September 11, 2015
So this is probably not the first blog post you have seen about Huel…the new food replacement product which has been cleverly branded as THE FUTURE OF FOOD!!! In fact the brand were in the press just this week looking for someone to give up food for a whole year as an experiment to see what the benefits of giving up food for a year could be….they were paying a salary of 35K to that lucky person.
But could YOU give up real food for a year? Like really?
OK…Then what about just for a week?
Now, let me just say. I am normally absolutely against the idea of food replacement. I did slim fast as a teenager (yep that happened) and had other periods in my yoyo dieting history of various shake and soup based regimes, and in essence I don’t think the solution to my weight issues or the weight issues of the world come in a shaker and I simply like real food too much…but that being said there was something about this brand and the fact it isn’t marketing itself as a diet product that made me tempted to try it just for a week.
Other fitness bloggers were mainly reviewing this product from a how can it help my training, and will it be convenient stand point, many of them going for anything from a 30-80% Huel Diet…with the odd meal or snack supplementing it. But I am reviewing it from a position of….I wonder if this will help alleviate the food overwhelm I sometimes experience and I aimed to go all out with a 100% approach.
So firstly what do I mean by food overwhelm?
Last year I decided I was giving up structured diets for good and I would instead focus on simply changing my habits and fuelling my body properly, so I have been working hard on eating whatever my body truly desires (in a rainbow of colours which helps) and only when hungry. I have had reasonable success with this approach and have found myself feeling less anxious about the likelihood of weight loss or gain, but a recent combination of
- Injury meaning less exercise and
- a VERY busy work schedule meaning I have not always prioritised food shopping and cooking
I have found my weight has crept back up and this feels like it is having a negative impact on my overall health and wellbeing, and most definitely my running. The worst thing is the feeling that I have lost control, like I want to start dieting again, that I don’t trust that simply by eating well and moving more my weight will come. It’s the fear of failure rather than the fear of having to buy bigger jeans that makes me so stressed
Many of the women I work with experience similar anxiety around food and food choices and tell me they just want to be told what to eat as it’s all just so confusing and difficult to make the right choices all of the time, especially when you need to eat right to be able to train effectively.
So what is Huel?
Huel is a nutritionally complete powdered food.
It’s been formulated by the renowned nutrition expert James Collier BSc (Hons), RNutr to include all the protein, carbs, fats, vitamins and minerals that your body needs. Huel provides at least 100% of the UK Government’s ‘Reference Nutrient Intakes’ and the European Union’s ‘Daily Recommended Amount’.
Huel contains: No added sugar, no meat or animal products, no dairy, no soy, no eggs, making it suitable for those with even the most complex dietary requirements.
When you looked at it’s ingredients you can see it consists of Huel, Rice, Oats, Peas, Seeds and Coconut but in a futuristic powder form, and you simply add it to water, shake or blend and then drink at meal times.
So with no further ado this is how my 5 day trial worked out for me….
Monday – Like any new regime I was excited and organised. Made up my Huel after working out how many scoops I needed to consume for a 2lb a week loss. The consistency was a bit powdery but it tasted nice, sweeter than I imagined it would. I had a full day in the office so it felt very easy to stick to. I didn’t feel at all hungry which surprised me and I didn’t crave any snacks in between shakes. I was a little headachy towards the end of the day, but I did run a half marathon the day before so that could have been for any number of reasons (dehydration probably)
Tuesday – I had a day full of meetings so had to be organised first thing and make use of the nice containers that came in the parcel. At lunch time when my peers were tucking into a buffet lunch I thought I might have food envy, but actually I was please I had brought my own supplies as I didn’t have to make any choices and it also left me loads of time to network without the fear of having lettuce in your teeth. I had my third shake in the car on the way to my evening meeting which didn’t finish until 9pm. By the time I got home I thought I might be tempted to have something to eat, but I didn’t feel hungry so I had a herbal tea and went to bed. If I hadn’t been using Huel I fear my eating wouldn’t have been ideal because I was out of the house for more than 12 hours and I would have been really stressed about it.
