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Huel Powder Review: Is It Worth It? Our Dietitian Explains

Written by Emily Hirsch, MS, RD

Published on February 26, 2021

Our Expert Rating:

3.7

About This Rating
The average rating of this product is calculated based on the evaluation of the following factors:
  • Support for Claims:2.9
  • Ingredient Safety:3.0
  • Value for the Price:5.0
  • Brand Transparency:4.0

Huel is a nutritionally complete powdered meal replacement. However, the research to back up all of the claims is lacking.

Huel Powder Review: Is It Worth It? Our Dietitian Explains

Pros

  • Convenient
  • Affordable
  • Simplifies calorie counting

Cons

  • May increase feelings of deprivation with respect to traditional food
  • Potential for unpleasant side effects

What Is Huel?

Huel was derived from the phrase “human fuel” and is a nutritionally complete powdered meal replacement product.

It is available in powder form or as a ready-made drink. It is a nutritionally sound and overall respectable product for time-starved people.

They also have energy bars, granola, and their latest line of plant-based meals called Hot & Savory.

Huel was designed to meet all of the body’s nutritional needs, making it a unique and nutritionally complete version of traditional food.

Huel Powder, along with their other line of products, is high in protein and fiber, low in sugar and salt, and rich in phytonutrients.

The product also contains an ideal balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat, and fiber, in addition to 27 essential vitamins and minerals.

Huel was created in 2012 by Julian Hearn when he set out to design a program that would help people get optimal nutrition to boost their physical performance.

This concept developed into the idea that “fast food” can be nutritionally complete, convenient, affordable, with minimal impact on animals and the environment.

Evaluation of Ingredients

Oats

Huel’s primary source of carbohydrates comes from oats. Oats are an excellent source of fiber that can increase feelings of fullness and may even help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Studies show that oats can delay stomach emptying time which can increase feelings of fullness. This can, in turn, help with appetite control and weight management.

Additionally, research has shown that the fiber in oats can reduce both total and LDL cholesterol levels, which can improve heart health.

Probiotics are also added to the fiber found in Huel to help support a healthy gut.

Pea Protein

Pea protein is derived from green and yellow peas and provides an ideal hypoallergenic plant-based protein source.

Pea protein contains all of the nine essential amino acids that your body can’t produce and must get from food sources.

Research suggests that pea protein powder can help build muscle when combined with resistance training.

One study found that both pea protein and whey protein were equally effective in supporting muscle growth with regular exercise.

Ground Flaxseed

Often considered a superfood, flaxseed is chock full of nutrients. A single tablespoon has protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, along with assorted vitamins and minerals.

The fiber found in flaxseed may improve heart health by helping to lower cholesterol levels.

One 2014 study found that eating 30 grams of flaxseed powder daily for 3 months lowered total cholesterol by 17% and LDL cholesterol by 20% in people with high cholesterol.

Flaxseed may also help people with appetite control and weight management.

Researchers in one study found that adding 2.5 grams of ground flax fiber extract to a beverage reduced feelings of hunger and improved overall appetite control.

Brown Rice Protein

Brown rice protein is a specialized protein made by treating the rice with enzymes through a unique conversion process.

This type of protein is hypoallergenic and may even have some health benefits.

One study found that brown rice protein is just as effective as whey protein in enhancing body composition and exercise performance, making it a nice plant-based protein option for athletes.

Adequate protein intake can help increase feelings of fullness which can support weight loss.

One research study suggests that brown rice protein offers peptides that can minimize weight gain more than white rice protein or soy protein.

Coconut MCTs

This type of coconut oil contains medium-length chains of fats called triglycerides.

There is some evidence to suggest that MCTs may play a role in weight management.

One 2014 study found that MCTs increased the hormones that reduce appetite and help increase feelings of fullness when compared to longer-chain fats.

Moreover, one 2015 meta-analysis showed that MCTs given for 3 weeks or more reduced body weight, waist circumference, hip circumference, and total body fat compared to long-chain triglycerides (LCTs).

