What Is Huel?

By Derek Lakin
HighYa Staff
Published on: Jan 6, 2017

Huel—a combination of the words human and fuel—is a versatile, nutritionally complete powdered food that can be prepared in less than two minutes, provides all 26 essential vitamins and minerals, and is less expensive than traditional food.

On top of this, the manufacturer claims that Huel delivers zero food (and very little packaging) waste, is ethically sourced, environmentally friendly, represents low carbon emissions, can be used as little or as often as you like, and has a shelf life of 12 months.

Just because Huel might provide you with a balanced diet, though, is this meal replacement shake enjoyable? Will it make optimum health fun, or will you be left struggling to drink it after the initial novelty wears off? Are there better options?

You’re here because you want to know more about Huel—and whether or not it will fit into your life—which is exactly what we’ll help you figure out.

First, though, what does it mean to be nutritionally complete? What are the benefits?

What Does “Nutritionally Complete” Mean?

While there’s no formal definition for ‘nutritionally complete,’ the term is generally used to describe something that provides all the nutrition—the essential vitamins, nutrients, and calories—your body needs; something that could be used as a sole source of nutrition.

While the precise Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for the US and the Nutrient Requirements for Europe (the standards to which Huel is formulated) can differ slightly, there are five groups of essential nutrients all humans need in order to maximize health:

  1. Water
  2. Vitamins
  3. Some minerals
  4. Some amino acids from proteins
  5. Some fatty acids

Surprisingly, while much of the industrialized world has access to more food and calories that at any other point in human history, the CDC's Second Nutrition Report found that up to 1/3 of the American population is nutrient deficient.

Furthermore, over 10% of the population was found deficient in vitamin B6, 9% (mostly women) in iron, 8% vitamin D, 6% vitamin C, and 2% vitamin B12.

While this might not sound like a big deal, the reality is that vitamin deficiencies can cause some unwelcome side effects, since they’re required by our body for basic functioning. For example, authoritative websites like the NIH, Mayo Clinic, and WebMD reference:

  • Vitamin B6 deficiency – Anemia, scaling on the lips, depression, confusion, and weakened immune function
  • Iron deficiency – Dizziness, fatigue, pale skin, shortness of breath, and trouble concentrating
  • Vitamin D deficiency – Cognitive impairment, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and increased risk of cancer
  • Vitamin C deficiency – Bleeding gums, decreased immune response and wound healing, dry hair, gingivitis, and nosebleeds
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency – Weakness, fatigue, pale skin, bowel problems (constipation or diarrhea), nerve problems, and vision loss

To help combat nutritional deficiencies, Huel promises to contain all the nutrients and calories you need, whether consumed as a snack, as an occasional meal replacement, or even as your sole nutritional source.

What ingredients does Huel use to accomplish this?

Which Ingredients Are Included In Huel? How Can You Use It?

Instead of a supplement, the manufacturer tells us that Huel is a food source in a powdered format that can help you get all the vitamins, nutrients, and calories you need.

Specifically, each 100g serving contains the following (per label for Vanilla flavor):

Compared to many of the other nutritional supplements and meal replacement shakes we written about, the Huel website does an outstanding job of defining terms (many of which we referenced above), discussing the rationale behind their ingredients, how these ingredients can potentially benefit your body, and even how to cook with the powder (heating, recipes, smoothies).

This includes dedicated sections like the Beginner’s Guide to Nutrition, the Guide to Protein, Digestion and Absorption; and Food Processing and Good Nutrition guide. If you haven’t at least skimmed through these pages yet, we’d strongly recommend doing do.

Which Flavors Are Available for Huel? Calorie Content?

Huel itself is available in a Vanilla flavor, as well as an Unflavored & Unsweetened version that allows you to add your own flavor and sweetener to taste.

You’ll have additional options with one of Huel’s nine powdered flavor systems, including Strawberry, Chocolate, Banana, Matcha Tea, Cacao, Pineapple & Coconut, Mocha, Toffee, Rhubarb, and Custard. Simply add to taste.

Each scoop of Huel is between 152 and 155 calories, depending on flavor, which allows you to know exactly how many calories you consume, with a glycemic index of 27.

You can impact the consistency and sweetness of your Huel by altering the amount of water, as well as other liquids like milk (both real and alternative) and fruits. The company recommends a ratio of five parts Huel to one part water.

In addition to drinks, Huel can be added to a shot of coffee, used as “super flour” for baking, and as an added nutrition source for snacks and desserts.

