Welcome to the Huel Black review, the most popular low carb high protein meal replacement shake in the market.
In fact, with 40g of protein, it’s the favourite for those looking to boost their protein intake and/or lose weight alike. Perhaps is this, or the fact that it’s gluten-free and without artificial sweeteners what’s made it so popular.
Either way, Huel Black’s success has taken even Huel by surprise, and after 1 year of launch it’s already their second best-selling product.
On our first Huel Black review, the Editor in Chief (Enaut), was rather disappointed by the taste and thought that it was a fatal flaw on an otherwise excellent product.
In this Huel Black review, Johnny had a fresh look to better understand what makes this shake so popular; and if it actually tastes as bad as originally thought.
Let’s find out if you should buy Huel Black!
Huel Black Edition at a Glance
Huel Black is nutritionally complete, which means every meal contains about 40g of protein, 17g net carbs, 17g of fats including omega-3s + omega-6s, 6-8g of fiber, plus 27 essential vitamins and minerals. All of this at only 400 kcal per serving!
Flavours: Unflavored, Vanilla, Chocolate, Coffee Caramel, Peanut Butter, Banana, Salted Caramel, and Strawberry Shortcake (Strawberries & Cream in the UK).
I tried Huel back in 2018 (Original, not Black). I think It was the vanilla flavor, and I completely hated it!
Diving into our box we have two bags of Huel Black Edition, two scoops, a very unique shaker and a small catalog outlining other products. The flavors we have are Coffee Caramel, and Peanut Butter. The bags are super thick, heavy, and resealable with the usual solid background, and transposed color typeface. The only way to tell the flavors apart is to look at the labels that have the titles, which are on the back. Ugh!
The shaker has been reimagined, and has been worked on for three years prior to its release. It looks alot like a large pill to be honest.
It features a dual top design where the spout has a top with a rubberized carrying loop. The other “top” detaches it from the base to add your liquid and meal. Also, there is no whisk ball, this uses a grate to break up the powder. There are no measurement markings, just a small notch with a stickered overlay indicating where 500ml is.
Lastly, inside there is a card with care instructions. Much of it seems like common sense, but as my grandmother says…..someone lied if they think sense is common. True words!
What I like
1. 40g of protein! Best in class!
2. No oats! Shouldn’t have that strong oatmeal taste. This also makes it gluten-free.
3. Variety. Range of 8 flavors to choose from.
4. Gluten-free, soy free, free of artificial sweeteners and plant-based.
5. Good for people looking to bulk up, increase their protein intake or even lose weight.
6. New flavours (Coffee Caramel and Salted Caramel) are great.
7. Free Shipping in US & UK
8. Affordable. Despite not being the cheapest in the market, it’s rather cheap for what they offer.
What I dislike
1. Indistinguishable bags. Flavor name is on back panel and bags all look the same.
2. Chocolate flavour is awful.
3. Hard to find caffeine content. A personal pet peeve of mine.
4. Two bag minimum order. This is just the Huel way, but having to buy 2 bags (~€60|£55|$65) of powder for something you are not sure to like it’s too much.
5. Too much ALA. While this is an essential fatty acid often lacking in our diets; I think that Huel Black has it on excess. Especially for those that will consume more than 2 shakes a day.
1. Make the bags easier to tell apart at first glance.
2. Allow for single bag orders. Add samples too.
3. The powder could be smoother.
Huel Black Edition’s formula has many advantages over their original powdered offering. Black Edition contains 50% fewer carbs, 33% more protein and is free from gluten and artificial sweeteners!
As such, it’s ideal for those who are looking to avoid sucralose or other artificial sweeteners.
Huel Black Nutrition Overview
|Huel Black Edition|
|Features||Soy Free, Nut Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Palm Oil Free, Vegan|
|Contains All Micronutrients||Yes|
Ingredients: Pea Protein, Ground Flaxseed, Brown Rice Protein, Tapioca Starch, Sunflower Oil Powder, Organic Coconut Sugar, Natural Flavor, Maltodextrin, Medium-Chain Triglyceride Powder (from Coconut), Xanthan Gum, Potassium Citrate, Potassium Chloride, Corn Starch, Calcium Carbonate, Sodium Chloride, Steviol Glycosides, Kombucha Tea Powder, Green Tea Extract Powder, Vitamin C, Bacillus Coagulans MTCC5856, Niacinamide, Lutein, Calcium-D-Pantothenate, Lycopene, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Retinyl Acetate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Zeaxanthin, Menaquinone-7, L-Methylfolate, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D2 (as Ergocalciferol), Plant-Derived Vitamin D3 (as Cholecalciferol), Cyanocobalamin.
