A Lean Life is a reader-supported site. Any purchases made through links might earn a commission at no cost to you.

The Best Huel Alternatives [Updated 2023]


Meal Shakes Reviewed


Hours of Research


Reviews Examined


Experts Interviewed

David | A Lean Life

Published by David Williams

As an engineer, David loves technical product comparison and analyzing the data to assess top products.

Table of Contents

You can’t discuss meal replacement shakes without Huel entering the conversation, and it’s certainly worthy of its popularity. That being said it’s definitely not the only option and we decided to bring to light what are our favourite Huel alternatives available today.

See there’s actually a bit of an overwhelming amount of choice once you really dig into meal replacement shakes, and they all have different goals in mind. Some of them are designed specifically as a tool to help people to lose weight, serving directly as lower calorie delicious meal replacements designed with healthy weight loss in mind, ensuring we get all the essential vitamins and essential nutrients that we need that would traditionally be provided through a healthy diet.

What we’ve done here today is test a variety of the meal replacement shakes that are currently available and sorted through what we believe is the best huel alternative. Whether you’re focused on the finances and are looking for the cheapest huel alternative, or you’re looking for a convenient meal replacement shake that fits into your hectic and busy lifestyle, or if you go the the gym and are looking for extra ways to pump in extra calories and protein during a bulk period, there’s going to be a meal replacement shake designed specifically for you.

We have listed these in order but in all honesty everything we’ve listed in here deserves the top spot depending on your perspective, and we’ve simply placed what we believe is the best overall in the top spot whilst continuing to shine a light on those more specifically designed meal replacement shakes.

Without any further adieu are top picks for huel alternatives are:

  1. Rootana
  2. Instant Knockout
  3. PhenQ


Of course we haven’t made our choices arbitrarily, and we deliberated carefully to figure out which huel alternatives would be worthwhile meal replacement shakes to consider, such as:


Price is always a determinate factor in any sort of consumer purchases and of course meal replacement powder isn’t immune to this. If we considered an alternative to huel and found it ticked all of our boxes but was well over the average pricing of similarly brilliant meal replacements then it would definitely influence our ranking.


This is one that is definitely more important to some than others, as we all know some more hard-core gym bro’s that seem content in shovelling whey protein powder directly into their mouths dry. While that may be an exaggeration it’s certainly the case that there are people that are absolutely willing to drink their meal replacement shake without any particular care for its flavour, whilst the majority of us would prefer a drink we can enjoy.

Some of the more subtly flavoured options work really well as a base for a fruit smoothie or even as a milkshake in some cases whereas others have a strong and delicious taste. We’ve taken this into account to ensure that the huel alternatives on our list can cater to either of the camps.


The whole idea of meal replacement is that we get the value of a nutritious meal without the hassle of cooking and preparing one. With that in mind nutritional content was one of the largest considerations we made whilst compiling this list of huel alternatives.

In fact thanks to poor practices in the early days of the meal replacement shake, there’s a stigma that they don’t provide you with optimal nutrition and therefore cannot serve as healthy meal replacements. This is no longer the case, and the days of high sugar milkshakes being sold as meal replacements are long gone.

A good meal replacement shake can help promote healthy living and/or be integrated easily into a healthy lifestyle without having to sacrifice essential nutrients. Nowadays you can get even find meal replacement shakes that carry essential amino acids and essential fats!

Brand Reputation

Finally, but certainly not least is brand reputation. It might seem a bit vague but essentially what we’re discussing here is whether or not the brand operates in a respectable way with regards to it’s marketing, it’s product offering and most importantly, it’s customer service. If we find a brand has engaged in anti-consumer practices in the past then this is absolutely affect our opinion of them and would bump them much lower down on the list.

We would also consider things such as artificial sweeteners, preservatives or colorings, GMO additives etc.

Meal Replacement Powder Vegetarian - Rootana


Ingredient Quality




Overall Score

Instant Knockout Complete - The Best Huel Alternatives

Instant Knockout

Ingredient Quality




Overall Score

PhenQ Meal Shake


Ingredient Quality




Overall Score


1. Rootana - The Best Complete Meal Replacement Shake Alternative To Huel

Meal Replacement Powder Vegetarian - RootanaJumping onto the scene as recently as 2022, Rootana has been turning heads and garnered a fantastic reputation as one of the best meal replacement shakes available.

