Can't eat enough Huel to gain weight :(

Hey guys. I’m sorry in advance for how long-winded this is. I’m kind of desperate for help or advice, and this community seems very responsive and supportive.

I’m a very small woman (5’1", 98lbs) that started taking Adderall two years ago. The Adderall destroyed my appetite, which in turn has destroyed my ability to eat properly. It takes me several hours to eat a big mac, for example. I was a healthy 105lbs for most of my life, then dropped to 89(!) after the first year on Adderall, and have now stabilized at 98.

No appetite->Not eating enough->Nutrient deficiency->No energy->Repeat
I can’t work out to fix my appetite because I don’t have the energy to work out. Fun catch 22.

Not eating enough for 2 years->Stomach can’t handle normal amounts of food anymore->Can’t eat enough to gain weight->Repeat

I bought Huel because I thought it would be a good way for me to get my daily calories and just force it all down (since shakes are easier for me to eat than solid foods).The issue I’m having is how much Huel I have to eat to gain the weight I need.

I need 1,500-2,000 calories a day to gain weight, so 3-4 Huel meals. I can’t stand thick Huel, so each meal has 3 scoops and 3 cups of water in it. This is disastrous for me since I also need to drink water to wash the taste out my mouth. Each meal is 5+ cups of liquid, including regular water to drink on the side, and it’s taking me about 3 hours to get through. My stomach just can’t hold that much, and since I’m already force feeding myself when I don’t feel hungry it’s even harder to force another meal down a few hours later because I’m still so full. I haven’t been able to get more than 1 Huel meal in a day, yet. I can’t even imagine how I would get 3, let alone 4, in.

Doctor understands I can’t stop Adderall, and seems to be okay with the ‘side effects’ since my weight has stabilized. Nutritionist basically explained the importance of macros and healthy eating and exercise… which I already knew, and doesn’t actually solve my problem.

I’m not really sure what I’m looking for here. Advice, tips, a shoulder to cry on, similar stories, or a wake-up call of some sort. Anything would be appreciated, honestly.

*Semi-unrelated note, but a “Weight Gain” or “General” category would be a nice addition to the forum. I have no idea where this post belongs, or if it belongs here at all. Also going to mention anorexia, bulimia, and eating disorders down here so it shows up in search since I think this may be a similiar issue for people struggling with those. OH, and ADHD.

Yeah, it can actually be as hard for some people to gain weight as it is for some to lose weight. Don’t give up hope. We can probably brainstorm some ideas. And if one doesn’t work, you can try another.

The easiest solution would be to jack up your sugar intake. But this is not healthy. And you’d preferentially put on mid-section fat.

I wonder if you need more energy dense foods in the Huel. And my main suggestion would be nuts or peanut butter. Nuts can pack a lot of calories in a rather small amount. Peanut butter or certain raw nuts taste really good when blended with the vanilla Huel. If you use the blender, it will break it up into very small pieces and should still retain it’s thin consistency. Try adding a tablespoon or two of peanut butter or like 12 to 15 raw cashews to your next Huel concoction and see if that tastes good. Another really good concoction is add a packet of hot chocolate mix and cashews to the vanilla Huel. Taste is pretty good. Hmm… I wonder if Sunflower Seed butter would taste good in Huel? That stuff is really packed with calories. Yeah, seeds, peanuts, and nuts are gonna be some of the highest calorie density foods out there that are still healthy.

Or just get married. Putting on weight seems to happen naturally after we get married. {Joke, people. well, kinda.}

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Isn’t the caloric density of nuts and seeds coming primarily from fat? You cautioned against too much sugar; too much fat might not cause diabetes but it surely has some sort of negative impact. (I expect you will educate me here after this weak invitation for you to do so) I’m confident too much protein is also a problem.

Though if you are going to suggest fat is the highest caloric density (4x as much) and have already taught us of fat-fuel vs sugar-fuel, then you would be remiss suggesting nut butters but not bacon. :slight_smile:

You lost 7 pounds over a year. How long have you been trying to gain? I suggest you keep at it - you’ll be back to 3 digit weights in … some … time :slight_smile:

@miked I lost 16 pounds in a year, then gained 8 over the course of 6 months or so. I haven’t gained any more weight since then. I don’t think the weight I gained back was from eating more, it was from not exercising anymore :expressionless:

@Deron Thanks for the input! If I put more calorically dense, but not as nutritionally balanced, foods into the Huel wouldn’t that just fill me up even faster, but without the benefit of being… well, as perfectly nutritionally balanced as eating just the Huel? Or is the idea to pack in more calories in an easier to eat package at first, just to get my energy levels up enough to be able to start working out again?

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Yeah, that’s a pretty big percentage of total. I wasn’t trying to minimize your situation, I wanted to encourage those first 2 pounds then only 5 more. Yeah ok, so it isn’t any easier for you to gain 10% as for me to lose the same 10%.