Based on Chocolate (UK):
- Total: 17.0g, 6% of RI.
- Sugars: 4.4g, 5% of RI.
- Fibers: 6.6g, 22% of RI.
There are very few carbs in Huel Black. Despite the number not being low enough to be suitable as a keto shake, it is much lower than most are used to.
The main source is tapioca starch, instead of the oats that you will find in Huel Powder. This makes a big difference on the texture (smoother for Black) and taste (removing the oat taste). Arguably, nutritionally tapioca starch is weaker, since it won’t provide you with a complex matrix of nutrients like oats will do.
Besides tapioca, Huel Black has organic coconut sugar as carb source. It is interesting that Huel chose not to add any artificial sweeteners and instead add real sugar to the shake (4.4g per serving).
However, the overall blood glucose response is still lower in Huel Black due to the higher fat and lower total carb content.
Per serving (RI based on EU recommendation for 2,000kcal):
- Total Fats: 18.0g. 26% of the RI.
- Saturated Fats: 2.5g. 13% of RI.
- Monosaturated (MUFA): 2.5g. This is 26.5% of the calories per serving.
- Polyunsaturated (PUFA): 12.0g. This is 11.9% of the calories per serving.
- Omega-3: 6.1g.
- Omega-6: 5.2g.
- MCTs: 1.1g.
- No trans fats or cholesterol.
High in Omega-3, a Huel Trademark
There’s usually two factors that are characteristic of Huel shakes: high protein content and extremely high omega-3 content. The latter is included as alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA), which is an essential fatty acid (your body can’t make it) necessary to synthetsize eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA, in turn, are key to protect cells and have multiple essential roles in the immune system.
Despite the importance of these essential fatty acids, the western diet is often lacking on them. However, the amounts that Huel provides per serving exceed the daily recommended amount of ALA three-fold:
|Life Stage||Recommended Amount of ALA|
|Birth to 12 months*||0.5 g|
|Children 1–3 years||0.7 g|
|Children 4–8 years||0.9 g|
|Boys 9–13 years||1.2 g|
|Girls 9–13 years||1.0 g|
|Teen boys 14–18 years||1.6 g|
|Teen girls 14–18 years||1.1 g|
|Pregnant teens and women||1.4 g|
|Breastfeeding teens and women||1.3 g|
*As total omega-3s. All other values are for ALA alone.
The amounts on Huel should not have any harmful effect, but I would recommend not taking any omega-3 supplements on top.
- Total Protein: 39g, 80% of RI.
- Source: Pea protein isolate
The biggest source of protein in Huel Black is pea protein, paired with brown rice protein (no soy). These pairing is often used in vegan shakes to achieve a more well rounded amino acid profile, since they are both complementary (have large quantities of EAA that the other source lacks on).
|Amino Acid (mg)||Per 90g||Per 2000kcal||RDA*||% of RDA|
Why So Much Protein?
The truth is that Huel Black has more protein per serving that in theory most would look for. Usually, being higher than the recommended guidelines is not an issue, since these are based on the minimum you would require not to suffer from muscle atrophy (around 0.8g of protein per kg of bodyweight, can vary with sex).
However, consuming 2,000kcal (one day) of Huel Black will put a 80kg person above 2.2kg, which is often the higher end recommended for athletes and those looking to build muscle.
|Bodyweight||HB per Serving||HB per Day|
Protein (g) provided by Huel Black per kg of bodyweight for different weights.
So, is this too much? For many people it will be. However, extremely high protein intake has been proven efficient over short periods for weight loss.
Each serving of Huel Black provides you with at least 20% of your daily recommended vitamins and minerals (27).
Phytonutrients and Probiotics
One aspect that Huel likes to highlight about their products is the presence of phytonutrients. These are naturally occurring compounds, mostly in vegetables, that whilst not essential, might have beneficial health effects. Usually, you can only find these ingredients in the best green powders, and not in all meal replacement shakes.
However, there are some that they add:
- Lutein, 1.2mg.
- Zeaxanthin, 0.1mg.
- Lycopene, 1.0mg.
- Green tea catechins, 40mg.
