There’s not a single conversation about a meal replacement shake been had that doesn’t mention Huel. An absolute titan of the industry and for good reason, as they’re not only a great product, but they popularised the very idea of meal replacement shakes.
Over the years Huel powder has changed though, with us currently sat at Huel 3.0 (Though they’re currently experimenting with the formula and you may find v3.1 on the back of your packet), and as the title of this article gave away, they eventually introduced Huel Black Edition. Both are great products that have a focus in different directions, so how do we decide which works best for us? And are there any alternatives to these amazing products that we should be keeping our eyes on?
We aim to answer these very questions, so let’s dig in and see exactly how they differ.
This varies a little per flavour, so to keep things fair we’ve compared the cinnamon Swirl at the recommended 90g serving. We’ll go into more detail below, but here is the macro-nutritional profile of each to start with:
Huel Powder 3.0
- 400 Calories
- 13g Fat
- 37g Carbohydrates
- 1g sugars
- 7.5g Fibre
- 30g Protein
- 0.5g Salt
Huel Black Edition
- 400 Calories
- 18g Fat
- 16g Carbohydrates
- 4.4g Sugars
- 7.2g Fibre
- 40G Protein
- 0.78g Salt
Best Alternatives For Each – Do Huel Still Make The Best Meal Replacement Shakes?
We’ve spoke about to dominant position Huel has over the rest of the competition, but that’s not to say there’s not plenty of amazing brands that are pushing boundaries and keeping Huel on their toes. The competition is strong, so we thought you might be interested in hearing about which of these products are the David to the Huel Goliath.
Rootana: The best alternative to Huel Powder
Jumping into the scene as recently as 2022, Rootana has impressively managed to establish itself as one of the best meal replacement shakes yet designed, with a seriously impressive real food formula that contains absolutely nothing artificial. That means absolutely no artificial sweeteners, preservatives or flavourings of any kind; this meal replacement shake is made from nothing but actual, real food. Let’s have a look at how it stacks up:
We spoke about how young Rootana is, with them garnering a fantastic reputation in such a small amount of the time thanks to their incredibly clever real food formula. It almost sounds obvious when you say it out loud: How do we make the best meal replacement shake? Let’s use only real food ingredients! But what’s easy to over look is the problems something so ambitious can cause.
The founder of Rootana decided to create this shake after finding the convenience of other meal replacement shakes very enticing, but also found that despite trying many different options there wasn’t any that ticked all of his boxes, especially as he wasn’t a fan of the artificial sweeteners many meal replacement powders rely on.
After trialling a few recipes in his kitchen, he teamed up with a food scientist and nutritional expert to create the best meal replacement he possibly could over a two year period. Focusing on sourcing the right flavour whilst providing nutritionally complete food, they eventually came up with the fantastic formula that is Rootana.
It really can’t be overlooked the hurdles Rootana had to jump over to make this work, but they were the exact right people for the job and boy did they deliver. They somehow managed to create an amazing tasting shake without taking any synthetic shortcuts that are so common in this industry.
- 400 Calories
- 14g Fat, 2g being saturated fat
- 44g carbohydrates
- 12g Sugars
- 8g Fiber
- 20g Protein
- 440mg Sodium
If there’s only one thing you take away from this, it’s that Rootana really is the best tasting meal replacement. It lacks the common synthetic taste that many of us have just come to accept about meal replacements, and instead offers a subtle yet moreish flavour with three choices available: Original, Dark Chocolate and our personal favourite, Vanilla flavor.
Original has a subtle sweet taste which is reminiscent of lightly sweetened oatmeal, and this oaty sweet taste is present in all of the flavors, as Dark Chocolate and Vanilla have these flavorings subtley added to the original flavor.
This wonderfully subtle sweetness is achieved by the organic coconut sugar Rootana decided to add to their formula. If you’re anything like Robert, Rootana’s founder, then you’ll be tired of the synthetic flavour that comes with the common sweeteners such as stevia and sucralose. This is just one of the many ways Rootana not only differentiates itself but stands above as one of the best meal replacement products available today.
Something else we would be remiss without mentioning is the incredible thick texture of Rootana that reminded us of the best milkshakes we’ve had. It was thoroughly enjoyable to drink and a vast improvement over the horrible chalky texture we’ve come to expect.
This is one of the many problems Rootana ran into when developing it’s real food formula, as there are certain expectations people have when it comes to meal replacement shakes. It’s absolutely vital that people are provided the complete nutrition they’d have received from a regular meal. This means all essential amino acids, essential nutrients and a good amount of vitamins and minerals without resorting to synthetic sources.