It certainly seems like Huel is easy to use and can help ensure your body’s getting all the nutrients it needs. But will you experience any side effects?

Are There Any Potential Side Effects With Huel?

Bodyhack Limited tells us that Huel is 100% vegan, free from most potential allergens, without any obvious medication interactions, and is suitable for people with most conditions. This includes type 1 and type 2 diabetics.

However, they note that the powder’s fiber content can act like a sponge, so it’s important to consume a lot of water.

They also note that you should consult with a doctor if you have celiac disease, metabolism issues, inflammatory bowel disease, are a child under 3, and if you’re pregnant or nursing.

Huel also contains sucralose, which is an artificial sweetener made with some unsavory chemicals like chlorine. Despite this, the FDA states that the ingredient does not pose carcinogenic, reproductive, or neurological risks to humans.

Even though Huel is nutritionally complete, does it cost a lot?

How Much Will You Pay for Huel? Are There Any Other Associated Costs?

Regular Huel is priced as follows:

  • 2 Bags (28 meals, 14K calories): £45 (about $56)
  • 4 Bags (56 meals, 28K calories): £86 (about $107)
  • 8 Bags (112 meals, 56K calories): £165 (about $204)

Gluten-free version:

  • 2 Bags: £50 (about $62)
  • 4 Bags: £96 (about $119)
  • 8 Bags: £184 (about $228)

Nutritionally complete Bar:

  • 5 Bars: £12 (about $15)
  • 16 Bars: £35 (about $44)
  • 32 Bars: £55 (about $68)

If you agree to recurring orders, your price will decrease by 10%. If you purchase eight bags, this means each 500-calorie serving will cost you about £1.47, or $1.82.

Important note: According to Huel’s FAQ:

“Huel is not currently available in the United States or Canada. However, we have a facility in North America that we will be shipping Huel from early 2017.”

Another important thing to remember is that you'll need something to mix Huel in, which is why all first-time orders come with a free shaker. If you plan to consume Huel more than once per day, this means you’ll need to wash your existing shaker repeatedly or purchase additional shakers.

The manufacturer also recommends using a blender for optimum results.

All Huel purchases come with a 30-day refund policy, less S&H charges, although the package must be unused and in the same condition that you received it in order to qualify.

To request a refund, the company can be reached at 01296 769 279, team@huel.com, or via an online contact form.

Are Huel’s customers finding the added convenience is worth the per-serving price?

What’s Everyone Saying In Their Huel Reviews?

There were dozens of glowing testimonials listed on the Huel website (it was even reviewed by three independent dietitians), but are customers saying the same things on third-party sites?

Customer Feedback

On Amazon UK, Huel’s Vanilla powder had 68 customer reviews and an average rating of 3.9 stars. There, most complaints appeared to reference effective weight loss results, convenience, continued satiety, and competitive price (especially compared to eating out).

On the other hand, more than one customer complained about Huel’s taste and/or texture, side effects like IBS and bloating, as well as temporary digestive upset and gassiness as the body adjusts.

YouTuber Utorak007 spent 32 days drinking 2/3 of his calories through Huel, and also experienced increased gassiness. He felt Huel's texture was powdery and that its taste was unpleasant, although adding two teaspoons of sugar, as well as strawberries, drastically improved the flavor.

YouTuber Purely Amy described Huel’s taste a texture like a watery smoothie with little chunks in it. She noted that she could taste the wheat granules, but it doesn't necessarily feel like a meal replacement; it feels more like a smoothie.

She was concerned that Huel contains 24g of carbs per serving, although the recommend daily intake of carbohydrates is between 225g and 325g, based on a 2,000-calorie diet.

In the end, Amy wasn’t sure who would benefit from Huel or who would fit it into their life.

Professional Feedback

The Guardian’s Peter Robinson and The Telegraph’s Abigail Butcher talked about their experiences after trying Huel for a week or more.

Peter didn’t mince words when he called the taste and texture “revolting” and that it felt like vomiting in reverse. He found it more palatable with additional flavoring, but after replacing his lunches with the powdered food, he eventually found that “a new type of joylessness has engulfed lunchtimes.”

Similarly, Abigail found Huel difficult to swallow at first, but noted that she got used to it after a while. It also helped keep her full.

Who Founded Huel?

From a company perspective, Huel is manufactured by Bodyhack, based out of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom, which was founded in 2014.

The company was co-founded by Julian Hearn, who came up with the idea after adhering to a strict diet plan, and James Collier, a nutritionist with more than 25 years of experience.

