Huel and Soylent are both incredibly popular meal replacement brands that produce plant-based products. They are essentially nutritionally complete so you don’t have to rely on actual food. At least, that’s the concept.
This review takes a look at Huel vs Soylent, including their differences, similarities and benefits of their meal replacement products.
Soylent and Huel have both made waves because of their marketing.
Soylent was named after a product in the book Make Room! Make Room!, although most people associate it with the subsequent movie Soylent Green. In the book, Soylent was a combination of soy and lentils, which were used as meal replacements. In the movie, the product is called Soylent Green and is made from human remains.
The real-world version of Soylent has been marketed as a way to bypass the time and energy that goes into making and eating food. The company was also a Silicon Valley startup and the shakes have been incredibly popular.
Huel is the UK equivalent to Soylent (although both brands are now widely distributed) and was developed roughly a year after Soylent. The company has heavily relied on marketing, including the idea that Huel is the ‘fuel of the future’.
Both Huel and Soylent rely on a minimalistic design and ensure that their product has a wide range of vitamins and minerals ready to drink.
Flavors and Variations
Soylent offers three distinct types of products:
- Soylent Drink – A readymade meal replacement shake (like Premier Protein). Comes in Original, Strawberry and Cacao flavors.
- Soylent Cafe – A similar readymade product that contains caffeine. Comes in Cafe Vanilla, Cafe Chai and Cafe Mocha flavor.
- Soylent Powder – A meal replacement powder. Comes in Original and Cacao flavors.
These are all very similar in terms of nutrition, which is unusual. The main differences are that the readymade shakes contain a little less sugar and fiber compared to the powder.
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2 scoops (90 grams)
1 bottle (414 ml)
1 bottle (414 ml)
If we consider all of the products, then the flavor selection is decent. However, the powder is only available in Cacao and Original flavors.
Compared to Soylent, Huel just offers meal replacement powders.
- These are available in two flavors, Vanilla and Unflavored & Unsweetened.
- There are regular and gluten-free versions of each flavor.
Huel does sell separate flavor boosts: Chocolate, Strawberry, Banana, Cappuccino, Salted Caramel and Chocolate Mint. These cost $9 and contain enough powder to flavor roughly 75 vanilla shakes (or half as many unsweetened shakes). Some users say that the boosts are necessary to make Huel palatable.
The idea is unusual, but it does have advantages. It means that you don’t need to buy a large tub of flavored powder. Instead, you might have multiple flavor pouches at home, then use them as you see fit. This also makes it easier and cheaper to try out new flavors by Huel as part of your diet.
The products from both companies are entirely vegan, regardless of type or flavor.
Huel is the best choice for anyone avoiding gluten, as they have two gluten-free options. Soylent isn’t labeled as gluten-free. However, the company’s website mentions that nothing listed contains gluten and there is a low risk of cross-contamination.
Both Huel and Soylent have limited flavor choices. However, Soylent offers more types of product and Huel has some gluten-free options, along with flavor boosts.
Both companies receive mixed reviews, especially for the flavor and texture of their products.
The unflavored powder from Soylent is normally viewed as having a neutral flavor, which is to be expected. The following are all examples of taste perspectives:
- Neutral, similar to soy milk (original powder)
- Tastes chalky and unappealing (cacao powder)
- Similar to raw pancake batter (original powder)
- Doesn’t taste pleasant (original powder)
- Neutral flavor profile (original powder)
The flavored ready made drinks tend to get better reviews, with many people enjoying these.
While customers are often indifferent to Soylent’s flavor, the same can’t be said for Huel. Most reviews about the shake itself (with no flavor additions) are negative. Examples include:
- The consistency is similar to dried oatmeal
- Very gritty
- Tastes like baby cereal
- A cross between wallpaper paste and cold oatmeal
- Feels like drinking mud
Of course, there are exceptions. Some reviewers enjoy the taste, especially for the vanilla version.
- As one person explained, the taste and texture are somewhat similar to semi-sweetened oatmeal. That’s not what most people want in a protein shake, but the style might appeal to some.
- Another mentioned that it depends on previous experience. The taste of the vanilla version by Huel is somewhat nutty and mild, but people who expect something heavily flavored may find it too subtle.
There are also positive reviews for Huel from customers that use the flavor boosts or mix in other ingredients. In fairness, the sale of flavor boosts suggests that the powder isn’t meant to be used on its own anyway.
Still, you may need to add in more ingredients to bypass the texture issues (or use the powder in a smoothie recipe). Having to do so decreases many of the advantages from using Huel in the first place.
Soylent’s powder gets mostly neutral reviews for taste, while many people hate the flavor and texture of Huel.
Soylent can be purchased in a tub (12 servings) or a pouch (5 servings). Pouches must be purchased in multiples of seven. If you go through their site, the prices look like this:
- One-time Purchase: $34.00/tub or $9.14/pouch
- Subscription: $32.50/tub or $7.71/pouch
For a one-time purchase, this works out to either $2.83/serving or $1.83/serving, while the subscription is $2.71/serving or $1.54/serving.
The readymade shakes cost $3.25 each as a one-time purchase or $3.09 on subscription, regardless of type. These can only be purchased in packs of 12.