The pea protein used in Rootana is a common choice for fellow vegan friendly shakes as it is a high quality source. What this means is that it provides a good amount of all of amino acids, which are known to have various health benefits including building muscle, and aiding in recovery.
A crucial ingredient in Rootana is ofcourse it’s use of oat powder, which provides a large helping of complex carbohydrates, providing a slow release of energy throughout the day This doubles up as a great source of fibre, which is well known as a very important part of anyones diet.
One of the more surprising qualities of Rootana is that, as a vegan friendly drink, its chock full of healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids, and even omega 6 and 9 through it’s use of sunflower oil powder. Not consuming enough essential fats in your diet can lead to many issues including poor mood regulation and even poor appetite.
One pouch of Rootana will set you back $49.99, giving you a value of only $3.57 per serving. There is a subscription service however, which brings the price down to $3.21 per meal.
Overall we fully recommend Rootana as the best alternative to regular huel powder. Its clever formula keeps it on par with its contemporaries, but its incredible flavor boosts its score far beyond that, earning it’s spot on this list. We can’t recommend it enough, and suggest you check it out by clicking this link.
Instant Knockout Complete: The Best Alternative To Huel Black Edition
Huel Black Edition is a difficult shake to beat, with it being an easy choice for anyone who goes to the gym and wants to lose weight without sacrificing the muscle they worked so hard to achieve. Instant Knockout Complete was designed from the very start with this in mind, and has such a high protein content that you should actually gain muscle whilst you lose weight with the right training and diet regime. Let’s have a look at what it’s all about:
When there’s a health product used by professional athletes, there’s got to be something good going on there. Well Instant Knockout Complete was not only made for athletes, but it was designed by consulting with professional MMA coaches in order to ensure it gave their fighters everything they need to be at the peak of their performance, whilst helping them to lose weight to meet the weigh-ins.
This is why Instant Knockout Complete provides a complete meal replacement with all the essential nutrients you need to be not only healthy but competitively fit in the ring. This is achieved by not stopping at regular protein levels and instead pushing that amount up to an impressive 35g of high quality protein, helping you to get all of the essential amino acids you need to build the lean muscle you’d need to beat out the competition.
The result of a 5 year long research project into providing the perfect meal replacement for anyone on a weight loss journey, with it being formulated, tested and refined at every stage of development by the worlds leaders in nutrition, in state of the art labs.
Roar Ambition are the clever guys behind this meal replacement, and quite possibly they were the only people with the resources and funds to see it through, leaving us with this incredible formula that can stand alongside the best of the best and be our top pick for an alternative to Huel Black Edition.
- 400 calories
- 13g Total Fat (10g saturated)
- 35g Carbohydrates
- 13g Dietary Fibre
- 3g Total sugar (0 added sugars)
- 35g Protein
- 1.1g Salt
Having only one flavor available, it might be easy to dismiss Instant Knockout Complete in the flavor department, but we found their vanilla flavor to be surprisingly moreish. It’s not overly sweet, with them allowing the natural aromatic flavor of the vanilla to gracefully sit above everything, as if icing on a cake.
A luxuriously thick texture helps this shake go down easy, with it mixing incredibly well into just water, though it’s a treat when paired with your favourite plant based-milk alternative: our favourite was to pair it with oat milk, helps keep the calories down whilst still elevating it to the next level.
Fruit is another way you can make this shake something you absolutely look forward to, as it’s subtle sweet vanilla flavour pairs wonderfully with berries, banana’s, and even nuts and greens. This would also increase the vitamins and minerals found within, and the anti-oxidants, all aiding towards your personal health.
All in all despite only having one flavor, Instant Knockout Complete is still a delicious shake that you’ll find yourself absolutely looking forward to in your daily routine.
More than just a fancy protein shake, Complete provides nutritionally complete food for a healthy meal replacement that won’t leave you wondering if you’re getting enough nutrients. As you can imagine following a 5 year long development process, there’s some clever stuff going on here.
The protein content here is made up of yellow pea protein powder and brown rice protein powder, with some more coming up from the chia seeds. This provides a complete amino acid profile, keeping your muscles in top tier health as well as providing essential vitamins and minerals whilst remaining completely vegan friendly and still providing complete protein.
