If you have spent any time researching meal replacement shakes, then you have probably heard of Huel, you may also have heard of Soylent. But which meal replacement is best? And are there better alternatives out there? In this article, we will be taking an in-depth look at both Huel and Soylent. Comparing their ingredients, price, taste, and helping you to decide which is best. Check out our article on the top 5 meal replacement shakes to see which is our best ever product.
Huel vs Soylent
So, why compare Huel and Soylent? Well, between them they make up the majority of sales in the US for meal replacement shakes, both companies have creative marketing strategies, and both promise similar benefits.
For many people, when considering which meal replacement to purchase it often comes down to either Huel or Soylent. The purpose of this article is to help you decide which company offers a better product, and we also hope to open your eyes to other competitors that may be better than both Huel and Soylent.
What is Huel?
Huel (Human Fuel) is a UK-based company that has been in operation since 2015. It has grown rapidly and is probably the most well-known meal replacement on the market. Huel sells globally and has a large legion of fans “Hueligans” online.
Huel has a huge product range, offering its signature powder (now onto its third iteration), as well as bars, instant drinks, and even a range of hot savoury instant meals. They also offer a Black edition which is higher in protein (40 grams per serving) and lower in carbohydrates.
What is Soylent?
What is the secret of Soylent Green? So begins the trailer to the 1973 film Soylent Green starring Charlton Heston. The film is set in the distant future of 2022 (!) where mankind is on the verge of starvation, surviving off a meal replacement called Soylent Green. The movie revolves around the protagonist trying to find the mystery of what Soylent Green is made of.
It’s plankton. Then when the plankton runs out it’s … people.
Soylent Nutrition was founded in 2013 by Rob Rhinehart. Unlike the movie upon which it is based, the main ingredient of Soylent is soy. As one of the vanguards of meal replacement shakes, Soylent received a lot of publicity, both good and bad.
The initial product was deemed “vile” by many reviewers at the time, but it has been remade several times over the years. It offers just two flavours, original and cacao. Cacao is preferred by the vast majority of users. Soylent also sells bars and instant drinks. But their selection of products is much smaller than that of Huel.
Huel vs Soylent Comparison Table
|Calories per serving||400||400|
|Protein content||30 g||20 g|
|Fibre content||7 g||6 g|
|Fat content||13 g||19 g|
|Carbohydrate content||38 g||42 g|
|Vitamins & Minerals||27||28|
|Price per serving||$2.21||$1.91|
|Number of flavours||10||2|
|Available in UK?||Yes||No|
|Available in US & Canada?||Yes||Yes|
|Available in Europe?||Yes||No|
|Available in Australia/NZ?||Yes||No|
Huel At a Glance
Huel v3 powder contains 400 calories per serving, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of fibre, 13 grams of fat, and 30 grams of protein. It contains 27 vitamins and minerals. It also contains phytonutrients such as acerola cherries.
Huel is vegan, and while the original powder is not gluten-free, there is a gluten-free version available. Huel is available to purchase in Europe, Oceania, North America, and some parts of Asia. It costs $2.21 per meal and there are ten flavours to choose from.
Soylent At a Glance
Soylent contains 400 calories per serving, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fibre, 19 grams of fat, and 20 grams of protein. It contains 28 vitamins and minerals but no phytonutrients. Soylent is vegan and gluten-free. Soylent is only available in the US and Canada. It costs $1.91 per meal and there are only two flavours to choose from.
Huel contains oat flour, pea protein, ground flaxseed, brown rice protein, MCT oil powder, sunflower oil powder, kombucha, acerola cherries, and it uses sucralose for a sweetener. There are other ingredients, but they are relatively minor, we’re focusing on the main ingredients here.
Oat flour is one of the most common ingredients in meal replacement shakes, this is because it has many advantages. It offers a great low GI source of carbohydrates, it is high in fibre, high in protein, and a source of healthy fats. Oat flour works as an effective prebiotic and is highly effective at reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease .
