Hype about drinkable meals: three products in the test – Knowledge

Nutritionist Franziska Delgas (left) and author Anna-Sophie Kächele (right) test three drinking meals. Photo: Lichtgut/Leif Piechowski

Meals from the bottle are currently experiencing a hype: they should not only fill you up like a healthy lunch, but also provide a lot of nutrients. But do the drinks live up to their promise? We tested three products from leading manufacturers.

A ready-to-serve meal in a bottle with a complete nutritional profile that keeps you full and tastes great. This is the customer promise from the liquid food manufacturers. But will the word be kept? We tested the products from the three manufacturers YFood, Huel and Saturo – not only in relation to taste and digestibility, but also in relation to the ingredients. Nutritionist Franziska Delgas from the University of Hohenheim and nutritionist Sabine Holzäpfel from the Consumer Advice Center in Baden-Württemberg were consulted. This is what the results show:

Lots of vitamins and minerals – does the body need them?

What is striking when looking at the nutrition facts table is the long list of ingredients. “It speaks against a natural food in the classical sense,” says Delgas. Huel advertises the easily absorbable vitamin and mineral mixture. Delgas doubts that this is true and that you really need all the additives. Because drinking saves time, but also significantly shortens digestion time. Chewing and mixing with saliva is no longer necessary. “The gas time, the time it takes for the food to pass through the digestive tract, is much shorter than with a solid meal. This means that you give the body much less time to absorb and filter out the nutrients.” If there are too many, you excrete all the unused vitamins and minerals.

Lots of protein, few carbohydrates – how healthy is the ratio?

The YFood product stands out in particular with its protein content of 26.5 grams per bottle. For comparison: The reference amount for adults is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. For an average body weight of 62 kilos, it is approximately 49.6 g. “If you assume that you replace only one meal with it, you have already covered more than half of your daily protein needs. That’s a lot,” says Delgas. Sabine Holzäpfel is also critical of the protein content of drinking meals: “With our usual diet in Germany, we can absorb enough protein, usually even more than recommended.” On the other hand, carbohydrates were saved: according to recommendations for a balanced diet, carbohydrates must make up 50 percent of the energy intake. YFood contains significantly fewer carbohydrates compared to protein.

Tastes sweet but has no sugar – can it be true?

“No added sugar” means that the YFood drink meal is not further enriched with sugar, but the ingredients contain natural sugar. As a starting point, the sugar content in all three products is reasonable.

How do the products taste?

All three products with the flavors vanilla and berry taste very artificial. This taste also lingers in the mouth for a long time. This is especially the case with Huel products. The sweetness and the viscous consistency stand out here, which tastes like soaked oatmeal when you drink. Of all three products, Saturo tastes less intense, the consistency is more like that of milk. Visually, the drinking meals are not very appealing: all are yellow to brownish.

Does a drinking meal fill you up?

According to the manufacturer Saturo, the drinking meals should fill you up for about five hours. Therefore, the products are enriched with oat and maize fibres. In the test it works well. The feeling of hunger stays away for several hours. Delgas, a nutritionist, warns that those who otherwise eat a fairly low-fiber diet should be careful if they consume it regularly: The plant fiber can sometimes upset the stomach and trigger digestive problems.

Do the drinks help you lose weight?

According to the manufacturer, YFood is not intended for weight loss. Saturo and Huel, on the other hand, point to the benefits of their products for consumers who want to gain or lose weight on their websites. The drink meals are “an excellent solution for calculating caloric intake accurately without risking a nutrient deficiency,” it says. Nutritionist Holzäpfel agrees: With the drink meal you consume a clearly defined amount of calories. “The products are suitable for getting started, so you can get a clear idea of ​​what your diet will be like and gradually transition to it.” Anyone who actually stays full for several hours from a drink has consumed a reasonable amount of energy with the 500 milliliters, says Delgas. Anyone who stays hungry afterward and eats more can expect to gain weight.

How organic are drinking meals?

According to the manufacturer, the YFood packaging consists of 30 to 50 percent recycled plastic, at Huel it is 51 percent. The Saturo packaging is made from tetrapacks, the coating and the screw cap are plant-based. Nevertheless: They produce a lot of waste for the yellow bag.

What do the experts advise?

Drinking meals can sometimes be an alternative to a canteen meal. However, they are not suitable to replace meals in the long term. “On the one hand, eating has a social component,” says Holzäpfel. But the eating process is also physically important: “Chewing food affects satiety.” This is completely absent with drinking food. “In addition, many additives and flavorings are often included,” says the nutrition expert. On top of that, the products are quite expensive: depending on the manufacturer, a 500-milliliter bottle costs between 3.60 and 4.60 euros. For the price, the nutrients can be obtained cheaper from other foods.

test results

Taste: 2/5, saturation: 5/5, available online and in Rewe, Edeka and Kaufland, among others.

Taste: 1/5, Satiety: 5/5, Available online and in store.

Taste: 2.5/5, saturation: 4/5, available online and in Aldi Süd and Rewe.

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