Enjoying Being Excessive, Losing Weight, and Using Huel Differently

I’ve read a lot of topics on here about drinking thick Huel slowly all day to stave off hunger, and this seems to really work for a lot people. But it doesn’t work for me, and it’s good to have a range of options, I think, to pick what’s right for you, so I thought I’d say how I’m using Huel in a totally different way. I’ll go into a lot of detail below, but the quick summary is: I’m not naturally thin and I suck at losing weight so I exercise on an empty stomach; I mostly eat two or three large Huel-based meals (between 750 and 1,500kcal) between 12 and 8pm and this has helped me to lose over a stone, have a clear plan for losing the last of my excess body fat, get stronger in the gym and the pool, and get better muscle definition. The key has been: simple rules and indulging my brain to make my plan and my progress sustainable. The only thing it’s required has been: enjoying a challenge (including the challenge of being hungry sometimes) and counting calories accurately for 90% of my meals (which Huel makes very easy).

I know this isn’t for everyone, it’s not “the best” way to do anything, it’s just another way.

If you’re just interested in using Huel in a different way to the “thick and often” approach skip down to THE HUEL BIT :slight_smile:

Apologies for the length of the below, but it’s mostly only for people who struggle with weight loss and might want another way of looking at things. I’m trying to be as honest and accurate as possible with my motivations and what I do. To be clear: I want to look lean and broad and be strong, but I’m not a body builder, I’m not trying to get big, just be in good shape in a way I can maintain all year round. I’m lucky enough to be able bodied and have some experience with running, swimming, and going to the gym, but I hope that the below might still interest anyone who doesn’t, or can’t exercise. If you’re trying to lose 1lb a week through diet alone then you could modify the below for your goals very easily.

I have a very bad and obsessive relationship with food, mostly comfort/boredom eating and neglecting exercise when I’m stressed with work. If there’s a pack of biscuits in the house then I can’t get anything done until they’ve been eaten, it’s that bad. Because of this my fridge has mustard and two beers in it. I also own three bananas and some peanut butter and some unsweetened cocoa and cinnamon. Huel has been perfect for not having anything too tempting just sitting around!

I’ve been 19 stone (once), and I’ve been 15-16 stone (a lot) and I look really good at around 12.5-13 stone (I was there for one month in 2012, that’s the only reason I know!). At Christmas I was 14stone 12lbs and didn’t look good, at all. I’d put on nearly a stone in three months and looked bloated and I wasn’t exercising. I started running again and looked after myself a bit and got down to 14stone 9lbs in January and looked less bloated, Then I started using Huel.

I’m currently 32, 6’3", and 13stone 9lbs. I have Huel as a shake or a baked solid 1-3 times a day, and it’s about 80% of my diet; I’ve also had 100% weeks and 50% weeks - for me I just treat Huel as a very convenient and ethical food, not a way of life - I use it to save money, time, and cognitive effort, and I love it for all of that. I’m aiming for 13stone and then moving into slight calorie excess to slowly build muscle without putting on fat, but one goal at a time! 13 stone by my holiday on the 18th of June was my goal, and I’m ahead of my target, but I’ve got to stay focussed, those last pounds are tough! Thanks to the Huel team for helping me this far.

Calorie counting, intermittent fasting, and feeling like I’ve indulged are the only ways that I can keep weight loss going. If I have a “bad” day then I have a tendency to very quickly think that I’ve “failed” and then give up and eat crap, and for days on end. This is stupid, but it’s also what my brain has done for about 17 years, it’s not going to change! So, I’m trying to use my brain’s bad behaviour against itself: it likes feeling full, it LOVES processed sugar (and wants more if it gets some), it likes the feeling of bingeing and excess, and it likes data, challenges, and simple rules (though it gets grumpy if rules get broken) - so how to use all of that to my advantage?

So: I only eat between 12 and 8pm (a clear rule and a challenge). I wake up at 10am (I work late) and work out on an empty stomach - alternating one day mostly bodyweight exercises in the gym for functional muscle and strength and one day of cardio (rowing or swimming or cycling after a knee injury has put me out of running). So, it looks like I work out every day, but life gets in the way: for me, rest days take care of themselves! If I miss a day I just pick up wherever I left off and make sure to make the most of every session - 1hr of hard work with a decent warm up and warm down, minimum of 4 days a week. It takes some getting used to working out on an empty stomach, but once you do then your body is using fat for fuel (not your breakfast…) and then you can go home and gorge (more on this below). Some people would hate this, but my brain loves the challenge and then the reward.