Verdict on Claimed Benefits

Here is our summary of the available support for the claimed benefits of Huel Powder:

  • Boost immune systemStrong Evidence
  • Improve digestionStrong Evidence
  • Improve muscle functioningStrong Evidence
  • Assists with weight managementStrong Evidence
  • Enhance the nervous systemModerate Evidence
  • Enhance brain functionModerate Evidence
  • Increased MetabolismModerate Evidence
  • Improved hair and nail healthModerate Evidence
  • Improved skin healthModerate Evidence
  • Enhance bone healthModerate Evidence
  • Enhance dental healthModerate Evidence
  • Improve eye healthModerate Evidence
  • Decrease tiredness and fatigueLimited Evidence
  • Improve fertility and reproductionNo Evidence
  • Decrease cellular stressNo Evidence

Side Effects, Safety, and Dosage

As a meal replacement, Huel can be taken at any time of day.

Huel recommends drinking their product for breakfast or lunch during the week and having a “traditional” meal with family and friends in the evening or on the weekend.

Huel is made by mixing 2 scoops of their powder with 13 ounces of cold water.

Due to its high fiber content, Huel can cause some gastrointestinal distress for people sensitive to fiber.

Users report gas, bloating, diarrhea, and other mild GI complaints resulting from drinking Huel.

Cost and Where to Buy

Huel can be purchased directly through the Huel website. The product costs $36.11 per pouch. One pouch provides 17 meals which come out to $2.12 per meal.

If you choose to participate in their subscription plan, a pouch of Huel will cost $32.50, which comes out to $1.91 per meal.

Huel can also be purchased on Amazon at a significantly higher price. On Amazon, two pouches of Huel are $129.99, or $64.99 per pouch.

Considering the price of most on-the-go or fast food meals, Huel is definitely worth the cost given how nutritionally complete the meal is.

Unopened Huel Powder pouches can be returned for a full refund within 30 days of purchase. However, you will be responsible for covering the full shipping costs of the return.

Comparison to Alternatives

Huel is a unique product because it’s not necessarily geared towards weight loss or performance enhancement.

Huel is a nutritionally balanced product that can be used for anyone seeking an effortless well-balanced meal.

Plenny Shake is another meal replacement company specializing in complete, easy, and affordable food with minimal impact on the planet.

Plenny Shake can be purchased directly through their website and is similar in price to Huel.

Their meals range in price from $1.87 per meal to $1.59 per meal, depending on whether you choose the subscription plan or not.

Ample Meal also makes a product similar to Huel. While Ample Meal’s formula is nutritionally similar to Huel, it lacks some of the micronutrients provided in Huel.

It is also significantly more expensive. Their meals range from $6.38 to $7.50 per meal, depending on whether you choose the subscribe-and-save option.

The Bottom Line

We’ve all been there. You’re starving, and the drive-thru is so tempting-quick, effortless, and satisfying. Unfortunately, on-the-go meals are not necessarily health or wallet-friendly.

Could you happily replace all of your meals indefinitely with Huel? No. However, Huel offers a nice option for on-the-go balanced meals at an affordable price.

While it is not directly marketed as a “weight loss shake,” some people may consider using Huel as a means to reach their weight loss goals.

Huel can help with weight loss when used as a calorie-effective meal replacement. “Powdered foods” like Huel can provide a great alternative to your typical convenience meals.

However, I would not recommend this product, or any meal replacement product, as a long-term substitute for real food.

A Word from Our RD

Nutritionally balanced meals can be difficult to plan and prepare. Huel has a nice product that can help the busy family or busy professional that lacks time to make a nourishing meal.

It may also help you effortlessly cut calories without tracking or measuring your food.

For example, if your typical breakfast contains 500 calories, followed by a morning snack of 200 calories, you can create a calorie deficit by replacing both with Huel.

Since Huel only has 400 calories, you would create a calorie deficit of 300 calories which may help you reach your weight loss goals.

Huel recommends drinking their product as a replacement for either breakfast or lunch while enjoying a traditional meal at dinner.

I think this recommendation is reasonable and removes the burden of having to prepare a nutritionally balanced meal when you’re pressured for time.

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