Food

What does drinking your lunch for 2 weeks feel like?

By Oliver Smith 16 January 2017
Summary

Huel says it’s a healthy meal replacement, we asked someone who’s living on it.

Powdered meal replacements, brands like Huel and Soylent, are booming in popularity, you might have spotted more protein shakers popping up around the office lately.

What started off as a wildly popular and affordable way for techie types and developers to skip meals and keep coding, has started to go mainstream, jumping on the ‘superfood’ bandwagon.

Read more: 5 phoney superfoods to skip this January

In the US Soylent has been backed with over $22m, with high-profile investors including Andreessen Horowitz clearly believing that these meal replacements aren’t just a food fad.

In the UK, Huel is the most well known meal replacement, working out at just £1.61 per ‘meal’ and makes claims to include everything your body needs.

But what’s it like to live on Huel, drinking your food every day? And why would someone want to try?

Huel life

“It’s just difficult to get healthy lunch around here every day,” Norval Scott, Head of PR and Communications at Wayra UK, told The Memo.

“You tend to end up with a sandwich, snack and a drink, and I don’t think it’s doing me any favours.”

For the last two weeks Scott has shifted two or three of his lunches from overpriced sandwiches (“You also end up paying an arm and a leg, given I work in Piccadilly Circus”), to Huel.

The advantages are obvious, that £6 or £7 lunch which you don’t particularly enjoy turns into a “nutritionally balanced drink”, or so Huel claims.

A healthy meal?

“Certainly nutritionally it seems to tick all the boxes,” says Scott, who’s lactose intolerant, further complicating his regular lunch choices.

Technically Huel does contain everything your body needs – although there has been little research into using powdered meal replacements to substitute part or all of your diet.

“My big fear was that I’d drink it and still feel hungry, so far I’ve actually felt absolutely full-up.”

But how does he feel about gulping down the gloopy, sludge each day?

“It’s certainly visually unappealing, but it doesn’t taste as bad as it looks, it doesn’t taste great, but it is palatable.”

And are there any… digestive effects? “Nothing to report” says Scott.

Is Huel for everyone?

While it may not have had any noticeable negative impacts, Huel probably isn’t for everyone.

As mentioned, there’s been little research on how a meal replacement like this could impact your health over the long term.

But more pressingly for most people is the sheer monotony of drinking the same “plain, vanilla-ry gloop” every day.

Food is fun, it’s supposed to be appetising, exciting, interesting and stimulating, not boring and repetitive.

Scott says he would recommend Huel to anyone looking for a cheap, healthy alternative at lunchtime.

But as he offers me a gulp as I leave, passing a half-drunken jug of gloopy Huel to me, I politely refuse.

Suddenly I’m not feeling very hungry.