Huel Diary | 30 days living only off Huel

Introduction

And so starts my Huel journey.

I have always had an interest in nutrition, and more often than not obsess over minute details regarding micronutrients, optimal absorption and other factors. Having come across Huel by accident, I was intrigued to find what was on offer: a complete, nutritionally balanced food with no fuss. Sounds ideal. Having ordered an initial 28 meals worth of Vanilla Huel as well as a Chocolate flavour pouch, I am about to embark on a 30-day Huel quest: to consume nothing but Huel for every meal, 3 times a day with a focus on a weight loss and improving overall health through meeting my RDI.

A bit about me. I’m a 30 year old male, currently 229 lbs with several health issues – fatty liver disease, high cholesterol, increased triglycerides and hypertension. Not exactly a picture of health. With weight loss (incoporating Huel), I hope to improve most of these issues.

Objective

First and foremost, weight loss. I will be adhering to a strict 1250kcal ‘diet’ – equivalent to 3 meals a day – 300g of Vanilla Huel version 2.2 – each meal incorporating solely 100g of Huel – plus the occasional 2g addition of the ‘Chocolate’ flavour pouch (around 6kcals). Each Huel meal will be mixed with water. I will only drink water, green tea or black coffee and nothing more.

In addition, I will be hoping to see an improvement in my liver function tests, cholesterol and other areas of my health. Having taken a blood test very recently, I will also at the end of 30 days have another blood test to check for any improvements or otherwise.

Day 0 Statistics

The day prior to starting Huel tommorow 26/05/2017. My current weight is 229 lbs.

I had a blood test on 17 May 2017 which showed the following regarding liver function:

Liver function

Serum ALT level: 77 iu/L (too high)
Serum total protein: 78 g/L (normal)
Serum albumin: 53 g/L (too high)
Serum globulin: 25 g/L (normal)
Serum total bilirubin level: 12 umol/L (normal)
Serum alkaline phosphatase: 30 iu/L (normal)

Iron levels

Serum iron level: 14.3 umol/L (normal)
TIBC: 63.6 umol/L (normal)
Serum transferrin: 3.0 (normal)
Transferrin sautration: 22% (normal)
Serum ferritin: 345 ug/L (normal)

Full disclosure

This is not a sponsored post in any way. I am just a ‘normal’ guy looking to lose weight and improve other health aspects.

I will be posting daily, with a weekly weigh in every seven days. Day 1 starts tommorow! :slight_smile:

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I would strongly suggest starting this 100% journey well after you’ve allowed your gut to get used to ingesting Huel. My first couple of weeks came with… unpleasant surprises.

1250kcal daily would result in a very large calorie deficit based on your stats. Are you doing this with some professional advise or medical information? Or is this something you’ve come up with yourself? If you have come up with this figure yourself please be careful. Based on your stats I’d guess even 1700kcal would be a strict diet. Most advice would suggest a more gradual approach.

Maybe start here and work through the calculator linked there and come up with a personal figure.

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@AllAboutTheVeg - I’m a fairly “experienced” yo-yo dieter, and have lost weight before with a very similar deficit. 1200+kcals is not too extreme, and yes perhaps a larger deficit than advised for people of my weight, but I live a fairly sedentary lifestyle and I’m happy with it having achieved results with a similar deficit before. The challenge will be to stick with Huel for 30 days, not so much the amount of calories consumed.

@gen - My digestive system is pretty spectacular in all honesty and doesn’t react typically to things the way most people’s does. I can eat extremely spicy food without issue, but even the slightest portion of dairy and I’ll be in the bathroom all day.

It’s all a bit of an experiment, and if that includes some unpleasant side effects in the short term then so be it.

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I don’t have time right now to look into your other numbers, but this one jumped out at me. It might still be in the normal range, but it is really high. Did your doctor discuss this with you?

A lot of health benefits exist at around 60ug/L.

The easiest way of fixing this is donating blood regularly. However, I am not sure if you are eligible.

@rikefrejut - The “reference” levels are between 30 and 400 ug/L, so according to the NHS, still within “normal” ranges. I have read elsewhere though that anything about 300 ug/L is high. My doctor said that overall my levels were “normal”.

(source: https://www.southtees.nhs.uk/services/pathology/tests/ferritin/ )

I also have fatty liver disease - which can give higher than normal ferritin readings apparently.

I know the other important reading was Transferrin saturation, and mine is 22.5% which is a very healthy number - if it was haemochromatosis (excess iron) then my saturation percentage which be quite a bit higher.