The Chia Seeds we mentioned there are a great inclusion, as they help provide essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium, as well as essential fatty acids omega-3 and as if that wasn’t enough, they’re an excellent source of slow release carbohydrates, making sure you’re energised throughout your day.
On the weight loss front we have medium chain triglyceride powder (MCT) and chromium. MCT are essential fats that are typically found within coconut and palm oil, and they’re rich in vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, which are why MCT is associated with increased metabolic rate. The Chromium here is a common weight loss supplement in athletics, as it allows a loss of weight without the associated loss of strength that is typical
A single pouch of Instant Knockout Complete will set you back $59.00, setting you at $4.21 per serving. There is no subscription service available, but you can order their month supply which comes with a free video workout program, as well as detailed nutrition E-books.
All in all you can see why Instant Knockout Complete would be our top choice for anyone looking for an alternative for Huel Black Edition. They’re both high protein meal replacements designed to help you lose weight whilst building muscle, and the weight loss inclusions such as MCT’s and Chromium in Instant Knockout Complete just set it far above the competition. You can check it out for yourself if you click this link.
Huel Powder 3.0 Review
Kicking things off with the standard formula that originally popularised the idea of meal replacement shakes, as before Huel most meal replacement products were a bit of a gimmick that didn’t really work, usually offering a sugary milkshake that would obviously help people lose weight when swapping out a full meal for a milkshake, but it would often lead to health issues as people ended up rather deficient in essential nutrients. Huel managed to convince the general product that their product was a nutritionally complete meal replacement, and as such has established itself at the top of this industry.
There’s lots to love about Huel Powder, it’s place in the industry is well deserved. Everything you need for a balanced diet in a convenient and easy shake, it’s exactly as Huel say: Fast food, not junk food.
We’ll go into more detail, but it’s wide array of flavors available are a huge selling point, with 10 options currently on their website. Variety is the spice of life, but it’s a reasonably big commitment for ordering something you may not like the flavour of, though Vanilla is their most popular flavor as most people prefer to mix in fruit and flavor it themselves.
Being vegan friendly is something Huel seem to pride themselves on, providing a sustainable drink from vegan ingredients, using no animal products in any of their offerings.
- 400 calories
- 13g Fat
- 37g Carbohydrates
- 1g Sugar
- 7.5g Fibre
- 30g Protein
- 0.5g Salt
With 10 offerings there’s a lot to dig into here, but you can get Huel Powder 3.0 as Vanilla, Chocolate, Salted Caramel, Cinnamon Roll, Berry, Banana, Caffe Latte, Original, and Peanut butter flavor. You can also get the unflavoured and unsweetened version.
We tried their Vanilla flavor and found it to be a nice tasting drink, it was quite sweet which we found surprising. It’s flavor was quite nice though, certainly nothing to recoil from but nothing special – We think we may have been spoilt by Rootana’s delicious flavor.
The texture was a little chalky unfortunately. Initially we tried to add more water and though it helped the chalky texture, it diluted the flavour so the second time we made it we instead blended it, but that didn’t do much.
The texture and flavour were both dramatically improved when we added a banana to the shake and blended that. Flavor wise it’s definitely intended to be a nice flat, sweet taste to serve as a base but we were surprised and expected more than we got.
Nutritionally there’s very little to complain about with Huel powder, it’s a nutritionally complete drink with a great profile of both macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients. The nutritional content does subtly change from flavor to flavor though, so if you’re dead set on something it’d be best to check.
They’ve worked out a ratio of 37:30:30:3 for their Macro split, meaning 37% of the energy in Huel Powder comes from carbohydrates, 30% from fat, 30% from protein and 3% from fiber. This has been specially designed to provide you with all of your macro nutrients to be healthy whilst also providing sustained energy release.
Amino acids were a focus here, being the building blocks of protein there are essential amino acids with others being crucial for good health, this allows people on a plant based diet to get a good amount of high protein quality without having to compromise their diets or turn to confusing nutrition books.
Whilst not being exactly essential, carb intake has significant health benefits for energy levels when the right carbohydrates are used. By using low GI carbs, Huel Powder provide its consumers with sustained energy levels throughout the day.
On their website you can only purchase a minimum of two bags, so you’d really better hope you enjoy it as it’s quite the commitment to be making. It is reasonably priced however, at $2.32 per meal and a further 10% off if you subscribe, bringing the price down to $2.21
Overall it’s easy to see how Huel Powder conquered the market and sits at the top, though recent introductions to the market are certainly set to stir it up, already on the third rendition of their formula and introducing improvements to that show Huel aren’t going to let the competition pass them so easily. Time will tell how these introductions shake up the market, but Huel are definitely in good standing still, providing a great and affordable option.
