Article on myfitnesspal blog

Can’t seem to link to the article on my phone but I’ve copied the relevant part.

"Sure, meal replacement shakes have been around forever, but trendy, “nutritionally complete” versions like Soylent, Huel and Super Body Fuel are new to the market. They’re marketed to people who are super busy yet still want to prioritize nutrition. Because they’re so convenient, people seeking weight loss have also looked to them as a solution.

However, the downside is, compared to real food, they might not be satisfying or enjoyable — two elements that are key when trying to shed pounds. “Meal replacement shakes have taken the joy out of eating and encourage us to ‘chug’ our calories down mindlessly,” says Sharon Zarabi, a registered dietitian and program director of bariatric surgery at Lenox Hill in New York City.

“Although they contain a combination of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, they are lacking in fiber,” she adds. Plus, liquids empty out of your GI tract faster than solid foods do, which has implications for feeling full, but also how many calories you burn. “There is more work involved when we need to chew and digest whole foods versus liquefied ones. When you regularly consume the latter it decreases the thermic effect of food, which is part of what keeps our metabolism elevated in the long term.” In other words, meal replacement shakes make it a little too easy for your body to digest the nutrients you’re giving it so your body doesn’t burn as many calories.

Your body also generally absorbs nutrients from food better than from supplements, Zarabi adds, so drinking one of these shakes isn’t quite like eating a meal. She recommends skipping the ingredients you can’t pronounce and instead grabbing two hard-boiled eggs and an apple or a bowl of oatmeal with peanut butter for fewer calories."

Have to say that I completely disagree with the part that mentions liquids leaving the stomach quicker therefore you feel hungry sooner, if anything I feel fuller for longer on huel then I did on solids!

I’m also pretty sure they’re wrong about the fiber.

I think they’re talking about meal replacement shakes for diet plans and then they REFERENCE Huel et. al., but continue to just list the problems with the other product and IMPLY they directly apply when they don’t necessarily.

I never measured how long it makes me fell full compared to normal food, but one thing is sure: it makes me feel not craving other things. When I eat normal food, I always want something else, like a sweet, and so on. After an Huel shake I feel right. Not full like after 2Kgs of steaks (luckily :smiley: ), but just not in need of other things. If that’s not a good thing also for a diet, I don’t know what it is.

I think so too.

I’m not an expert, so correct me if I’m wrong, but that seems to me like bullshit too. If you eat a steak (or a carrot), you don’t end up with a steak or a carrot in your intestine (unless you put the carrot up in the wrong…well, let’s not talk about it :smiley: ).
And I’ve never heard someone say “oh boy, I’ve eaten such an heavy meal that now I’ve lost two kilos digesting it!” :smiley: Even if Huel is easier to digest, the effect on calories burned must be negligible compared to normal physical activity.


I don’t know about anybody else, but I just :heart:️ Huel - it is totally satisfying and enjoyable. I really look forward to it, and miss it when I have to eat other food to be sociable…

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Most of sounds bull shitty to me, was hoping an expert could debunk this nonsense :joy:

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Honestly I don’t think anything mentioned there is untrue or inaccurate. Subjective, yes. But false? Hmm.

Not inaccurate, it’s more the implicit assumptions I disagree with. I agree with the author that it’d be awful to go on a 100% Huel diet and replace food altogether - but in making that point as a problem with Huel generally she’s implicitly assuming that that’s what people who use Huel do. Sure, some of them (such as the person referred to in the Spectator article) but I certainly hope that they make up a minority of Huel’s user base

So it’s true that the effect on “calories burned” by digestion is so important that is better to eat normal food that it’s still pre-digested by our stomach than Huel? I’m honestly asking, I’m ignorant on this topic. :slight_smile:

I agree with you, but If they do, for them is not awful. I would never ditch real food too, but for me even being vegan is awful. But if someone wants to be vegan, I don’t say “vegan diet doesn’t make sense because you will crave meat or eggs or milk”. Obviously if one goes vegan, he doesn’t crave meat, etc… :slight_smile: Again, as I said on the Spectator article, Huel is just a tool. If it works for some, is good.
The important thing is that such tools have to be healthy and safe. I see many “mad” things on nutrition, like weird diets, completely unsafe. That’s the problem, not Huel. :slight_smile:

Also, yesterday I did a 100% Huel day, and it went very good. Actually I think I could easily do something like 5 days a week on 100% Huel and have a weekend with normal food as a treat, like pizza and the usual sunday lunch with my parents.

I’ll see, maybe in the future… :slight_smile:


For those of us with a tendency to mindlessly eat food in whatever form we find it, I think Huel is a massive blessing.

