The Huel Essential Formula Explained

Huel Essential is a nutritionally complete powdered food that is high in protein and fibre and low in sugars. It contains a balanced macro split of 56:20:20:4 (carbohydrate, protein, fat, fibre) and all 26 essential vitamins and minerals.

As with all Huel products, it contains no lactose or any animal products, no soy, and no GMO.

Huel Essential meets the UK and EU Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI), Reference Intake (RI) and Nutrient Reference Value (NRV) for all macronutrients[1-3] and it contains a multitude of nutritional benefits.

Continue reading to find out more about Huel Essential.

The Huel Essential Formula Explained

Nutritional Information and Ingredients of Huel Essential

Huel Essential is 56:20:20:4 Macro Split

The key macronutrients that we acquire energy from within our food are carbohydrate, fat, protein, and fibre. In Huel Essential, we’ve set them at the ratio of 56:20:20:4 respectively, i.e., 56% of the energy comes from carbohydrates, 20% from fats, 20% from protein and 4% from fibre.

Carbohydrates, although not essential per se, have significant benefits to ensuring a sustained and consistent energy level therefore are important to be contained within Huel Essential. They are also significantly cheaper than protein, helping to make Huel Essential even more affordable.

Amino acids are the building blocks and therefore the most basic units of protein, of which several are essential for life with others being crucial for maintaining good health, Therefore, any diet must contain a substantial amount of protein.

There are also fatty acids that are essential for life and good health, so including sources of fat is important too.

We’ve designed Huel Essential at these ratios as they are not only within the parameters of the healthy eating guidelines but are also levels designed for a sustained energy release whilst covering macro-nutritional requirements for disease prevention.

Carbohydrate in Huel Essential: Fine Powdered Oats and Tapioca

The carbohydrate content of Huel Essential is 56%, higher than that of regular Huel to ensure a cost-effective difference between the two powders, whilst still maintaining a well-balanced macro split.

There are two main sources of carbohydrates, ultra-fine powdered oats and tapioca. Oats have shown to be a low glycaemic index (GI)[4] ingredient; GI refers to the rate after which we ingest a carbohydrate source to the resulting rise in blood sugar and, hence, energy[4]. The oats in Huel Essential mix easily and help sustain energy levels until the next meal.

Many of the formulas used in other meal replacements use maltodextrin as the main carbohydrate source. Maltodextrin is cheap and easy to mix, so there’s a valid reason for its use. However, although it’s a ‘complex’ carbohydrate, it has a high GI[5], so these formulas provide a surge of energy followed by a slump: far from ideal for busy people with active jobs.

Maltodextrin is also a synthetic carbohydrate so it only provides a source of energy compared to oats which not only provides a source of energy but also many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The oat powder in Huel Essential has been finely milled to ensure it’s readily soluble, together with the minimal price difference compared to maltodextrin. Indeed, it could be said that the inclusion of oat powder is one of the main reasons why Huel Essential could be considered superior to many foods readily consumed today.

Tapioca is a starch extracted from cassava, a root vegetable, similar to sweet potato. Its inclusion in Huel Essential provides additional carbohydrates and aids texture.

Fat in Huel Essential: Flaxseed and Sunflower

The fats in Huel Essential provide 20% of the total energy and are made up from both flaxseed and sunflower seeds to ensure an optimum inclusion level of the essential fatty acids. There are two completely essential fatty acids (EFAs) that humans require: linoleic acid (LA – an omega-6 fatty acid) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA - an Omega-3 fatty acid)[6]. Using our blend of flaxseed and sunflower oil powder, we’ve ensured Huel Essential contains enough of both EFAs as well as other omega-3 and -6 fatty acids.

