappointed. As raised many times, the Granola currently comes in a plastic wrapping inside a cardboard box (like the cereal); however, the granola only takes 37% of the space in the box. This means there is plenty of carboard and plastic for every Huel Granola.
As some users have said, I think it would be more sensible if the granola is delivered in a single bag (like how you find your oats or your muesly at the supermarket), or in a smaller cardboard or in a bigger portion.
Huel Flavouring Boosts
I am not a big fan of the whole flavouring system, since they provide extra nuisance and extra waste to take care of. However, I do like the fact that they are not individual pouches, and instead they come in 150g packs with 75 servings on them.
Huel has 12 month shelf life, point after which some nutrients will start degrading. Does this mean that it is not to safe to eat after 12 months? No, you can consume Huel safely, it just will not be at peak nutrition.
The products are produced in Devon in the South West of England making the brand a great option for any UK based customers as free (yes, free!) delivery is usually next working day and can be delivered within a 1 hour slot of your choice. Deliveries are made via DPD with their multiple delivery options being made available in DPD’s post order comms – such as change delivery date, leave with a neighbour, deliver to store, etc – making it perfectly convenient in our experience!
For those readers further afield, Huel offers a similar delivery proposition within Europe (in terms of delivery times) but please note these come at an additional cost (€8 in orders below €54). However, any order above €54 (2 bags of Huel) will be qualified for free shipping.
The exceptions are Malta and Cyprus (flat €36 fee) and the Canary Islands (€16 fee). Note also that customers living in Switzerland and Norway might have to pay custom fees.
US and Canada Huel
For US customers, orders above $25 will qualified for free shipping and will be delivered withing 3-5 days. You will also be able to get notifications by text and follow your Huel order all the way through.
Unfortunately for Canadian customers, not even Huel has been able to beat the strict Canadian laws regarding meal replacements and they currently not deliver to Canada.
Huel also delivers to ‘rest of the world’, but that comes at huge extra cost, usually. For instance, delivering to New Zeeland would be about $60.
Huel Australia, the forbidden love
Unfortunately for Australian Huelers, Huel stopped shipping to Australia due to shipments being stopped in customs (Thank you Horacio for poiting it out). Other users also remarked this issue in the Huel forums, and the most recent answer has been that it is not in their current plans. If you travel with Huel in your bags to Australia, you should have no problems, though.
Huel’s refund policy
Huel will accept unopened products, which are in the same conditions as you got them, within 30 days and will refund your money or exchange the product.
In order to get the full refund, even the cardboard packaging will have to be in good conditions. You will have to print a refund document from the main Huel website and send it to Huel Returns, Unit 13, Stevern Way, Peterborough, PE1 5EL (UK).
However, they will not take care of the shipping costs or accept returns if you did not like the taste.
See all Huel refund policies here.
1- Can I lose weight with Huel?
Yes, Huel can be an ideal addition to your weight loss diet, because it helps you tracking your calories easier, while providing a nutrient rich meal.
2- Can I gain weight with Huel?
Huel can be used to gain weight and muscle, due to the fact that it is rich in protein and you can easily add calories to every shake.
3- Can I live solely of Huel?
Yes, there are few people who live 100% off eating Huel. However, I would not recommend doing this if you are new to meal replacements. You can see how two healthy individuals lived solely of Huel for one month here.
4- What is the best product to start with Huel?
Huel powder is the best way to start with Huel. It is the product that offers the most well rounded nutritional profile, it is easy to make, easy to customize to your liking and you can consume it anywhere. Huel Granola is also price-wise a great deal and perhaps an easy way to start with meal replacements, since it resembles normal granola.
5- How does Huel taste?
The Vanilla flavour is quite strong and quite sweet, more so than the Original, which offers a milder taste. Berry and Coffee are particular and distinctive. Something all Huel shakes have in common is the grainniness and not so smooth texture.
6- Where is Huel made?
Huel is made in Devon, South England. The ingredients are sourced from different European countries.
7- When is the best time to drink Huel?
There is no best time to drink Huel, any time is a good time. While many find it the most convenient to drink for breakfast or lunch, Huel can also be consumed for dinner, after your workout, during long exercise periods…
8- What is the best way to drink Huel?
It truly is subjective. However, a lot users prefer to put their Huel overnight in the fridge to smoothen the shake and drink it cold in the morning. As for sipping vs drinking fast, I like to sip it and make it last, mainly because it reminds me of a real meal and it feels like an actual reward.
9- Can I drink Huel cold or hot?
You should be careful when drinking Huel hot. You cannot add boiling water/coffee to your Huel because the nutrients (like protein) will be denatured and lost. The shake will also become really clumpy. Cold or room temperature is easier to have your shake at.