I was quite keen to check my iron levels, and was the focus of my last consultation with a GP who came across as very sure that it was “normal”. As a precaution, I’m going to be drinking tea/coffee at the same time as Huel, as tea/coffee contain tannins which inhibit iron absorption by a considerable amount.

The reference ranges only mean that 95% of the population is within that range. They do not give a statement on what is optimal. Your value of serum ferritin is not in the optimal range - please look into it yourself. It might be temporary due to something else going on in your body currently, but please keep an eye on it.

You are right that drinking tea/coffee will inhibit iron absorption, but the problem is that the body has no mechanism of decreasing iron levels. The only way is to bleed.

I would really be wary of high iron levels especially in the presence of high cholesterol due to the oxidative action of iron on cholesterol…

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@rikefrejut - yes it is something I am cautious of. I will be having another blood test in 30 days time (after 30 days of Huel). Will have to be particularly cautious as Huel contains around nearly 5 times the iron RDI in a day’s worth of food.

The fact I have a fatty liver and an enlarged spleen suggests to me that my iron levels are reading on the high side because of those issues, rather than an explicit iron overload issue.

As mentioned above, all my other iron readings are very good or optimal, especially the other key indicator (transferrin saturation) which is quite low in general, and would/should read a lot higher if it was haemochromatosis.

@rikefrejut - if you’re interested, just had an in depth discussion with my doctor about that result on the phone as I was curious to know more.

He said that my ferritin level is on the higher side. However, he also said that my transferrin saturation was fairly low, my TIBC on the higher side and serum iron was fairly low. He concluded that taking all of those into account, it indicated inflammation - probably relating to liver issues (which I already knew of) and NOT an iron disorder. He said weight loss combined with a heavy reduction in alcohol would see my ferritin reading reduced. He explained that the reason it can be high due to liver issues is because the liver expels iron instead of storing it when it is inflamed which is why the readings are higher in the blood.

Iron and ferritin are acute phase proteins, meaning they are increased or decreased during inflammation. Iron is reduced during the acute phase and ferritin is increased. As your GP says, this picture is more likely due to an acute phase reaction rather than anything more sinister. Typically something called CRP is measured which is a marker of inflammation, which helps with the interpretation (However not always!)

In terms of iron overload rikefrejut is correct in that excretion of iron is limited. However, iron absorption is tightly regulated by the duodenal mucosa (your intestines). Iron overload typically only ever occurs if you have a genetic condition called hereditary haemochromatosis or you are receiving excessive transfusions. In hereditary haemochromatosis transferrin saturation is usually >50%.

I’ve never heard about having an “optimal” ferritin level. Ferritin is simply an iron storage protein and when this is measured as part of a blood test you are simply measuring the circulating ferritin at the time of sampling, and not an actual true reflection of how much iron (bound to ferritin) you have stored. If you could show me your sources on this I would be grateful.

Sider

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@SIDER - All of the information I’ve obtained has been from several websites and discussions with several people and not a particular source in general.

I’m quite happy that my overall iron lab results don’t indicate any serious iron overload issues or haemochromatosis - as you say, transferrin saturation is usually very high (often closer to 100%) with haemochromatosis, and my levels were on the very low side of ‘reference’ figures. In fact I’m certain my ferritin levels are due to fatty liver and alcohol consumption (which has been fairly regular until recently).

If my lab results in a month show a steady ferritin level, then I suppose the solution for lowering them would be phlebotomy, which over time would reduce them - and if I maintain a healthy liver and cut down heavily on alcohol then I should maintain a lower ferritin level than one that indicates inflammation.

Day 1
Breakfast: 100g Vanilla Huel + 1 teaspoon coffee + 350ml water
Lunch: 100g Vanilla Huel + 1 teaspoon coffee + 2g Chocolate Flavour System + 350ml water
Dinner: 100g Vanilla Huel + 350ml water

My package from DPD arrived at 11am, less than 24 hours after ordering Huel. As well as Vanilla Huel I received a Chocolate Flavour System / Flavour Pouch.

Promptly made my first 100g Vanilla Huel with around 350-400ml of water (I prefer a thicker ‘shake’) and prepared it with a teaspoon of instant coffee.

First thoughts – taste, far better than similar products I’ve tried before. A subtle oat taste and texture. I used the shaker to mix the Huel/water/coffee together which was largely OK, but quite a few lumps.