On top of that they also add, Bacillus Coagulans (198mn) as probiotics. These, often added or present in yogurts, is beneficial for gut bacteria and the microbiome.
Huel Black also contains some caffeine (0.6-12.2mg) and some Kombucha.
Huel Black contains no major allergens, but it contains coconut.
|Best flavour||Salted Caramel|
|Taste||Both were really good. Coffee Caramel just edges out the win here. Quite different to Huel Original, less oaty- biscuit-like.|
|Texture||THICK! Feels like a real meal with the grainy bits.|
|Easy to Mix||It depends. Blending would be best. It did ok with the included shaker, but you will have to shake vigorously.|
|Satiety||The best! Really full afterwards, and hunger returned slowly, not in a flash. The volume of the shake (500-600ml per portion really helps).|
|Easy to Clean||Honestly, not really. I recommend cleaning ASAP when done drinking. Also best if you can use high water pressure.|
|Afterthoughts||Careful with its high fiber. One thing that jumps out is the volume of both. They are both thick and hearty, much like oatmeal or porridge, and require 500ml of water for prep. I think it would have a somewhat better texture if it were blitzed with a high-speed, powerful blender.|
Pro-tip: leave it sit for a few hours (or overnight in the fridge) to smoothen the shake.
Time to “Re-Huel” – Huel Black Taste Review
We only have 2 of the 8 flavors to try today. My taste tests will be prepared using a standard shaker bottle first, as I want to focus on the flavors without having to worry about Huel’s shaker possibly not doing a good job. I will have a separate section solely about the shaker.
I’m a big peanut butter fan, and am always willing to give something peanut butter flavored a try, so I’m pretty excited about this one. When you open the bag, it has a very earthy smell, but you can’t miss the smell of peanut butter powder.
With it all prepped and ready to go, the taste takes a backseat to the texture. It was thick and had lots of small bits in it. Though I didn’t shake well, but that’s just the way it is. It’s not bad in my opinion, but it took some getting used to. Anyway, the shake was pretty good. Not too sweet, no overwhelming oatmeal taste, and the right amount of peanut butter flavor.
An overall well-balanced offering.
Another bold flavor with Coffee Caramel. Like with Peanut Butter, the scents of both mentioned flavors are fragrant, with the coffee being the stronger of the two, but the caramel had a sweet smell. Diving on in, and now knowing what to expect texture-wise, this one is really good too! Not too strong with either flavor, and perfectly sweetened.
Honestly, it will be hard to choose a winner between the two, as I’ve enjoyed both.
Surprisingly, one of the best flavours. it is nice and masks the background the best. I like the fact that it is not overly sweet, but has some sweetness to it and a strong vanilla aroma.
Awful. There’s no other way to put it. There’s very little chocolate, and the background flavour overpowers it.
I tried it with both water and milk (big mistake, don’t use dairy milk), and the shake had a very mild chocolate flavour. The pea protein was overpowering, making a struggle to finish the shake.
More about Huel
Shaking Up the Food Industry & Consumer Mindsets
Huel was founded by Julian Hearn in 2014 in Aylesbury, England. The original recipe was formulated by registered nutritionist James Collier, founder and former owner of MuscleTalk, a bodybuilding website, with the intention of providing the recommended daily amounts (RDAs) of nutrients as stipulated by the European Food Safety Authority, in a vegan and environmentally friendly product.
Other Huel Products
You can find more about other Huel products, such as the Original powder, bars, or the RTD in the main Huel review, or by using the search bar above.
Huel Black Pricing & Shipping
Huel Black Edition can be found at their website, or from Amazon. Please note that on Amazon, Huel is only available via third-party sellers, so no subscribe & save discounts are available.
Besides, Huel Black Edition is sold as 1.5kg bags. Each bag contains 17 servings, and all first orders will come with a free shaker and scoop. Orders have a 2 bag minimum and a 16 bag maximum. A 10% discount is available for those who opt to subscribe.
Subscription delivery intervals are as short as once a week, to once every ten weeks. Also, additional discounts can be had the more bags you buy. Check out the delta between the minimum order, and the maximum order.
Prices in the US are as follows:
|Quantity||Total Price |
|Serving Price |
|16 Bags |
However, in the UK Black is slightly cheaper:
|Quantity||Total Price |
|Serving Price |
|16 Bags |
As for the rest of Europe:
|Quantity||Total Price |
|Serving Price |
|16 Bags |
All in all, Huel Black is not the cheapest meal replacement shake, but it can be quite affordable, particularly in the UK.
