Remember how on Star Trek they used to have those replicator thingys that would provide you with whatever food you wanted at the press of a button?
Well, I used to want one of those pretty badly. I’d just left home, living on my own for the first time, and I had no cooking skills whatsoever. And to be honest, I didn’t have much interest in learning either – what I wanted was something quick, tasty, and convenient, not hours spent in the kitchen.
Sadly, I soon learnt that “quick, tasty, and convenient” most often translates to “processed crap you really don’t want to be putting in your body.” All those salt and additive laden ready meals, greasy and unhealthy fast food, and ingredients of dubious provenance will really take their toll on your body, and sooner or later you will notice the impact on your general energy levels, mood, and even libido.
Simply put, it’s worth taking a bit of care with what you are putting into your body – you are what you eat, right? Over time, I’m happy to say that I have acquired some basic culinary skills – as I believe every man should – but I still struggle with consistently healthy nutrition. I’m never going to be a keen cook, and eating healthily seems to take much more of an effort than I want it to.
Enter Huel, a powdered food that promises to provide all the nutrition your body needs in a handy, quick to prepare package. In the company’s own words:
“Huel is a nutritionally complete powdered food that contains all the proteins, carbs, and fats you need, plus at least 100% of the European Union’s ‘Daily Recommended Amounts’ of all 26 essential vitamins and minerals.
Huel is 100% vegan (better for the environment and animals), super convenient, high in protein (148g per 2000 calories) and fibre (35g), contains just 4.6 grams of sugar per 2000 calories (no added sugar), requires minimal packaging and has a shelf-life of 12 months (so zero food waste).”
Sounds pretty good, but what is it really like? How does it taste, and is it really a good idea to be replacing actual meals with powdered food?
Well, I was curious to find out, so I gave it a try. Here’s what I discovered.
Huel seems ideal for those who want to track their nutrition. Usually, logging a meal means inputting multiple ingredients and trying your best to judge portion sizes. With Huel, you know exactly what 100g of the product contains, all broken down for you in great detail on the back of each packet. All in all, it’s potentially an extremely easy way to regulate your daily calorific intake with greater precision. For guys looking to up their total daily calories, I also found that Huel wasn’t particularly filling, so it’s an easy way to get in some extra calories if desired.
Protein and nutrition
Personally, I was surprised by just how much protein Huel contains (148g per 2000kcal). At the same time, it does, of course, offer a comprehensive spread of essential vitamins and minerals in addition to a good dose of fibre (34.9g per 2000kcal). As a semi-regular gym goer, I was interested to see whether I could use Huel as a supplement pre and post workout. Having used various protein powders in the past, I can say that Huel seems just as effective…without the stomach irritation that made me stop taking protein powder in the first place.
I’m probably saving the best till last here, because Huel really is very convenient. Half fill your shaker with water, add the powder, and fill the shaker to top. That’s all there is to it really. Rinse and repeat. When you don’t have the time or the energy to prepare a full meal, there’s no arguing with the nutrition that Huel can provide in such a short space of time – and especially so when you think of what you might end up eating otherwise. However, as with all products, it’s not without its downsides, and that is what I want to cover next. Read on!
I had feared that Huel would taste absolutely horrific, and indeed, the first time you drink it, it is a bit of a shock to the taste buds. However, in my case at least, you do acclimatise to the taste relatively quickly. For me, that’s as far as it goes though. I’ll drink it no problem, but it’s not something I really look forwards to drinking. Having said that, Huel does offer various additional flavourings at extra cost – and, if you were going to drink more of it, this would certainly be an option worth exploring.
Quantity and expense
That brings me neatly onto my final quibble, which is just how much of the stuff you would have to be drinking if you wanted to replace your entire diet with Huel. On the website, all the quantities and price calculations are made on the assumption of a daily calorie intake of 2000 kcal, which is rather low. For the average man, the requirement is going to be more like 2500 kcal – and more if you’re young and physically active. In my case, I reckon on 2800 kcal on a standard day, and 3200 kcal if I’m doing sport or gym. That would mean consuming around 5.17kg of Huel a week at a cost of around 70 pounds. Not only is that a lot of money, it’s also a whole lot of powdered food to be consuming. The taste alone stopped me from extending my Huel experiment to a 100% Huel diet, but I am fairly sure that if I did so my stomach and digestive system would not appreciate the total absence of solid food.
If you ask me, then, Huel is best used as a healthy and nutritious dietary supplement. Those tracking their nutritional macros and weight will appreciate the ease with which they can incorporate Huel into their diet, while its high protein content means that you can easily use it as a pre or post workout shake. Personally, I also appreciate the convenience of Huel, and have no problem substituting it for my morning meal and even others when I’m pushed for time. It does rather fall down on taste, however, and I wouldn’t myself consider switching to a Huel only diet. It’s a personal thing, though, and for those interested, I’d definitely recommend giving it a shot. Me, I’m still holding out for that food replicator!
Cambridge graduate. Writer and thinker. Life enthusiast.