Time can be your biggest enemy when you’re trying to eat healthily. Soylent and Huel are two of the most popular meal replacement companies around, offering tasty, practical solutions for people who might be too busy to prepare healthy meals on a consistent basis. They're also great ways to supplement your protein intake, especially if you're a vegan or vegetarian.1
But with so many similarities between Soylent and Huel, which one should you choose? We've tested each company’s products extensively, and we'll pit them against one another here in several critical categories. Your choice may ultimately come down to personal preference, particularly if you decide to try both for yourself and come to your own conclusions. But our breakdown of taste, texture, nutrition, and more might help you decide where to start.
When all the dust settles, Huel emerges victorious. It’s our recommendation for most (but not all) people. There are certainly significant differences between the two companies, and some of Soylent's characteristics will certainly sway certain readers in its direction. While it falls behind Soylent in taste, Huel’s use of pea protein over soy, the variety of its offerings, and its products’ total nutritional profile give it the winning edge. If you're trying to decide which company you should try first, we think most people stand to see the best results from Huel.
Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions about staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles.
At Innerbody Research, we extensively test each health service or product we review, including meal replacements like Huel and Soylent. Our testing team has spent more than 100 hours sampling and comparing the companies’ various products, and we’ve reviewed more than 50 scientific journal articles regarding meal supplementation and macronutrient nutrition.
We strive to apply the results of our testing process with nuance, considering the various needs and perspectives of potential readers. Additionally, like all health-related content on this website, this review was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.
Comparing Huel and Soylent can get complicated considering the breadth of each company’s offering. Here’s a quick look at how they compare in critical categories:
Our evaluation criteria are designed for each new product, service, or practice that our testing team tries. We establish these criteria to give you the most information we can in a succinct and useful manner. Most important to us in evaluating meal replacements are their taste and texture. After all, if these foods aren’t at least somewhat enjoyable to consume, you likely won’t stick with them for very long. Nutrition is a close second in its influence over our decision-making, and we base this determination on the ingredients present and on the deep research we’ve done in the nutritional space.
In the cost department, the two companies are quite similar, but there are some nuances to their differences that make this an important criterion. And finally, we take customer service and convenience into account, which may not be the driving force sending you to one company over another, but that might tip the scales in a close call.
Let’s take a closer look at the criteria we used to evaluate Huel and Soylent.
Evaluating the taste of each company's products required our testing team to consume a lot of Soylent and Huel. Our original intention was to concentrate on flavor alone, but the actual mouthfeel and subsequent sense of fullness were noticeably different between the two companies. That led us to include texture in our findings, as Huel's high fiber content and specific oil choices result in a thicker drink.
That thickness was Huel’s undoing here, as its flavors weren’t necessarily inferior to Soylent’s, at least not unanimously among our testers. But downing a whole bottle of either was much easier with Soylent options, and its use of allulose as a sweetener gave it a cleaner sweetness.
Some product categories defied taste and texture comparisons, as Huel’s lineup includes products you can’t get from Soylent, such as its dehydrated savory meal options. We evaluated these on their own merits and found them to be quite flavorful, though successful rehydration varied from batch to batch.
For most people, the nutrition any meal replacement can provide is paramount. To compare Huel and Soylent's nutrition profiles, we broke down each company's ingredients and studied all of the available scientific literature that examines recommended dose efficacy, side effects, and more. We also considered things like calorie content and macronutrient balance in making our decision.2
Honestly, neither company’s ingredient lists are without sin. Both include inorganic canola oil and sucralose in several flavors, the latter of which has seen frightening results in animal studies.5 But given its status as a common allergen, the soy central to Soylent’s products was a finger on the scales in Huel’s favor. Huel’s drinks also had less fat than Soylent’s which resulted in a better nutrient balance, and their vitamin content was generally superior.
In evaluating the cost of Soylent and Huel meal replacement products, we broke prices down to the meal for as exact a comparison as possible. We also took into account potential shipping charges and savings available through bundling or subscription platforms. We were glad to see that both companies offered a discount program for certain professions, but the programs aren’t quite created equally.
