My wife would disagree, when she finds a Huel bottle in my work bag that has been there all weekend she says it sets like concrete.
Not very scientific but:
I have been on Huel for nearly a year, I have it for 2 meals a day or 3 if i am working late and know that i won’t have a main meal in the evening.
I have recently discovered that i am Gluten sensitive and currently undergoing tests for coeliac disease.
I also suffer from ME/CFS for this i was taking vitamins at a cost of £50 a month or more.
Since i have been on Huel, I no longer take the vitamins, Huel forms part of my gluten free diet (and no i don’t use the gluten free version), I don’t have most of the symptoms anymore and I have the energy to do my two jobs to the best of my ability.
I wear my Huel T-shirts with pride and will happily tell anyone about Huel.
Or, more likely, they haven’t been shown the complete information and consequently have the wrong impression.
I thought I’d just leave this here…
The perfect diet
What is your M.E like now David? pain and energy? You said you dont take the gluten free one but you could be coeliac, can you explain to me how that works? Im concerned about the cheaper products they use in Huel when they could be using methylcobalamin for example but opt for the cheaper Cyano, things like that.
M.E is (I feel) as good as it gets, I basically walk 4 miles a day to and from work, yes i get tired, in normal terms that would be absolutely knackered, I have little pain, my legs ache most days but it does kind of become livable.
My level is basically the same as it was when i was taking a bucket load of vitamins.
My understanding is that the GF version of Huel is different because they guarantee no cross contamination. I might try the GF version sometime just to see if it makes a further difference.
I have never tried comparing different products, and i agree it is not ideal the Huel use the cheaper version but it can only assume that it is in the name of keeping the price down.
I think that’s correct. I don’t think oats actually contain gluten themselves, so regular Huel is “probably” gluten free, just without the guarantee.
Lack of studies stopped me buying my entire family (12) bags. Shame.
That would be a bizarre thing to do. Why on Earth would you impose Huel on your entire family?
Huel is a young company so studies may come as Huel grows.
What you say here is interesting IcyElemental. It’s true that meal replacements like Huel can be nominally complete inasmuch as they can contain all the micronutrients (like vitamins and omega-3s) that a solid whole food diet can. But there is evidence that vitamins, for example, are less beneficial when taken in isolated form versus when ingested as part of a whole food diet. This is supposedly because whole foods contain various compounds that aid the absorption of these vitamins. So even if Huel contains all the vitamins that we need, it might still be less beneficial to our health than a whole food diet which contains comparable levels of vitamins - because the vitamins in huel are isolated and synthetic. Furthermore, there’s a worry that since meal replacements like huel are powdered, they’re digested much faster than solid foods and as a result less of the nutrients are absorbed into the body. What do you think about these points?
This is correct, but such correlation generally does not stick around once you control for fibre and fat intake. Isolated nutrients do not get absorbed as well as those in whole foods because a) the fibre in whole foods slows down the digestion process, allowing more time for a nutrient to be absorbed, and b) there is almost always some fat in whole foods (even if it is sometimes a low amount such as in many fruits) and this boosts the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). There is also a possibility that phytonutrients in whole foods can aid absorption, but simultaneously antinutrients in whole foods (eg phytates) can also inhibit absorption of many micronutrients.
I’m going to separate this bit out into two because I feel my response contains two distinctly separate arguments here.
Firstly, even if we assume that you do absorb a higher ratio of micronutrients from whole foods than you do from Huel (which I’d argue is not the case for the reasons given above, and the fact that Huel’s micronutrients are not isolated, as they are combined with fat and fibre), that does not necessarily imply that the whole food route is more beneficial. More of a vitamin is not necessarily a good thing, and given that Huel at minimum meets - and in most cases exceeds - the RDAs (which is the amount of nutrient intake required to prevent deficiencies in 97.5% of the population) which themselves take account of average absorption rates, I’d argue that absorbing more isn’t necessarily beneficial. You can get into a more detailed discussion on whether higher-than-RDA intakes are beneficial (I personally think they usually are), but then we’d need to look at each micronutrient on a case-by-case basis and take into account bioavailability of various sources, and it can very quickly get out of hand for a discussion on a forum - though if you’re interested I’d be more than happy to continue with that in a private message.
Secondly, and I’ll only say this very quickly because I’ve written a lot already on this post, especially given it’s the early hours of Christmas Day: a vitamin being synthetic is not a bad thing. You can argue that it being isolated is, based on the fat and fibre point I mentioned above (and arguably phytonutrients), but a vitamin being synthetic makes no difference. When putting aside the issue of whether a micronutrient is isolated or not, the body cannot tell the difference between, for example, an ascorbic acid (vitamin C) molecule extracted from a fruit, or an ascorbic acid molecule synthesised in a lab. The reason we see differences in absorption rates of vitamin C in isolated, synthetic form vs from, say, an orange, is purely due to the isolation - not because it is synthetic. If you extracted and isolated the vitamin C from the orange and compared that isolated vitamin C with the isolated, synthetic vitamin C, their absorption rate would be identical.
This concern makes sense to an extent, but isn’t something I’m personally worried about (and I’ll explain why).