Wednesday – I was up early for a morning run. So Huel at 8am and then a run at 9 to celebrate National Fitness Day. I also managed a twenty minute swim and my 11.30 meeting which went on until 1.30 before I felt any pangs of hunger. I consumed my 2nd shake of the day walking to the tube for my afternoon meeting. When I returned home at 4pm I felt a little weak and headachy but knew it was too early to have dinner so I caved in and had a banana (ooohh the shame in admitting this lol) and later as I prepared dinner for my daughter I caved in and had some of the lasagne, salad and coleslaw I was making for her. I simply needed some food after what had been a full on day. But what I realised is that despite the fact I had not lasted even 3 days on a shake only diet, I had consumed a smaller portion than normal and didn’t feel hungry later in the night.
Thursday – Back on the Huel and another day of meetings. I integrated another banana into my day as a snack and also upped my scoops at lunch time which seemed to keep me tied over until dinner time, and with an evening to myself and no cooking for my daughter the temptation to eat wasn’t there at all. In fact having Huel meant no cooking, no washing up and I could simply plough through my to do list and catch up on some TV. A friend asked me “Aren’t you missing food” and I can’t say that I really am…this has been a real busy week and preparing healthy meals would have been just another thing to add to my list.
Friday – Woke up at 6.30 hungry so got out of bed an hour earlier than normal, had my first shake and did a bit of housework. Apparently you can use the mixture to make pancakes and banana bread too, so I guess I could change things up a bit if I wanted to. But with a busy day ahead I decided to simply make up all of my meals in one go in the blender (which seems to get better consistency) and just plough through my day. I am going on holiday next week so I really needed to focus on getting things done efficiently, I have a track session tonight too and won’t have time to cook, between picking my daughter up from childcare and dropping her to a relative before getting to my session.
I intend to continue using Huel tomorrow and Sunday before I fly out for a short family break if for no other reason than I haven’t done any food shopping and don’t want to, but I decided to write my review today ahead of schedule simply because I may not have time over the weekend and I wanted to share with you my thoughts on it before I fly off for a week in the Sun.
I can honestly see me using Huel in the future as a tool to prevent the blips I have in my consistent healthy eating, especially for weeks like this week where shopping, cooking and cleaning might simply push me over the edge on top of my workload or perhaps for the odd week to get me back on track after times of food overwhelm where I am worried it’s all going to go pear shaped. But I would love to know what the impact of this product could be for me over the longer term, both on my weight and my fitness goals, and on my energy levels generally so watch this space.
Eating like this for 5 days has made me realise that I won’t ever give up food for good (even if it does mean I will be skinny as seriously guys that is NOT the goal) because I love real food too much. Over the last few days I wanted to have fruit, and a salad and I missed the social aspects of sitting down and eating with my daughter. But I am not sure this is an all or nothing thing, as there are clearly benefits for supplementing your diet with Huel.
This is a brand and I guess a concept to look out for peeps.
We have to start having conversations about the future of food, and the impact that the food that most of us consume has on our health, as what we are currently doing in terms of food production and the smoke and mirrors effect created by food labelling and diet fads just isn’t working.
So the overall verdict, is Huel the future of food?
I don’t think it’s THE future of food, but I do think it has A future in the world of food.
The concept really resonates with me. A real food source which has less impact on the environment (including mine as I simply HATE washing up) and one which still allows for me to listen to hunger signals might be a real game changer for me.
Oh and I have lost 4lbs since Monday in case anyone was wondering about that side of things, but that is off the back of a half, with a 5K run, a 20 minute swim and 20K or so steps too.
I have not been paid for this post. Huel sent me a weeks supply of their product (worth £45) to review plus a selection of Tshirts and Bottles to be given away as prizes at tonight track session. Ladies from The Clubhouse have also been offered a days sample if they are interested in giving it a go.