Why does Huel contain pea protein AND brown rice protein?

There is talk about vegan protein being an “incomplete” protein, due to a lack of 9 amino acids, but this seems to have been mostly debunked, and vegan protein is considered perfectly good.

In which case, I am wondering, why does Huel contain multiple protein sources, namely, pea protein and brown rice protein?

Does pea protein provide something that brown rice protein doesn’t, or visa versa? Or are they just included to give Huel a wider range of foods? What is the reason to have more than one protein powder?

Because it has not been debunked and is a legitimate concern about vegans if one eats only a single source of protein, or chooses a combination of foods that does not result in a good amino-acid profile (at 2000kcal/day). Exception would be soy protein which is complete, but Huel avoids it due to soy allergy being more common than rice/pea allergy.

Only eating rice protein, as included in Huel, at 2000kcal/day, would put you into a deficiency of the amino-acid lysine. Pea protein makes up for it by being rich in lysine.

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Exactly. Essential amino acids. Brown rice and yellow pea I remember being a classic combination.

I do remember my vegan friend going on about the ‘complete protein’ myth haha… Apparently biology is this thing meat eaters just ‘make up’ to justify their terrible ways :wink:

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So sort of a myth sort of not. It’s a myth that there are no complete vegan proteins, there are e.g. soy, quinoa and buckwheat.

However, most vegan proteins are incomplete. This isn’t really an issue though as there’s many ways around this. There’s a reason why many cultures combine rice and beans.

Rice protein is high in the sulphur-containing amino acids cysteine and methionine, plus it contains good amounts of all the others, but is very low in lysine. Pea protein is low in cysteine and methionine but high in lysine. This is why we selected these two sources, ensuring everything was covered whilst keeping Huel Powder vegan. Plus there’s additional protein from the oats, which are reasonably high in all essential aminos, and the flaxseeds.

You can find out more here: https://uk.huel.com/pages/guide-protein-quality-digestion-absorption


Rice protein is high in cysteine and methionine, but is low in lysine. Pea protein is high in lysine and contains large amounts of branched chain amino acids, so together they form an excellent vegan complete protein source.

Edit: Dan replied while I was typing :woman_facepalming:t3:
Dammit now I just look like I repeated what he said :laughing:


See, this is what I thought. I thought you were just trying to make sure there are adequate amounts of each amino acid, and that made perfect sense to me.

But then I came across this article, which says that protein combining isn’t needed at all, and I think I’ve just been misled by this article:


It turns out my acquaintance was referring to a diet fad called “protein combining” that became popular in the 1970s. It was based on the premise that vegetarian and vegan diets provide insufficient content of essential amino acids, making it necessary to combine plant-based proteins to get the same “complete” protein you’d get from an animal. Protein combining has since been discredited by the medical community, but there are still people out there who adhere to this practice, and even more people who still believe plant-based protein is incomplete.

While it’s true that some plant proteins are relatively low in certain essential amino acids, our bodies know how to make up for it.

“It turns out our body is not stupid,” Greger explains. “It maintains pools of free amino acids that can be used to do all the complementing for us. Not to mention the massive protein recycling program our body has. Some 90 grams of protein is dumped into the digestive tract every day from our own body to get broken back down and reassembled, so our body can mix and match amino acids to whatever proportions we need, whatever we eat.”

Greger told HuffPost that there’s no such thing as incomplete vegetarian protein. The only incomplete protein in the food supply is gelatin, which lacks tryptophan.

I guess this article is either extremely badly worded, or just false? Because they’re saying there’s no need to do protein combining.


Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.
To learn more, it’s a good idea to go to medical sites: search for biology education pages from universities or medical magazines, rather than articles from lifestyle magazines.

Here is a good article that explains about amino acids and proteins, in simple terms, but with enough depth and scientific background to be helpful:

There are 20 amino acids that the body uses to synthesize proteins, which can be arranged in millions of different ways to create different proteins, each with a specific function in the body. The structures differ according to the sequence in which the amino acids combine.

The nine essential acids that the human body does not synthesize (and therefore must come from the diet) are: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

Foods that contain these nine essential acids in roughly equal proportions are called ‘complete proteins’.

The body does not need all the essential amino acids at each meal, because it can utilize amino acids from recent meals to form complete proteins. If you have enough protein throughout the day, there is no risk of a deficiency.


Huffingtonpost is not a reputable source for any information, avoid it. Michael Greger is a quack, avoid him as well.

I guess this article is either extremely badly worded, or just false?

Just false. If you eat a diet that is lacking in e.g. lysine, you will be fine for a while, then your health will get progressively worse, and then you will eventually die as a result of this diet. That is a scientific fact, lysine has been demonstrated to be essential - to prove this wrong you would need extraordinary evidence.

The only point other point that could actually be made is this: (almost) every unprocessed food contains every essential amino-acid. Hence it could be said it is complete protein. However, it contains some amino acids in such a low proportion (such as lysine in rice) that it would be incomplete for meeting protein requirements of humans.

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OK guys. I definitely understand this all now. I was pretty sure that I read a terrible article from Huffington Post, and sure enough, I did.

I think the article may have been trying to say that you can use stored amino acids from previous meals on future days, but written in an extremely poor way. The article posted here makes it much clearer:

The body does not need all the essential amino acids at each meal, because it can utilize amino acids from recent meals to form complete proteins. If you have enough protein throughout the day, there is no risk of a deficiency.

I always just use checkyourfood.com to make sure the amino acids add up, and I’ll continue doing that.

Totally agree with @rikefrejut be wary of what Greger has to say.

An essential nutrient whether that’s a vitamin, fatty acid or amino acid means the body can’t produce it in the amounts required so we must get it from the diet end of story.

About protein combining, the myth may be around every making sure you have a complete protein source at every meal and this is true. As long as over the course of the day you are getting everything you need then it’s much less important to focus on each meal.

Incomplete proteins are definitely real. The ‘myth’ part is really more:

  1. The idea that you need to combine protein sources to form a complete amino acid set in every meal.
  2. The idea that vegans’ biggest concern with protein is ‘completing’ it. It’s not. The total protein you need is several times higher than the total essential amino acids you need, meaning if you’re getting enough protein, you’ve a lot of leeway in how it’s constituted to still be hitting every essential constituent. Vegans’ biggest concern with protein is actually just getting enough of it full stop, which shouldn’t be hard, but some types of vegan diet will hover down around the 10%-of-calories minimum. Partly due to really frustrating articles suggesting that vegans can think of rice and broccoli as protein sources, and dangerous ideas like thinking you can treat jackfruit or sweet potato-based burgers like the meat part of your meal.
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