Huel Review - Is It Safe & Effective?

By Lydia Noyes
HighYa Staff
Updated on: Jul 3, 2020

Medically Reviewed by Anthony Dugarte, M.D., C.S.C.S

What Is Huel?

Huel is a meal replacement product that gives you a nutritionally complete, convenient, and an affordable plant-based protein shake.

The company currently sells dissolvable powders and ready-to-drink shakes that are formulated to provide all the protein, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, and essential micronutrients you need for better health.

Huel’s name is a play on the words “human fuel,” and its products are for anyone who wants to improve their diet without being inconvenienced by cooking and planning meals.

Though Huel is formulated to be nutritionally complete (meaning you wouldn’t need to eat anything else to be healthy), most customers will likely use it as a nutritional supplement or as a replacement for one or more meals a day.

This review examines the ingredients of Huel to help determine if it's the right choice for you.

Huel’s Products

Here’s a summary of the three nutritional products currently sold by Huel:

Huel Powder

The powders come in both an original and gluten-free variety, and available flavors include chocolate, vanilla, berry, and unflavored & unsweetened.

Flavor Boosts

These Boosts are meant to be mixed in any Huel powder for an extra kick of flavor, but they work best in vanilla or unflavored & unsweetened.

Huel Ready-To-Drink

Huel Ready-to-drink beverages let you enjoy your meal replacement drink immediately. Flavor options include vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, and they come in 17-ounce servings.

Nutritional Information

Below, we’ve broken down the basic nutritional information for one serving of each drink.

Vanilla Huel Powder (Two Scoops, 100 grams, 400 calories)

Nutrient Amount % Daily Value
Total Fat 12 grams 12%
Sodium 291mg 19%
Total Carbohydrates 42grams 15%
Added Sugars 1grams 1%
Protein 29grams 58%

Macro split: 37:30:30:3 (carbohydrates, fat, protein, fiber)

Each serving also contains between 20% and 92% of your recommended daily value for 27 key vitamins and minerals.

Vanilla Huel Ready-To-Drink Formula (16.9-oz bottle, 400 Calories)

Nutrient Amount % Daily Value
Total Fat 19 grams 24%
Sodium 276 mg 18%
Total Carbohydrates 37grams 13%
Added Sugars 3 grams 8%
Protein 20grams 40%

Macro split: 35:42:20:3 (carbohydrates, fat, protein, fiber)

You will also get between 20% and 67% of your daily requirements for the same 27 nutrients.

Key Takeaways

While a serving size of both drinks is 400 calories, Huel powder contains more protein, carbohydrates, and sodium than the Ready-to-drink beverages, which contain more fat and sugar.

Think about how you plan to use this product before determining which type to buy. If you want to use Huel as a meal substitute at home and are interested in blending in some of your own ingredients like frozen fruit then the versatility of the powder mix is better.

If you want a grab-and-go product you can take to the gym or office, then you will appreciate the convenience of the pre-bottled beverages.

Analysis of Ingredients

Each Huel product is classified as vegan-friendly, lactose-free, soy-free, and GMO-free, though not organic.

Though the formulas vary slightly between the powdered mix and ready-to-go drinks, their base ingredients include pea protein as the primary protein source. The powdered drinks also contain oats, flaxseed, brown rice protein.

Pea protein is a plant-based protein source that’s often used to increase food’s protein content. It’s a versatile ingredient in shakes and smoothies for those who don’t want to use whey or soy-based protein sources.

One benefit of pea protein is that it contains all nine essential amino acids necessary for health. This makes it a favorite protein source for those who don’t eat animal products.

Each drink also contains fine oat powder as the primary carbohydrate source. Oats have a low glycemic index, which means that they won’t spike up your blood sugar after consuming them.

This gives you sustained energy for longer than if you had eaten foods with a high glycemic index, like white bread, breakfast cereal, and other processed carbohydrates.

For fat content, each drink contains flaxseed, sunflower, and coconut oil. These fats provide approximately a third of the energy in each serving and are rich in monounsaturated fat, omega-3s and omega-6s.

Overall, Huel’s ingredients lists contain relatively unprocessed, plant-based ingredients.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Meal replacement drinks, are not without risk though they are generally safe when used as directed. Huel has not been specifically tested for safety, though other meal replacement shakes that offer less calories were safe over 4-months.

Replacing multiple meals each day for an extended period of time, however, can lead to a deficiency in both energy and nutritional requirements.