Oat flour is also highly satiating, meaning that it can keep you feeling fuller for longer, reducing your need to snack between meals. This makes it ideal for weight loss, or for weight maintenance. Studies have found that adding oats into your diet can have both short and long term effects on weight loss and can be highly effective at reversing Type II diabetes .
Oats are also inexpensive, helping to keep costs down, it also scores highly on the sustainability index, making them an environmentally friendly ingredient .
Pea protein is a seriously good plant-based protein. It is a high-quality protein, and unlike some protein sources, it is easy to digest. It has a high amino acid content and contains branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). Pea protein contains almost 4x as much arginine as whey protein making pea protein highly effective at improving circulation.
One area where pea protein suffers is methionine, an essential amino acid . This can be easily fixed by combining it with a protein source (such as brown rice) that is high in methionine. Huel has done this, removing one of the few drawbacks.
Flaxseed is similar to oat flour in that it can function as an effective carbohydrate source, protein source, and fat source. Though it is much higher in fats. Flaxseed is a superb non-animal source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Flaxseed is incredibly healthy and is a rich source of phytonutrients, it may also offer anti-cancer properties . It is also a good source of fibre and may help to reduce bad cholesterol and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Brown Rice Protein
As mentioned earlier, brown rice protein is used to combine with pea protein and offer you a complete amino acid profile. It also has many of its own benefits. It is easily digestible, contains a high number of BCAAs, and also has a very subtle taste, making it easier to add to meal replacements without affecting the flavour.
MCT Oil Powder
There are many benefits to using MCTs as your main fat source, they contain 10% fewer calories than regular fats , are easily absorbed and provide instant energy. They can help with cognition, and exercise performance, and may also be effective at contributing to a weight loss diet.
Huel also contains sunflower oil as a source of fats, kombucha powder, acerola cherries, and sucralose, plus many other minor ingredients. The kombucha powder is a natural source of vitamin B, while the cherries are included as a source of vitamin C.
While Huel contains a number of interesting and healthy ingredients, Soylent is relatively sparse. It gets its protein from soy protein isolate, its fats come from canola oil, and its carbohydrates come from maltodextrin and modified food starch.
If you are currently wondering whether these ingredients are added for their nutritional benefit or their cost-effectiveness then you can wonder no longer. They’re cheap. Let’s take a closer look.
Soy Protein Isolate
The best ingredient in Soylent is the soy protein isolate. Sure, there are a lot of people who discuss the negative effect of overconsumption of soy on hormone production , but the evidence for this is weak at best.
Soy is an inexpensive protein source and compares favourably with whey protein, pea protein, and brown rice protein. It is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all essential amino acids. It may also help to reduce bad cholesterol, reduce the risk of certain cancers, and provide the numerous benefits associated with a high protein diet.
Often known as vegetable oil, canola oil is a highly refined fat that is high in omega 6 fatty acids. This is not great, as our diets are naturally high in omega 6 and this can cause a bad ratio of omega 3 to 6 leading to inflammation . It is debated as to whether canola oil provides more health benefits than drawbacks, and we’re struggling to see why Soylent would include it other than for financial reasons.
Maltodextrin is a fast-acting carbohydrate that is often used to enhance athletic performance. It is not suitable for a meal replacement though, as it will leave you feeling hungry remarkably quickly. That’s why Huel uses oats, as they are slowly absorbed. Maltodextrin is very sweet and can make foods taste nice, which is probably why Soylent uses it.
Soluble Corn Fibre
Made from corn starch, soluble corn fibre is used as a low-priced form of fibre, helping you to feel full after a meal. Soluble corn fibre is often found in highly-processed foods, and it is associated with bloating and digestive issues. It comes from genetically modified crops.
Modified Food Starch
Modified food starch is used as a thickening agent, stabilizer, and emulsifier. It comes from starch derivatives that have either been physically, enzymatically or chemically modified (but not genetically).
- Natural ingredients
- High in protein
- Many flavours available
- Good source of healthy fats
- Vegan friendly
- Available globally
- No GM ingredients
- Uses artificial sweeteners
- Low in fibre
- Some flavours are bad
- Poor consistency when mixed
- Low price
- 28 vitamins and minerals
- Uses GM ingredients
- Only available in US & Canada
- Only two flavours
- Low in protein
- Low fibre
- High in sugar
- High in omega 6 fatty acids
Huel vs Soylent: Who Wins?