Huel Black Edition Review
When compared to the original base Huel Powder, Huel Black Edition contains 50% less carbs, 33% more protein, zero artificial sweeteners, and is naturally gluten free. Despite this, it still contains a great profile of all 27 essential vitamins and minerals, essential fats, fiber and phytonutrients.
With more protein powder Huel Black Edition is more geared towards people who go to the gym, or otherwise partake in athletic activities and want to make sure they’re getting enough protein in their diet. Being vegan friendly it also works as a decent way to get your protein in, meaning you don’t have to worry too much about it and can concentrate on eating foods that you like, and it’s even gluten free meaning you can enjoy this even if you’re celiac or are just avoiding gluten as a dietary choice.
It’s also powered by green tea extract powder, providing a vast array of antioxidant nutrients, polyphenols and a small amount of caffeine, all helping to improve your overall health and energy levels, as well as boosting immunity.
This is all alongside it’s equally impressive nutritional content with 7 flavors in total to choose from this time.
- 400 Calories
- 18g Fat
- 16g Carbohydrates
- 4.5g Sugar
- 8.3g Fibre
- 40g Protein
- 1g Salt
Flavor wise we do have less options as a whole that the regular powder, though it seems there may usually be more choice as on the website there’s 11 to count but two are labelled out of stock. There’s Vanilla, Chocolate, Salted Caramel, Strawberry Shortcake, cinnamon roll and, unflavoured and unsweetened. The two that are out of stock are Cookies and Cream and Coffee Caramel.
We tried salted caramel and got what we asked for really, as it was very sweet. The Vanilla was better but was just more of the same, it seems if you order one flavor with both the regular powder and black you get basically the same. It was a little less earthy which is likely the lack of oats present in the formula.
Texture wise we had similar issues, though we didn’t try mixing in any fruit with the salted caramel as it was already too sweet for us. We imagine it would solve the issues in the same way though, so it’s probably a good idea to mix in a banana with this one too.
Overall the flavor was enjoyable but not something we’re really looking forward to trying again. When compared against regular powder the oats do seem to go along way flavor-wise, and when compared against Instant Knockout both of the vanilla flavors were nice but Complete wins out on the texture front.
Protein is at the forefront here with a staggering 40g of the stuff, which is sure to get your muscles pumping, improving your recovery and strength in and out of the gym. Being lower on the carb intake here helps with losing weight as well, and makes black edition keto-friendly.
They haven’t left carbs out entirely though, as they know how important fibre is to a healthy diet, as well as how effective fibre is as an appetite suppressant, with it filling you up and serving as a nice slow release of energy throughout your day.
The green tea extract powder is an excellent source of antioxidants, and you even get MCTs from the coconut that is included, and probiotics to support healthy digestion and gut function.
There’s also what are known as phytonutrients present in black edition but this is just marketing buzzwords, as you can basically think of it as a another way of saying anti-oxidants, though the two aren’t entirely interchangeable. Think of it like this; if a food has health benefits beyond helping you function, that food contains phytonutrients, and that’s basically every food you can think of.
A little more expensive than the original powder, huel black edition has the same two bag minimum stipulation and comes in at $2.91 per meal, with the same 10% off deal when you subscribe bringing it down to $2.62.
All in all black edition is a great product that can help with weight loss, or just serving as an extra helping of protein whilst replacing a meal. The taste and texture leave a little to be desired just as huel powder, but it’s not that it’s really bad, just that there’s better out there now.
Which One Is Better?
They’re both great products that serve different camps, so deciding which one is actually better would be a question you need to ask yourself. Do you need an extra kick of high quality protein whilst reducing your carb intake? Black Edition is for you. Do you want to fully replace a meal without risking the reduction to carb intake? Huel powder is for you.
It’s important to remember that there are alternatives out there that might be able to provide what you want better than just the biggest name out there.
Rootana offers a great alternative to Huel Powder by providing a similarly nutritionally complete and vegan friendly replacement to regular meals, but does so with a much more satisfying flavour and texture whilst offering a completely real food formula.
Instant Knockout Complete provides a great alternative to Huel Black Edition, offering a high protein content but with more carbohydrates, allowing a more complete meal replacement whilst being a great option for balancing weight loss with muscle retention and, under the right circumstances, even muscle gain.