Using Huel for my weight loss journey (VLCD, Newcastle diet)

I found myself very ill this year. I was in hospital twice and I realised I absolutely had to do something about it.

I’ve always been a big person, but since lock down things had gotten out of hand and this combined with high blood pressure, a high pressure job, and a nasty break up with a fromer partner… things have been tough.

I start this journey at 190KG.

I read about the Newcastle Diet;

And the plan is simple. 600 caloires of meal replacement shakes and up to 200 calories in non-starchy vegetables a day giving a total of 800 calories.

I have discussed this with my GP and they are supportive. Clearly, being on such a lot calorie diet comes with it’s own dangers, but on balance it seems a reasonable approach.

What this diet claims to do is put your body in a ketogenic state so your body consumes your body fat at a high rate. But it also seems to specifically target the fat that is surrounding your internal organs first. Your liver, your heart, etc stips the fat from these organs which gets them in a more healthy state. Appaerently the fat around your organs is the most readily metabolisable so it goes first.

The diet was devised by Professor Roy Taylor from the University of Newcastle and has been shown in clinical trials to be very effective and has been shown to reverse type 2 diabetes in some people. I do not have diabetes, but I am at high risk of developing it.

So, the plan is 3 x huel shakes with one scoop of powder each. I’m mixing this with unsweatened almond milk to give myself a little more nutrion.

I’ve been on this a week now, I’ve already lost 4KG and I am feeling much, much better. I am confident this is the way forward.

My Basal Metabolic Rate is 2,745 so that is a calorie deficit of around 2000 a day.

It does take a fair amount of self control, but it is achieveable.

Side effects are things like weakness, I am quite sensitive to the cold. Honestly though, it is fine.

My plan is to continue with this until I hit 100KG and then take pause and reassess.

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To be honest, such a drastic decrease in intake will most like do more damage than good. Your BMR will get lower and lower and in the long run, going back to a normal-caloric diet will be a surplus for your metabolism. On top of that, given such a low level of energy, a lot of survival mechanisms in your body could be shut down. You’ll lose sex drive, and willingness to move (been there), and if you suffer cold, it wi;l be much worse.
But that’s only my take, I’m not a professional.

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Oh I am not in anyway suggesting this is the ideal way of losing weight. This is a crash diet and an extreme one at that and there is therefore drawbacks to such a diet.

But my health is in a situationw here I need to do something drastic, and this feels like a sensible approach. My GP agrees the positives on this outweigh the negatives.

I am aware of the slowdown in metabolism. I will need to be very careful at the end of the diet to slowly increase my calorie intake rather than just launch into “normal” eating.

The plan is to slowly increase my calories over a period of two months to a new normal.

Probably start with one, small meal a day. Keep to that for a few weeks and slowly up that from there. But no huge incriments.

Yes, I fully expect my sex drive to drop, and my activity to be minimal. But honestly with my health the way it is and was that was already an issue.

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You look conscious of everything, you talked to your GP and are aware of possible risks as well, I only wish you the best of luck and ask for regular updates on your journey and experience!
And, a few tips to help you with your journey of Huel:

  • Add a pinch of salt, makes a great difference
  • 2 shots espresso + water (to reach the wanted amount) and Huel (coffee makes it slightly thicker)
  • Add ice cubes, and if you fancy a thicker result, blend the mix
  • Cinnamon always makes things better, instant coffee
  • If you can afford a few calories add a frozen banana (or half)
  • Leave overnight in the fridge (enhance the texture)
  • Drink it slowly, sip by sip

Again: best of luck!

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Is there any reason why you want to use 1.5 Huel shake instead of real traditional food, meals, dishes? I think that would be more appealing, pleasant and healthier for you. As there are still concerns with lack of mastication and lack of scientific research on long-term usage especially at this calorie-amount.
Huel is meant as a shake you consume if you absolutely got no or very little time.
Huel is not nutritionally complete at 600 calories. It is designed to be 100% nutritionally complete at 2000 kcal/day. There was someone in the past who stopped eating altogether for a year or longer however this was under strict medical supervision and they gave supplementetion to him “Angus’s doctors didn’t really expect the fast to last long. But they thought a short fast would help him to lose some weight. To compensate for his lack of nutrients, he was prescribed multivitamins to take regularly, including potassium and sodium, as well as yeast.”

The story of Angus Barbieri, who went 382 days without eating.

However, whether such an extreme diet is healthy needs to be thoroughly researched and you would put yourself up for trial.

And I think that if you push yourself too hard to only consume liquids and on such a restrictive calorie amount that you might struggle to stick to your diet.

I would instead recommend visting doctors, dietitians etc. who can help and guide you and find a healthier diet with real foods like salads, rice, fruits that you can enjoy, chew and is healthier.
Perhaps even discuss exercise options.

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Hey @FatManSlim, I’m really sorry to hear you ended up in hospital. Having all those things happen over a pandemic would be breaking point for anyone.

The Newcastle diet is incredibly interesting and it’s success has surprised some people. You’ve done the right thing by discussing with your GP and getting their support. You couldn’t do this diet without them.

Make sure you have their continued support, and maybe speak to a dietitian regarding this, because you should only be following this diet for up to 3 months. A health professional will then help you up your calories and reintroduce other foods into your diet over several weeks.

For anyone else reading this, this diet has been thoroughly researched with participants being followed for 2 years (you can read more by googling “DiRECT study”).

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Have you a link to where this is stated please as I cannot see it anywhere?