Firstly, one method of analysing how quickly a food is digested is by measuring its glycemic index (GI), which measures the rate at which a food raises blood sugar levels. Foods that raise blood sugar levels slowly, and hence take more time to absorb, have a low GI (of between 0 and 55), foods that raise blood sugar levels slightly faster have a medium GI (of between 55 and 70), and foods that raise blood sugar levels really quite fast have a high GI (of 70+, but very few things have a GI of above 100). Speaking about Huel specifically, its GI is known to be 27, which is firmly in the low range (GI Value of Huel 27), so it is safe to say it is absorbed quite slowly - certainly slow enough for micronutrients to be absorbed sufficiently. Now of course, if a meal replacement shake were to use maltodextrin as its main source of fuel and have a low fibre content, this would become more of a concern, but for higher-quality meal replacements such as Huel which have a lower GI, it isn’t an issue.
Secondly, and I’ll admit before going into this that this is based purely on my expectation because I haven’t looked for studies on this topic, but I would suspect that the smaller particulate size in meal replacements allows nutrients to be absorbed more easily, thus counteracting any potential issues caused by them being digested more quickly than whole foods. There is an issue with this thought which I’ll touch on in a second, but in brief the logic behind this assumption is that, because each particle of, say, oats in Huel is chopped much more finely than in an oat groat, there is a greater surface area for a given volume of oats in Huel than in a bowl of the groats. This larger surface area means that at a given volume of oat intake, there is a larger area of the oats in Huel covered in digestive enzymes than there would be with the groats, simply because there is more surface area accessible on the surface of the Huel oats than the groats prior to stomach acid and enzymes breaking down the groat molecule. This would in theory allow the nutrients in meal replacements to be absorbed more quickly, meaning even if the food is passing through you quicker, you’ll still absorb just as much (or possibly more) from the meal replacement.
Now as I said, this theory is not without issue, and the main issue I can see is that digestion and micronutrient absorption is far more complicated than just digestive enzymes getting involved. There’s sometimes an upper limit to the amount of a micronutrient that can actually be absorbed actively over a given time period, so even if you were producing enough enzymes to break down and fully extract the micronutrients from a meal replacement shake, it would be feasible that you wouldn’t be able to actually absorb them fully, at least not actively. However, given the actual difference in digestion time of even the fastest-digested meal replacement shakes and whole foods, this issue would be extremely minimal, as an extra couple of hours would almost certainly not make a difference - though even if it did, the RDAs are designed to take into account fast-digested sources as well as slow ones, so it still shouldn’t be an issue.
Again, this is another topic we could go a lot more in-depth on by discussing individual micronutrients and their rate of active absorption, but this topic likely isn’t the place for that level of depth. We’d also run into the issue that for many, there haven’t been enough studies done to accurately determine active absorption rates, so our debate on it may be limited.
Very well articulated info from @IcyElemental.
Just to add, here’s a link to the trial we did in respect of glucose response, ie demonstrating that Huel doesn’t ‘pass through you’ quickly which should alleviate some concerns.
Care to share what study-backed thing did you buy your entire family instead? ;D
I for one don’t mind at all reading these kind of well reasoned/referenced discussions in here!
Even more so when it’s so typical to hear one-liner criticisms extracted from the cesspool of supposed health bloggers, influencers and general crackpots.
I dislike threads like this. Someone who is hell bent on finding a flaw in the setup and logic of Huel. It’s just sad! Especially when it’s “asking for a friend”…
Well, I dunno - it prompts loads of informative information from people who know what they are talking about, and I enjoy reading the discussion that follows…
I see that point and agree with you, but it seems like the original poster won’t accept what knowledgeable people are saying!
yeah… I know… but thats ok. Some people prefer to remain suspicious and thats fine. I think anyone who really wants to discern the right way forwards for them personally, will question and scrutinise and maybe even really study the latest scientific research into the topic.
I personally am completely satisfied with the information on the product and the expertise and science behind it - using my own personal knowledge of nutrition and biology, plus being in tune with my own body. Science is great - but I do understand scepticism - what was accepted as brilliant and absolute fact in science is often discovered to be faulty or incomplete many years later. That’ll always be the case I think. Best science in my opinion is ‘suck it n see’ !
I don’t think Huel is better than a perfect, organic, whole food diet - preferably all grown yourself for freshness, and anything else sourced from fair-trade, low environmentally impact methods. But its fairly impossible to actually have a perfect diet like that, especially with our busy lifestyles and complications with sourcing reliable good-quality food that doesnt contain ingredients that either harm our health or cause devastation to the planet in one way or another.
Huel makes me feel good physically, mentally, it fits in with my lifestyle and helps me practice ahimsa (concept of causing as little harm as possible with your lifestyle and food choices).
That’s good enough proof for me. I have in the past attempted to scrutinse other food sources for purity, fair-trade, negative impact, pesticide levels etc etc etc and OMDS it is near impossible.
People generally don’t put as much thought and concern into everything else they eat, but I can understand why they want as much info as possible on Huel - its different - they want to know its safe, and wanting reassurance can only be a good thing.
I don’t really worry about what other people will / won’t accept as science / truth / knowledge.
But I do love all these posts debating it - it makes a fascinating and informative read