Just donate it to me, both issues solved :grin:

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It doesn’t sound like you are regularly working with the nutritionist. That means you would have to research this yourself rather than just ask your doctor… have you tried any digestive enzyme additives? I was thinking if the reason for getting so little benefit from food was malabsorption, then taking enzymes might help you get more from whatever food you eat. Ex: if you were going to increase fat beyond your normal availability of bile to break down, you’d take bile salts similar to someone with issues after a gall bladder removal. Another example might be the way those with lactose intolerance take lactase (lactaid) to help break down the lactose sugar. Honestly, I’m not a doctor so do take my semi- informed musings as the start of a conversation with a professional. When the doctor that I work with returns from vacation I’ll ask what he thinks - he’s a nerd who likes to explain things so I get all kinds of fascinating on the spot medical lectures :slight_smile:

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Thanks @miked!
My gym is on a college campus and they hire recent nutrition/exercise science graduates to work with members for free. She helped me come up with a meal plan and worked with me for about an hour, which was awesome, but she struggled to comprehend that I couldn’t really eat that much per day, and just kinda pushed what kinds of food I needed. Maybe they’re just not trained to deal with diet issues like mine, but it turned me off from meeting with any of the recent grads again.

I personally think there might be a malabsorption problem, too. I’ve actually got a digestive enzyme powder thing that’s been sitting in my Amazon cart for about 2 months, so maybe I’ll go ahead and order that at the very least. I bought the gluten-free Huel thinking maybe I’ll finally get around to that elimination diet I’ve been telling myself I’d do forever, so the probiotics and stuff will be needed for that, anyway.

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I’m not sure why you are taking medication. Have you considered a visit to a different dr at a different clinic/office? I’m not sure if adderall is a life saving medication or a more therapeutic. My gut is therapeutic. There may be another way to get the same or similar function of adderall without the negative sideffects.
I had a serious eating disorder most of my young life. I finally got help at age 23. It was difficult. Very difficult. I’m not suggesting you have an eating disorder aside from one brought on by the medication. I do understand not wanting to eat. I couldn’t eat anything it was awful. They put me on an RX initially and I didn’t eat for 11 days. Only water. Not as planned so back I went to revamp.
Good luck

I wanted to add my dr at the eating disorder hospital I went to had me using ensure shakes. This was back in the 1990s.
Are you having any issues with the feeli of food in your mouth or swallowing it? That was huge for me.

Regarding malabsorption and nutrition challenges, get a blender and incorporate as many of these foods as possible

Regarding calories start blending in nutrious items you like? For example almonds, chocolate or vanilla. Perhaps look at the flavoring topics and get some ideas. I just got some almond extract and am finding it delicious in smoothies for example.

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Yeah, that’s kinda where I was going. Your limiting factor for getting in the calories (which you need for energy) is that you cannot seem to fit all the volume necessary to get your 1500 - 2000 daily calories from just Huel in water alone.

Nuts have a mix of fat and protein, as well as a decent amount of fiber. They have very limited carbohydrates and almost no sugar in themselves (the peanut butter can have some added sugar for flavoring.) So, yes, adding nuts will throw the overall mixture to more fat. It will increase the fat to carb ratio in your intake. But as Mike noted, fat has more calories per gram than carbs. Also, many carbs have water bound to them and take up more space. Fat is more condensed.

(For the record @miked, carbs are about 4.4 kCalories per gram and fat is about 9 kCalories per gram. It’s about twice. Protein is 4.4 kCalories, the exact same as carbs because only amino acids that can be converted to glucose (gluco-neogenesis) can make ATP. Amino acids in themselves cannot make ATP without this conversion. Besides, using amino acids to make glucose is a backup system for the body. We want the body to use fats and carbs first.)

Just as an interesting comparison: About 15 cashews (mostly fat and some protein) has the same amount of calories as an entire banana (mostly carbs). But the banana takes up way more space than the few cashews.

So, if the problem is getting enough calories into your stomach before filling up, the best way to do this is to increase the fat content of the diet. And since you are not overweight and are (probably) not insulin-resistant, your body will be able to freely burn fatty acids for energy.

Most tissues in the body can burn either fat or carbs to make ATP. Our hormones, chiefly insulin, determine how much of each are used to make energy. Only our neurons require glucose (or ketone bodies) to make ATP. Our brain cannot use fat for energy. According to the literature I’ve read, our body only requires about 5 grams of glucose per hour for our brain to function (a bite of bread or a few skittles). Our liver stores about 100 grams of glycogen (which is glucose molecules stuck together in chains). And our muscles have a few hundred grams of glycogen if necessary for emergency bursts of energy. All in all, our body needs only few carbs and stores few carbs. Our body can store thousands of calories of fat all around our body, even in people who are not overweight.