Huel Essential is High protein: Peas and Rice

The RI for protein is 50g per day, but this only covers our very basic needs and prevents protein deficiency[1-3].The Western diet typically provides more[7], and Huel Essential does too. All essential amino acids are included in adequate amounts from two vegan protein sources: pea and brown rice protein, as well as protein from the oat powder. Based on an average 2,000-calorie intake, you’ll be consuming 100g protein per day from Huel Essential. This provides a good amount for optimal health as well as building and maintaining a healthy body. Furthermore, protein is more satiating (appetite suppressing) than other macronutrients[7].

Amino Acid Profile of Huel Essential

Protein is made up of amino acids. There are over 500 natural amino acids, 20 of which are known as the standard amino acids. Of these 20, nine are essential as they cannot be synthesised from other amino acids. Huel Essential contains all nine of these essential amino acids and a further nine of the eleven non essential amino acids.

All nine essential amino acids and nine of the non essential amino acids

The nine essential amino acids are:

  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine

The other 11 are:

  • Alanine
  • Arginine
  • Asparagine
  • Aspartic acid
  • Cysteine
  • Glutamine
  • Glutamic acid
  • Glycine
  • Proline
  • Serine
  • Tyrosine

Amino Acid Content of Huel Powder (based on v3.0 Vanilla - amounts will differ slightly for other flavours)

Amino Acid (mg) Per 100g Per 2000kcal RDA* %RDA per 100g
Tryptophan 239 1197 280 86%
Threonine 697 3786 1050 66%
Isoleucine 753 3767 1400 54%
Leucine 1524 7619 2730 56%
Lysine 1125 5625 2100 54%
Methionine 269 1347
Cysteine 371 1855 1050** 61%
Phenylalanine 1028 5138
Tyrosine 677 3387 1750*** 97%
Valine 993 4963 1820 55%
Histidine 483 2415 700 69%
Arginine 1495 7473
Alanine 867 4336
Aspartic acid**** 1964 9821
Glutamic acid***** 3790 18951
Glycine 876 4360
Proline 901 4506
Serine 1683 8417

*WHO (2007) recommended daily amounts for essential amino acids for a 70kg adult
**Combined total for methionine + cysteine
***Combined total for phenylalanine + tyrosine
****Figure includes asparagine
*****Figure includes glutamine

    All protein sources are not equal: some are classed as ‘complete proteins’ and some are not. A complete protein is one that contains enough of all nine essential amino acids.

    Generally, proteins derived from animal foods (meats, fish, poultry, milk, and eggs) are complete. Indeed, some proteins derived from plant foods (legumes, seeds, grains, and vegetables) are often complete as well; examples include quinoa, buckwheat, and soya. Many plant foods have insufficient amounts of one or more of the essential amino acids. Some are notably low, such as corn protein, which is low in lysine and isoleucine.

    The protein in Huel Essential comes from three of the main six ingredients: pea protein, oats and brown rice protein. This ensures a balanced range of all amino acids and that there is a sufficient quantity of amino acids. Rice protein is high in the sulphur-containing amino acids cysteine and methionine, plus it contains good amounts of all the others, except for lysine. Pea protein is low in cysteine and methionine but high in lysine. Therefore, we selected these two sources, ensuring everything was covered whilst keeping Huel Essential vegan. Moreover, there’s additional protein from the oats and flaxseed which are reasonably high in all essential amino acids.

    Huel Essential is High fibre: Oats and Flaxseed

    Huel Essential contains 110% of the recommended daily amount of fibre. The fibre in Huel Essential is a mixture of soluble and insoluble forms all naturally supplied from the food ingredients, mainly from oats and flaxseed, and provides more than most modern solid diets. The high-fibre content of Huel Essential helps to ensure the formation of normal, solid stools in healthy users.

    Fibre acts like a sponge, so it’s important to consume adequate water when using Huel Essential[9]. The formula has been designed to maintain optimum digestive system health.

    Vitamins and Minerals in Huel Essential

    The bulk of the vitamins and minerals – also known as micronutrients – in Huel Essential are from natural ingredients. However, to meet the demands of a Western lifestyle, we've added a unique vitamin and mineral formula to provide, in some cases, more than 100% of the recommended amounts.