Rootana was developed over a 2 year period by nutritionists and food scientists with the specific intent of avoiding unnatural ingredients such as artificial sweeteners and refined carbohydrates.

This clever design ethos has led to Rootana being arguably the easiest to digest meal replacement shake on the market, as it is made from real-food ingredients and free from stevia and sucralose whilst still containing a scientifically balanced macronutrient split that is high in plant protein, complex carbs and healthy fats, providing a full and healthy meal.

The caloric content of Rootana is higher than a lot of the others on this list which, as much as it may put some people off, we see as an absolute win as we typically find ourselves craving snacks when relying on these meal replacement shakes in the morning or afternoon. This higher caloric content helps Rootana to serve as a genuine meal replacement that will satiate your hunger and leave you feeling more satisfied and for a longer period.

Let’s take about the nutritional profile of Rootana, which is quite possibly the most impressive thing about it and certainly played a big role in why we’ve placed it in the top spot for huel alternatives.

See many of the meal replacement shakes that are in direct competition with Rootana, they make statements and claim that they provide a complete meal but this is typically just a marketing buzz word (or phrase?) designed to have you associate it positively as a meal replacement. While things have certainly been improving with time, there is no meal replacement shake that can state they provide a complete meal with as much confidence and conviction as Rootana.

In a typical serving, Rootana provides an impressive and all encompassing nutritional profile with 44g Carbohydrates, 9g Fibre, 21g plant based protein blend, and 16g of healthy fats. Let’s talk about this in more detail.

Complex Carbohydrates

You’ve probably read a lot of nutritional and dietary advice that has told you that too many carbs in the diet is contributing to weight gain, and that’s definitely true. It’s important to recognise though that the body’s preferred fuel source, so it’s important to make sure that you’re not only getting enough, but that you’re getting the right kind of carbs.

Refined carbs such as supermarket white sandwich breads are high in sugar and provide a large amount of energy very quickly, which causes the body to start to store a lot of that energy away as fat. What you need then, are those slow release carbs.

The main difference in slow release carbs is the fibre content of the source, and this is why Rootana sources the majority of it’s carbohydrate content directly form oats, which are well known for their low GI score and slow energy release, helping to ensure you’ll have sustained energy levels throughout your day.

Healthy Fats

Thanks in large part to propaganda from the sugar industry, we were taught indisputably that fat in your diet is what contributed the most to weight gain and poor health, and though there are definitely unhealthy fats on the market shelves this association was very over-stated, leading people to attempt to completely remove fat from their diet entirely. Luckily the world has moved on since then, and we now understand that refined sugars are more directly contributing to obesity in the US.

This has opened up the conversation about dietary fats quite a lot, and though the media isn’t overly concerned with the countries health, healthy fats are slowly becoming a more and more common talking point among the good people of the USA.

To live a truly healthy lifestyle we need to incorporate essential fats into our diets, and luckily Rootana has us covered here. If we don’t consume enough fats it can lead to poor mood management, hormonal fluctuations, and even increased appetite.

The fats used in Rootana are full of vital nutrients such as omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9.

Vegan Protein

One of the hardest things about eating a vegan friendly diet is getting enough protein, as often the largest contributor is the meat and animal products such as milk and eggs that we include in our diets.

Now it’s common knowledge that building lean muscle mass is something that simply requires a high amount of protein, as it’s a crucial component our bodies use to build muscles. This is why protein shakes are so popular amongst gym goers, but a lesser known fact is that the source of protein actually matters.

Those of us who aren’t vegetarian will likely opt for whey protein concentrate, which is derived from dairy. This is helpful as it provides us with a high amount of essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. In fact as more research is being done we’ve started to understand that it’s the amino acids that are actually the key to building muscle, and when we’re deficient in an essential amino acid the rest of them won’t function as well.

Its good news then that thanks to the high quality yellow pea protein Rootana uses provides a complete amino acid profile, allowing Rootana the rare boast of being both vegan friendly and gym friendly respectively.


