A case for 'unnatural' and pure ingredients

After assessing the discussion here and here, I’d like to revisit the benefits/downsides of an Oat + [Something] mixture as Huel’s primary ingredient. Isomaltulose specifically is argued for here, but I’m open to other candidates.

Proposition: an oat and isomaltulose mix gives us the best of both worlds, and avoids unnecessary risks.

The nature of the mixture:

  1. enough oats to cover the manganese and iron requirement (whichever is higher)
  2. use isomaltulose for the rest, and supplement micronutrients etc. as needed

Though it seems counterintuitive, it’s better to get the majority of the energy in “pure” form (and be nutritionally deprived). The reason is we know exactly what we’re getting: a disaccharide carbohydrate in the case of Isomaltulose. There’s no risk, but also no gain, and that’s the basis for my argument.

Natural foods are known to be great, but only as part of a varied diet. Too much of anything is bad, as the saying goes. A Huel based diet has far more oats than a “balanced, varied diet”. We don’t know if oats are good in these higher quantities, or in isolation. Most arguments for using natural foods falsely assume this.

Consider, for example, that oats may contain some unknown nutrients. These may be healthy in a varied diet, but Huel may be overdosing these as it contains much more oat than is normally consumed. Who knows what the long-term effects of that are?

As another example, oats may have an unknown harmful substance (let’s call it X). Maybe a varied diet has small enough quantities of X that there’s no visible effect, or perhaps other elements of a varied diet mitigate X (how vitamin C counteracts phytic acid, for example). A Huel based diet possibly contains too much X or doesn’t contain the ‘antidote’. Again, we can’t know, because this is unknown.

Generally speaking: any argument that appeals to the unknown is double-edged. Unknown good, sure, but what about the unknown bad? Just because oats are natural doesn’t mean they’re good. We only have the certainty of safety in normal doses in varied diets. We don’t know in the case of Huel, it’s but a blind risk.

And seeing as oats are already overdosing what we do know (manganese, iron, phytic acid), I don’t have confidence in the unknown aspect of oats.

Isomaltulose, on the other hand, is a particular molecule that is well understood. We know exactly how it’s digested and how the body handles it (see this review). We know it contains no nutritional value (downside), but we also know it contains no nutritional risk (upside).

Personally, I’d give up the potential benefit of too many oats if it meant avoiding the potential bad. Huel should have some oats, but the current quantity carries risks not worth taking. The well-understood, low-risk route of primarily using Isomaltulose is, in my opinion, the better option.

N.B. the GI wouldn’t change much, either, seeing as Isomaltulose is 32.


And seeing as oats are already overdosing what we do know (manganese, iron, phytic acid), I don’t have confidence in the unknown aspect of oats.

We’re definitely not ‘overdosing’. This is discussed here.

or oatverdosing…!

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I could be wrong here but I thought Huel is intended to be a healthy vegan convenience food with minimal environmental impact. Not a meal replacement exactly. And not a diet shake. And I don’t think it’s marketed to be a 100% exclusive diet (although plenty people do seem to enjoy and benefit from 100% Huel)

I’m not going to go into the science. But your arguments are all assuming that Huel is intended to be your sole source of nutrition. And altho it can be, it’s not marketed as that I don’t think (?).

If you use it as a convenience food ie to replace your toast or cereal or bacon butty breakfast, or to replace your daily sandwich for lunch in the office, you are reducing your environmental impact, and eating healthier.

I kinda agree that too much of one thing isn’t the best approach. But a lot of people eat bread every single day as toast or sandwiches. There are lots of foods that people eat on a daily basis.

One or two Huel meals a day plus one other healthy nutritious meal… can’t really go much wrong with that in my opinion


Huel is marketed as a meal replacement. When it launched there was more of a focus on it being used as a 100% meal replacement if required, but this is not the case.

I think that is more like the current concept, and I think that many use it as a diet product because it is nutritious and allows easy calorie counting, although I agree, it is not marketed as a diet shake.


I’ve read this a few times on the forum, quoted by themselves.

Huel’s mission:

To make nutritionally complete, convenient, affordable food, with minimum impact on animals and the environment.
(Taken from the official website).

People will use it in many ways, for many different reasons…

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Whatever. Huel replaces two of my meals, occasionally three, per day. I started off by buying Huel as a convenient way of eating healthily. It also helps me to keep track of my calorie intake and lose weight though I didn’t buy it as a weight loss product. Because of Huel I am now back on track from the not so good eating habits I had slipped into over the past year or so.

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@bee I think that sums up perfectly my reasons for consuming Huel also. And probably a large percentage of their customers


Another reason for buying Huel was to see if it would help with my IBS, Huel powder being low FODMAP, and it has. I also find I am able to eat 60g Huel granola daily without repercussions.

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Maybe they need to rewrite their mission statement then. There are various quotes on the website from nutritionalists saying it is a complete meal replacement. The plastic packaging in RTD is somewhat at odds with that too.

I use it in same way as you and @bee.


I have to admit I feel slightly confused as to what they are marketing it as exactly. Maybe they don’t want to put themselves into too tight a box. I like that they don’t define it too clearly - people can use it in the way that suits them and for their own reasons whether that’s weight loss, weight gain, healthier diet, convenience, being vegan or wanting to lower their environmental impact. I also have a friend who consumes it because she’s in her 70’s and has no teeth, so ‘now I can’t chew, food is such a tedium’ in her words exactly!


I do think Huel has changed their marketing as the company grows/progresses and there is nothing wrong with that; for instance suggesting it is used for all nutritional requirements doesn’t appeal to many users; it makes sense to market each 500cal meal (or whatever portion sizer as a complete, convenient and nutritious meal) as that is what most people want whether they are using it to maintain weight, lose weight or gain weight. It’s just food, but an easy, relatively cheap and versatile food.


I couldn’t agree more.

I think Julian’s initial thinking was that most people would use Huel about 80% of the time, the thing is that this isn’t very appealing to most people and actually the use-case we were finding was once or twice a day.

We don’t consider Huel a meal replacement, and our mission doesn’t suggest it is. The thing is that this doesn’t mean we think Huel can’t replace meals. Rather, we don’t use the term ‘meal replacement’ as it has connotations of: magicweight loss formulas, MLM schemes, detox diets and more subjects that many lost trust with long ago.

Huel is so much more that any of this, it’s real, healthy, whole food in its most convenient form and you can use it as much or as little as you like for almost any reason, including weight loss (or gain or maintenance too or none of them!). Many nutritionists refer to Huel as a ‘meal replacement’ but that’s only because there isn’t another category of food they feel they can class it in, it’s what they recognise. But we’re forging the way to categorise Huel and others as complete foods.


‘Complete food’ is an excellent description.

What I love about Huel is it is very similar to my daily breakfast that I’ve been making myself every day for about ten years (gluten free porridge oats, which I would add pea protein, rice protein, flaxseed, coconut oil and almonds to, and sometimes berries, coconut or cacao powder, plus a load of supplements of oils, vitamins, minerals and probiotics on the side).
It’s what I was trying to achieve with my porridge - but done with expertise. I now have the convenience of it all in one bag. The only supplements I feel I need now are probiotics.
I love it. Complete food. Yes