In the UK, delivery is free for orders over £15, and they offer free next-day delivery for orders over £20.
In the US, Huel provides free shipping on all orders over $25, and orders usually arrive in 3-7 days. The primary courier used is FedEx, but some orders may be shipped via USPS.
Orders to Alaska, Guam, Hawaii, Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands do not qualify for free shipping and costs will vary depending on the weight.
Huel also ships internationally. You’ll be charged depending on the location and order weight. Below is a chart outlining costs.
|Delivery zone||1kg||1 – 5kg||5 – 10kg||10 – 15kg||15 – 30kg||Country|
|Zone B||£15.00||£29.00||£44.00||£60.00||£105.00||Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan|
|Zone C||£15.00||£28.00||£46.00||£59.00||£97.00||India, Israel, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates|
|Zone D||£19.00||£35.00||£53.00||£69.00||£119.00||Bermuda, Brazil, South Africa|
|Zone T, U & V||£13.00||£24.00||£34.00||£43.00||£71.00||Iceland, Switzerland, Malta, Cyprus|
The Huel Shaker – Great With Some Minor Flaws
Admittedly, I was concerned about the shaker. I appreciate new designs and what it takes to get one engineered and offered, just many that veer away from the blender bottle style are often letdowns.
My meal was mixed well near the top, ok in the middle, and not great near the bottom with a couple of marble-sized clusters resting on the shaker’s floor.
It’s not without shortcomings but may have a future. Here’s what I think they got right:
- High quality build. Not flimsy, and feels durable.
- Extra air space. Gives more room for a good mix when shaking.
- Comfy rubber finger strap.
- Easy to drink from and no leave left-overs. One of the greatest things, it’s that the drinking hole is to the side, which allows to drink the shake more easily. Not only that, but unlike with other shakers it allows you to drink all of it, because there’s no dead space on the top.
- Easy to clean. No weird holes, or ridges and the ability to open it from the middle make it one of the easiest shakes to clean.
- Good to scoop in.
And things I’d like to see in a revision:
- Measurement markings. Only has a sticker and small notch indicating 500ml. If you want to make more or less, you’re guessing those amounts.
- Make it clear, or more translucent. Hard to see how much is inside without light, which makes measuring the water hard.
- Add an extra mixing device near the bottom. The single grate isn’t enough for Huel’s thick and clumpy powder.
Huel Black Edition vs
Huel Black sits in a unique spot where it offers absurd amount of protein, no artificial sweeteners, no gluten and no soy in a plant based complete meal. The combination of those features makes it very appealing to a wide array of people, but it also comes with some draw backs, like the pricing.
So how does Huel Black compare to other competitors, and even more, how does Huel Black compare to the original?
Huel Black vs Huel Original Powder
In my opinion, Huel Powder is la crème de la crème; e.g. one of the best powders you can buy. It has a great balance between taste, nutritional output and affordability. In the last year, it has also gotten multiple new flavours, so never get bored of it.
|Price||Huel Black||Huel Powder|
|per 400 (expensive)||2.45||1.82|
|per 400 (cheapest)||1.73||1.74|
|per 400 (expensive)||1.63||1.47|
|per 400 (cheapest)||1.22||1.10|
|per 400 (expensive)||2.29||2.03|
|per 400 (cheapest)||1.78||1.30|
Note that Huel Powder Gluten Free is more expensive than the standard Huel Powder.
As I’ve discussed a few times in this review, Huel Powder’s taste is just better. There isn’t such a strong pea flavour in the background, and instead, there’s the taste of oats, which I find more pleasant. On top of that, the flavours, particularly chocolate feel more achieved and enjoyable.
|per serving||Huel Black||DV (%)||Huel Powder||DV (%)|
The main difference, besides the listed in the picture (lack of sucralose, and gluten-free) is the macronutrient profile. In my opinion, a 40C/30P/30F is more balanced and better suited for the general population.
What Should I Buy?
I would recommend Huel Powder for most people since it is one of the best dairy free meal shakes you can buy. Not only is slightly more affordable, has more flavour options, and tastes better; but I think that the macronutrient split will be better fitting. However, if you despise artificial sweeteners, or really want a low carb option, then Huel Black could be your tea. I just think that Huel Powder offers a better package for most.
