When it comes to working out, dieting, or losing weight, time can be of the essence. Voila, the introduction of meal replacement shakes.
This article will look at two of the top brands on the market, Soylent and Huel. Both are very similar companies so we will break down what makes their shakes, specifically their meal replacements so special.
The battle of Soylent drink vs Huel commences.
I know I have a clear favourite….
Who are Huel? Huel are still a relatively new company that have a huge traction in the UK and gaining increased popularity in the US. Huel stands for a combination of fuel power and human potential. Human fuel so to speak.
It feels somewhat of a cult….Once you take Huel your drawn into the world of nutrition and clean living. The way they do their branding is different from other shakes. Just going on their site and reading the “about me” section, gives you instant feeling that Huel put the consumer interest at heart.
They have a huge guide on nutrition, talking about the ingredients included in Huel and what their benefits are. When you buy Huel it even comes with a booklet detailing this nutritional information.
It feels like Huel really know their stuff and put a lot of time into making nutrient rich shake. They promote the following:
- Zero waste
- Supported by nutritionists
- Affordable price
With some meal replacements and supplements you know instantly that their shakes are low quality just by looking at their company websites. All too often I have found less than ideal businesses operating under less than ideal business practices like MLM schemes.
Huel is definitely a legit company that has an invested interest in producing a high quality product and staying true to its values.
Who are Soylent? Soylent are a direct competitor to Huel that have their starting roots in the US. Like Huel, Soylent specialise in producing meal replacements.
The main difference is that Soylent shake can be bought as a liquid in a bottle and powder form, unlike Huel which only sells powder. Soylent is one of the few well known brands that sells meal replacements in bottles that you can store in your refrigerator.
I noticed their website is less detailed than Huels. They don’t have a specific nutritional profile page like Huel, but a simple overview of ingredients on their home and product pages.
However, I quite like the simplicity. I believe it is in sync with their branding of containing clean and simple ingredients.
Who is Huel and Soylent for?
Huel and Soylent are for those that are time restricted. We all live very active lifestyles and fitting in a meal or post workout shake can be very time consuming. Solution is a vegan free, plant based meal that give you all the fats, carbs, protein, vitamins and nutrients you would get in a full meal.
I believe the main market for those is for people who are gym goers, and those who want to lose weight. However, it doesn’t stop there.
Considering the shake is all plant based and has low grams of sugar, Huel and Soylent is perfect for those who have bad reactions to whey protein.
People with Skin conditions, acne sufferers, vegans and people who take an interest in putting something decent into their body are also the perfect prime users for Huel and Soylent.
Ingredient profile – comparison
|Protein||20g (Soy)||29.5g (flaxseed,Pea,Brown Rice, Oat Protein)|
|Sugar||9.4g (sucralose)||1.2g (sucralose)|
|Calories||400 calories per bottle (414ml)||400 calories per 100g|
|Servings||1 bottle = 414ml||125g x 4meals a day|
1 serving – 3 scoops (125g)
|Price||See Lowest Price on Amazon||See Lowest Price on Amazon|
Huel is “37:30:30:3 Macro Split”. This means that Huel is made up of 37% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fats, and 3 % fibre.
Essentially Huel contains all the macro ingredients like carbs, protein, fibre, and fats you might have in a normal healthy meal.
The carbs are there to give the needed energy levels where as the protein intake is relatively high to other meal replacement shakes. 30% in Huel equates to 30g of protein per 100g.
All in all the combination is high enough to help you get on your day and act as a meal.
The quantity in Soylent drink is slightly less than Huels. Considering we are comparing they soylent drink with Huel powder, it is inevitably harder to fit all components into a smaller 414 ml bottle. In terms of protein and calories Soylent contains less than Huel.
Soylent contains 20g of protein compared to Huels’ 30g.
How do both compare in terms of calories and fibre?
The amount per serving in one serving of Soylent drink is 400 calories. One serving of Soylent equates to drinking 1 bottle, which is 414ml in size.
Huel recommends 3 scoops. As one scoop contains about 153 calories, 3 scoops would count as one serving which would be 513 calories.
Consequently, for 3 shakes of Huel you get more calories than drinking one bottle of Soylent.
In terms of fibre, Huel also contains more fibre at 7.7 g whereas Soylent contains 3g.
The fact that Huel contains more fibre means it is a better for making you feel fuller but also helping you digest food easier.
One of the things I dislike about Soylent is it does contain 9 grams of sugar. These is 9g of added sugar, so those that are not naturally occurring and found in the rest of the ingredients.
The sugar comes in the form of sucralose. Although sucralose is considered safe, recent research is starting to have doubts over this sugar. To make you aware sucralose is not natural and is artificial meaning it was made in man made laboratories.
My parents always used to say you can always tell if something is unhealthy as it contains an e number. Sucralose is a e number and the and the European Union labels the e number as E955. So in actual fact you are still consuming an e number.
9 grams is also a decent amount. A dead healthy meal replacement should contain virtually 0g of sugar.