With the best will in the world, this is not a difficult decision. We actually believe that Soylent Green’s human formula would be an improvement on today’s Soylent product! But it’s still worth comparing the two, as there are some areas that Soylent does well.
Huel offers ten different flavours, whereas Soylent only offers two. This means that Huel’s flavours have a wider range of quality. The best Huel flavours (banana, vanilla, salted caramel) outperform Soylent’s best flavour (cacao), but its worst flavour (chocolate) is worse than both of Soylent’s. That being said, overall, Huel wipes the floor with Soylent when it comes to taste.
Huel is available in most countries around the world, and it is easy to get hold of in Europe and North America. Soylent is only available in the US & Canada, and it can often be hard to find in Canada.
Huel works out at $2.21 per meal whereas Soylent works out at $1.91 per meal. On the surface, this makes it an easy win for Soylent. However, when you consider the ingredients used, and Huel’s preference for real foods over genetically modified and heavily refined foods, you are actually getting better value for money from Huel. Still, if you are on a budget, and all that matters is the price per serving the clear winner is Soylent.
Huel wins this hands down. It uses healthier, better ingredients. Has a better macronutrient ratio (protein, fats, carbs), and due to its use of real foods, it offers more phytonutrients. If you are focused on improving your health via meal replacements, then Huel is the clear winner.
The Winner: Huel
This was not a difficult decision. All that Soylent really has going for it is a clever name and a low price per serving. It cuts corners wherever possible, and as a business, it really has dropped the ball. It had a two-year head start on Huel, and yet it missed every opportunity to lead the way.
Are There Alternatives?
Huel is a great meal replacement shake, but it is by no means the best. There are at least three other meal replacement shakes that you could try instead. Each one offers something unique, and all three are much better than Soylent!
New kid on the block Rootana is a meal replacement shake with a difference. Unlike all other meal replacements on the market, Rootana does not use artificial sweeteners. Not even stevia! Rootana’s sweetness comes from natural coconut sugars, which are high in nutrients and completely natural. Think of Rootana as the polar opposite of Soylent and its genetically modified ingredients.
As you would expect, Rootana uses all-natural ingredients throughout, relying on good quality plant-based protein, oat flour, milled flaxseed, and sunflower seed oil to deliver its nutrients. It currently offers three flavours: original, vanilla, and cacao.
Instant Knockout Complete 9.5/10
Instant Knockout Complete is the ideal meal replacement shake if safe and effective weight loss is your goal. It contains large quantities of plant-based protein and fibre, alongside low GI carbohydrates and healthy fats.
It is designed to combine perfectly with Instant Knockout’s fat burning supplement (Cut). Providing you with a high-protein, medium-calorie meal that can keep you feeling full while in a deficit. It is perfect for fat loss, and highly nutritious.
The final product on our list of Huel alternatives is Abnormal. A new meal replacement shake from some of the folks at The Protein Works. The idea is that everyone is different, so their meal replacement shake composition should reflect that.
Instead of everyone being offered the exact same ingredients, new customers are asked to fill out a questionnaire. What ingredients you get will depend on your answers. It’s a clever idea, but the choice is a little limited. Still, it’s a fun idea, and something a little different. It also offers a non-vegan version which is great if you fancy some whey protein.
Final Thoughts on Huel vs Soylent
Soylent is not a good meal replacement shake, making the Huel vs Soylent debate null and void. Soylent has cut corners with their ingredients list, has no real variety in their products, and their only positive is that they are lower priced than their competitors. But due to the poor quality, the customer is still getting ripped off.
Huel is a much better product and absolutely wins this comparison. But it receives much stiffer competition elsewhere, and many people who are looking for a high-quality meal replacement may want to consider Rootana, Instant Knockout Complete, or possibly Abnormal instead. Check out our top 5 meal replacement shakes article to find out which is our all-time favourite.