    Since the UK Dietary Reference Values were compiled in 1991[1], there have been numerous studies in the past 20 years demonstrating that, for many micronutrients, levels higher than the RNI may have beneficial effects to health.

    For example, it’s widely considered that the amount of vitamin C we’re recommended to consume is too low[11-13], so we've reflected this in the Huel Essential formula. The benefits of consuming more vitamin C include a healthy immune system, healthy skin, and antioxidant properties[12-14].

    With calcium, the US recommended amount is more than the UK RNI (1,300mg vs 800mg per day for the UK)[1,2,15], and we feel the US recommendation is more than sufficient to protect against osteoporosis. With some of the trace elements the levels are far higher than the recommended amounts. This is because we only need tiny amounts of them, but the natural ingredients in Huel Essential are a rich source.

    Choline is a conditionally essential B vitamin, and although, strictly speaking, it can be synthesised in our bodies, it’s more efficient to obtain it from our diets[16]. It’s of particular importance for post-menopausal women[16]. As Huel Essential Powder is all about ideal health, the inclusion of choline was felt to be fundamental.

    There has been some concern about phytic acid: a naturally occurring substance in some cereals including oats. Phytic acid can chelate (bind) some minerals meaning that they’re less bioavailable[20]. As oat powder is a fundamental ingredient of Huel Essential, we've ensured the levels of some minerals, like iron and zinc, are higher, to accommodate any issues with phytic acid chelation. Furthermore, the high level of vitamin C in Huel Essential will also further promote iron absorption[21].

    Huel Essential Compared To Other Huel Powders

    There are a few main differences when comparing Huel Essential to other Huel powders such as V3.0 Powder and Black Edition.

    Firstly the macro split for Huel Essential Powder has a ratio of 56:20:20:4, V3.0 Powder has a ratio of 37:30:30:3 and Black Edition 17:40:40:3 (carbohydrate, protein, fat, fibre respectively). Therefore Huel Essential has a higher percentage of energy coming from carbohydrates, and a lower Percent from protein and fats.

    The ingredients used also vary slightly from other Huel powders, probiotics and kombucha for example are not included. Although probiotics may have health benefits for the gut they are not considered essential.

    Phytonutrients are compounds found in plant foods that may show some health benefits such as disease risk prevention however, these too are not essential so have been removed from Huel Essential.

    Summary - Huel Essential is Food

    As you can see, although Huel Essential varies slightly to other Huel Products it still has a superior nutritional balance compared to most conventional diets. You can have Huel Essential as an individual meal, your sole source of nutrition or even as a snack in between meals. In this way, it can be an add-on improvement to your diet to ensure you’re giving your body what it needs.

    Ingredients of Huel Essential

    Vanilla v1.0

    Oat Flour, Pea Protein, Tapioca Starch, Ground Flaxseed, Natural Flavourings, Micronutrient Blend (Minerals (Potassium, Chloride, Calcium, Iodine), Corn Starch, Vitamins (C, E, A, Niacin, D, Pantothenic Acid, Folate, B12, K, B6, B2), Maltodextrin), Brown Rice Protein, Sunflower Oil Powder, Stabiliser: Xanthan Gum, Sweetener: Sucralose.

    Allergy advice: For allergens see ingredients in bold. May contain: Mustard.

    We recommend one serving a day if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

    Chocolate v1.0

    Oat Flour, Pea Protein, Tapioca Starch, Ground Flaxseed, Cocoa Powder (5.9%), Natural Flavourings, Micronutrient Blend (Minerals (Potassium, Chloride, Calcium, Iodine), Corn Starch, Vitamins (C, E, A, Niacin, D, Pantothenic Acid, Folate, B12, K, B6, B2), Maltodextrin), Brown Rice Protein, Stabiliser: Xanthan Gum, Sunflower Oil Powder, Salt, Sweetener: Sucralose.