Huel is sold in pouches only, which contain 14 servings. Customers need to order at least two at a time. The price varies depending on the number purchased at one time:
- One-time Purchase: From $2.64/serving (2 pouches) to $2.28/serving (16 pouches)
- Subscription: From $2.38/serving (2 pouches) to $2.05/serving (16 pouches)
In the end, Soylent is less expensive but only if you’re purchasing the pouches. For Huel, you need to be ordering many pouches at a time to see significant savings. If you plan to use flavor boosts, these would need to be purchased too, adding to the cost.
Both brands offer various pricing options. The best choice will depend on how you’re purchasing and the amount that you buy.
To compare nutrition, we’re just going to focus on the protein powder. Soylent’s premade shakes are similar anyway, so many of the conclusions apply to them too.
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2 scoops (90 g)
1 cup (127 g)
Servings per Container
- Serving Size: Huel has an unusually large serving size, which means more powder per shake. In fact, both brands have a high serving size compared to other similar products.
- Calories: The calorie content is also higher than other brands. Of the two, Huel contains more calories, which seem to mostly come from protein.
- Fat: The fat content is similar between brands. Soylent has slightly more fat, while Huel has a little more saturated fat.
- Carbs: The total carb content is similar, with Huel containing more carbs. However, Huel has more fiber and much less sugar than Soylent. Soylent contains 15 grams of sugar, which is pretty high for a meal replacement shake.
- Protein: Huel is the clear winner here, with 37 grams of protein. That’s an impressive amount, especially for the low sugar content. However, Soylent’s 20 grams of protein is still decent for this type of shake and would be enough for many situations.
Both brands also contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals.
- For one serving of Huel, these vary from 25% to 130%, with most being somewhere between 25% and 30%.
- For one serving of Soylent, every nutrient contains 20% of the daily requirement. This is true regardless of the flavor or product type.
The best choice will vary a little depending on your needs. But, Huel is clearly the more powerful brand, offering more nutrients, less sugar, more fiber and more protein per serving.
The nutritional profile will change if you choose to add a flavor boost to the Huel shake. Even so, it remains high in protein per serving.
On a side note, the caffeinated readymade drinks from Soylent (previously called Coffiest) contain caffeine and l-theanine. This combination is often considered a nootropic and the l-theanine helps to promote a more sustainable energy and concentration boost from caffeine.
Huel is nutritionally superior in most ways, if consumed as-is.
Choice of Ingredients
Both sets of products are designed for meal replacement. As such, they need to use a wide range of different ingredients.
Soylent (Original flavor)
- Protein Source: Soy protein isolate
- Sweeteners: Sucralose, isomaltulose
- Interesting Ingredients: High oleic sunflower oil or canola oil (to provide monounsaturated fats), isomaltulose (releases energy slowly)
- Potentially Concerning Ingredients: Maltodextrin, artificial flavors
Huel (Vanilla flavor, non gluten-free)
- Protein Source: Oats, pea protein, flaxseed, brown rice protein
- Sweeteners: Stevia, sucralose
- Interesting Ingredients: Medium chain triglycerides (sourced from coconuts)
- Potentially Concerning Ingredients: Artificial vanilla flavor
While both brands use some artificial additives, Huel tends to rely on better ingredients. The company also provides detailed nutritional information. The same data is more difficult to find on the Soylent site.
The implications of soy will depend on your perspectives. Many people are concerned about soy and the potential for negative health implications. However, others feel that soy has an appealing amino acid profile and is easier to digest than some alternatives.
Huel uses a better combination of ingredients in comparison to Soylent and is more up-front about what the products contain.
Huel vs Soylent Diets
Huel and Soylent are normally used to replace one or two meals per day. This provides a simple approach to weight loss and health, one that many people find effective to meet their nutritional needs.
Some users have taken a more radical approach – relying on nothing but the shakes for their nutrition. For the most part, they came out fine at the other end. Some even lost weight. Still, the experience isn’t for the faint-hearted.
- Josh Helton wrote about 30 days relying on just Soylent. His experience makes an interesting read. The short version is that he did get the nutrients he needed to be productive, even with substantial exercise. His overall health improved too and he had more free time, but the experience had some incredibly frustrating components.
- Rob Price did something similar for Huel (just for a week) and didn’t enjoy the experience. But, like Josh, he didn’t suffer physically.
- The same was true for Jared Hill after his week on Huel.
I wouldn’t ever recommend replacing all of your meals with a shake. Still, it’s good to know that the idea to give what the body needs is at least possible.
Huel vs Soylent: The Final Score
Advantages of Huel
- Provides flavor boosts that can make the shakes taste better
- Has some gluten-free shakes
- Can be inexpensive, but you need to purchase a decent number of pouches at one time
- Higher in protein and fiber
- Lower in sugar
- More nutrients per serving
- Uses fewer concerning ingredients and doesn’t rely on soy
- Includes MCTs
Advantages of Soylent
- Offers more types of products. The readymade drinks are more expensive, but they are popular for their flavor
- The powder has a neutral taste and many reviews on flavor are indifferent. In contrast, reviews on Huel’s flavor and texture tend to be negative
- Relatively inexpensive if you purchase the pouches, especially on a subscription
With more protein, a higher percentage of nutrients and fewer concerning main ingredients, in the Huel vs Soylent debate, Huel is the nutritionally superior option for meal replacement products that will help with weight loss.
However, the flavor and texture leave much to be desired. This may mean that you need to rely on recipes or flavor boosts to ensure that Huel is palatable. If not, there are plenty of other protein shakes to try.
Price per Serve
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