Huel constipation - Fortnightly 'blow outs' (graphic)

Long time Huel user checking in, or so it feels. Last September I started with Huel as an interesting experiment. Since then overall I’d say I’ve been 80% Huel.

Without too much padding in this post, I do have one single issue with Huel. I’ll drink my Huel shakes for around two weeks (3 x 4 scoops a day) with a small amount of flavour powder in each. This is all well and good until after around one week, after which I realise I’ve only been having one small movement a day (nice and solid, slick, quick movement).

At this point, after a week or so, my stomach will start gradually hurting more and more until I’ll get a sudden sharp “I need to go” pain in my stomach. At this point I head to the cubicle and begin what I’ve come to know as “the huel battle”. I’ll sit in agony for around 10 minutes knowing there’s two weeks of Huel about to come out. What follows, after around 20 minutes of squeezing, manoeuvring and squatting, is a thick ‘paste’ like stool which can flow out for around 20 seconds at a time. Its color isn’t alarming at all, but the texture is definitely odd to say the least. After these blow outs I am good for another two weeks, until the next.

Things I’ve looked at so far are:

  • Chocolate flavour system, which I suspected. Stopped using it, no relief.
  • Dairy milk, I suspected this could be causing it. Stopped using it for a month, no change.
  • Water consumption, I drink around half a gallon of water per day. I’ve tried more or less with no noticeable change.

Does anyone have suggestions? I’m absolutely baffled. I’m typing this as I sit awaiting the next flow to begin. Hopefully someone can shed light

Edit: I’m wondering if this could be an effect of me making Huel super thick? I like my Huel to be like an American thick shake as I adore milkshakes, perhaps it’s too thick and is causing issues in my gut? For three scoops I’ve been using 400ml of water. For four scoops, around 500ml.

GTIPuG, I suggest this is simply down to the fact ur not drinking enough water. I’m not a nutritionist, GP or anything like that. I’m basing this on my own experience,you still need your 2 ltrs of water/day (general guidance the uk) no matter what other liquids your taking in.

This is what I find strange, I drink a whole one of these per day:

Plus the water I have in my Huel :frowning:

are you exercising on a regular basis…? Perhaps you need more water than the “recommended” 2ltr/day? Sorry I can’t be of more help.

Gym once a day for an hour and a half, mainly weights. Cardio twice a week to keep the old beater going strong.

Current weight 79kg, height 185cm, age 21… All healthy measurements… :frowning:

Perhaps you’re right. Maybe I’ll try more water in my Huel, I’m wondering if I’ve been making them too thick.

@JamesCollier Hate to burden you with a gruesome question, but any ideas?

Hi @GTIPuG - Huel is high and fibre and most people have regular bowel movements. If your fluid intake is sufficient - and it does indeed sound like it is - then this shouldn’t be an issue.

Have you ever had stomach or bowel issues before?

How many times per day do you wee?

That’s what I figured, hence why I’m baffled. It feels almost as if it builds up slowly then every now and then runs out of space, forcing an enormous amount of waste out.

Never had stomach or bowel issues before, and if I have they’re undiagnosed or slipped through unnoticed.

In terms of number 1, probably once an hour or so. Nothing alarming there in terms of frequency or colour.

I’m truly baffled. Could the thickness of my Huel be a cause?

You’d have known if you’d have had previous bowel issues.

That’s a lot of weeing, so if you’re weeing that much, it’s likely you are sufficiently hydrated. This would mean that the thickness of the Huel shouldn’t be an issue as you’re getting the fluid elsewhere. However, how do you fancy trying thinner Huel for a few days and reporting back?

Yeah, I’d tend to agree. I make sure I consume at least one 2.2 litre jug of water per day along with my Huel, so hydration seems fine.

I’m going to give Huel a break until next Monday to let my digestive system recover (I think I tore some tissue from the straining etc, on my third paste movement today I had blood in the stool, although it was fresh, bright red, not clotted black). I’ll start to thin out the Huel next week and report back :grinning:

OK, please do keep us updated :slight_smile:

Hey there. I am a casual user of Huel at the moment. Closer to the start around a year ago I tried going around 80% Huel and had exactly the same story. Fixed it by having smaller proportion of Huel per day. Hypothesised that as water gets absorbed Huel turns into the funny texture paste you are observing, which might not be easiest to push along. Note: this was an older version.

Very interesting. I figured it’d be to do with the water absorption and how the intestines were handling the substance. I guess it makes sense that if the huel in my tract is too moist it cannot be formed into a proper stool.