Since we first looked into these two companies, Soylent’s prices have risen faster and by larger increments than Huel's, bringing the cost of some of their products closer together. But Soylent is still the less expensive option in almost every category, with only the most basic powdered meal replacements from Huel costing less than those from Soylent unless you buy from Soylent in a higher quantity.
Customer service and convenience encompass everything from the design of a website to the responsiveness and knowledge base of representatives our team reached by phone, chat, and email. Shipping logistics also fall into this category, as does the actual convenience of consuming, mixing, and transporting each company's various products.
This was a close call, but we gave it to Huel thanks to a more convenient live chat feature than Soylent’s limited customer support bot, which ultimately sends questions of any complexity to the care team via an email-based support ticket. That’s far less straightforward.
Photo by Innerbody Research
Soylent and Huel are nutrition companies with a focus on meal replacements. They each offer meal replacement drinks that come ready to consume in plastic bottles and powdered mixes you can use to make the drinks yourself.
People turn to Soylent and Huel when they find their lives have gotten too busy to allow for proper, consistent nutrition. Grabbing a bottle and chugging its contents is a lot easier — and often less expensive — than cooking a meal. And both companies provide nutrition that makes fast food alternatives seem ill-advised.
Both companies also offer nutritious snack bars, but Huel's offerings expand more than Soylent's from that point, veering into savory food territories that we'll explore below. There are other competitors in this space, but Soylent and Huel are the heaviest hitters, so we’ve seen fit to pit them against one another.
Taste and texture are ultimately subjective measures of quality for meal replacement products. Still, we found it necessary to grapple with them when pitting Soylent against Huel. And we had enough testers on hand to ensure a majority consensus for our opinion, which is a win for Soylent.
Below, we’ll break down taste and texture differences between Soylent and Huel’s ready-to-drink meal shakes.
Comparing a simple flavor like chocolate is, in our opinion, the purest way to determine which company makes a superior product. The execution of the chocolate flavor is straightforward enough, and there aren’t too many added flavors behind which the natural flavor of each drink’s other ingredients can hide.
Soylent’s chocolate flavor is a bit more pronounced than Huel’s, though the flavor of its protein source is a bit more prevalent than the pea protein in Huel. It’s not a bad taste, per se, but it persists at varying intensities in every Soylent flavor. Huel’s blend of oil and fiber helps round out the drink’s nutritional profile, but it starts to influence the taste negatively by the second or third sip. At that point, Soylent’s drink remains enjoyable, while Huel’s slowly becomes more difficult to finish.
Soylent also has an edge when we reach outside traditional flavors like chocolate and vanilla and begin experimenting. Its strawberry flavor was a top pick among our testers, reminding many of the strawberry YooHoo of their childhoods. It was also the flavor with the least of that soy protein taste to it, which renders some of Soylent’s flavors too similar to one another for us to think customers will regularly buy variety packs. It’s more likely that you’ll find a flavor or two that you like and stick with them.
Ultimately, this paints Soylent as an option with a slightly superior taste profile at almost every step of consumption.
Texture is a big issue with meal replacements. Some of our testers freely admit that they often don’t feel fulfilled by smoothies because there isn’t quite enough substance to them. But meal replacement drinks tend to be closer to milkshakes in texture, similarly thick to a good smoothie, but creamier and denser. There’s a subjective line here, however, and when a meal replacement crosses it, it becomes unpleasantly thick and heavy.
Soylent has less fiber than Huel. From a nutritional standpoint, this is actually something that works against Soylent. But it allows its drink to be thinner and more enjoyable than Huel's to consume. While Soylent is like a thin milkshake, Huel is more like a thick milkshake, which can feel like a chore to drink rather than a quick, convenient fill-up.
