Huel for ultra marathon running?

I run ultramarathons - up to 100kms. The one area I am still struggling with is food while I’m running. Unlike shorter distances, you have to take on board a certain amount of energy to fuel you through the day. Your body’s ability to digest food while running is significantly reduced as the bdy shifts blood away from the stomach to where it’s needed in the muscles. So eating ‘normal’ food is not really an option as the body will struggle to break it down. High sugar sweets produce a spike of energy which isn’t idea for long distance running. Flapjacks / energy bars are really difficult to eat (they can be very dry). Energy gels do not provide enough energy to be a reliable source for several hours. I saw an article on Huel in The Times. I am wondering if Huel could be the ideal solution, providing enough energy as well as electrolytes lost in sweat. Also, as it is ‘water based’ it might be the right consistency to be absorbed during a run. I would be very interested to know your thoughts on this. I know it is not designed specifically as a sports food but, for the reasons stated, maybe it would be ideal for my needs?

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Huel would be a great product to mix and consume during your runs. It’s light to carry and easy to consume and will provide slow acting carbs to help fuel your running. Ideally, sip Huel whilst running so as not to bloat you and to help maintain an even influx of carbs.

Moreover, the MCTs in the coconut are an ideal fuel source for marathons. Plus the electrolytes present and the fact that you’re drinking it, will help stabilise hydration

All the best in your future events.

Many thanks, James, that all makes perfect sense. I had heard about coconut being an excellent natural source of energy. I will give it a go and let you know how I get on. It will be a while, I have just completed two 100k runs in four weeks and will be doing shorter runs to give my legs a rest and avoid injury. But I will follow up and come back to you via this forum. Thanks again.

Sounds painful! But please do keep us and other forum members posted regarding your progress :slight_smile:

Just to let you know that I saw a nutritionist that I go to from time-to-time. She has had a look at the ingredients and gave it the thumbs up, no nasties (although a little higher in Omega 6 than she would have preferred - I’m not the scientist and I can’t recall the exact reason). She has been suggesting coconut in various forms as a great source of lots of things ever since I first went to her. So I will definitely be trying this at the appropriate time. Out of interest, can you tell me how many calories a 500ml bottle of Huel delivers? They say that the body can’t absorb more than 240 calories when running. Gels only provide 100 per sachet which means you need to take one every 25 minutes - not practical (or desirable) if you’re running for 12+ hours! I sense that Hue would be much easier all round. I don’t have any more events planned till next year but I will test it out before then and let you know how I get on. Many thanks.

Huel is in a powder, so I’ve just had a play around for you. In one of our Huel Stainless Steel Bottles you can fit 500ml water + 100g Huel maintaining a suitable consitency for consuming (you could go thicker, but it would be harder to consume) - so that’s 402 kcal.

Where did you get the info that you can’t consume more than 240kcal whilst running? What time scale is this based on?

Apologies for the slow response, I was trying to find the reference to the body taking in 240 calories when running. I haven’t found it which is annoying but I know I have seen it more than once. It was a per hour measurement against a 600 calories burned. We have vast amounts of energy stored in the fat cells but obviously the problem is that the conversion rate is much slower compared with taking energy from what we store in the muscles.

The advice I have had is to train without food - up to 4-5 hours - to train the body to ‘pull’ energy from the natural stores but fine to train up to taking additional energy on board for longer runs. I am simplifying for ease but hope that makes sense.

A major part of this equation is the form that the energy is taken - the body is not designed to take on solids when exercising and a major plus point for Huel is that it is a powder mixed with water so relatively easily digested. I am a history graduate so I do not profess to be an expert which is why I consult with people that have studied the topic properly. So if I have misunderstood then forgive me but based on experience eating sugary things on an ultra marathon is not sustainable but nor is eating savoury solids. Which takes us back to Huel…

The key is to load before hand. This will mean that your glycogen (carbohydrate) stores will be maximised and will provide optimum energy for the first part of the marathon.

The 240kcal per hour is an approximation. It depends on the type of nutrients consumed. MCTs are great, because they’re absorbed quickly - much like carbs - but are fats so are 9kcal per gram.

Huel would be a great choice due to the MCTs and other fats, plus the fact that the oats supply carbs.

It would be really interesting to hear how you get on with it.

I,m doing a 140 mile bike ride on Sunday 25 June 2017.
Am going to give it a go on huel,
I have some huel bars for the journey and will stock up on huel before I leave.

I will post on Monday and share how it went


How did it go?

I really like Huel and I feel like a Huel breakfast helps with longer training sessions and people have said it’s good recovery nutrition. Common advice is that carbo loading is the one time you want to cut down on fibre. YMMV and I guess cycling would probably cause less gastric issues than running.

Going by what works for me I’d try Huel on a long touring ride or multi-day ride. For a faster ride or anything that involved running (ultra/triathlon) I’d keep it to breakfast and maybe even try a DIY version with less fibre for that.

The best advice is always try it in training before the event.

It went great, 4 scoops for breakfast and a couple of bars on route.
Did load up with burger and chips half way mind
Got an average time of 16.2 mph and felt great apart from last 10 miles
Not bad for a 68 year old


Interesting reading. I also do endurance events (ultra marathons and looking at a half IM next year). I really like Huel as a meal substitute but one thing that worries me about using it for an ultra is the fibre content. Fibre is mentioned above but in relation to carb loading.

For anyone who has used it for distance events or the Huel experts, what are your thoughts about the fibre content? The last thing I want is for unwanted stops.


Hi TibbsSi

I did a Half IM this year first one…I stuck with traditional gels and sweets (cos they make me happy) on my way round, with lots of fluids with electrolytes and stuff in (maybe too much), but prior to the event I upped my intake of Huel, partly for convenience (live up north and the IM70.3 was in Weymouth) and partly to increase my nutrition. This is standard practice for me now before anything lasting more than an hour and half.
I used to suffer from what I though was flu after such events but realise it’s mostly my body lacking lots of nutrients and hating me for it.
I personally wouldn’t want to try and carry Huel on my bike as it’s a bit too thick to drink for a bottle on a bike for my liking. And I don’t think I’d be able to carry it running, it’d be too heavy.
But most importantly, I worry about the amount of fibre. No one wants to have to stop mid-race, especially a triathlon where getting out of a triathlon suit is hard at the best of times let alone when you desperately need a “sit down”!
I do plan to try a few longer rides with it in the run up to next season. I have the full IM in July.
Which Half are you planning on doing?

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Just wanted to add, I have used Huel when doing an running event that requires carrying 35lbs of weight over a mountain.
That worked quite well as I had places to stow the bottles of Huel and occasionally walking was expected. I did need a rush poo before the event and straight after though.