    Allergy advice: For allergens see ingredients in bold. May contain: Mustard.

    We recommend one serving a day if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

    Nutritional Profile of Huel Essential

    Vanilla v1.0

    Each bag contains 2.25kg

    Serving size: 100g x 5 meals per day

    Per 100g serving Per 2000kcal % RI* per
    100g serving
    % RI* per
    2000kcal
    Energy 1680kJ 8400kJ 20% 100%
    400kcal 2000kcal 20% 100%
    Fat 9.0g 44g 13% 35%
    - of which saturates 1.3g 7.0g 7% 35%
    - of which monounsaturates 2.8g 14g
    - of which polyunsaturates 4.4g 22g
    Carbohydrate 57g 284g 21% 105%
    - of which sugars 0.9g 4.3g 1% 5%
    Fibre 6.6g 33g (22%) (110%)
    Protein 20g 100g 40% 200%
    Salt 0.31g 1.6g 5% 27%

    Vitamins & Minerals

    Per 100g serving Per 2000kcal % RI* (NRV**)
    per 100g serving
    % RI* (NRV**)
    per 2000kcal
    Vitamin A (µg) 170 850 21% 106%
    Vitamin D2 + D3 (µg) 4.0 20 80% 400%
    Vitamin E (mg) 2.8 14 23% 117%
    Vitamin K1 + K2(µg) 24 120 32% 160%
    Vitamin C (mg) 28 140 35% 175%
    Thiamin (mg) 0.27 1.4 25% 127%
    Riboflavin (mg) 0.28 1.4 20% 100%
    Niacin (mg) 3.2 16 20% 100%
    Vitamin B6 (mg) 0.34 1.7 24% 121%
    Folate (µg) 64.0 320 32% 160%
    Vitamin B12 (µg) 0.50 2.5 20% 100%
    Biotin (µg) 14 70 28% 140%
    Pantothenic Acid (mg) 1.2 6.0 20% 100%
    Potassium (mg) 700 3500 35% 175%
    Chloride (mg) 160 800 20% 100%
    Calcium (mg) 200 1000 25% 125%
    Phosphorus (mg) 320 1600 46% 229%
    Magnesium (mg) 84.0 420 22% 112%
    Iron (mg) 4.4 22 31% 157%
    Zinc (mg) 3.0 15 30% 150%
    Copper (mg) 0.50 2.5 50% 250%
    Manganese (mg) 1.8 9.0 90% 450%
    Selenium (µg) 20 100 36% 182%
    Chromium (µg) 14 70 35% 175%
    Molybdenum (µg) 37 185 74% 370%
    Iodine (µg) 30.0 150 20% 100%

    Additional Information

    Per 100g Serving Per 2000kcal
    Choline (mg) 110 550
    Omega 3 (g) 1.5 7.7
    Omega 6 (g) 3.0 15

    *Reference Intake

    **Nutrient Reference Value

    Chocolate v1.0

    Each bag contains 2.25kg

    Serving size: 100g x 5 meals per day

    Per 100g serving Per 2000kcal % RI* per
    100g serving
    % RI* per
    2000kcal
    Energy 1680kJ 8400kJ 20% 100%
    400kcal 2000kcal 20% 100%
    Fat 9.0g 45g 13% 35%
    - of which saturates 1.8g 9.0g 9% 45%
    - of which monounsaturates 3.0g 15g
    - of which polyunsaturates 4.2g 21g
    Carbohydrate 56g 278g 21% 103%
    - of which sugars 0.8g 4.2g 1% 5%
    Fibre 8.0g 40g (27%) (133%)
    Protein 20g 100g 40% 200%
    Salt 0.50g 2.5g 8% 42%

