This year I’ve decided to commit to a greater focus on improving my overall health, physical and mental. Thanks to covid… we’ve shifted to a primary remote working pattern – as a large proportion of us live an ever-increasing sedentary lifestyle. As a result, it’s easier than ever to ‘snack’ or ‘graze’ throughout the day. I found myself caught in a similar trap, slowly eating throughout the day, often with no reason, and in most cases, I wasn’t hungry either, but bad habits started to form. More often than not, when making a cup of tea, I’d reach for a biscuit. One by one, the effects of this slowly pile up. In its basic form, this contributed to my overall weight gain, but looking closer, the general health of my diet declined. Ultimately this manifested itself in having trouble sleeping, working longer hours – due to not moving, and overall a general lack of energy.
Whilst watching an episode of Diary with CEO Steven Bartlett on Youtube, I saw him advocate Huel – of which he’s also an investor. I had a work colleague who once purchased some of the original unsweated / unflavoured Huel back when it was initially gaining traction. I did not try any at the time. The smell alone put me off. It was not until this year that I was intrigued enough to look at how the product had evolved after seeing it promoted again. I was also drawn to Huel as it is a complete meal replacement. Huel makes it simple to understand how to count calory intake, one scoop of Huel = 200 calories mixed with 500ml of water.
I ordered several flavours and some of their instant drinks to start my journey. I quickly found my favourites were hot chocolate and salted caramel. Huel recommends slowly introducing Huel as part of any diet. Initially, the goal was to replace two of my main meals a day, breakfast and lunch, with two scoops of Huel. I planned to do this for seven days, then ramp it up to three entire Huel shakes for seven days. It’s worth bearing in mind what is ‘safe’ in terms of not lowering one’s calorie intake, and of course, this differs from person to person. I found the first 7-day stint of two meals a pretty reasonable and easy adjustment. My typical lunch of popping to the shop for a meal deal, consisting of sandwiches, crisps, chocolate and yoghurt, was now simply a two-scoop shake totalling 400 calories, pretty reasonable and, importantly, consistent.
My experience after the first seven days, I found Huel to be filling and tasted much nicer than I initially thought it would. No doubt it has been refined and improved over the years, especially after it was first introduced to me. As many other ‘Hueligans’ have embraced, I ramped up to three meals a day after completing my first two meals a day for seven days. My dinner would consist of an extra scoop, which meant it was 600 calories. I’d also have fresh fruit and yoghurt if hunger came knocking throughout the day. This transition, especially the first three days, was tricky, and I felt ravenous at times. Whilst having fruit and yoghurt to subdue hunger pains. It was a hard transition, certainly more challenging than the first week. In addition, during my first few days, I had a few painful headaches as my body adjusted, and no doubt the lack of sugar meant my body was likely rebalancing. However, after day 3/4, things had seemed to establish. The hunger pains had gone away, and over the next few days, my willpower and determination to avoid sugary snacks or grazing became stronger. After completing one week at twos meals, and one week at three, I returned to two meals a day. I rewarded myself with a nice dinner after my three meal a day streak had ended.
So what are my thoughts on Huel? after trying it for three weeks, It’s great as a meal replacement. It has undoubtedly helped improve my mental cognition. I honestly feel it has contributed to improving my general focus, raising my overall energy levels, and losing some weight. My general appetite is also reduced, and I now have smaller meal portions. In my experience of using it for nearly a month, I’ve lost close to 1 stone in weight which is very respectable given the fact that with little effort, just some willpower, I’ve been able to shed a stone. I would argue that three meals a day on full Huel seem unstainable. Just the sensation of chewing food is a joyful act when you go seven whole days with only drinking shakes. I will aim to keep Huel as part of my diet for at least 1/2 meals, keeping one in my rucksack when I’m not at home to avoid the temptation of those calorific meal deals!