We all know fibre plays a major part in digestive health, and as such it’s important we ensure we get enough. Rootana knows this too, and thanks to it’s use of high-grade oats there is a lot of fibre to be had here.

Fibre is known to help regulate body weight, and is crucial for a healthy gut and immune system. The reason for this is simple satiation, which is a fancy way of saying you feel full and satisfied after a meal. This means that the higher the fibre content of your meal, the less likely you are to crave snacks in between meals.

Another great thing about fibre is in how it slows down our rate of digestion which, as well as helping to prevent digestive problems, ensures we absorb as much nutrients from our meals as possible.

Customer Experience To This Meal Replacement Alternative To Huel

There’s no harsher critic than the public at large, and that’s why it’s so important to look into public reception when reviewing any product. It’s important to know that the product is effective and there’s no better testing ground than the paying customers. This is of course no different for our huel alternatives.

Overall the customer response has been very positive for Rootana, with many people really enjoying it’s subtle but tasty flavor options. It’s mentioned in almost every review how Rootana tastes the most authentic out of anything people have tried before, which is a great testament to Rootana’s approach to their flavouring ingredients.

Many people have reported Rootana to be a great meal replacement shake for its ability to help people to lose weight, with many people reporting reduced snacking and better appetite control. These people have been recommending people give it a go as a great tasting weight loss tool.

In summary, people have been very supportive of Rootana and it seems to have hit the nail on the head as a new competitor in the meal replacement business. We’re all very excited for the future of the brand, so jump on board early to make sure you don’t miss out on this amazing product.

Highlighted Features

  • 400 Calories
  • 14g Fat, 2g being saturated fat
  • 44g carbohydrates
  • 12g Sugars
  • 8g Fiber
  • 20g Protein
  • 440mg Sodium



2. Instant Knockout Complete- The Best Huel Black Alternative Meal Replacement Shakes

Best Vegan Meal Replacement Shake - Instant Knockout CompleteHere we have another plant based meal replacement shake designed to help you lose weight whilst maintaining a healthy vegan diet. Thanks to it’s impressive protein it could be written off as a fancy protein shake, but this meal replacement shake was designed specifically for MMA fighters and is providing a well balanced meal that can help anyone to look leaner.

That’s what’s so impressive about this one, the way it can help you to simultaneously lose weight and build lean muscle mass. If you go to the gym, this could very well be the only meal replacement shake you’ll ever need.

Instant Knock-out Complete is aptly named, as it’s carefully designed to provide your body with everything it needs and as such can provide a more complete meal replacement.

It’s also very quick, taking around 30 seconds to “make and shake”, giving you the ultimate convenient meal replacement experience, whilst also providing peace of mind knowing all the essential nutrients and essential vitamins and minerals are being catered for.

Thanks to the 5-year research project that culminated in the creation of Instant Knockout Complete, everything was considered to best help you on your weight loss journey without sacrificing muscle you’ve worked so hard to achieve. In fact they worked very closely with professional fighters and coaches and they demanded this be a major part of this meal replacement shake.

The main draw back we can really mention for Instant Knockout is that they so far only offer vanilla as a flavor. Now don’t misunderstand us, this is a delicious meal replacement shake that can help you lose weight but some people might prefer a meal shake with more options for flavour instead of just optimal nutrition.

Now let’s take a look at the macro-nutrient profile of Instant Knockout Complete.

Plant Based Protein

Being the main building blocks for muscle growth, muscle repairs and also providing the body with energy, it’s absolutely vital that we get enough protein in our diets to function effectively.

The main sources of protein in Instant Knockout Complete are pea protein and soy protein isolate, providing a whopping 35g of protein.

Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT)

B vitamins such as B6 are used by our bodies to regulate energy and process energy from the food and turn it into fuel for us to use, helping to provide you with the tools necessary to keep your weight management plan on track.

There are also many useful dietary fats that are MCTs, containing a plethora of potential health benefits such as providing a temporary but substantial increase to your metabolic rate, meaning you burn fat faster.

Chia Seeds

This here is the surprising reason Instant Knockout Complete is so nutrient dense. See Chia seeds a full of goodness and yet carry a surprisingly low amount of calories, and this is why they’ve cleverly used them in the formula in older to bolster the impressive macro-nutrient profile whilst leaving space for more useful calories from slow release carbohydrates.

