I’ve been on huel as the majority (80 - 90%) of my diet since early october. In principle, Huel is perfect for me because I care a lot about getting the right nutrition and I’m very busy. Huel’s attraction is that it promises both ideal nutrition and significant time-saving in one package. However I have some concerns about Huel and I’m currently doing an experiment on myself where go back onto a (healthy) whole food diet over the christmas period and then switch back to Huel in the new year. To help with this experiment , and to help me make the decision about whether to continue with Huel or switch back to a whole food diet, I’d love to be able to get some answers to the following concerns/questions:
(disclaimer to all this: I have no formal education in nutrition so these concerns and questions are just based on the views that I’ve come to based on my own informal research - i.e. they might be totally wrong and I’d be very happy to hear from anyone who thinks so)
Although the main ingredient of huel is oats, the oats are obviously finely powdered. So they differ from e.g. regular porridge oats insofar as they’re digested much more quickly. This presumably means that less of the nutrients are absorbed from a given weight of powdered oats vs regular oats. More generally - isn’t the fact that powdered food is digested more quickly an inherent problem for any powdered meal replacement?
Huel contains all the micronutrients that we need. But these many of these micronutrients are isolated or synthetic. Many say, and there seems to be good evidence for this, that synthetic vitamins (such as those found in vitamin supplements) provide lesser health benefits than vitamins found in whole foods. If this is true then even though Huel technically provides all the micronutrients we need - it might be significantly less beneficial to health than a whole food diet that provides good amounts of naturally ocurring micronutrients. So two questions: (i) is it true that isolated micronutrients found in huel are comparable to vitamin supplements in that they provide lesser benefit than vitamins found in whole food, (ii) if this is true, how significant is the drop off in benefit?
There have been no long term studies on the effects of replacement with Huel, since it has only existed for a few years. Should we not be cautious about replacing whole foods with Huel, or any powdered meal replacement, for this reason? Might there be drawbacks involved simply in the replacement of a whole food diet with a synthetic powder - quite independently of the nominal nutritional content of the powder? After all, we didn’t evolve to eat a synethic powdered meal replacement product.
I didn’t count calories before starting on Huel. But it’s so easy to do with Huel that I’ve been doing so quite carefully. Now that I’ve switched back to whole foods for the purposes of this experiment, I’ve found it basically impossible to ingest as many calories per day in whole foods as I was intaking through Huel. Now it’s possible that I was just never ingesting as many calories as I have been on Huel - since I wasn’t counting before it’s impossible to say. But another hypothesis is that my stomach has adapted to liquid food that passes quickly through it, and therefore can’t accomodate as much solid food as it previously could. Does this sound plausible?