Previously, Julian founded the coupon websites Happier.co.uk and Promotionalcodes.org.uk, and James founded healthyaction.co.uk and has co-authored a number of e-books and written numerous magazine articles.

Huel vs. Soylent vs. Joylent & Other Nutritionally Complete Shakes

Although Huel didn’t seem to win over a lot of customers with its taste, the reality is that it’s just one in a recent wave of nutritionally complete shakes (sometimes also referred to as meal replacement shakes).

How does it stack up? Here's a quick comparison with some of the most popular options (note: Huel, Joylent, and Queal were only available in Europe at the time of writing):

Company Price Format Vegan? Nutritional Content
Huel As low as $1.82 per 500 calories Powder Yes 500 calories per scoop, 26 essential vitamins and minerals
Coffiest by Soylent $3.08 Liquid Yes 400 calories per serving, 25 micro-nutrients, all macro-nutrients
Joylent As low as $1.76 Powder Yes – one version 407 calories per scoop, 26 essential vitamins and minerals
Queal $2.45 per meal Powder No (vegetarian) Standard = 2,100 calories per bag, 26 essential vitamins and minerals
Orgain Liquid = $2.24 per serving Liquid, powder, & bar versions Yes (some versions) Liquid = 250 calories per serving, 23 vitamins and minerals, 10 fruits and vegetables
VeganSmart $2.33 per serving Powder Yes 22 vitamins and minerals, includes digestive enzymes and prebiotics

A popular Reddit thread compared Huel with Joylent and Queal. The author noted that Huel is more finely ground than the other two options, although they found that getting the right mixture of water took some experimenting.

They felt Huel was too sweet, although it made them feel quite full, and that its price was meaningfully higher than the competition.

Pro tip: If you’re looking for the ultimate money-saver (although it will certainly be more labor intensive), it’s entirely possible to create your own meal replacement powder and meal replacement shake.

Also, don’t ignore other options in your search, such as Vital Reds, Aloha and Organifi Green Juice, and Athletic Greens!

Is Huel Nutritionally Complete Powder Right for You?

While we didn’t test Huel ourselves, based on what we learned from customer feedback for the powdered mixture, it seems like it could definitely deliver all your nutritional needs at a less expensive price than much of the competition—although the “enjoyability factor” might be low (depending on your personal tastes, obviously).

Given this, we could foresee Huel working best for those who are too busy to cook and who need a quick, nutritionally complete replacement while they’re on the go.

Another target market could be those who need to carefully count their daily caloric intake—whether losing, maintaining, or gaining weight—while ensuring all their nutritional needs are met.

On the other hand, if you enjoy the process of cooking at savor all the robust flavors in food, we could foresee even replacing one meal a day with Huel becoming a chore, as The Guardian’s Peter Robinson experienced.

Regardless, based on customer feedback, it seems like Huel’s taste and texture might be the biggest potential stumbling blocks to overcome. If this sounds feasible, the good news is that the meal replacement powder seems to be extraordinarily popular—even frequently selling out—and the company stands behind it with a 30-day refund policy.

As soon as you try Huel, though, you’ll lose your ability to process a refund, so keep this in mind before you open your bag.

What’s your experience with Huel? How did you find the taste and texture? Would you feasibly replace one meal per day with it, or did you have better success with the competition? Tell us all about it by writing a review below.

Read 13 Huel Customer Reviews and Complaints

Write a Review
Average Customer Rating: 2.6
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 4 4 star: 1 3 star: 0 2 star: 2 1 star:  6
Bottom Line: 38% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 13
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  • 1 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Taking Huel for first time

    • Yorkshire, United Kingdom,
    • Oct 7, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I’ve had 1 vanilla and 1 coffee today. I feel absolutely terrible! My stomach is full of gripping pain. Not sure I can carry on with this. I’m annoyed so much that you have to order so much for the first order. £58 I’ve spent and it looks like I just can’t stomach it!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    OK product - terrible customer service.

    • Greater London, England,
    • Sep 30, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I made an order around 10 weeks ago and considered their "subscription" offer.

    10 weeks later they sent an email in the middle of the night on a weekend and then proceeded to process a £40 order barely 2 days later I didn't ask for or want. In no way is this a sufficient amount of time to warm people you're going to process an order that they may not be aware of or even want.

    I ensured the order was canceled as soon as I saw their email to say "we've sent you an order!" within an hour. They ignored this.

