I’ve been advised to increase my weight, by gaining both fat and muscle. I’m male, 40, 184.5cm, and 68kg, and when I enter these figures into the Mayo Clinic online calorie calculator, it states that I need 2,400 calories/day for an ‘active’ lifestyle and 2,800 calories/day for a ‘very active’ lifestyle, and my lifestyle is between these two, based on the descriptions given.
According to the ‘Huel Guide to Gaining Weight’, I should consume an extra 500 calories/day in order to gain weight. Five Huel meals of four scoops is 3,116 calories. However, this would involve consuming 233g of protein. I appreciate that the recommended daily amount of ~50-60g is a minimum, but I’ve read in several places that I shouldn’t eat more than 150g. And this section of the Wikipedia page on protein suggests that consuming large amounts of protein has health risks, including cancer and kidney stones:
Any advise from @JamesCollier, or anyone else, would be appreciated.
Agreed; 233 grams of protein is excessive. Even with heavy exercise, you should consume around no more than 120 grams/day. (Based on a maximum of 0.8 grams/pound of weight, according to multiple sources).
I don’t have an answer, but will ask: is there anything you can consume, in addition to Huel, that will provide good calories without additional protein?
Natural whole foods are one of the best things you can eat. Huel may be designed that you can live off it all the time @ 2000kal but do you really need to? If you can eat other foods such as natural whole foods then you should.
@Ric’s 0.8g/body weight, is probably all that’s required for recreational weight trainers; even top bodybuilders probably don’t need much more than that. However, the amount per day that is potentially harmful is extremely high.
Some people are cautious because people with kidney disease do need a protein restriction, so they link protein with kidney damage. However, it’s only with kidney disease that the high protein is of concern.
If you are concerned, then maybe limit your Huel intake to an amount you’re more comfortable with and make the rest up from other foods: maybe a high carb meal with starches and fruits.
Derrick, I’ve been on a weight gain program using Huel for two months at close to your level of calories, so I think I can offer some insight.
I began at 500 over maintenance which was 3350 cals, but I was gaining too much fat over the ensuing weeks so I gradually reduced this to my current intake of 2950. I do this with 5 Huel meals and 1 real food meal, with workouts 3 times a week. I’m now gaining 0.2kg of muscle and 0.2kg of fat per week. This is probably as balanced a gain as its going to get for most people.
To respond to your concern, I probably take in over 200g of protein per day (but my real food meal is moderate in protein, yours doesn’t have to be — see below). I am 85.0kg. And even though this is anecdotal, I feel fine!
I want to point out first that it’s highly unlikely that you will be able to maintain an intake of 3116 calories of 100% Huel over the long term, maybe even undesirable, but not because of the protein intake. Purely because you will get bored and will start craving real food very quickly. I think the 3000+ will fill you up plenty — it certainly did me — and actually, given that you’re currently underweight, I imagine your appetite isn’t going to be up to the challenge of 20 scoops a day, at least not straight away.
So the protein intake isn’t your real problem, it’s how you’re going to get all that Huel down you! Assuming you follow a 4 Huel meals, 1 real meal approach, evenly split at 3116 cals, you will actually be taking in about 182g of protein from Huel. There’s nothing dangerous about that amount, as James points out. You could simply not have protein-rich food at your other meal.
What sources does Wikipedia link to about this protein issue? Every study I’ve seen has been on subjects with existing conditions.
On carcinogenicity: this study is one that Wikipedia links to. It posits that there is a link between protein intake, or muscle mass, and mortality and long life. The mechanism of that link appears to be IGF-1. This emerging research is what Tim Ferriss has called the ‘Faustian bargain’: either you can be physically fit, toned, and have healthy muscle mass; or you can fast, eat less protein (and less of everything else) reduce your IGF-1 and live a longer life. Michael Mosley talks a little about this in his program on intermittent fasting.
This is newish research, but even if it’s true, the increased carcinogenicity is mild compared to other causes. You are probably more likely to get cancer from standing too close to your microwave. Everything in life has its risks: the feeling of physical fitness, the endorphins, the increased muscle mass, increased strength, increased sense of well-being, all outweighs whatever small risks they might entail, for me at least.
Just drink enough water so that your pee is straw-coloured, and you’ll be fine!
The 120g/day is the maximum based on OP’s stated weight. so theoretically only applies to him (and others the same weight). It is based on the 0.8g per pound of body weight; a figure confirmed by multiple, sources (and verified by @JamesCollier). It really is a consensus, I found it on three different bodybuilding sites and webMD.
As earlier stated, I personally think it is too much. But @JamesCollier did clarify, with the explanation that even though…
So Huel prefers to go heavy on the protein, with the caveat that too much won’t harm you.
It’s about macro split; if you want to keep fats down and carbs moderate, that only really leaves us with protein (not accounting for fibre, SALATRIMs, polyols, other organic substances and, of course, alcohol). The energy has to come from somewhere.
However, I can see some people are concerned, so I feel I should compile an article, with references, that discusses the amounts of protein people are safe to consume.
Just to throw a different angle on this, is adding additional fat an option? If the OP was to bung some coconut oil into the blender with the Huel, would be a good alternative to adding extra carbs? Just wondering what @JamesCollier’s view is on that.
But if that’s not a good idea, I think @Ric’s suggestion of adding bananas is a pretty safe bet. Several other people here have said that bananas go really well with Huel.