View how other customers found the taste of Soylent on the comments section on Amazon.
Huel on the other hand contains much less sugar.
The unflavoured option of Huel gives 1g of sugar derived from carbs while the flavoured version contains about 1.3 grams with the addition of sucralose. This is extremely low amount and the content of sugar comes from sucralose.
What surprises me is a how Soylent contains so much more sucralose whereas Huel contains very minimal amounts in the flavoured versions. My guess is that they wanted to make the drink taste better considering its more of a beverage.
What I love about Huel is that they do have gluten free and unflavoured options which cuts out the added sugar for flavouring. I personally use the unflavoured version on a regular basis, considering I don’t like any form of sweetness to my shakes but that’s just me.
The taste is really not as bad as you would think despite what some people say. Slightly oaty and bland but its not stomach churning revolting. It goes down quite easily compared to some horrible plant based powders.
You can see how other people found taste on the comments section on Amazon.
What I love about Huel is where they get their protein from. Pea, flaxseeds, brown rice protein, and oats. All are lactose free, have the the option to be gluten free and extracted from plants.
Here are some of the benefits of pea protein –
Pea protein, out of all the plant proteins, is one of the most easily digestible. Likewise, pea protein contains a nearly complete amino acid profile, which reflects a complete protein source.
The only amino acid it is short on is methionine. However, this is no biggie considering the amino acid can be obtained through eating meat, fish, dairy products, and nuts.
In the case of Huel, pea protein is combined with rice protein to make up for the lack of Methionine. This forms the complete amino acid profile.
Some benefits of Brown rice protein
Brown rice protein is protein extracted from brown rice. Once again it provides an excellent alternative for those that cannot take lactose or want something as clean as can be.
Likewise if you tend to suffer from allergies brown rice is clean as you can get. No lactose, wheat or soy to unsettle you or make your stomach churn.
However, as a standalone protein, not all amino acids are included to make up a complete protein composition. Brown rice protein has good levels of methionine and leucine but low levels of lysine.
This is why in Huel brown rice protein is combined with pea protein which is high in lysine.
Some benefits of Flaxseed
I tend to have flaxseeds with almond butter for my protein shakes. I know that their powdered equivalent are a fantastic source of protein.
Flaxseed is rich in amino acids aspartic acid, glutamic acid and arginine. Although low in lysine, when combined with pea, brown rice, and oats they help form a complete protein.
In general flaxseeds also provide the following additional benefits:
- lowered risk of tumours
- decreased cholesterol
- anti-fungal abilities.
It’s clear flaxseeds are a safe and very clean protein source that is a great alternative to whey, soy and red meat.
Any person who wants sustainable energy throughout the day knows the benefits of oats. Slow releasing and densely packed with carbs, oats are great for sustaining levels of energy to keep you going.
However, oats are also a great source of protein. There is a Good reason oats form a staple breakfast for health enthusiasts and normal people alike. They have plenty of benefits:
- The protein in oats is reasonably high in all amino acids. The main protein coming from avenalin.
- Oats are one of the few proteins that has a higher protein than other grains.
- Oats on their own are naturally wheat/gluten free. It is only the way they are produced with their factories containing oats that make them gluten and non gluten versions.
- Huel does give you the ability to get gluten free option. This simply means no traces of gluten/wheat will be found in your shake.
You can see how each protein source carefully balances out the other to makeup all 9 amino acids of a complete protein. Huel go out of their way to explain this on their ingredient page.
I also love how all these protein sources are healthy, plant based, lactose free, and gluten free. They also don’t have the negative research that Soy attracts.
Soylent soy protein…
The protein source in Soylent is less healthy. This is because Soylent contains soy protein.
The jury is still out on soy but I am still not entirely convinced of its healthiness. There is both research supporting and going against the use of soy protein in our diet.
Supporters argue that soy has a number of benefits:
- Lowers blood pressure
- Is a great alternative to whey which contains lactose
- Soy offers a complete amino acid profile. This means soy is identical to the amino acid profile you get in meat. This is why Soylent does not contain other protein sources, as Soy already includes everything.
- Soy can also be said to help cardiovascular efficiency, and can help control weight.
However, despite these benefits there are criticisms which make me skeptical:
- Soy protein can be genetically engineered. For example according to research done by USDA, 94% of soybeans is genetically modified as of 2014.
- The extraction process of soy leaves traces of hexane. Although said to be extremely small amounts and not harmful, I still don’t want to be putting this stuff in my body on a daily basis. Wellandgood describe this process as toxic bath oil.
- That’s not to mention soy contains estrogenic abilities which may cause fertility issues down the line.
All in all Soy in its powdered form is not identical to soy as a whole food. I think there are too many risks with eating the stuff, even though it is readily available in every main supermarket and health outlet out there.
Pros and Cons of Huel
Would I take it?
I believe huel is one of the best meal replacements out there hands down. Easy to take, and has everything the body needs.