    Vitamins & Minerals

    Per 100g serving Per 2000kcal % RI* (NRV**)
    per 100g serving
    % RI* (NRV**)
    per 2000kcal
    Vitamin A (µg) 170 850 21% 106%
    Vitamin D2 + D3 (µg) 4.0 20 80% 400%
    Vitamin E (mg) 2.8 14 23% 117%
    Vitamin K1 + K2 (µg) 24 120 32% 160%
    Vitamin C (mg) 28 140 35% 175%
    Thiamin (mg) 0.27 1.4 25% 127%
    Riboflavin (mg) 0.28 1.4 20% 100%
    Niacin (mg) 3.2 16 20% 100%
    Vitamin B6 (mg) 0.34 1.7 24% 121%
    Folate (µg) 64.0 320 32% 160%
    Vitamin B12 (µg) 0.50 2.5 20% 100%
    Biotin (µg) 14 70 28% 140%
    Pantothenic Acid (mg) 1.2 6.0 20% 100%
    Potassium (mg) 700 3500 35% 175%
    Chloride (mg) 160 800 20% 100%
    Calcium (mg) 200 1000 25% 125%
    Phosphorus (mg) 320 1600 46% 229%
    Magnesium (mg) 84.0 420 22% 112%
    Iron (mg) 4.4 22 31% 157%
    Zinc (mg) 3.0 15 30% 150%
    Copper (mg) 0.50 2.5 50% 250%
    Manganese (mg) 1.8 9.0 90% 450%
    Selenium (µg) 20 100 36% 182%
    Chromium (µg) 14 70 35% 175%
    Molybdenum (µg) 37 185 74% 370%
    Iodine (µg) 30.0 150 20% 100%

    Additional Information

    Per 100g Serving Per 2000kcal
    Choline (mg) 110 550
    Omega 3 (g) 1.5 7.5
    Omega 6 (g) 2.9 14

    *Reference Intake

    **Nutrient Reference Value

    Huel Essential Cautions and Allergen Advice

    Huel Essential is food; therefore, it is suitable for people with most conditions. However, as some conditions require dietary intervention, like with any food, please heed the notes below for the following conditions:

    Diabetes mellitus - Huel Essential is suitable for type 1 and type 2 diabetics. As with all food, if you're using medication to help control your diabetes you should structure your intake of Huel Essential appropriately.

    Coeliac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis - the oats in Huel Essential are not gluten-free, so we suggest caution. Also, Huel Essential is not suitable for individuals with very sensitive gluten intolerance.

    Inborn errors of metabolism - if you have a glycogen storage disorder (GSD) or other inborn error of metabolism where you require dietary manipulation, you must consult your doctor or specialist clinician before using Huel Essential.

    Inflammatory bowel disease - if you suffer from Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or proctitis, and are experiencing a flare-up, we advise caution when using Huel Essential. However, if you’re in remission, Huel Essential may be beneficial.

    Pregnancy & lactation - All Huel products are fine to have during pregnancy but should be limited to one serving per day as there are different nutritional requirements during this period.

    Children - Huel Essential is not suitable for children under 4 years of age. However, older children may include Huel Essential as part of a balanced diet that includes a variety of other foods, but Huel Essential should not be their sole source of nutrition as they have different nutritional requirements to adults; for more information see our Children, Adolescents and Huel article.

    Eating disorders - Huel Essential may be consumed by individuals with anorexia or bulimia nervosa as a useful source of complete nutrition. However, we recommend that individuals with eating disorders only use Huel Essential after discussing it with their doctor or relevant clinician.

    Huel Essential is not suitable for those who suffer from phenylketonuria (PKU).

    Medication Interactions

    Huel Essential is fine to consume if you’re using most medication. Although there are no obvious reasons why Huel Essential should be an issue, there may be specific drug-nutrient interactions relating to a particular medicine you're using, so we recommend you read the drug information provided with your prescription. If you have any further concerns, please discuss them with your doctor.