This may be less likely with Huel as it is marketed as a meal replacement option that offers complete nutrition and around 400 calories with each serving of their powder.

In contrast, those marketed as a weight loss remedy are often around 100 calories per serving. Making these shakes the focal point of your daily meal plan can leave you lacking in many areas. Huel seems to do a good job of addressing common deficiencies.

Huel powder also contains probiotics. While these ingredients are typically safe, you may experience digestive side effects like abdominal pain, gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

Also, Huel drinks contain sucralose. This is an artificial sweetener that was first discovered during research for a new insecticide. It contains trace amounts of chlorine, which is considered a carcinogen.

As the compound is 600 times sweeter than sugar, only small quantities are used in products like Huel.

Each powder Huel offers contains coconut. The FDA consider coconut a tree nut, thus the Huel ingredient label lists it as such. Technically a fruit, most with tree nut allergies can safely consume coconut.

Nonetheless, it is the best policy to speak with a physician before consuming this, or any other, dietary supplement. This practice will ensure you are on a meal plan that is both safe and effective.

Can Huel Replace All Your Meals?

Huel drinks may contain the kinds of ingredients that make up a healthy, balanced meal, but is it a good idea to take them instead of eating regular food?

We spoke with Melissa Nieves, a registered dietician with a master's in public health, believes that meal replacement drinks make sense for certain types of people.

“These shakes are suitable for people who are too busy to sit down for a meal,” she explained. “It's certainly better to down a meal replacement shake than having to skip a meal, or having a meal that's high in sugars, processed fats and other processed ingredients and low in nutrients.”

Nieves adds, “I wouldn't recommend meal replacement shakes for habitual use. They tend to be low in calories…may contain added sugars…and they tend to be expensive.”

And while meal replacement shakes can lead to weight loss, she shared that the results tend to be short term. Says Nieves, “Replacing meals with shakes does not teach you about healthy eating patterns or to make positive and sustainable changes in your diet.”

Few people plan to drink shakes forever, so when they stop, the weight often creeps back on.

We also wanted a customer perspective, so we spoke with Will Schieren, a Huel user for over a year. Will’s goal was to gain muscle mass while working a physically demanding job.

He used Huel as an additional meal between lunch and dinner and appreciated that it gave him a quick way to supplement his regular meals without requiring more than 15 seconds of prep work.

“I would recommend Huel if someone is needing to increase calories in an effective way while gaining nutrients,” he shared with us, “but I don’t recommend using it just as a meal replacement. Powdered supplements will never take the place of real food.”

Overall, meal replacement shakes like Huel make sense if you’re using them for a specific need, such as not having time to eat a healthy lunch at work or needing to fuel up on extra calories to meet your weightlifting goals.

However, they rarely work for sustained weight loss or make sense as a long-term alternative to regular food. You are better off eating meals made from healthy, whole foods as much as possible.

Pricing and Return Policy

  • Huel Powder v3.0: From $65
  • Huel Black Edition: From $75
  • Huel Ready-to-drink: From $48.60
  • Huel Bar v3.1: From $56
  • Huel Natural Flavor Boosts: $8
  • Huel Natural Flavor Boost 10 Taster Pack: $5

Huel will accept any unopened boxes within 30-days for a full refund. First-time purchases can also be returned for a refund.

Analysis of Customer Reviews

Here are some common patterns present throughout various customer reviews:

  • Delicious and Effective for Weight Goals
  • Poor Customer Experiences
  • Unpleasant Side Effects
  • Hard to Take Over Time

In Summary

Overall, reviews show a mixed response from users. People who had previous experience with protein powder seemed to adjust better to the taste and routine of taking it.

It also common to experience some digestive upset for the first few days before you acclimate to a liquid diet.

People are successfully using the drink both to gain weight or lose weight, as Huel’s selling point is that it gives you a carefully calculated dose of necessary nutrients in a convenient form.

Huel vs. Soylent and Slimfast

This chart compares some of the differences between Huel and two other popular meal replacement drink brands, Soylent and Slimfast.