Pros and Cons of soylent
Possible side effects
Gas – in the beginning the body may take time adjusting to new diet which could lead to some unwanted bloating and gas. Just don’t drink Huel or Soylent if your on a busy train into work and in the heat of summer.
Someone may die of toxic poisoning.
Hungry: Depends how you use huel and Soylent. If you replace 2 meals on a daily basis and exercise regularly I would say you may feel hungry. You may also notice withdrawal symptoms and whole food cravings.
Taste + texture
Huel: The Un-sweetened version of Huel is definitely not as as horrible as some people make out. It tastes oaty and has a very bland neutral taste. If anything it is very easy to drink.
For the sweetened/flavoured version of Huel, some say its too sweet. Others say it’s the perfect blend, tasting of a vanillary oat flavour.
Taste will always be very subjective based upon personal preference. Generally the Majority of Huel users find Huel to have a oaty type flavour.
Huel contains oats, and flaxseeds, which can cause residue from not mixing the shake properly. It’s important to mix the shake really well and if possible stir the contents with a spoon to prevent clumps sticking to the sides of your shaker cup.
Soylent comes in a bunch of flavours. For example, they have original blend flavour but also vanilla, strawberry, cacao, and cafe mocha.
Overall many found the flavour good if not slightly bland. Once again this is perfect for a protein shake considering I would prefer this over anything too sweet or artificial. This is done purposely by Soylent to cater for different taste buds and to keep there shake easy to drink.
Huel recommends 3 servings. The power form is very simple. Shake up in a shaker bottle. I would recommend stirring around the contents of Huel a little before doing so. One thing you notice with Huel is that the shake does come out quite thick.
I believe this is caused by the oatiness, and seeds contained in Huel. Afterall I guess it is expected for a liquid that is good enough to replace a meal.
Soylent powder form recommends ¾ scoops per day. ½ scoop is a snack.
If you don’t have a scoop using a ⅓ cup can be used to make your measurements.
Soylent drink comes in a 12 bottle pack. All you need to do is drink. Easy peasy.
Flavour boosts? Recipes?
Huel does come with flavour boosts. For example, these range from flavours like chocolate, vanilla, toffee and caramel to mint chocolate. These flavour boosts contain no actual huel. They are just there to spice things up.
Its very important to know that these flavour boosts will add to added sugar content. I found the mint flavour boost had an extra 7.8g of sugar per 100g. So be aware of the sugar. It’s important that this comes from stevia though and is a natural sugar. LIkewise you will not be adding in 100g of the stuf. It will likely be smaller amounts than 7.8g. However, something to keep in mind.
Huel also details plenty of recipes. For example, check out their recipe page which has recipes ranging from Huel cookies to waffles.
Soylent does not have any recommended recipes or flavour boosts, however, that is because they don’t need to.
The one advantage Soylent has over its competitors is its simplicity. Everything is packed inside the bottle that is already in liquid form and doesn’t require mixing or shaking. It really is just “grab and go.”
Best place to buy?
Huel can also be bought from their official website. If its your first order you get a free t shirt, and shaker cup.
Soylent’s official website can be found here.
Do others like Huel?
There are many of those hardcore Huel nuts that go on challenges. For example, take Peter Robinson from the guardian who went on a 1 week huel challenge. This involved having huel everyday. As you would expect by the end of the week he was revolted by huel.
However, an amazing positive was that he never felt hungry and was able to carry on daily activities like he had a full meal.
I believe that the negative reviews of flavour come from customers who probably have never had protein shakes. If your used to protein shakes you would definitely be ok with the taste of Huel.
In terms of helping weight loss the general sentiment is that huel is great for rationing your meals and consuming low carbs.
Youtuber Luke Sherran found Huel is super convenient. Huge time saver over meal prep or going to supermarket to buy ingredients.
Do others like Soylent?
Just like Huel 7 day challenges there are those that go on Soylent 7 day challenges. For example, take Rachel Zoldan from allure who experimented going on a 7 day soylent diet.
This involved drinking nothing but Soylent. She only lasted 4 days before quitting. The taste was good in beginning describing the taste as neutral and adding berries to flavour it up a bit.
She did experience side effects like being dehydrated and hungry.
Nonetheless, she found the shake extremely convenient and a “far healthier alternative to junk food”.
The Final Verdict
It’s clear that Huel wins the contest. The simple reason being the quality of ingredients is higher than that of Soylent.
Soylent is not a bad shake at all despite looking like I am putting them down. Its affordable and has vitamins and minerals with a good portion of protein.
However, the sugar content goes over my limit in soylent. 9g is too high for my liking. The fact the sugar is sucralose is not the best either.
I’m also just not a fan of soy. I don’t believe something as genetically modified as Soy can be good for the body.
Huel on the other hand, has everything I could want. Completely vegan, minimal waste, very clean, low sugar and affordable. Yes, some may say the taste will take a while to get used to. However, there is no denying that Huel is healthy.
I always told myself if I was going to take a meal replacement or shake it would be 100% clean with 0 to no sugars and all plant based ingredients.
Huel comes as close as can be to being the perfect shake.