Since I have been using Huel fairly regularly for more than eight months now, I thought I would make a post on it as I initially found it fairly difficult to find information about it (on the general internet, not the forum) and the forum helped me learn how to use it effectively.
A little about me, for context:
I would definitely fall under the label of ‘foodie,’ I grew up in a home where you learned to cook at a young age and my mother and I still regularly discuss all kinds of recipes from Asian cooking to Italian, I love cooking and baking and do both regularly. I’ve always loved a balanced and varied diet, with lots of vegetables and fish, and was quite a skinny child, however since moving out of my parents house and working and studying, bad eating habits crept in along with regular drinking, and health problems (anemia, uveitis, constant fatigue,) and I started pushing my BMI higher and higher. I wanted to lose weight, but more than that I wanted to be healthier, but I wanted to do it in a way that would fit in with my life. So I looked into Huel.
I actually heard about Huel on a radio programme a couple of years ago, and was interested in the space-food sound of it, but didn’t pursue it at that time, then early this year an advert for it appeared in my facebook news feed and I started researching it from there. I was interested in the convenience of a meal I could make in minutes, that was balanced and would have everything I needed, it sounded great for those meals I didn’t feel I had time for, and would tend to either skip, in the case of breakfast leading me to overeat later, or eat something that is clearly not a meal, like chocolate. I agreed wholeheartedly with Huel’s point that while we all know the importance of eating better, but that it also isn’t always easy to do so. But I was surprised that aside from the Huel website, there seemed to be few impartial reviews on it.
Reviews seemed to fall into two parks, food blogs that mostly gave pretty poor reviews of Huel, complaining about the flavor, the fact it was drinking a meal, the “amount of chemicals in it” (despite the fact that literally everything is made of chemicals, eye roll) and generally making it out to be the soylent green of the film by the same name that would take all the joy out of eating and generally turn you into a dead eyed shell of a person. And fitness blogs that pretty much skipped over the product aside from nutritional numbers and how much exercise they did while using it, and claimed they ate nothing but it for months on end. The former I thought was ignoring the problems with food and our psychological relationship with food so many of us have that lead us to unhealthy eating habits, and their expectations were too high, it’s a powdered meal, of course it’s not going to taste like pizza. And the latter was intimidating for someone who does not count calories or eat a balanced diet or exercise regularly (which I think is a large portion of the population,) and the thought of eating one thing constantly sounded miserable. So I bit the bullet and just bought it.
My initial taste of it was very positive, (this was when it was v2.1) many describe it as milkshake like, I don’t quite agree with that, for me it’s like if cereal was blended into a drink, but also the fat in it coats the tongue nicely and does give it a nice morishness, slightly ice cream like. As you must gather I’m not particularly a health nut, so I wasn’t used to drinking a meal, and I actually made myself a bit sick on Huel initially since I would drink too much too quickly, not realizing that it really does fill you up.
I started off by replacing breakfast with it, since I work at 6am I would usually just go straight to work and not eat till 8:30ish, by which time I felt sick with hunger and would overeat, I knew this was a bad way of eating but would struggle to wake up in time to eat breakfast, sleep would win out over eating well. After some tweaking of times and amounts, it worked very well for me, I could go to lunch without feeling too hungry, and I even started replacing dinners with it. I would say I was about 60% Huel for a few weeks, and in that time lost about 10lbs, I probably could have lost more if the 30% that wasn’t Huel tended to be chocolate and crisps, as while Huel was filling my stomach I still craved junk food and food I could chew. This was working quite well, but I still fell out of the habit of using Huel, I think there were a few reasons why; I wasn’t used to it and didn’t know how to get the most of it, and stress makes me overeat crappy foods, and drink too much which makes me eat even worse foods when I’m hungover. I did still eat Huel when I wanted a proper meal but didn’t want to make anything, but most of my meals were not Huel.
It was very useful to have around though, for those times when I couldn’t cook, but also because last month I had my tonsils taken out, and I found the recovery incredibly difficult, swallowing anything even slightly solid became incredibly difficult, and having Huel kept me going. I eventually couldn’t even eat Huel but I think I would have done much worse if I hadn’t had it around.
After this tonsillectomy my stomach has shrunk, and the amount of food I can eat has lessened greatly, Huel has been a useful addition to my life during this time and I use it every day now, I’ve found much better ways to eat it and I eat it for almost every breakfast and some lunches. Partially because of my lessened appetite and partially because of Huel, I have a newfound love for food and cooking, having Huel around takes away much of the stress of eating and cooking, meaning when I do cook I enjoy it so much more and am able to make healthier choices, not just eat cheese and pasta like I often would, and as such I am losing weight and feeling much healthier. I’m even exercising and enjoying it!