10- Is Huel organic?
11- Is Huel non-GMO?
Huel does not contain any GMO ingredients on their products, although they do not have a clear stance on pro or against GMO.
12- What is Huel’s GI?
Huel’s glycemic index is 27 which is really low. Huel’s glycemic load per meal is 10, which is considered low.
13- Is Huel OK for a low FODMAP diet?
Huel Powder is considered low FODMAP, thus it is good for people that suffer from IBS and other issues. However, Huel recommends sticking to a maximum of 3 scoops per meal and spreading your meals accross the day if you are particularly sensitive.
Huel Bars, on the other hand, are not low FODMAP (ingredients are different).
14- Is Huel safe for diabetics?
People suffering both type1 and type2 diabetes can consume Huel without any problems. Huel is mostly complex carbohydrates and fiber, plus has a low GI, which means it has less of an impact in blood sugar levels. In fact, Huel only gives 40% of the energy from carbohydrates and it is easy to track how many carbs you get per meal.
15- Is Huel safe is I have X disease/intolerance?
I would recommend asking your doctor or the main nutritionist James Collier in the Huel forums or via email.
However, there have been posts declaring that Huel is safe to take for the following.
- Crohn’s disease. Recommended to limit Huel intake due to the high fiber content.
- Chronic gastritis.
- Ulcerative Colitis.
- Chronic Fatigue.
- Mast Cell Disease.
16- Does Huel offer military discount (US)?
Yes, check this page.
17- Does Huel offer student discount (US)?
How to Huel
Huel products are really versitile. They are perfect for beginners and advance meal replacement users; for people looking to lose or gain weight; or for those who are just looking to improve their diet and their health. Click below to go to the right section:
How to get started with Huel
Huel is a great meal replacement to start with, due to its balance nutrition, flavour options and positive effect on your health. The price to get started is a bit of a barrier, since you will have to commit €54 or £45 in your first purchase (2 bags with 35 meals of 400kcal). However, you will also get a free t-shirt, a shaker and a booklet with your first order. You can also use our $/€/£10 off deal to make it even cheaper.
So let’s have a look at how to get started with Huel. Before proceeding any further, I would recommend you reading our how to start with meal replacements guide, in which I explain the process at greater detail.
5 Steps to enjoy your first Huel
- Learn a little bit about nutrition. Particularly, how many calories (energy) you need in a daily basis. You can do this easily by using any calorie counter/tracker app, such as, MyFitnessPal. Enter your weight, age, gender and activity levels and it will calculate it for you.
- Buy 2 bags of Huel from the official website using the link provided to get €/$/£10 off. I would recommend buying Vanilla and Berry in your first purchase. If you are unsure of which flavour you will like, Vanilla is the way to go.
- Think about when you are going to have your Huel shake. I would recommend swaping your breakfast or lunch (most popular options), but another criteria would be swapping the meal you struggle the most with. You can also take Huel after your workout.
- Track your calories throughout the day, so you make sure you are staying in your goal. This is especially important for beginners to calorie counting.
- Mix 3 scoops provided by Huel (around 150kcal per scoop) with 400ml of cold water (total of 450kcal). If not measure 100g for 400kcal or 125g for 500kcal (add 450ml-500ml for the latter).
- Shake and enjoy your meal!
Tip! Huel is a little “grainny”. If you like your shake, I recommend preparing it overnight (or at least 2h before) and leave it in the fridge for a smooth Huel shake.
How to get started FAQ
1. I do not have a scoop how will I measure it?
3 scoops of Huel will be around the 250ml in the Huel shaker (as shown in the picture). Also, 1cup is about 3 scoops of Huel too. If not, you can always email the Huel support team and they will be kind enough to send you a replacement scoop.
2. How long can I prepare in advance?
Huel will last you around 24h in the fridge and 12h at room temperature. As stated before, 8-12h refrigerated Huel seems to be the way to go for many, because it will allow you for a smoother shake. If you are carrying your Huel around, I will say there should be no problem if you are going to consume it within the same day.
3. I do not like the taste too much. What can I do?
Some users find the flavours too sweet or just not to their liking. A lot of regular consumers recomend mixing 2:1 the unflavoured & unsweetened with the new vanilla flavour to make it less strong. However, I would recommend you adding something you enjoy, like honey, coffee, berries, banana… and find the Huel flavour that suits the most.
Do not give up on Huel if you do not like it in the first try. There are tons of way to customize it!
4. Can I replace all my meals with Huel?
Yes, but if you are a beginner I would strongly advise against it because; one, it will be hard to do a 100% change and you will not stick to it for long; two, you will get tired of Huel more quickly; and three, you do not know how your body will react to Huel. Stick to one and increase from there.