Chia seeds are responsible for a large amount of the fibre and healthy fats such as Omega 3. It also helps top up the protein, as well as providing some calcium and other nutrients. (1)

Organic Brown Rice Powder

Rounding off Instant Knockout Complete’s protein profile is a healthy and vegan source, ensuring you get a great and diverse mix of protein sources to better help with building muscle and recovery after strenuous exercise.

Organic brown rice protein is an all-natural source of three important amino acids Valine, Leucine and isoleucine, helping to supply muscle tissue with energy to boost your workouts and exercise. This is impressive for a vegan formula, which can often lack in this area and helps push Instant Knockout Complete from just another meal replacement shake to a viable alternative to huel powder. (2)

Customer Experience For This Alternative To Huel

We took a look at various customer reviews for Instant Knockout Complete and it seems to have accomplished it’s goals spectacularly, with many claiming to be overall fitter and healthier once the switched over to our favourite alternative to huel black.

There were actually many people championing the single flavour, with some arguing the simplicity took the burden of choice from the purchase and others saying they found it easier to mix with fruits thanks to the vanilla flavour base. It should be stated however that there were many that mentioned this to be the products one downfall.

Recommendations seemed to be coming in left and right from athletes and martial artists all stating that Instant Knockout Complete helped them reached their goals both in strength and in weight loss, ensuring not only that they get to compete but that they win in their fields.

It seems undeniable then that for those of us with more active lifestyles who are equally interested in gaining muscle and weight loss, Instant Knockout Complete is definitely worth a spot in your pantry.

Highlighted Features

  • 400 calories
  • 13g Total Fat (10g saturated)
  • 0mg Cholesterol
  • 690mg Sodium
  • 35 Carbohydrates
  • 13g Dietary Fibre
  • 3g Total sugar (0 added sugars)
  • 35g Protein
  • 1.1g Salt



3. PhenQ Meal Shake - Runner Up Best Huel Alternative

PhenQ Complete Meal Shake - The Best Huel AlternativesFinally a meal replacement powder we think deserves your attention is PhenQ’s amazing meal shake.

PhenQ have been a highly consistent brand with a well earned, decade long reputation of being trustworthy thanks to their high quality and scientifically backed weight loss products, known largely for their extensive research approach to product development.

Their meal replacement is no exception for this, and is definitely one of our all time favourite huel alternatives out there. It’s unique blend of ingredients are designed to provide everything you need for a balanced meal without sacrificing flavour, as well as containing ingredients that can boost your metabolism.

There are three delicious options to choose from such as Chocolate Brownie, Vanilla Ice Cream and our personal favourite, Strawberries and Cream. Somehow despite being one of the most nutrient dense meal replacement shakes, PhenQ have managed to avoid the chalky and powery taste/texture often associated with these products.

The formula PhenQ has developed is entirely unique, providing a full meal just as PhenQ has stated, as well as help to control caloric intake and food cravings.

Just like the previous two additions PhenQ’s meal shakes will provide you with an extensive list of 24 different vitamins and minerals and beyond just that we’ve got 13g healthy fat, all working in tandem to enhance your metabolic rate, helping you to burn off extra calories.

Now there are some shared ingredients included here that we’ve spoke about already, such as Oat Flour providing complex carbohydrates, fuelling the body with slow-release energy and Flaxseed Powder providing healthy fats such as omega-3. We think it’s best then to focus on what makes PhenQ meal shakes unique.


Derived from premium pea starch, Carb10 effectively eliminates the digestive discomfort caused by many carb formulas and as such is widely considered a major advancement in healthy, low-glycemic carbohydrates.

It serves as a prebiotic, helping to maintain proper gut health and even helps our bodies to absorb those complex carbohydrates, preventing blood sugar spikes that can be associated with them.

Whey Protein Concentrate

We mentioned previously how it’s becoming more and more widely understood that it’s not entirely the amount of protein that helps muscle grow (though it’s definitely important you get enough!), but instead the amino acids within said protein. To put it simply, there are low quality proteins that are low in many amino acids, such as the protein found in soy, and high quality proteins that are high in the majority of amino acids, such as those found in beef.