So what I am saying is that adding more fat to your Huel mix is probably just fine. you don’t need more carbs. Your body only needs a small amount of carbs to survive, and it has multiple backup systems if needed in the rare case you ran out of glycogen. Carbs take up space. They raise insulin. They are less energy dense. Adding more fat to your mix makes the most sense.

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She’s young. Pancreatic insufficiency risk is usually associated with more advanced age. Besides, she would know if her Pancreas wasn’t making enough enzymes. She’d have very lose/greasy and horrible smelling stools, along with lots of gas and bloating.

She’s absorbing the food. Her barrier (no pun intended) is the inability to put enough calories into her GI track before she feels she wants no more. And she knows the Adderal suppresses the appetite, so her brain is telling her “okay, enough” a little too soon.

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Because I have a well known, and well documented, mental disorder called ADHD that interferes with my ability to hold down a job, maintain normal relationships, and several other fun and exciting things that you could probably Google if you’re interested.

I believe its one of fastest growing mental disorders diagnosed in the country. In fact, its likely severely underdiagnosed since its genetic and runs rampant in families, you know, spreading like an epidemic. Its gotten a bad rep though, with people claiming its not real, that its ‘kids just being kids’, or that people are faking it to get drugs. I’m sure you’re not suggesting any of that with your post, though, since you didn’t even know what Adderall was for, and since all of those claims have been investigated and proven incorrect by now.

Then again… starving to death, and paying hundreds of dollars a month, just to feel like a normal person is actually pretty therapeutic, so maybe you’re on to something. :thinking:

I guess I could try meth.

Kidding. Exercising and eating well are great for some ADHD symptoms, but they aren’t a replacement for medication and therapy. I was doing really well when I was exercising on it, but a couple months of being too busy with school and not going to the gym was enough to get my body out of wack.

Yes, this is the biggest issue for me. The exact feeling is difficult to describe, but I think you’re talking about the same thing.

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Ah, so thats where all my giant muscle went…and where all that brain-fog came from.

Oh man, I can’t wait to brag to my friends about my superior Keto/Huel diet :smile:
But seriously, thanks for all the effort you put into this reply. I mixed some Huel, peanut butter, and a little bit of water together and made a tolerable PB&J last night. Also bought some whole milk, flavored greek yogurt with fat, and granola (you know, to mask that lovely Huel texture) to try out as a shake, too. I also got trail mix on deck. I’m hoping these are all fatty enough to give me a good start.

My family has a distressing amount of autoimmune disease, and I’ve always had issues that point to a mild bowel problem, so I’m careful not to rule anything out.

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Oh wow. I feel for you. I don’t have it in my family, but my GF/wifee (whichever label I wanna give her this week) has an auto-immune disease. Hers is the mixed connective tissue type of disease. There are some similarities between the different auto immune diseases. The fatigue, non-specific joint or muscle pains, and some others. It can be a real burden. And drug therapy to treat these can be costly and have some annoying side effects.

As a side note, there is some recent research into whether or not Gluten protein (from wheat) can worsen auto-immune diseases. I’ll have to see if I can find the literature links.

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OMG. I just found another great mix:

3 scoops Huel
15 or so raw cashews
sprinkle some cinnamon
Squirt a little honey

Blend.

Damn. I just had it and I want another.

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I’m so sorry to hear that :frowning: I lost my mother to a mixed connected tissue disease (systemic sclerosis/scleroderma), so I understand how tough it is.

I could probably write a book off all research I’ve done into AO diseases lol. I bought the gluten-free Huel specifically because of this.

My theory, and please @huell.babineaux correct me if I’m wrong, is that the Gluten Free Huel product is made from materials that have not touched any wheat products. In other words, the ingredients in Huel themselves do not contain Gluten (oats do not naturally contain Gluten), but that regular Huel is made with ingredients that are in facilities that also process wheat so there is a chance that trace amounts might be in regular Huel. I think this is only clinically relevant for people with Celiac disease or a documented Gluten intolerance. My theory is that regular Huel is appropriate for anyone who is generally avoiding gluten and wheat and that trace amounts of gluten would not pose a health risk.

My wife is currently on low dose of Azathioprine (Imuran) as well as the Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) to curb some of the MCT disease progression. Hers is not labeled as full blown Schleroderma, and she doesn’t have the facial / tongue manifestations of that. But she does have the fatigue, joint pain, and poor blood flow to fingers.

I took an 8 week class on Pulmonary Hypertension as part of my ongoing pharmacist training. We learned how Schleroderma is a major risk factor for Type 1 Pulm Hypertension and that is usually is a more aggressive form in these patients. It’s a really bad disease that has so many things to consider.