Huel doesn’t help with getting you to exercise. The only tip I can offer for that is: find a way to burn 300-500 calories a day for 4-6 days a week that you enjoy. That’s not too hard, especially if you’re able bodied. Many people can come close to that by walking more (10,000 steps a day is around 400 calories for an average guy). Running is probably the most efficient time-wise, but I’m injury prone. I burn a lot of calories mostly through walking, swimming, and a decent gym routine that keeps my heart-rate up. 60% of my calories are burned walking (I like audiobooks…). I do my best to always take the stairs and walk everywhere I can. My aim is 12,000 steps a day and I beat it 90% of the time. Walking is a great way to burn around 500 calories a day for me no matter what else I get to do.


When I get back to my house after working out it’s midday and I eat around 900-1000 calories of e.g.: Huel blended with frozen fruit, maybe some Huel muffins/cookies (Recipe), a banana with some unsweetened peanut butter if I fancy something solid/need some more calories. I try to keep this meal vegan and healthy, but large. A 500 calorie shake is the base, then 100 calories of banana, 150 calories of peanut butter, some cocoa powder, some frozen fruit… It’s easy to get there! Adding a Huel muffin makes things very easy: a shake and a muffin and a banana with peanut butter is an awesome lunch and 900 calories bang on.

I’m aiming for 1,500 calories (net) a day to lose 2lbs a week (and if I miss my target a bit, by under-counting food calories or over-estimating exercise calories, or just being “bad,” then I’m still probably losing 1lb a week - another brain trick…), and I burn around 500-1,000 calories with exercise and/or walking, so after lunch I still have around 1000-1500 calories to play with for the rest of the day. On a Huel-only day that gives me 8 hours to drink 2-3 500kcal shakes (which is what I’ll do if I’m busy at work), but what often happens lately is that I have a big cup of coffee around 3 or 4 when I get hungry (caffeine and water really help me with hunger - for every shaker of Huel I also have another shaker of water) and then I’ll have another 1,000-1,500 calorie feast around 7pm (again, blended Huel shake, Huel muffins, fruit, maybe some chicken or carrots and hummus if I have a craving for something savoury, maybe some peanut butter and honey on Ryvita with banana if I haven’t had peanut butter earlier. It’s good to find a healthy food you really like that always feels like a treat, but that you won’t binge on). I’ll feel very full, I’ll have had sweet things, but no processed sugar (brain tricked again), I’ll have had a huge meal and indulged and been excessive and…I’m still only at 1,500 calories net for the day! I’m still losing 2lbs a week because I’m now not going to eat again for another 16 hours, and I’ll be working out in that time too, on a very empty stomach.

Today’s excess for example: I got to come in from a long swim and eat four fresh Huel muffins with a tablespoon of great peanut butter and a ripe banana (total: 1,007 kcal) and it was amazing - my brain loved it, it felt indulgent, but it was also my first meal in 16 hours and I’d burned 400 calories swimming and another 200 walking to and from the gym - my feast only “cost” me 400 calories of my 1500! Another 1100 left to eat today (I’m going out for dinner) and I’ll still be on track to losing 2lbs this week. And even if I’d just done 300 calories of walking (pretty easy to rack up…) I’d still have 800 calories left for my evening meal (if I can enjoy the challenge of another 8 hours without eating) or two 400 calorie Huel shakes.

I also like eating food with friends so on days when I hang out with people I tend to have my midday 1000kcal, then a coffee at 4, and then I’ve still got 1,000-1,500 calories for an evening of eating and drinking. I find it a lot easier to just have one rule for eating out, so I just think “low carb” - if we go for burgers I say no bun; if we go for ramen I ask for a half portion of noodles; if we go for Chinese I’m focussing on meat and beansprouts; admittedly I’m lucky we don’t often go for pizza! If we have dessert I’ll say no (still very hard, but getting better, after all, I ate 4 muffins earlier!) or I’ll share something. It’s pretty easy if I’ve worked out: 1,500 calories is a lot of food to eat in one sitting! But, especially with dessert, it’s really easy to go over 1,000. Low-carb helps mostly for two reasons: because carbs are calorie dense so it’s an easy saving, and also because it just makes you take that extra minute to really think about what you’re going to eat. I’m not interested in a low-carb diet per se, just in the easy rule.

I hope some of this is useful, but I mostly just wanted to say that there’s other ways of using Huel that work, and that knowing what your brain likes, and working out how to give it that while still meeting your goals, is a great way to keep a diet going.


What a lot of effort. I struggle to just make up three shakes a day :slight_smile:

I’d love to know how you’re getting on!