To clarify, what I meant was more like that’d be awful if all Huel users went 100%. Individuals can decide whether they want to or not, that’s fine - I’m just not keen to see the emergence of an entire user base of lifelong “non-eaters”. And often, when people criticise Huel for taking all the enjoyment out of food, they seem to be assuming that this is what’s going on

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Wish I’d stopped reading at “compared to real food” like normal. I’m not even going to engage with the rest of it, seems more like the usual someone that doesn’t like a product that makes being healthy too easy. Except for…

skipping the ingredients you can’t pronounce

If we do that, we’re all f#cked. I wonder if the writer knows what’s in a banana?


TBF why do we assume there should be enjoyment in eating food? Food is fuel, its purpose is to give us energy and keep us alive. The very fact that we humans have made food such a pleasure is pretty much the cause of the current issues (obesity etc)

Should I inform the RSPCA that I am feeding my dog bland (supposedly) nutritionally complete food instead of feeding him pizza, madras and bacon sandwiches?


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Kind of - pleasurable food has been in human cultures for a long, long time though, much longer than the obesity crisis and other issues.

Arguably, the bigger issue is the industrialisation of and easy access to pleasurable foods, as well as pleasurable everything else. You couldn’t just sit down and be entertained (as opposed to entertaining yourself) for hours on end every day before the 20th century unless you were some sort of aristocrat. You also couldn’t buy yourself a pizza or a chicken tikka masala (the latter being anachronistic since we’re talking pre- 20th C) that you could just put in the oven at home and wait for it to cook. Anyone can do that now - and not only can you, you’re practically told to by the flashing box that keeps you entertained.

I do think the pleasure of eating food is an important thing, culturally, the issue is that we’re at a point in history where pretty much everybody (there are exceptions, obviously) can eat pleasurable things all the time, and the hyperpalatable garbage (which admittedly, I still eat every so often, but it’s garbage in so much as it’s used as a staple diet) that the world is getting fat on, combined with a general lack of self control is the real issue


I agree, I enjoy eating nice food (and drinking nice beer/wine) as much as the next human! It’s the reason I still have a normal meal for dinner with the family, and why I went for Sunday dinner out with family then had Huel for evening instead of lunch.

Just don’t agree with the notion that it is some sort of human divine right to have “enjoyable” food!

Then again I actually enjoy Heul most of the time, its not like I’m forcing it down and wishing i was eating a sandwich or something!

Yeah as an italian I very much understand the social and psychological importance of food. :slight_smile: For example we use to eat all together, while in other cultures it’s quite usual to see family members eat alone when is more convenient.
Of course when you strecth the “love for food” too much then it comes obesity and a lot of problems. But eating healthy is very difficult, it’s not like “I don’t eat this or that, so I’m healthy”. Stuff like Huel are perfect in this situation, and I don’t see a problem on introducing it as a regular basis of nutrition (of course if one had the money, the time and the expertise to cook everyday healthy meals with raw ingredients, that is always superior).
So, in my opinion, Huel could easily become the daily fuel you use to go on, and normal food can be the “special” thing you do for your psychological enjoyment or social gathering, when you want. :slight_smile:


Well no, me neither - if anything looking at it that way takes something away from the significance of having enjoyable food. Part of what set apart pleasurable food in the past was the scarcity/the sheer effort that had to be involved in order to produce it (whether your own effort or that of the staff :p). Instead now we’ve outsourced the effort to production lines (although most people seem to just assume that food appears out of nowhere already boxed up) and settled for readily available palatability even though it doesn’t quite compare to the “real” thing


They imply that there’s little to no fiber in Huel, and that’s patently false, isn’t it?

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Do you ever wonder if your digestive system needs to be taxed? Needs the oomph every now and again? Something to burn through, a bit of a challenge?

I do. I’ve used Huel for 3 years now, every day pretty much, but I’m still almost certain the fibrous content of a chunk of brocolli is “better” for the digestive system than some ground up pieces of fibre.

I dunno. Call me daft but I do suspect at times.

Whenever something like this is posted there’s this huge mob mentality where we all go “Grrrrr article is wrong!!!”. It’s like a cult haha.

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I’m not saying the entire article is wrong. I’m saying that by claiming that there’s almost no fiber in these products and conflating Huel with the rest of them, they are in fact incorrect on that ground.

The thing that bothers me about the article is that for most people, Huel isn’t an alternative to eating HEALTHY. It’s an alternative to the crap eating we do otherwise.

Is Huel a better alternative than a perfectly balanced meal comprised of fresh ingredients raised without chemicals and steroids? No. Is it better than a diet of fast food burgers and pizza? Hell yes.

So my problem with the article is like my problem with a lot of what passes for argument these days: People lose sight of the fact that it’s not enough to point out a problem with something, you also have to pay attention to what the alternative is.

It would be great if we all ate perfectly balanced meals. But we don’t, and touting the shortcomings of something like huel without acknowledging that it’s much better than how MOST people eat is like telling someone that the parachute that they’re wearing is poorly fitted and will chafe and leave sores… while ignoring that the alternative is to jump out of the plane with nothing…