When I was first contacted about trying Huel my immediate instinct was to say no. I spent quite a few years dieting, desperately believing that the answer to weight loss lay in a special shake or bar. Years later having realised that there is no magic weight loss bullet, I am extremely sceptical about any product that’s marketed as a meal replacement.
But having spent a bit of time browsing the Huel website this product seemed to be a bit different. A meal replacement yes, but one formulated to include all the protein, carbs, fats, vitamins and minerals that your body needs. No scary very low calorie diets being peddled here after all. I was intrigued.
As I looked around the website I kept coming back to something on the home page. ‘The future of food’ it claimed. Could the makers of Huel really be suggesting that we give up eating food and have Huel and nothing but Huel each day. There was no question mark there – this was a statement. Should everyone involved in the food industry sit up and take notice – is this product going to change the way that we all eat forever? It seems unlikely, and yet my interest in the product was piqued.
The first thing that struck me was the minimalist look of the packaging of the product. No fancy logos or flashy images. Just that ‘future of food’ statement again backed up with the promise that it contains ‘everything your body needs and nothing more’.
Huel is made from real food. It contains a blend of vegan protein (rice and pea), oats, flaxseed, sunflower lecithin, MCT from coconut, and a vitamin and mineral blend. With no added sugar, no meat or animal products, no dairy, no soy, no eggs, it’s suitable for most dietary requirements.
Now, as a reformed vegetarian that ingredients list doesn’t exactly have me salivating. I understand that I can get my daily macro nutrient requirements from plants but most of the time I choose not to.
So, having read what was in this stuff I wasn’t expecting it to taste very nice. To prepare a serving you just add a measured amount of the powder to a measured amount of water. The amount you make up varies according to your daily calorie requirement and how much of your diet will consist of Huel.
I had decided that I wasn’t going to go all out and try this for all my meals but that I’d just give it a go for one meal and see what I thought. So I started with having a 400 calorie Huel breakfast by adding 100g of the powder to 500g of cold water and a teaspoon of instant coffee.
The powder is pretty lumpy so you do need to blend the mixture but once whizzed up it looks like a thick protein shake.
And the taste? Surprisingly pleasant. Slightly oaty, a hint of coffee (I could have made it stronger) and vaguely sweet but no-where near as artificially sweet as some protein shakes. The consistency was a bit on the ‘chewy’ side but I quite liked that as it made me feel like I was eating something rather than drinking. Overall not bad at all and the bonus was that it kept me full up until lunchtime.
So my first experience of it it was OK. But having had that first ‘meal’ I knew that it really wasn’t going to be the ‘future of food’ for me.
I love food. I love eating. I love the variety, the colours, the smells and the flavours of food. Food is so much more than fuel. It can be celebration, it can be romance, it can be comfort, it can be tradition. Can you imagine sitting down for a family meal and all drinking your powdered food? Or going out for a candlelit ‘dinner’ that’s over in 5 minutes once you’ve both consumed your shake? Of course you can’t. From that perspective I cannot see how Huel could possibly be the ‘future of food’ – certainly not in any world I’d want to live in.
And yet there are times when food really is just fuel to me and I can absolutely see Huel having a place.
Post evening workout when I don’t want to cook or eat a proper meal but know that I need to replenish my energy stores. First thing in the morning when I’m short on time but need something to eat or I’ll be grabbing at anything by lunchtime. On those days at work when my meetings are back to back and I’ve got no time to get out of the office and find something healthy. On those occasions Huel is ideal. Quick to make, quick to eat and delivering all the nutrients that my body needs. It’s got to be better than grabbing a protein bar, a banana or let’s be honest a packet of crisps.
So overall I’m glad I said yes to doing this review. Because while Huel is absolutely not going to be ‘the future of food’ for me I have and will continue using it at those times when I need something quick, convenient and healthy.
Farmers, grocers, supermarket owners and restaurateurs – you’ll be glad to know that I think you can sleep safe for now. But protein shake makers? This is one to watch!
I was sent a bag of Huel, a shaker, storage bottle and T-shirt for free to review. All opinions are my own.