Most unlikely of Huel converts

The first time I heard of Huel was through a sponsored Facebook post, like some others here, I suspect. My interest in healthy eating (initially triggered by minor but annoying ailments) can basically be summarised with the following rule which seems to come up consistently: the biggest contributing factor as to whether a food is healthy or unhealthy is the degree of processing it has gone through (probably seconded by whether it is plant- or animal-based).

So naturally, I was disinclined to think of Huel as anything I wanted to try, due to the fact that – despite its aspirations – it is the quintessence of a processed food. Far away from naturally occurring food sources. I actually thought it was a bit laughable, but I applauded the effort at sustainability.

I still vaguely think this way, and while I hope science can solve the problem of how to deliver macronutrients and vitamins in such a way as to maximise their absorption, I am not convinced we have fully solved this problem. One study off the top of my head is the ADA’s study concluding that food is better than supplements for omega-3. There is still a lot we don’t know about why the body tends to metabolise things in their natural form more effectively than if the nutrients are isolated and delivered separately.


However, an unexpected recommendation by a friend of a friend, and the persistent sponsored posts (maybe @Julian can comment on this bit of marketing genius) led me to keep thinking about it, to the point that I was completely captivated by the idea. While I think science hasn’t fully solved the problem of the delivery of nutrients that a human digestive system can absorb properly, I absolutely believe that we will someday, and it’s exciting to think that Huel could be the beginning of a wave of attempts to solve it. Or at least, a wave of attempts to put the nutritional science we already have to very good use.

So I’ve put in my first order and am sincerely awaiting to try this out! I’ve certainly scared the crap out of my missus who is frankly shocked that this is happening. What started off as a joke about silly people eating space food has turned into a decision to join their ranks :joy:

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Welcome to the Huel family.

We too think that we haven’t fully solved nutrition yet. But I do know that to create a meal plan each day that is nutritionally complete from “traditional” whole food is much, much harder. What we do know is that the body needs a blend of essential fatty acids, essential amino acids and 26 vitamins and minerals. Even though we know this currently we just guess our way though life.

Facebook certainly does help us spread the word about Huel.

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The reason why most processed food is bad is because the processing seems to involve removing nutrients and adding sugar, salt and bad fats to make it satisfying to eat, as well as chemicals. Huel is pretty much the opposite of that.

I can remember when I first heard about Rob Rhinehart’s early experiment with his first version of Soylent. It was summer 2013. I remember reading an article about this guy who had created a bland tasting drink that provided all his nutrients so that he never needed to eat food ever again. I thought it was quite a silly idea to be honest.

Then a year later I warmed to the idea and started using the DIY Soylent site to try to create my own recipe. But I never quite got my recipe good enough.

Then a year later I found Huel. Since then, breakast and lunch have been so much quicker and easier.

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@Julian Thanks for the warm welcome. I think you’re absolutely right about the difficulty of creating daily meal plans. Huel is one of those rare things that makes more and more sense every time you think about it, from virtually every angle. Huge kudos to you and James for making it a reality. Bringing new things like this to market must require an extraordinary amount of foresight and resolve.

@Marcus Thanks for your response. Totally empathise with your reaction to Soylent. It’s interesting that there is a process of incubation where the idea has to sink in for a while. I think it was 6 months ago that I first heard of Huel. It’s a tribute to how much we cherish normal ideas of food and sustenance, to the point where anything else seems like sacrilege.

Fair point about removal of nutrients. I may have unfairly demonised processed food in the first post, and my gist was that there are few golden rules in nutrition if any, but ‘processing = bad’ appears to be one of them. However I also liked Julian’s reference somewhere to milling being a form of processing that has been performed for the last 30,000 years (oh yeah, lurking around the forum was another thing that won me over to Huel).

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Another convert here!

I started off a similar way to Sputnik. I saw the adverts and thought “I couldn’t think of anything worse”. I love food and I thought Huel sounded like such a joyless existence. Then one day out of boredom I clicked on the comments on a Facebook post. In the end, the articulate and informative responses from Huel to curious people and naysayers alike won me over.

Now, like Sputnik says, it makes more sense to me every day. I have saved money on food shopping, I throw away far less food, my skin and nails are way better and I’m (slowly) losing weight. I am on 2/3 Huel and it helps me get through the busy working day without having to worry if I have time to prepare myself something nutritious for lunch. Most importanly, I actually food even more, and I put more effort into preparing my evening meals. There is nothing joyless about it.

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Yep, I’ve been converted too.

About 10 years ago I used to have protein shakes every morning and I would throw in a handful of flaxseed and some oats. Along with vitamins and minerals I wondered how complete this was as a meal. A little while later I read about Soylent and thought I’d like to give it a try but it seemed awkward to get hold of in the UK. I also heard about it on the Skeptic’s Guide Podcast

I pretty much forgot about the idea until I saw a Facebook ad for Huel and did some reading on reddit. I was impressed with the professional way in which the product was presented so gave it a shot and haven’t looked back.

I was tempted to try some of the cheaper European equivalents but looking at the ingredients feel this would be a step in the wrong direction.

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The bizarre thing is, even after 8 months of Huel, I still can’t get my parents to even try it. My mum will happily eat porridge, but she is disgusted by the thought of Huel. I think people find it somehow offensive to the whole idea of food.

Personally, I can’t even imagine not having Huel for Breakfast and Lunch. I’ll probably never completely give up evening meals, but I’ll also probably never give up Huel for the rest of the day.

Really on the same page as you here! Cooking, for example, a lovely vegetarian meal with roasted red peppers and feta that takes an hour to do properly doesn’t feel like that much of a chore any more. I look forward to that one, carefully prepared, delicious evening meal every day now.

Uh oh! Good luck!

With the risk of being pedantic, “processing=bad” is far too a simplistic belief.

An example. Heating is a process. One would not argue that unheated chicken is healthier than heated chicken, as the heat is vital to kill off several strains of bacteria prevalent in that type of meat.

It has already been mentioned that milling(grinding) is a process. As is dissolving, chopping, and mixing, filtering, or drying. A chopped apple is not going to be worse than an unchopped apple just because it has been processed.

I understand that your approach might be that the more processes a food goes through, the more likely it is to lose integrity - both structurally and chemically. The processed foods you are afraid of are the ones which have added sodium, added sugar, added saturates and fill us up with the things our body does not need. As you know, huel uses processes to create food but not additives of those aforementioned things.

Perhaps it is more accurate to say “additives=bad” which is sort of correct, or perhaps try “natural=good, artificial=bad”?

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Even natural=good is difficult. Anthrax is natural, but it’s definitely not going to make you feel any better!

True. But are you gonna eat it? Maybe the rule is “there are no rules!” :slight_smile:

@Marcus You should definitely prepare a Huel based meal for your mom but not tell her, that it is Huel… the oldest trick in the book - and payback time for when you were a kid.

@alllowercase The “processing=bad” is more a heuristic, than rule. It is a very simple and easy to remember predictor of how healthy food is likely to be, but at times it is pretty far off. It helps a lot of people to live a more healthy life, but it is not capturing the complexity of life. That’s why it is a heuristic and not a rule.

In the end it is most important which of the way you want to formulate the belief helps you to take action.

I’m not sure what meal I could prepare that would contain Huel but not seem like Huel. Do you have any recommendations?

@Marcus Try pancakes or a 50-50 mix of unflavoured Huel and porridge maybe?

Thanks, maybe I will try that.

How about