So, for those who are still new to Huel, here are some tips and recipes that I use:
I really do suggest buying a cheapish blender for your Huel, smooth Huel is much nicer than lumpy, and even if you shake really well I still occasionally found small lumps. The one I use is this Breville blender which is much cheaper than a Nutribullet and almost exactly as powerful, it also won’t take up much space in your kitchen, is easy to clean and comes with two bottles that you blend in. I also find it the perfect size for Huel.
Huel is a great way to have an easy healthy breakfast at work or school, but it can get dull, I have also notice that the vanilla gets a chlorine taste and smell when left overnight, this doesn’t really bother me but covering it up is nicer, so some additions are:
My favourite is frozen fruit, it gives you so much variety really cheaply, and adds a lot of flavour with very few calories. I add 400ml water to my bottle, add 100g vanilla Huel, then 100g frozen fruit, blend until smooth, top up with water to fill the bottle. If you drink it straight away it’s cold and a little thick like a smoothie, I usually make the night before and in the morning it’s more juice like. Also if you use pineapple if you replace 50ml of the water with coconut milk it tastes amazing.
The chocolate Huel I make is 300ml water, 100ml coconut milk, 100g unflavoured Huel, 20g Green and Blacks cocoa powder and a teaspoon of honey or sweetener. Top up with water as needed. I use unflavoured Huel with this one as it gives it more of a dark chocolate flavour, also the coconut milk makes it taste like a Bounty bar. I would advise using good quality cocoa powder as cheap stuff makes it taste like dirt.
Chocolate and peanut butter is really good, and adds more calories which is good if you’re trying to gain weight, or if you’re travelling and need to only take one bottle with you. I do 400ml water, 100g vanilla Huel, 50g smooth peanut butter and 20g Green and Blacks cocoa powder. Top up with water as needed.
I rarely bake with Huel, as I usually can’t be bothered and liquid Huel is fine for me, but my chocolate craving got the better of me and I needed some chocolate chip cookies, plus my partner always eats biscuits as a meal which annoys me, so I made some cookies for both our sake. I adapted a recipe posted by a forum user by the name of Stuart_Jones in 2016 and they’re hecking delicious and look beautiful. The recipe I used:
80g brown sugar
95g caster sugar
5g granulated sweetener
1 large egg
200g unflavoured and unsweetened huel
1tsp baking powder
100g chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Melt the butter until just melted and not hot, then add the sugars and sweetener and mix until combined, then the egg and mix till combined. Add the Huel and baking powder and mix til combined, then add the chocolate chips, I would reserve some to place on the top of the cookies to make them look prettier. Divide into 16 and bake for 9 - 10 minutes, or until golden brown on the edges.
These are crispy on the edges and soft in the center, really quite like real cookies, but with a mild oat flavour. My partner won’t stop eating them and says they’re delicious and very filling, which is at least a better choice for him than the Fox’s biscuits he has been eating.
Nutrition information for one cookie:
So if you couldn’t be bothered to read this very long review/experience, to sum up, Huel is a very useful product to have around, whether you want to lose weight, gain weight, be healthier, have less impact on the planet, have a convenient meal for working/studying, or just have it around for when you can’t be bothered to make any food but still want to have a filling meal.
Some other random points:
Before I started using Huel I weighed 163lbs, as of this morning I was 140lbs, that is in part due to Huel and in part due to changing my diet, but I feel changing my diet is also the result of Huel as I am not as hungry all the time, my willpower is much better, and I don’t mind cooking healthier meals.
I live in the Shetland Islands, and am so disappointed that I have to pay delivery for here, as positive my experience has been with Huel this is my main complaint.
I have a bit of embarrassment around using Huel as I don’t want people to think it’s a “diet product” or that I’ve suddenly turned into a health nut (not that that’s inherently a bad thing, but I’m definitely not that type.) I’ve found ways around this by putting it in an opaque bottle, adding fruit so it looks like a smoothie, and just telling those who ask that it’s a smoothie. I might get around this one day but right now I still get embarrassed, I know it’s silly!
I like to open the bag and then close it again and shake it up, this makes it much easier to scoop. Just don’t do what I did and shake it upside down, because you may lose a lot of Huel this way.
Weighing it is much easier than just scooping it, in my opinion.
v2.2 is way to thick for me, so I have been using less, this is fine right now because I can’t eat very much after the tonsillectomy, but I dislike this new thickener.