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What stopped you from posting links?

@anon10145348

I have a lot of willpower so I am sure I’ll be fine at sticking to it.

My issue with diets is when I have to sit down and do equations to figure out if I can eat something. Frankly, death seems preferable. So for me, diets need to be simple with clearly defined rules.

Keto has worked for me before. But I have let myself go too far and I need to do something drastic. So, here I am doing this.

I was aware of the story of Angus Barbieri actually. Reading about him was one of the things I did when I was questioning myself if I was insane for doing this. If he can do it eating nothing at all, I can do it with consuming minimal huel.

I am taking a multivitamin and a cod liver oil capsule daily. So I am augmenting my intake with supplements. But the science is very unclear on whether these work at all, but they couldn’t hurt.

My current system

So I am mixing one scoop (50g) of Huel with around 500ml of unsweetened Almond milk a day.

Why Almond milk? It’s low calorie, still contains nutrients, and gives a creamier mouthfeel than water.

I have actually realised just while writing this I underestimated how many calories were in unsweetened almond milk. In 500ml apparently, it has around 86 calories. So this brings up my shakes from the recommended 200 calories to around 286. Which doesn’t sound much but instead of 600 calories a day I’m then getting 858.

It is still a huge calorie deficit but I think I may switch to just cutting huel with water to get myself back to the 200 calories per shake as per recommended in the diet.

So for Huel black with one scoop it provides;

200 Cal
Fat 9g
Carb 8g
-Sugar 2.25g
Fibre 4.15g
Protein 20g
Salt 0.5g

Slimfast for the same would give me

Cal 204
fat 5.3g
carbs 22g
-sugar 13g
fibre 4.9g
protein 15g
salt 0.48g

The mix is more protein and fat heavy and so more keto. I feel fuller on Huel than on slimfast (Have done that as well) Slimfast is one of the shake types tested and recommended by Prof Roy Taylor in the diet.

So yeah, I think I’ll finish up my current batch of almond milk and then switch to water. I’m likely doing this longer than 12 weeks. My GP said the benefits would likely outweigh the negatives. He said one thing I may notice is hair loss, but as I’m bald anyway that won’t be an issue for me. And again, if it worked for Angus Barbieri eating literally nothing for over a year, I should be comparatively fine with what I’m doing.

I’ll keep you all updated with how I get on.

(If anyone notices errors in my calculations please feel free to tell me.)

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Look at the sugars! 13g of sugar is a LOT for 200kcal.
In my opinion, keep those additional 260kcal each day from using almond milk instead of water, you’ll feel less of “cutting down even more”, “giving up on small things”, etc and that will help you stay true to this diet, which won’t be easy after a while.

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It is good that you supplement.
I would sit around the table with your doctor and first calculate what you get without any supplementation regarding macro- and micronutrients. After that, see what you need to supplement. Like NaCl, potassium.
I am not a dietitian and my comprehension of burning fat deposits extends only to the knowledge that it provides your body with energy. I do not know if fat deposits also store micronutrients. Although I have heard about fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D. Might be worth checking your vitamin D levels and if you need additional supplementation there as well.
Not every meal replacement is the same. Some lack Choline. And not every doctor is aware of all the products out there. So just because doctors recommend slimfast does not mean it is the best. I do prefer Huel over SlimFast. Although Slimfast is meant as a meal-replacement product and contains dosages of vitamins at a lower calorie point so you have that advantage. However, it seems that SlimFast lacks choline? Perhaps that might be an issue and might need to be additionally supplemented but that is up to a dietitian to decide.

SlimFast has different products they do offer a low carb, high protein variant.

No it isn’t.

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It sounds like you’ve done your research! I am just going to reiterate that I’d suggest getting the continued support of a dietitian. Your GP could recommend one to you or you could find one yourself via this website.

Nothing at all, there are a lot! The main site is here and here are the two main published papers: one and two

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Date 29/06/2022 05/07/2022 08/07/2022
Weight (KG) 190 187 185

This is the way things are going so far.

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Well, that’s a milestone! The first 5 gone! Well done! :slight_smile: :partying_face:

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Date 29/06/2022 05/07/2022 08/07/2022 10/07/2022
Weight (KG) 190 187 185 184

It does seem to be following a fairly steady trajectory so far.

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You will be soon need to update your username! Keep going :muscle:t3:

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I’m here for your rebranding needs, @FatManSlim

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Date 29/06/2022 05/07/2022 08/07/2022 10/07/2022 12/07/2022
Weight (KG) 190 187 185 184 182
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Date 29/06/2022 05/07/2022 08/07/2022 10/07/2022 12/07/2022 14/07/2022
Weight (KG) 190 187 185 184 182 181

Things seem to have stalled a little but it’s moving in the right direction. I did cheat slightly and swapped out one of my shakes for a steak (400 cals) and some veg because I was going to do something physically strenuous and I thought I’d pass out if I stuck to the shakes only. Still keto though so should have been okay.

I’m back on the wagon though. I’m taking a long-term view on this and if occasionally I need to do that, assuming I keep it reasonable and keto, I think that’s just fine. I’m in this until Christmas so I’ve got to be pragmatic about it.

In terms of how I’m feeling I feel so much better. I feel more alert. Not so much have more energy, but I feel more alert and conscious. I always felt like I was going around in a bit of a daze before, like my perception was impeded somewhat.

I can feel the difference already in the weight I’ve lost in terms of my body and how heavy I feel. All good so far!

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