Huel – a nutritionally complete food replacement 1


I recently gave a talk about Huel – a nutritionally complete food replacement, covering the benefits and how it compered to my Clean Eating Challenge I did a year ago.   About 60% of my diet is Huel these days, and so I’m a huge fan of it.  I hope the speech below helps you to understand why!

 

My Talk on Huel

Do you sometimes miss lunch or breakfast because you don’t have time?

Do you know how many calories you ate yesterday?

Do you know the ratio of proteins, fats and carbohydrates?

Last year, I enrolled on a ‘Clean Eating Challenge’ course – an 8 week course teaching you about nutrition.

The goal was to eat food as close to how nature intended it. This means no pasta, no bread, and certainly no cake! No extra calories were allowed to come from drinks, so this included alcohol.
I was to eat 40% of my daily calories as carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fats – this is a common macronutrient ratio used by athletes. This was to be done while consuming 5 or 6 smaller meals throughout the day rather than 3 large meals.

The first meeting we were weighed, measured, our body fat percentage was calculated, and a fitness test to benchmark ourselves was undertaken.
Every week focused on a different lesson and by the end of week one, I had already learnt a huge amount. Everything I ate was measured, weighed, and input into a food tracking app called ‘MyFitnessPal’.

I was struggling to eat higher levels of protein without hitting high fat content, so I invented a ratio I called the ‘PF Ratio’ – protein to fat. I knew that given my targets I needed to hit a PF ratio of 2.3 across the day. Tuna has a PF ratio of 6 – fantastic, if only I like tuna. Chicken had a PF ratio of 8.9 – so I was eating plenty of chicken!

As the weeks went on, I was learning more and more about what I was eating, and was able to balance my meals with less and less effort.
Sunday had turned into ‘food prep day’ – I spent most of the day shopping for food, weighing it, cooking it, separating it into portions – my kitchen was overrun with tupperwear dishes. The key to success was preparation, and preparation took so much time!

It’s amazing how much food you can eat when you cut out the junk food. I was meant to be eating somewhere between 1800-1900 calories a day, and sometimes eating enough food was a challenge!

So, did this diet work?

For me, this diet worked wonders. I lost 3kg in the 8 weeks, and my body fat dropped significantly too. My definition was vastly improved, the before and after photos were borderline unbelievable for 8 weeks.

However – it was a lot of work. Hitting the right ratios of carbs, fats and protein was an awful lot of work. I never even considered if I was getting the correct levels of fibre, vitamin C, Omega 3…. That level of detail and planning would be almost impossible!

It wasn’t just about the food though, I was training 5 – 6 times a week. My life for the 8 weeks became exercise, food preparation, and eating with little time for much else.

I thought to myself, there has to be a simpler way. As it turns out, I’m not the only person who’s thought this.

In February 2013, a software engineer in California, Rob Rhinehart, posted a blog article started:

Food is the fossil fuel of human energy. It is an enormous market full of waste, regulation, and biased allocation with serious geo-political implications.’
’ In my own life I resented the time, money, and effort the purchase, preparation, consumption, and clean-up of food was consuming

I could certainly relate to that resentment at the end of my clean eating challenge. I’m also horribly guilty of food waste. When was the last time you binned something that went out of date before you got round to eating it? A charity “Wrap” claims that 15 million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK every year– 50% of which is household waste.

In this blog article, he writes ‘I haven’t eaten a bite of food in 30 days, and it’s changed my life.’

As an engineer, his thoughts were that the body doesn’t need food as such, what it needs is the chemicals and elements within it.

So what happens if you combine all the elements in as near to neat form as you can, mix them with water, and drink it instead of eating?

This was the birth of Soylent.

Do you want to know what happened when I gave up eating for a week and lived off ‘food replacement’?

Nothing.

I was disappointed, I thought I’d have a story to tell – but the result was simply that the product did exactly what it said on the tin. I wasn’t hungry, I felt great, and there was no change in body fat or weight. The experience was completely uneventful.

Unfortunately Soylent isn’t available in this country, so I tried a few brands. I’ve eventually settled on a product called Huel. It provides a 40/30/30 macronutrient split, just like my clean eating diet aimed for.  Huel was created by a UK entrepreneur called Julian Hearn with a similar goal to Soylent.

So, what are the benefits?

  • No more food waste, the product lasts for months
  • Lower environmental impact, Huel is vegan.
  • I avoid bad food choices. When hungry it’s so easy to grab a burger, but this leaves no excuses
  • I save money. For under £40 a week I am getting a balanced high protein diet. My clean eating challenge focused on high quality food, which was costing a fortune.
  • I feel good all the time. No lows, no highs, no bloated feeling for having eaten too much.
  • I save time. This is the biggest impact. At home from work at 17:30, by 17:40 I had had my dinner and done the washing up. I estimate a 2 hour saving a day, over a week that’s 14 extra hours. Almost an entire extra days’ worth of time.

These days, I still eat food. I eat it socially, and when there’s a healthy food choice at hand – but the convenience of Huel often wins, and I estimate that 60% of my intake now comes from Huel.

If you want to save time, and feel great, why not give Huel a try?


Huel - before and after

If you want to see the radical change Huel and exercise had on me in just 5 weeks, have a look at my article Huel and Insanity – a healthy combination

 


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