    Regardless they've charged me £40 and are unwilling to process a refund. I tried to call them and after wasting 20 minutes being unable to get through - I finally speak to someone who hangs up the line before listening to my request.

    I then get through to speak to someone for a second time and the line is so muffled and noisy I can barely hear what the other person was saying. I'm then told - "go and find the product, go to the post office pay for postage, send us a picture and then maybe we'll process a refund at some point".

    I'm now stuck in the frustrating position where Huel has:

    - Wasted my time keeping me waiting to speak to someone.

    - Wasted my time.

    - Taken £40 of my money despite me providing clear instruction not to do so.

    - Said they'll process a refund when I go out of my way to send to them the product they've failed to deliver (thereby impossible).

    DPD also states on its website "only the sender can recall your parcel" - however, Huel seems determined to ignore this. They could simply recall the parcel, but are unwilling to provide any level of customer service.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 3 out 4 people found this review helpful

    Diabetic review

    • Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Poland,
    • Aug 21, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I actually bought it as the Huel site says it has a low glycemic index of 27. I'm diabetic and working and eating 5-6 meals a day to keep my sugar ok is quite a challenge. So I was thinking I can use Huel for 1-2 meals a day as a convenient substitute to ordinary meals. Every time I eat Huel I get sugar blood content of like 350-450 mg/dl. For all non-diabetics out there, this is like toxic levels. I could eat the same amount of refined sugar and get similar results as I get with Huel. I don't know what they put in it but it seems to be about as healthy as a diet made of eating only candy bars. If they are willing to lie about the glycemic index and risking some diabetics like me getting sick because of this misleading claims, I wonder what else are they willing to lie about. My 2 bags of Huel, unfortunately, will go to the trash. As now I am convinced that actually eating it would be harmful to my health. It may not be as harmful to non-diabetics, but for diabetics like me, I would like to warn you. This thing is literally a poison as it will push your sugar into hyperglycemia as if you eat sweets.

    Sorry for my English, I live in Poland and I'm not a native speaker and don't use English often so I'm not too good.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 8 people found this review helpful


    • Colorado,
    • Jun 26, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    It tastes how dog food smells. I have had way cheaper and better-tasting protein drinks for 1/3 of the price. I also ordered through Facebook, and yet apparently do not have a login to their website even though I have purchased their product.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 5 out 5 people found this review helpful

    Regular errors with customer orders

    • London, England,
    • Mar 31, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Huel seems to have terrible back-end systems which means they often messed up customer transactions.

    On one occasion I was sent double my order and charged for it. I am now locked into a subscription which I cannot cancel because my account is not recognized. I have told Huel to cancel the subscription yet they continue to send me the product and charge me for it. I have now had to pursue legal action in an attempt to get them to stop.

    There are many other supplements out there, all very similar and many cheaper, so I strongly advise choosing one of them instead. My decision to purchase Huel has become one of those terrible consumer experiences that you wish you'd never got into.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 3 out 6 people found this review helpful

    Good option

    • Colorado,
    • Mar 2, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I have tried many different meal replacement shakes. Many are quite costly. I gave Huel a shot, despite having to shell out for two bags. I am glad that I did. Many folks speak about an adjustment period but I never had any issues. The recommended serving size is three scoops; I take two. This keeps me full for six hours (or longer if I'm working too much and forget about lunch). I feel great as well. The taste is far superior to the shakes of old. It reminds me of a plain, oatmeal type substance which is great. It doesn't taste bad in any way, especially if you've been eating protein for as long as I have (20+ years). The only thing I dislike is that you have to buy two bags at once. I'd prefer a one bag option.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 2 out 4 people found this review helpful

    Hard to get down

    • Stockholm, Sweden,
    • Jan 30, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I'm used to those regular ol' whey protein shakes so a shaker with liquid smoothie stuff is very familiar to me, but...

    This stuff is so coarsely ground that even after shaking it for several minutes it's still not a uniform smoothie. It's like tiny hard-ish pieces of oats that are suspended in a liquid. I even tried chewing it a bit before swallowing, but it didn't really help; it just added to my nausea over what I was trying to consume.

    I ended up chugging the last half just to get it over with, and I felt miserable afterwards.

    The flavor (even after adding a flavor pack) is...much milder than a regular protein shake but nothing terrible, just something to know.

