Future Foods: Could Plant-Based Meal Replacement Huel Be A Healthy Meal Option in a Pandemic?

Balancing nutrition is key 
 Photo by Sebastian Voortman from Pexels
Balancing nutrition is key
Photo by Sebastian Voortman from Pexels

The landscape of what qualifies as a balanced meal has changed over time. Could eating healthy be as simple as powder and water?Powdered food in a bag may not sound like the most appealing meal at first. Eating meal bars optimized for macros and drinking balanced meals may sound as boring as dieting. But if space food sounds fun to you, jump in, and let’s discuss the benefits of plant-based food Huel.

What exactly is a healthy, balanced meal? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outline the following as the key components of a healthy meal:

- Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products
- Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts
- Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars
- Stays within your daily calorie needs

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2020

Huel uses whole-food ingredients in their products. Huel’s protein comes from peas, oats, brown rice, flax, and MCT oil. MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides that are usually sourced from coconut or palm. Huel uses fermented elements like Kombucha that can reduce inflammation. Huel also uses plant sources of vitamins B2, B12, D2, and D3, which can be deficient in poor diets.

Plant-based foods are low in trans and saturated fats and cholesterol. Huel is no exception. Huel is also made of legumes, nuts, and plant-based fiber sources, which encourages gut health. Fiber and gut health can suffer from animal-based sources, so Huel does not contain these.

A Different Sort of Meal

Huel uses sustainable plant sources for its healthy meals
 Photo by Chokniti Khongchum from Pexels
Huel uses sustainable plant sources for its healthy meals
Photo by Chokniti Khongchum from Pexels

Huel is not a meal replacement all but rather a complete source of real food. According to Huel, you should be able to enjoy a balanced diet solely through their products. Their plant sources are sustainable and responsibly cultivated. The powders are nutritionally sound, with a full amino acid profile, protein, vitamins and Minerals.

This means that eating solely Huel products should give you the same nutritional requirements as a whole-food meal. The delivery method is different, but the result is the same. However, some people find the concept alien, so Huel includes a variety of products to help the transition.

Huel’s products attempt to mirror average, healthy food lifestyles. Options include plant-based and savory meals in particular. Integrating Huel into your meal spaces would not be challenging. These options make it easier to transition to Huel as a food lifestyle.

The Ingredients Make Sense, but is it Healthy?

Whole foods, plant-based healthy options are important 
 Photo Credit Mike Carrey WikiCommons
Whole foods, plant-based healthy options are important
Photo Credit Mike Carrey WikiCommons

Huel’s UK offices conducted a five-week study where they asked participants to consume only Huel. Subjects would relay their weight loss outcomes and a general feeling of well being. The sample group was small, with nineteen initial participants. Thirteen finished the study. Participants lost weight in what appears to have been a controlled manner. Participants improved their WHR (Weight-to-Hip Ratio) and improved their cholesterol profile.

The trial was problematic in that it utilized a small sample group. Some participants varied caloric targets. Others consumed calories in the target range. The data shows consistency but on a much smaller scale than a more well-rounded trial would.

No verified studies exist for Huel consumption as a primary diet. This small trial has promising blood test results, including lowered cholesterol. Most participants improved in their lab results, mental health and physical well being.

What Are The Negatives?

Huel has some downsides depending upon your own needs
Photo by Inna Lykasevuch from Pexels

You cannot please everyone. Some Hueligans complain about flavor variety as a downside. In the forums feedback is available. Some users complain that the flavor variety is lacking. Some consumers complain about flavor changes or lack of variety.

Huel conducted a tiny 2 person 1-month trial to evaluate basic lab values, weight loss and the overall feeling and emotional well-being of its subjects. During this trial, the subjects’ overall health and mental well being improved. The drawback for one subject was socialization. He was unable to spend time socializing with friends at mealtimes because of his dietary limitations. The participant missed participating in meals with friends. Huel does make it difficult, or obsolete, to travel out and spend time in restaurants. The subject elected to continue Huel after the trial 80% of the time. The same subject also noted he was going to add fresh fruits to his shakes for variety and added health.