I’m thinking of starting on Weetabix in the morning, Huel mid morning, Huel for lunch and then an evening meal

I have a theory, what might be causing this problem.
A little explanation: your digestive system is a highly complex organ, of which we still don’t know a lot, especially speaking of the colon microflora, which might also have a doing in your fortnightly blowouts.
But later to that.
Digestion starts in your mouth already, so while preparing meals, chewing etc (everything which is not connected with actually swallowing food), there’s a cascade of hormones kicked off, which increases the motility of your entire GI tract and also induces the release of hydrochloric acid in your stomach and the release of bile into your duodenum.
Both of those fluids help to digest the food you eat.

So, in short one could say, that being a Hueler might have a positive side, since you save energy because you have less work to do with digestion but on the other hand, you don’t activate and prepare your digestive system as much as normal food would do, since there’s no chewing, not a lot of smells etc and thus, your bowel has to act afterwards, namely in the colon.

Which would lead me to another, but very vage theory: Since your Huel is basically rushing through your small intestine, your large intestine has more work to do. The digestion in your large intestine is mainly carried out by your own, personal bacterial flora and so, if more nutrition gets there, the bacteria need more time to fully “eat” everything you give them with consuming Huel and once everything is used up, it comes out with a “blow out”.

I’m a medical student with an interest in gastroenterology but however, long from being an expert in this field, so I merely thought a little about it, but those are my theories concerning your problems.

What I would suggest is actually not drinking more water (except if you’re thirsty) but probably first take a break - especially with blood in your stool (!) - and when you start with Huel again, I would eat some veggies and maybe try eating linseeds with yogurt, since that stuff is always good for your GI tract.
But, above all I would strongly ask you to see a gastroenterologist, if your problems continue to exist once you started with Huel again and ask a specialist for their opinion.

Keep us posted, I’m keen to see what happens in the future!

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increase healthy bacteria in the guts using FOS or similar prebiotic, take probiotics aswell and drink much more water. make the drinks thinner and let them sit to absorb the water

You could try drinking warm water first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. This tends to help me. I try to down 2 glasses of very warm water when I first get up.

I’ve heard that warm water stimulates the digestive system, whereas cold water does the opposite.

Thanks for the input! Extremely interesting and completely plausible.

Now that you’ve mentioned it, I’m curious as to whether this could be a negative of these whole food drinks. Biology dictates that when our body anticipates food (when our mouths and tastebuds come into contact with food), our digestive system gets into gear and awaits. Is it possible that Huel delivers the end product too quickly before the body has had a chance to prepare the necessary enzymes and hormones?

As for the drinking more water suggestion above, I actually don’t think I could possibly drink any more if I tried. I’m drinking over 2.5 litres a day, which is already a pain as it is.

I’ll make note of the warm water suggestion though, that’s an interesting one.

@Marcus, would a mug of warm tea have the same effect in your experience?

As for a general update on this, I’ve gone through 2 Weetabix, a portion of fish and chips, ham, egg and chips and a few chicken nibbles today with no Huel. I’ve just got in from the gym and have had a whole milk protein shake. No more rumbles in the jungles. All stool passed today has been solid and painless with no blood, yay!

First thin Huel - Bleugh! Gonna take some getting used to. How can thick Huel taste so damn nice but thin is so horrid?!

Yes, it’s possible. I’ve sometimes thought this too. Maybe this means it’s best take time over drinking Huel rather than just downing it too quickly?

Yes, warm tea might have a positive effect too. However, I find I get the best result when I down the warm water very quickly. This way it fills my stomach up and seems to kick start things a bit. But if you prefer to try just having a mug of tea, try it and see if makes any difference.

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Are you making up your HUEL with milk? I’ve been on it for a year(ish) and I have it for breakfast every day, most lunches (weekends and often weekends) and ‘regular’ food for dinner. Never made it with milk as I am diabetic and actually switched to lactose-free quite a long time ago and figured it would get too expensive. My mix is always 500ml tap water with x3 scoops (100g) HUEL and other things I like to mix in as well using a Nutri-bullet blender, these are spinach and blueberry, cocoa powder, banana, kale, apple and always with a dash of honey and cinnamon (not all at once of course)
I did notice I would start going to the bathroom quite regular but if anything I was getting what you might call ‘good movements’ none of the backlog etc. you are describing. To me, it sounds like you need to stop using milk and your main mixing ingredients of that’s what you’re doing. Just for one week try mixing with water, not milk and use more, I’m using 3 scoops with 500ml so if you need 4 scoops try 600ml instead and also mix in some extra fibre. Throw some blueberries in there as see how it goes. Another point is to use a blender, it’s the only way to get a smooth, consistent mix

Nope, haven’t had milk in my Huel for the last 2 weeks or so after suspecting it could be causing this issue. I’ve tried with and without, same result unfortunately :frowning: Perhaps I’ll try using a blender as you say!