Huel Soylent Slimfast
Price Starts at $1.94 for 400 calories Starts at $1.74 per 400 calories Starts at $0.78 per serving
Format Powder or Ready-To-Serve drink Powdered or Ready-To-Serve drink Shakes and shake mixes
Main Protein Source Pea protein Soy protein isolate Whey protein isolate, soy protein
Vegan? Yes Yes No
Basic Nutritional Content 400 calories per scoop, 29 grams protein 42 grams carbohydrates 12 grams fat (powdered) 400 calories per serving, 20 grams protein, 39 grams carbohydrates, 20 grams fat (powdered) 200 calories per serving, 10 grams protein, 30 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fat (powdered)
Autoship? Yes, but optional Yes, but optional No

The Bottom Line

Huel’s meal replacement drinks make sense for many people. They might be a good idea if you’re counting calories, have a busy schedule that prevents you from eating a healthy lunch or breakfast each day, or if you tend to succumb to midday cravings for junk food.

They also can help you keep up your macronutrient levels if you’re looking to build muscle mass but don’t want to eat continuously throughout the day.

However, these meal replacement drinks probably shouldn’t be used to replace all of your meals. Doing so may wreak havoc on your digestive system, and personal accounts.

Likewise, taking all your nutrition from one source can be limiting from a health perspective.

Over-relying on meal supplement drinks doesn’t teach you about healthy eating patterns, so any weight loss you experience is hard to maintain once you go back to regular food.

Consider Huel as a supplemental form of nutrition rather than a long-term meal replacement, and you should be fine. If you react strongly to any of Huel’s ingredients, there might be a similar brand that you will respond better to.


Customer Reviews

Start your review of Huel:
  • 13 Customer Reviews
  • 38% Recommend This Company
2.6 out of 5
5 star: 30% 4 star: 7% 3 star: 0% 2 star: 15% 1 star: 46%

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We have a zero-tolerance policy for fake reviews, and companies cannot control or alter any reviews at any time.

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  • So many avoidable issues.

    • By Matthew Ince,
    • Cambridge, MA,
    • Mar 19, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    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


  • Regular errors with customer orders

    • By James P.,
    • London, England,
    • Mar 31, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    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


  • Awful

    • By Maegan C.,
    • Colorado,
    • Jun 26, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    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


  • Diabetic review

    • By Błażej N.,
    • Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Poland,
    • Aug 21, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    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


  • OK product - terrible customer service.

    • By Clarke D.,
    • Greater London, England,
    • Sep 30, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    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


  • Taking Huel for first time

    • By Jennifer H.,
    • Yorkshire, United Kingdom,
    • Oct 7, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    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


  • Pistachio Smoothie?

    • By Nathan K.,
    • Denver, CO,
    • Nov 11, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    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


  • Hard to get down

    • By Lukas M.,
    • Stockholm, Sweden,
    • Jan 30, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    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


  • Good enough for me.

    • By Kevin Lewis,
    • Denver, CO,
    • Oct 10, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I’ve been weightlifting for the past three years after I was unable to run due to an ankle injury that since has only gotten worse. I went from 220 lbs to 290 lbs and I could never find a simple enough diet for me to slim back down. Huel has offered me a quick, and easy way to count my calories, lose weight, and get all my nutrients in a day. With a couple of calorically dense “cheat meals” on the weekends to help keep me sane, I’ve only seen weight loss progress so far with no change to my health.

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


  • Good ingredients and good protein ratio

    • By Zeus G,
    • Los Angeles, CA,
    • Mar 9, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    Overall the ingredients are superior to Soylent. Protein is at 30% in Huel vs. 20% in Soylent.

    The taste seems to be people's biggest issue with Huel.

    If you do not enjoy oatmeal, you'll likely have more trouble with it than other people.

    Easy ways I've found to upgrade Huel flavor without the flavor packs (I do not like the flavor packs)

    Easy additions:

    - Cinamon

    - Cacao powder

    - Fruits: blend it or just add in frozen berries, lots of options here depending on your taste preferences

    - Instant coffee

    - The Flavor packs: I do not enjoy them and don't find much value in them considering getting cacao powder from Costco is pretty much the same thing, better than the chocolate flavoring, and something like instant coffee makes a better "cappuccino" than their Cappuccino flavor.

    If you're deciding between Soylent and Huel, I'd go with Huel, and if the taste is hard for you, find something to add to Huel to make it palatable. It's worth the tiny bit extra hassle for superior ingredients.

    Also, if you're taking BCAA supplements, they can make a handy flavor addition (if your supplement is flavored).

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


  • Fantastic product

    • By William O.,
    • Duluth, MN,
    • Sep 11, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    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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