Some complain of gas and bloating, specifically when they transition from a traditional meat-based diet to a plant-based diet. This is usually dismissed as fairly normal. If you experience GI disturbances that are alarming, contact your physician. As with any dietary change, make sure you discuss it with an expert.

Flexibility and Choice

Powdered meals can save space and make meal prep easy
Photo Credit Tony Webster WikiCommons

Meal replacement diets might seem boring, but Huel promises to deliver new items. On September 15th, 2020, Huel launched its Hot & Savory product line. The new product line shares the same sustainable and balanced meal approach but with savory flavors and whole foods.

Huel also offers variations such as gluten-free, low carb, flavor boosters, and meal bars. Huel makes it easy to count calories, macros, vitamins, and minerals. Your meals are easy to log using most consumer diet trackers and apps. Some temporary users cite boredom with repetition. The versatility of the product line allows for tons of creativity.

The information page is handy. Informative articles are available. Recommendations and fitness facts are also available. Huel also lists comparisons to Jimmy Joy and Soylent, which are alternative meal replacement products.

Affordable Sustainability and Better Financial Outcomes

Save some cash and eat simple.
Photo Credit Pixaby

According to the United States Department of Agriculture. Low-income families spend an average of $11.25 per day on food. Higher-income families spend an average of $36.56 per day. Huel provides an option to drastically lower this number. Their powder products are available for single purchases or recurring subscriptions. Single purchases are $2.12 per meal. Subscription purchases are $1.91 per meal. . Eating Huel 3 times a day could save the average low-income American $5.50 a day. The true benefit lies in food access.

James Levine in Diabetes notes that

It has been suggested that individuals who live in impoverished regions have poor access to fresh food. Poverty-dense areas are oftentimes called “food deserts,” implying diminished access to fresh food (7). However, 43% of households with incomes below the poverty line ($21,756) are food insecure (uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, sufficient food) (7). Accordingly, 14% of U.S. counties have more than 1 in 5
individuals use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

James A. Levine in Diabetes

Utilizing products like Huel could help resolve issues with access, hunger, and food availability. The products can integrate into school systems for added nutritional value and ease. Some school nutritional programs remain underfunded and Huel would be a cost-saving solution.

Utilizing Huel also means that your diet has less impact on the environment. Huel is entirely made of plants, meaning no animals were harmed and no climate negative practices such as concentrated animal feeding operations were used to manufacture their products. Huel uses recyclable packaging and materials.

Huel offers 10% discounts for students, military service members, first responders, and medical staff. You can also follow my handy affiliate link to receive $15.00 off of your order. You will receive a free shirt, scoop, and a shaker cup with your first order! If you opt for the Hot & Savory meals you will receive a bowl, spoon, and shirt!

Bonus Recipe — Choccy Pancakes

Several recipe options exist with Huel
Photo by Sheena Wood from Pexels

Ingredients

  • 2 Scoops Chocolate Huel Powder
  • 10 ounces of dairy free milk (if you want it super chocolatey, but not very healthy, try chocolate almond milk)
  • 2 vegan egg substitutes (tapioca powder or chia egg recommended)
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Steps

  • Mix the ingredients in a bowl
  • Ensure you remove all the lumps
  • Pour small pancakes with a 1/2 cup measuring cup into a pre-heated pan with a plant-based oil or, preferably, oil-free into a non-stick pan.

Garnish with fresh berries or a plant-based creme fresh. Adding cacao nibs is also delicious.

Sourcing your diet is important. Balancing your diet is key. Look for sustainable sources of food with little impact on the environment to nourish your body. Don’t allow lack of time to prepare meals to be an excuse for being unhealthy. Meal prep can be as easy as grabbing a bag of Huel and putting it in your travel bag. Give more time and more health to yourself.

Will you try a Huel? Have you tried Huel? I would love to have a discussion below! Make sure to comment and happy Hueling!

Blogger, horror writer, poet and militant feminist

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