That’s why PhenQ decided to include Whey Protein Concentrate, as it is derived from dairy products and as such has a rich amino acid profile to help build leane muscle, support weight loss efforts, improve satiety, and boost muscle recovery.

Digezyme Enzyme Complex

Digestive enzymes and an interestingly important part of our diets that we bet most of you have actually never really considered before. What PhenQ have done here is a move of genius in our eyes, as they’ve opted to include this formula of five digestive enzymes, including: Alpha-Amylase, Protease, Lipase, Cellulase, and Lactase.

Let’s take a brief look at each to get a glimpse into why PhenQ opted to include them:


This enzyme helps our bodies to breakdown and digest starch more easily. In the human body, we produce alpha-amylase in our saliva and that’s the reason why if you hold bread in your mouth for long enough, it turns sweet, as the alpha-amylase breaks down the starch in the bread into its sugary components. (3)


How protease works is it asks as a catalyst for the breaking down of proteins into their component parts, allowing our bodies to better make use of the amino acids for muscle growth and repair. Broadly speaking it’s inclusion in this meal replacement shake will help our bodies more effectively use the amino-rich proteins that are present.


You may have heard of the lipid metabolism and be thinking Lipase is ringing a bell, and you wouldn’t be wrong. Lipase is responsible for breaking down fats in foods so that it may be absorbed in the intestines. In the human body we produce Lipase in the mouth, pancreas and stomach.


Interestingly the human body does not produce cellulase, and is therefore unable to effectively digest cellulose which can lead to various digestive disorders that result in digestive discomfort such as bloating, pain and intestinal gas. It’s introduction to the human diet however has been found to help control blood sugar levels, control balanced cholesterol levels and even supports lowering cholesterol.


Sometimes in life we come across things that are just so obvious and yupp, you guessed it, Lactase is the enzyme responsible for the digestion of the milk sugar that we all know someone is intolerant of: lactose. (4)

They’ve cleverly decided to include it here to help people to digest the whey protein that is included in their meal shake, as it has been found that taking a lactase supplement before having food or drink containing lactose may reduce or prevent symptoms of lactose intolerance.

We’d like to make it clear that we’re not saying this means PhenQ’s meal replacement shake will be safe for lactose intolerant sufferers, but if you’re not seriously affected and just notice some mild bloating then it might help to offset that.

Highlighted Features

  • 269 Calories
  • 16g Fats
  • 4.98g Carbohydrates
  • 2.4g Sugar
  • 16g Protein
  • 0.8g Salt




There we have it folks, not to take away from the achievements of Huel but there’s some hefty competition now and we just wanted to bring the best Huel alternatives to the forefront and shine a bit of a spotlight on them.

Don’t forget what we mentioned about how to carefully check what meal replacement shake will be for you in our criteria section.

Rootana of course takes our top spot thanks to it’s incredible formula for getting a lean muscular build and great, real food taste.

We can’t forget Instant Knockout Complete’s refusal to compromise in it’s commitment to weight loss whilst retaining muscle and PhenQ’s incredibly potent, great tasting meal replacement formula.

All three are worth your attention and we urge you to check them out but please bare in mind none of what we suggest is in no way medical advice, and we suggest you speak to your doctor before taking any product.

Click to return to Best Meal Replacement Shakes.

David Williams

David Williams

A diet and fitness enthusiast, David is an ex-Army Airborne Ranger and Infantry soldier with decades of fitness and wellness experience. A West Point graduate with a degree in engineering, he focuses on technical research related to fitness, nutrition, and wellness. He loves the beach, and spending time with his wife and daughters.


  1. Gunnars, K. (2022, April 12). 7 health benefits of Chia Seeds. Healthline.
  2. Kalman, D. S. (2014, June 30). Amino acid composition of an organic brown rice protein concentrate and isolate compared to soy and whey concentrates and isolates. Foods (Basel, Switzerland). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5302255/
  3. Alpha-amylase. Alpha-Amylase – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. (n.d.).
  4. WebMD. (n.d.). Lactase enzyme oral: Uses, side effects, interactions, pictures, warnings & dosing. WebMD.