Huel’s oil content also has a more prominent mouthfeel than Soylent’s. It’s not like a film of oil you’d get if you swallowed a teaspoon of olive oil, but it’s in the way the drink washes over your tongue and along the inside of your mouth. Some people might not mind it, but more of our testers found it unpleasant than not.
Among its ready-to-drink meals, Soylent has one more flavor to offer than Huel. The inverse used to be true, but as Soylent has expanded its flavor profiles, Huel’s catalog has shrunk.
Here's a look at how their flavor lists compare, with flavors our testing team tried bolded for clarity:
Huel has some similarly straightforward flavors, but it also offers some more complex options.
Soylent’s subscription costs are a little inconsistent from one product category to the next, but you’ll typically be able to save between 10% and 23%. Huel provides 20% savings on any subscription, which makes it easier to figure out what you stand to save, but it doesn’t do enough to close the price gap between the companies. That’s because the 20% discount is coming off of much higher one-time purchase prices.
Both companies offer discount programs for people in certain jobs like military personnel and medical professionals. Huel is the only one that lets you pair those discount programs with savings from a subscription.
However, Huel's website has a minimum quantity purchase on many products. You have to buy two boxes of its snack bars or two bags of its drink mixes if you want to check out, for example. Fortunately, it lets you create custom bundles to circumvent these quantity requirements. But for anyone looking to try just a small amount of a single product, the up-front cost ends up being higher than it should be.
We've put together a simple chart to show you the best available prices per meal or bar from each company's subscription savings plans, excluding products not carried by both companies.
|Powdered meal replacements||$1.91||$2.21|
Both Soylent and Huel offer discount programs for specific individuals. Those lists differ slightly, as does how either company lets you apply them. With Soylent, you can only apply its discount program to one-time purchases, whereas Huel allows you to combine the discount program with the savings you get when you subscribe. That said, Huel's list of eligible people doesn’t include teachers.
Some Soylent products are also eligible for a “Prepaid Subscription,” which is simply a three-month supply you pay for quarterly. It offers generous savings, but you need that extra capital to make the investment.
|Active duty military|
From a nutrition standpoint, we found Huel to beat Soylent in nearly every way. Its products have a better macronutrient balance, a more comprehensive vitamin and mineral package, and a protein source that we strongly prefer over Soylent's. Let's take a look at each nutritional component to see why we choose Huel for nutrition.
Macronutrient balance is the ratio of carbs, fat, protein, and fiber in a given food. We found Soylent's main line of drinks to be a little too fatty compared to Huel's.
Each company's protein sources are as important to us as their products' protein content. Not only does Huel's most protein-rich product have more than Soylent's, but it uses pea protein rather than soy protein. That can make a big difference for anyone with soy allergies, and pea protein offers a much more comprehensive amino acid profile than soy.
Soylent advertises the presence of 28 vitamins and minerals, but we consistently found their drinks to list 25-26 instead. Huel includes all 27 of its vitamins and minerals in each product, and the quantities are either on par with or greater than those found in Soylent.
Between Huel and Soylent, Huel has far fewer allergens. It relies on peas and oats as its main ingredient sources, whereas Soylent — as the name suggests — relies heavily on soy. That said, all of Soylent's products are gluten-free, instead of just a few, as is the case with Huel.
If you're looking to meal replacements as an opportunity to supplement your protein intake, you'll find some outstanding options from either company. Comparing their primary ready-made drinks, we found Huel's flavors vary in protein content between 20 and 22g. Conversely, all of Soylent's main flavors contain 20g of protein.
We also appreciate Huel's use of pea protein over Soylent's reliance on soy.3 Soy isn't quite as bad as its most ardent naysayers suggest, but studies indicate an undeniable link between soy and estrogen.4 It's also true that there are more people with soy allergies than with pea allergies, making Huel more accessible to the greater population.
One advantage Soylent has over Huel in this category is that it offers a ready-made high-protein drink that contains 30g of protein. That makes accessing a high-protein meal replacement a little easier than with Huel. But Huel's Black Edition powder provides 40g of protein — 10g more than Soylent per serving. So, if you don’t mind mixing your own drink, Huel might be the way to go.