Huel Black vs Soylent
Let’s put the US champ, Soylent up against the UK champ, Huel! For a deeper comparison, you can check out the Soylent vs Huel article.
Lets see how it measures up head to head! We’ll compare Huel Black Chocolate flavor to Soylent’s Cacao Powder.
|serving price||$2.45 (USD)||$1.83 (USD)|
|serving size||2 scoops + 500ml||2 scoops + 350ml|
|Packaging (servings per)||2 Bags (34)||7 Bags (35)|
Bag count is the minimum of one standard order.
Fewer carbs, less sugar & double the protein! Not to mention no GMOs or artificial sweeteners. Need we say more?
Though in Soylent’s favor, you’d have to buy an outrageous amount of Huel to match Soylent’s default per serving price.
It all comes down to what you live with, and how much that is worth to you.
Huel Black Alternatives
So it’s Soylent the only valid Huel alternative? No, and as a matter of fact, there are multiple other meal replacements that are great alternatives to Huel Black.
- Ample V. This is a low carb high fat meal replacement shake with real food ingredients. In my opinion, Ample’s shakes excel at texture and taste, being much more palatable than Huel Black. However, they are more expensive.
- HLTH Complete Meal. If you don’t mind not being dairy-free, this is your low carb high protein shake. Delicious, smooth and nutritionally very well rounded, they are one of my favourite shakes. Plus, they contain no artificial sweeteners!
- Complete 360 Meal. 30g of protein, vegan, and all the nutrients you need. This is the recipe for this mouth-watering shake, that’s also available in 6 flavours. This is the best alternative in Europe.
Another popular alternative in the US is Kachava. I highlight the key differences in the Kachava vs Huel in-depth comparison, but basically, it offers a more natural even healthier alternative to Huel. Only good for those who really don’t care about how much they spend on food, though.
Huel Black Edition FAQ
Yes. All forms used in the Huel vitamin and mineral blend are readily absorbed to provide adequate nutrition.
Huel Black Edition has GI of 19.
Huel uses pea protein isolate which removes the majority of histamine.
The skepticism of liquid diets is often due to lack of chewing. Huel has fine milled oats as the carb source and these are a lot easier to break down.
No. Organic ingredients are far more expensive, and this doesn’t fit in with our mission to provide universally affordable, nutritionally complete food.
Food that provides essential nutrients in proportions that contribute to good health, is affordable, and produced with minimal impact on the environment.
It should last at least 12 months when stored in a dry, cool place.
The bags are not recyclable, since they are composed of multiple layers of plastic in order to prevent nutrients from decaying.
Firstly, and most importantly, the macronutrient distribution. Huel black has 50% less carbs, and 33% more protein content, thus it should be aimed for different people. On top of that, Huel Black does not contain any artificial sweeteners (sucralose) and uses sugar, instead. Huel Black does also not contain any oats, and thus it’s gluten-free.
Verdict – Huel Black Review, Is It Worth It?
I’m glad I had a chance to revisit Huel. My first go with it was memorably awful, and this is a complete 180.
While I don’t think Huel Black is perfect, and as with anything, will not appeal to everyone. When shaken, it’s very much like drinking a bran muffin, which may be a deal breaker for some. And you definitely have to tread lightly if you are not used to that much fiber in a day.
That aside, I really enjoyed how hearty it was, how it wasn’t too sweet or not sweet enough (like old Huel) and how the flavors were so well balanced. They are easily identifiable through smell and taste, without being overbearing.
I do like the new shaker too. It’s great to see innovation in that space. Many companies that try to reinvent the wheel with shaker bottles, often end with a swing and a miss. This is no homerun, but I’d call it a solid base hit.
Lastly, a word about culture. It’s so important to foster a healthy culture in any work environment and I appreciate companies who commit to this, as Huel has.
Now I see why Huel has been, and continues to be such a big player in the European complete food scene. It’s a product that is polished from top to bottom. They are a very purpose driven brand, and I recommend Huel Black Edition.
Huel BlackStarting at £1.63 | $2.45
- 40g of protein, no gluten, no soy
- Great for satiety, without making you feel bloated.
- Top notch nutrition.
- Ideal to lose weight with.
- Taste can be divisive, not easy to like
- Too much protein and ALA.
- No sample packs to try it out.
- Thick texture might not be for everyone