I spent a month eating only Huel, the “Nutritionally complete food”. Here’s how it went.
If you’ve not already heard of Huel, a quick Google will bring you back terms like “nutritionally complete”, and “meal replacement”. The immediate comparison is the similar “food”, Soylent. However Huel is keen to remind you that their 100% vegan food is based off of oats, not soy. The long and short of it is that (in theory), if you eat only Huel, you’re eating more than what your body needs to survive. But is it healthy?
My £149.85 order arrived in a single, 14 kilogram box with “Huel.” proudly printed along the side. Opening it revealed 8 densely-packed pouches of the oaty stuff, along with 3 smaller pouches of concentrated flavour. I’d bought 112 meals worth, and unpacking it made me doubt my decision. I filled up the kitchen cupboard, and put a pouch in my bag to take to work.
The first dose of Huel was the worst. I lumped 3.5 scoops of thick porridge into the provided shaker, then filled up the rest with cold water. A minute of vigorous shaking later and I had myself a viscous beige mixture that smelled very strongly of vanilla. Mistake 1: I should have shook for longer. Raw Huel is deeply unpleasant. I sipped at the “food” for what felt like far too long, and upon finishing, I felt bloated. As if I’d just eaten way too much. I was impressed! The texture is as described, just a thick porridge-y shake with a vanilla aftertaste. Completely inoffensive.
I woke up and made up a 3-scoop batch of Huel, making sure to shake for much longer. This time I added a pinch of the “Toffee” flavour concentrate, which made a huge difference. It was much easier to quickly gulp it down, and I finished it off before I left for work. That day I bought a NutriBullet blender, purely for the convenience factor. After all, Huel was going to save me hours of time, I wanted the best efficiency possible. Lunch was interesting, as I didn’t have access to chilled water at work. Room-temperature Huel takes some getting used to, but so far I felt pretty normal. Towards the end of the day I started feeling really tired, and the moment I got home, I had my dinner. Huel. But with my new blender! Highly recommend that, the texture was much more consistent and I could put ice cubes in.
This is the first day the toilet got to experience Huel properly. One of the neat little quirks about Huel is that it has way more protein than you normally eat. This is great for someone who’s trying to lose weight, but as anyone who’s been on a Keto or Atkins diet may know… It does interesting things to your stool. Consistency was… soft. Very. And it stayed like this, for the whole month. And it didn’t exactly have the most pleasant bouquet either. Asides from this alarming discovery, I felt pretty normal, if a bit run-down. I chalked it up to my body adjusting to the hell that I was thrusting on it.
This was the first day I felt normal again. At this point, I’ve eaten around 24 meals of Huel, and the three flavours I had saved me from going insane. My energy levels were back to normal, and this whole ordeal was starting to feel routine. I was confident at this point that I could make it the entire month. I’d explained what I was doing to pretty much everyone in the office at this point, and a few people were surprised that I was still able to form coherent sentences. It’s worth me saying that up to this point, I’d only been drinking water with my Huel.
I cheated! I went out for a night on the town. I wanted to drink at least a little, so I broke and had orange juice and vodka only. It was a economic night, as I’d become a huge lightweight on my oat-and-protein only diet. This was the only time I drank anything other than water during my attempt. At this point, I was starting to miss texture. That’s not to say that Huel doesn’t have texture; it really does. It’s thick and thin, at the same time, and yet you can’t quite chew it. I was still chugging on, relying mostly on the Toffee flavour pack to get me through the monotony.
It’s the eve eve of the end of my little challenge. I’m so close, yet I so badly want normal food again. Eating with people is impossible. You just sit, patiently waiting for them to finish their meal. It’s maddening. You’ve already finished your shake, gulped half a pint of water to get rid of the dusty aftertaste, and you’re ready to get on with the day. You gain a lot of time on Huel. A lot of time. We spend so much time eating, but at this point I want nothing more than to spend it.
The end. I skipped breakfast, I was so excited. The first thing I ate was a Subway sandwich, and it was glorious. Texture was so alien to me at this point it was like I’d only just discovered food. For dinner I had a steak. A wonderful, medium-rare steak. Food with resistance. Food that fought back. I’m never doing this again.
So, final thoughts? Well honestly, I have to say that it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. My body quickly adjusted to ingesting liquid food only, and asides from the toilet quirk, I have to say I felt the healthiest I’d ever been. With good reason too - Huel is loaded with vitamins and other uncommon supplements that your body needs. The worst part by far is the monotony. No texture, chilled meals with slightly varying sweet tastes. I still use Huel as a meal replacement every now and again. It’s really convenient, will fill you up, and energise you for the day ahead. I lost roughly 3kg over the month!
7/10, would recommend if you fancy spending a month messing with your body on the cheap. Can’t argue with a less than £1.50 per-meal cost!