While Soylent has a convenient high-protein drink that's ready-made, as well as a pair of pre-mixed energy drinks, it was Huel's customer service and variety that won us over in the convenience department.
One of the biggest aspects of Huel's convenience that we found useful was its savory options. Several of our testers have encountered similar dried foods in the past that you combine with hot water to rehydrate. They're a staple among modern campers. A common theme among them is extremely high sodium, but Huel's Hot & Savory meals don't suffer from the same overabundance of salt. They still taste good, and the variety of options ensures that you'll most likely find one you enjoy.
Huel’s live customer support chat feature is also much more helpful than Soylent’s, with a well-designed chatbot that can answer many nuanced questions and humans available when the bot hits a wall. Soylent’s so-called live chat is little more than an FAQ index and an email form.
However, Huel's purchase minimums take a big bite out of its convenience. Its ready-made drinks and Daily Greens are the only products that don't require you to buy multiple cases, bags, or boxes to qualify for checkout. That said, Huel's bundling interface is excellent, and bundling both saves you money and nullifies the company's purchase minimums. There are prefabricated bundles, or you can build your own.
Both Huel and Soylent offer free shipping on orders that meet a maximum amount. For Soylent, that amount is $50 in the continental U.S. For Huel, it's $59. That's a small difference, but when you consider that Huel has purchasing minimums that get you close to or over $59 with relative ease, its threshold at least makes more sense.
Our testers found that both companies got their shipments out quickly, and we received our orders from them in about five business days.
While most of what both companies create is intended to go inside your body, both Soylent and Huel sell clothing and other items designed for use outside your body. Soylent's apparel falls under its "Merch" banner, a simple selection of T-shirts, a sweatshirt, and a hat, mostly in men's sizes. Soylent also sells a mixing bottle and a scoop for powdered meals.
Huel's approach to apparel is a little different. It's true that its goods are technically merch and that many of them exist to forward the brand image. But Huel goes further by making all its Huelwear clothing out of recycled materials. They're ethically made, animal-free, and guaranteed for five years. Huel is also establishing a system to let you recycle these items further when you no longer need them. And Huelwear offers a lot more than male-oriented basics, including:
Huel's accessory lineup is also a lot more extensive than Soylents, including:
Innerbody uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
Mariotti, F., & Gardner, C. D. (2019). Dietary Protein and Amino Acids in Vegetarian Diets—A Review. Nutrients, 11(11).
Venn, B. J. (2020). Macronutrients and Human Health for the 21st Century. Nutrients, 12(8).
Babault, N., Païzis, C., Deley, G., Guérin-Deremaux, L., Saniez, H., Lefranc-Millot, C., & Allaert, F. A. (2014). Pea proteins oral supplementation promotes muscle thickness gains during resistance training: A double-blind, randomized, Placebo-controlled clinical trial vs. Whey protein. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12.
Barrett, J. R. (2006). The Science of Soy: What Do We Really Know? Environmental Health Perspectives, 114(6), A352.
Soffritti, M., Padovani, M., Tibaldi, E., Falcioni, L., Manservisi, F., Lauriola, M., Bua, L., Manservigi, M., & Belpoggi, F. (2016). Sucralose administered in feed, beginning prenatally through lifespan, induces hematopoietic neoplasias in male swiss mice. International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, 22(1), 7-17.
Ye, W., Xu, L., Ye, Y., Zeng, F., Lu, X., Li, Y., & Liu, L. (2023). The efficacy and safety of meal replacement in patients with type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, dgad273. Advance online publication.
Guo, X., Xu, Y., He, H., Cai, H., Zhang, J., Li, Y., Yan, X., Zhang, M., Zhang, N., Maddela, R. L., Nicodemus-Johnson, J., & Ma, G. (2017). Effects of a Meal Replacement on Body Composition and Metabolic Parameters among Subjects with Overweight or Obesity. Journal of Obesity, 2018.