5. What is the ideal Huel to water ratio?
One scoop of Huel with about 150-200ml of water. However, it will depend on how thin or thick you like your shakes. Huel has usually a thicker consistency.
6. Can I add more things to Huel?
Yes! That is one of the best things about Huel. You can add almost anything you want to it (I would recommend Vanilla or U&U flavours for this)! Go and look for Huel recipe ideas!
How to lose weight with Huel
Before we go any further I will like to recommed you two essential pages that will help you in your weight loss journey:
- How to lose weight with meal replacements. An in-depth guide that includes an awesome infographic.
- How to lose weight with Huel by Huel.
Before you start
- Learn some basics about nutrition. What are calories? What are macronutrients? What are micronutrients? Calories in vs calories out is the most commonly given advice in order to lose weight. You will have to eat less than what you will need to achieve a caloric deficit and lose weight.
- Weight yourself to have an idea of where you are. Take a picture, do not be scared! Pictures will allow you to see progress that otherwise would go unnoticed.
- Set weight goals. Set a final goal, but also milestones. Milestones are great to help you with the sense of achievement, as well as breaking down what it could be a huge task. Personally, I would avoid timestamps since it will only cause you additional stress. This is a marathon, not a sprint (sorry for the cliche).
- Losing weight is not about dieting, but about changing your lifestyle. Your weight loss journey should go beyond losing those extra pounds or kgs. You need to aim to establish yourself in a healthier routine that will be sustainable in the long term.
- I would recommend watching:
5 easy steps to lose weight with Huel
- Set up a caloric deficit. I personally like starting low (about 100-200kcal), so you can gradually increase the deficit as you hit plateaus. Other people recommend starting at 500kcal deficit to lose 1lb/week. For a sedentary adult male this would mean about 2,000-1,800kcal per day; for a female 1,600kcal or lower.
- Make a meal plan. Include one, two or three Huel shakes in your meal plan. I would recommend swapping the meals that are the most unhealthy for you. E.g. have a 400kcal shake in the morning (with plenty of water) and another one at lunch. Then you will have about 800kcal left.
- Track your food using a calorie tracker like MyFitnessPal. Make sure you stay in goals and be honest with yourself. Make an extra effort the first days to set a good precedent.
- Do sports or be active, if you can. Walking, running, cycling, doing weights, dancing… Find something you enjoy doing and try to incorporate it into your routine. It will help you losing weight, and establishing a better foundation for your new healthier lifestyle.
- Start a weight loss journal in the Huel forum. I know it can be intimidating, but other Huelers will be your biggest supporters and will give you unvaluable advice to achieve your goals.
Problems you might encounter in your Huel weight loss journey and how to solve them
a) You are getting bored of Huel.
Huel can get very dull very fast, particularly if you are using only one flavour. I would recommend having different bags of Huel with different flavours to avoid this from happening. Other thing you can do is check the forum for recipie. Vegetables like spinach or kale; fruits like berries (in moderation); or sweeteners like MyProtein’s Flav Drops can change the taste of Huel without adding many calories.
b) Social events.
Sometimes they are unavoidable. I would advise you against skipping them, life is about enjoying it. There are ways to make sure you stay on track, though. First, if you can have the menu of the venue that you are attending to and choose a meal beforehand (that has less calories or is healthier), I would advise you doing so. You will succumb the temptation if not. Second, make sure to use Huel during the day to have some healthy meals and good nutrients. Third, make sure you enjoy it so you can stick to your diet next day.
c) You cheated, is your diet over?
Heck no! We all have bad days, this too is part of life. One day in terms of one month does not mean much. The important thing is to keep your goal clear and keep working on your diet. Make sure to drink Huel the next morning and that will set you back in the right track.
This perhaps is a bigger problem. It might be that you do not have your goals clear enough. That you do not truly know why you want to lose weight or that you are not in the right mindset. You can do it. Be honest with yourself, make small achievable goals and go for it. Take a Huel for your next meal and start your diet then.
e) Hitting plateaus.
You will reach plateaus in your weight loss journey. It is part of the trip. Either because your body has gotten used to your daily calorie deficit or because your metabolic rate has decreased (hence you need less food to maintain). Decrease calories by another 200kcal. How?
Eat less by putting half scoop of Huel instead of a full scoop (2.5 instead of 3).
Burn more calories by doing sports, being more active overall.
f) You feel hungry after eating or consuming Huel.
This is fairly standard. The 5-20 minutes after you consume your Huel you are likely to feel hungry. This is because your body has not processed that it has eaten, yet. There are ways around it. For instance, you could brush your teeth, which causes you wanting to eat more. Or you could put yourself away from food and make yourself busy with some chore.