Normally, this would bother me, but considering Huel contains oats, it actually added to the experience (maybe I’m weird?), and chewing the occasional lump just reminded me more of oatmeal, which I enjoy eating anyway. I enjoyed the addition of coffee, reminded me of a cold frappuccino from Starbucks.

For lunch, another 100g of Vanilla Huel. This time I added not only a teaspoon of coffee, but also sampled 2g of the Chocolate Flavour System with it. Keeping the shake thick, the taste was very enjoyable, like a thick ‘Mocha’ with a similar consistency to a ‘Frijj’ milkshake.

For dinner, my final 100g of Vanilla Huel, this time I thought I’d try it on its own – no coffee or flavouring system. Enjoyable once again. The vanilla flavour is quite subtle, but has a nice balance of flavour with the oats.

First day done, easy – but clearly still early days. I’m actually looking forward to my first Huel tommorow morning, and spending probably an unhealthy amount of time debating over what flavours I want to incorporate into it.

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Day 2
Breakfast: 100g Vanilla Huel with teaspoon of coffee + 350ml water
Lunch: 100g Vanilla Huel with 2g Chocolate Flavour System + 350ml water
Dinner: 100g Vanilla Huel with teaspoon of coffee + 350ml water

Had one of the best sleeps I’ve had in a while last night, I’m normally a bit of an insomniac but whether it’s consuming less calories, or Huel itself, I had a restful night.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner all 100% Huel again, and pretty much the same as yesterday. I might add ice in my morning ‘Huel & Coffee’ tommorow – Huel seems to go great with coffee.

Another surprising improvement (TMI alert), my bowel movements have been very good. I know a lot of people have complained about increased bowel movements and upset stomachs, but I haven’t experienced any of that – if anything, things have been far more ‘pleasant’ and healthy. Must be all the fibre in Huel.

It’s only the end of Day 2, but things are going better than expected.

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Day 3
Breakfast: 100g Vanilla Huel + teaspoon of coffee + 300ml water + ice
Lunch: 100g Vanilla Huel + 350ml water
Dinner: 100g Vanilla Huel + 2g Chocolate Flavour System + teaspoon of coffee + 350ml water

Tried Huel with coffee + ice. Very hot here today so very refreshing, I’ll probably do the same for every breakfast from now on.

I do find Huel to be very satiating and I haven’t had any really hunger pangs. The only thing I am missing is something savoury, so thinking of ways to incorporate that into Huel. Don’t like the sound of the ‘curry’ idea in the leaflets, so might try concocting some kind of salted caramel flavour.

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It’s not quite savoury, but I get a bit of variety in taste by adding chilli powder. Often I do this along with a bit of unsweetened cocoa powder and some cinnamon for a cold version of a ‘mexican’ hot chocolate.

Good luck with your huel plan! I’ve been having it for 90% of meals for the past two weeks and I’m finding it really good. Simplifies meal decision making which I really appreciate.

Good luck. I’m with you. 30 days of huel.:smiley:

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Day 4
Breakfast: 100g Vanilla Huel + teaspoon of coffee + ice + 300ml water (left in fridge overnight)
Lunch: 100g Vanilla Huel + 2g Chocolate Flavour System + teaspoon chilli powder
Dinner: 100g Vanilla Huel

Thought I’d try what someone else mentioned and added a little chili powder to Huel with the Chocolate flavour system. Worked a treat, a little spice did help and added a bit of variety.

Also - breakfast was left chilled overnight and enjoyed it very much. Having left it in the fridge it became more of a ‘porridge’ but the flavour was more pronounced. I’ll probably keep doing it this way.

Got to admit, absolutely craving something savoury and chewy like a steak!

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Dr Michael Mosley has promoted the 800 calories a day for 8 weeks (to lower blood sugar levels) He is a medical doctor and says that weight loss does not need to be gradual. I can vouch for this. On this diet, a year ago I lost a stone in 2 weeks and I’ve kept it off.

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I’m looking to do 1000 calories a day for 3 weeks (as part of a PSMF) but it’s difficult when it comes to socialising.

Day 5:
Breakfast: 100g Vanilla Huel + Ice + teaspoon coffee + 300ml water
Lunch: 100g Vanilla Huel + 2g Chocolate Flavour System + 300ml water
Dinner: 100g Vanilla Huel

Really craving something chewy and savoury! Going to try eliminating my ‘lunch Huel’ in favour of adding peanut butter to my evening Huel as I’m never too hungry during the day anyway.

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