    Allergen Advice

    All Huel products are 100% vegan. We thoroughly assess our ingredients and the processes we use to make Huel and whenever we identify potential routes of allergen contamination, we will first take steps to eliminate the possibility of any contamination of our product. However, where it is not possible to remove the risk, we will clearly highlight any allergens that might be present on our product packaging and ingredients lists in line with current UK and EU food safety guidelines.

    However, we recognise that individuals can have allergies to any protein in any ingredient therefore if you have a specific allergy that is outside of the remit above, please contact us directly and we will do our best to guide you on which products are suitable.

    Huel Essential and FODMAPs

    FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed and consequently ferment, which can cause irritation to some people's intestines[21]. Huel Essential is low in FODMAPs constituents so is suitable for people who follow a low-FODMAP diet.

    Further reading

    References

    1. Dietary reference values for food energy and nutrients for the United Kingdom. Report of the Panel on Dietary Reference Values of the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy. Reports on health and social subjects. 1991; 41:1-210.
    2. Europe F. Guidance on the Provision of Food Information to Consumers 2013. Available from: https://www.fooddrinkeurope.eu/publication/guidance-on-the-provision-of-food-information-to-consumers/.
    3. England PH. Government Dietary Recommendations. In: Health Do, editor. 2016.
    4. Tosh, S., & Chu, Y. (2015). Systematic review of the effect of processing of whole-grain oat cereals on glycaemic response. British Journal of Nutrition, 114(8), 1256-1262. doi:10.1017/S0007114515002895
    5. Atkinson FS, et al. International Tables of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values: 2008. Diabetes Care. 2008; 31:2281 - 3.
    6. St-Onge MP, et al. Medium chain triglyceride oil consumption as part of a weight loss diet does not lead to an adverse metabolic profile when compared to olive oil. J Am Coll Nutr. 2008; 27(5):547-52.
    7. Institute LP. Oregon State University Essential Fatty Acids. Date Accessed: 24/10/19. [Available from: https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/other-nutrients/essential-fatty-acids]
    8. Weigle DS, et al. A high-protein diet induces sustained reductions in appetite, ad libitum caloric intake, and body weight despite compensatory changes in diurnal plasma leptin and ghrelin concentrations. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2005; 82(1):41-8.
    9. D G. ILSI Europe Dietary Fibre. Date Accessed: 01/06/2022. [Available from: https://ilsi.eu/publication/dietary-fibre/]
    10. Anderson JW, et al. Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutrition Reviews. 2009; 67(4):188-205.
    11. Deruelle F, et al. Vitamin C: is supplementation necessary for optimal health? Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, NY). 2008; 14(10):1291-8.
    12. Combs J, et al. The Vitamins. 4th ed. Burlington: Elsevier Science; 2012.
    13. Hathcock JN, et al. Vitamins E and C are safe across a broad range of intakes. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2005; 81(4):736-45.
    14. University ILOS. Vitamin C. Date Accessed: 06/06/2022. [Available from: https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins]
    15. FDA. Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label. Date Accessed: [Available from: https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/changes-nutrition-facts-label]
    16. Zeisel SH, et al. Choline: an essential nutrient for public health. Nutr Rev. 2009; 67(11):615-23.
    17. Fischer LM, et al. Dietary choline requirements of women: effects of estrogen and genetic variation. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2010; 92(5):1113-9.
    18. Fischer LM, et al. Sex and menopausal status influence human dietary requirements for the nutrient choline. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2007; 85(5):1275-85.
    19. Woeber KA. Iodine and thyroid disease. Med Clin North Am. 1991; 75(1):169-78.
    20. Schlemmer U, et al. Phytate in foods and significance for humans: Food sources, intake, processing, bioavailability, protective role and analysis. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 2009; 53:S330-S75.
    21. Teucher B, et al. Enhancers of iron absorption: Ascorbic acid and other organic acids. International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research. 2004; 74(6):403-19.
    22. El-Salhy M, et al. The role of diet in the pathogenesis and management of irritable bowel syndrome (Review). International Journal of Molecular Medicine. 2012; 29(5):723-31.

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