If you feel hungry an hour or two hours after consuming your Huel I would recommend you to: one, consume your Huel slowly to make it last; two, some people like to refill their Huel shaker to get the remainings; three, make sure you are busy and take your mind off food; and if none of those work, I would try to make sure you are consuming enough Huel.
How to gain weight with Huel
Once again Huel provides with some basic information on how to gain weight with Huel. The basics are pretty similar to losing weight. No matter why you are trying to gain weight (to put some muscle mass or because you need to put some weight on you) Huel is a good food to help you do so.
Before you start gaining weight I would recommend this basics steps:
- Get to know how many calories you need a day to maintain your current weight.
- Weight yourself and set specific goals. About .5kg (1lbs) to 1kg (2lbs) can be appropriate depending your goal.
- Think about what other foods you will have besides Huel. I would recommend some healthy fats (peanut butter, vegetable oils, red meat, eggs) and some complex carbohydrates (pasta, rice, potatoes) to help you increase the calories per meal.
How to put on weight?
You will have to be on a calorie surplus, i.e. you will have to eat more than what you need to maintain. About 200-500kcal more should be enough for most people. How much exactly it will depend on your goal and how much you want to gain a week.
You might have to do a little bit of trial and error. If you see you are not gaining weight make sure to increase your calorie intake even more.
It is often easier to eat smaller meals more often, rather than huge meals less often. However, this will depend on the person and how much time you have. I would prepare 2-4 Huel shakes for the day in the morning to make sure I will always have food available. It is important that you never feel hungry while you are trying to put on weight.
I would have at least 4 scoops (600kcal) of Huel per meal. On top of that, if you are serious about putting weight I would add whole milk (dairy, almond, coconut) to the Huel shake to increase the caloric content in a healthy way. Other ideas to make Super Huel shakes include: peanut butter, honey, cacao powder, coconut oil, bananas or ice-cream (moderately).
If you are looking to bulk up or gain muscle, I would recommend exercising regularly with some kind of hypertrophy program. I would also have a Huel shake with some extra carbohydrates with your post-workout shake. Having the protein right after the workout will ensure better replenishment and muscle growth.
Who is Huel for?
Huel stands for Human Fuel. Thus, it is pretty clear that they aim to create a product that will be suitable for most people. In fact, all kind of different people from ultra marathon runners, to office workers or students are Huelers.
Easy to get used to flavours, great product delivery, fairly competent price and a balanced nutrition, make Huel a good choice for almost anybody.
Does it taste good?
The pre-mixed Huel’s do taste good, especially the Vanilla version. The Coffee and the Berry (less so than coffee) are perhaps not top notch, but better than the flavour boost. However, one of Huel’s strengths is that mixes very well with other foods. The Unflavoured and Unsweetened powder is great base to which you can add flavourings, blend with other food, or balanced out the other Huel flavours.
Will I get all the nutrients I need?
All the nutrients you need, plus perhaps more. Let me clarify this, you will get all the macronutrients you need, and 20% of all the micros (per 400kcal serving), plus some phytonutrients (necessary nutrients found in plants) that not many competitors take into account.
I want to buy it. How much will it cost me?
The cheapest option for Huel Powder will be $1.69/400kcal || £1.16/400kcal || €1.54/400kcal (10% subscription).
Without any discounts it will be $1.89/400kcal || £1.29/400kcal || €1.71/400kcal.
However, the cheapest Huel product is Huel Granola, which costs £1.14/400kcal || €1.42/400kcal.
Bonus: the UK is the best place to buy Huel; it is cheaper, the delivery is faster and better, and it is free.
Wait a moment, is it perfect?
Huel might be one of the companies that chases perfection, and actually gets close to it. Their customer service is great; their interaction with community remarkable; their subscription, delivery and shipping terms very good; and on the product side they have a set of very healthy and affordable meal replacements. Plus, they seem to be always working to improve. There is room for improvement, though, on things like packaging, taste, release of new products, worldwide shipping…
Huel is a really really good brand with a great powder product (Huel v2.3) and other two good solid meal replacements. Huel has done very little wrong since its inception, and although they have had things to learn and improve upon; they have quickly become a reference in the whole industry. A spot I feel they deserve, due to the quality of their products. Huel is a shake for beginners and advance users alike, for casual use or hardcore use that will offer you one of the most nutritious meals you could have. Huel is a must try for everyone that eats complete foods, and a strong recommendation for anyone looking to start with them.
Huel deals and discount codes
– $/€/£10 OFF in your first purchase when you used the voucher provided by this link. You can introduce the voucher at the checkout.