    I have looked into returning, but after concluding that the shipping would cost me as much as the partial refund, I'd receive I'm probably going to end up throwing everything away. An interesting idea but I'll just have to keep making regular breakfast.,]

    P.S. I know that you can put it in the fridge overnight to let everything soak and get softer, but if I wanted to prepare things the day before, I'd rather marinate a steak.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 3 people found this review helpful

    I would recommend it

    • North Yorkshire, England,
    • Jan 3, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    With regard to mixing, we add a MIXER BALL Stainless Steel Blender Whisk to the shaker bottle which makes mixing simple and much more effective.

    I have reactive hypoglycemia, which is like the opposite of diabetes. My blood sugars have become much more stable and better balanced.

    I have one proper meal a day, plus fruit snacks, and replace all other calories with Huel. It sustains me through my triathlon training and I have found much-improved skin condition and generally improved energy levels.

    It is very convenient. If you have the time for a fully balanced diet, it is unlikely to be for you, but it seems to me to offer a far better alternative than most breakfasts on the run and for me is a life saver. (The terrible unsavory flatulence disappeared after about four weeks!)

    It also works out a lot cheaper than normal food!

    I would and have recommended it.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 4 out 7 people found this review helpful

    Pistachio Smoothie?

    • Denver, CO,
    • Nov 11, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Huel is filling, and with all of the nutrients I guess I can't say I'm surprised, but it tastes like a pistachio smoothie. Not even coffee can cover up the taste. And now I'm out 50 bucks just because I wanted to try it. Very unfortunate that they don't have a sample option and even make you buy two bags just to ship it. Because they know you won't want to buy any more after you try it.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 36 out 39 people found this review helpful

    Fantastic product

    • Duluth, MN,
    • Sep 11, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I'm at a real loss to understand the whining and complaining about this product. Taste? There is nothing in its taste that's offensive, and in fact, it's quite pleasant. Mixability? Just how incapable are these people? Put water in the jug, dump the HUEL in on top, close the little cap, shake for 10-20 seconds....done, drink it and shut up. What are you looking for? An answer to your lives? It's a meal replacement drink, not a Friday night martini. Drinks like this were never meant to replace a juicy steak and baked potato. They are tools for people looking for health improvement, weight loss, diet control, etc. They also are great for people on the run etc., to ensure an adequate diet.

    I use 2-3 Huel meals a day, am losing weight, have no loss of energy even though I workout hard every day. And it has significantly reduced the time in my life that I waste acquiring, processing, cooking, and eating food. I never realized how much of life is used up dealing with eating. Not that I don't have my steak and potato every now and then as a break.

    Also, a big one, my wife has trouble with her blood sugar as type 2 diabetic. Taking a Huel meal late in the evening before bed has stabilized her sugar overnight perfectly, so she wakes feeling great and with a normal glucose reading. That's because it's balanced food with a very low glycemic index. It's PERFECT for this problem. If you can't handle the taste and are too weak to shake a bottle a little bit, you have bigger problems than what a meal replacement product is used for.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 16 out 47 people found this review helpful

    So many avoidable issues.

    • Cambridge, MA,
    • Mar 19, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I tried this product, and I am frustrated and displeased. Here are my concerns, which I believe are applicable to the majority of consumers.

    First, Huel made Stevia and artificial vanilla part of the default product flavor. I've tried several different accouterments, and none of them fully mask the bitter aftertaste Stevia leaves, or the fake taste of the vanillin. In addition, some people actually react negatively to the sugars in vanillin. If you mind Stevia, you will not be able to tolerate Huel's taste at all, and this could have easily been avoided by making the unsweetened version the default to be purchased.

    Second, it's not fair to consumers to require a $75 commitment just to try the stuff. It also doesn't bode well for Huel's confidence in their own product. Unfortunately, Huel gives me such bad acid reflux that I'd rather leave the specifics to the imagination, and I'm down half my purchase unless I want to pay to ship the rest back. Huel, let people order samples or something and have a care for food-sensitive consumers.

    Third, the product is difficult to mix due to the sheer volume (1 cup per 24 oz water) that must be mixed in. I had to get a thermos and a whisk and make Huel ahead of time in order to produce something drinkable. The included protein shaker bottle was laughably insufficient and resulted, on various tries, in a very thin smoothie on top of a mound of unmixed chalky powder, or left huge chunks of unmixed powder inside the drink.

    If you are reading this because you are stuck with $75 of smoothie that doesn't taste good enough for you to drink, my best recommendation is to add 1/2 tsp of each of turmeric and ginger along with a pinch of cinnamon. Huel is earthy, and it pairs well with earthy flavors.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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