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Huel


Huel is a meal replacement product described as a powdered food that is nutritionally complete, suggesting that you could consume nothing but the shake. Some would argue that it would not be healthy to consume Huel in place of all meals.

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Huel Pros
  • There are some clinical trials that have associated some ingredients in Huel with increased weight loss and improved body composition, when taken alongside a weight loss programme
  • Contains an array of vitamins and minerals that are required by the body for good health
  • Sold in a range of difference options, including a gluten-free product
  • The Huel products are said to be made in facilities that comply with UK and EU safety regulations
Huel Cons
  • No clinical studies have been undertaken on the product as a whole
  • The official website does not claim that the product is designed to aid weight loss or to improve body composition
  • The meal replacement product may not be suitable for all groups of people
  • No money-back guarantee available

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Huel Review

Huel is described as a nutritionally complete powdered food. It is claimed that the powder could be used to replace all meals – the user could just consume Huel. The nutritional information reiterates this, where it offers guidance for use of Huel for four or five meals a day.

The official product website does not claim that the shake will help users to lose weight, though customer reviews indicate that this is what the shake is often used for.
Despite claims on the official website that the product can be consumed in place of all meals every day, user reviews have indicated that consuming nothing but Huel shakes can cause side effects, like fatigue.

Huel Claimed weight loss benefits

The Huel meal replacement shake is not directly claimed to aid weight loss. Customer reviews do however indicate that the shake is often purchased for that reason. It is said to be an easy, healthy and simple meal replacement product that is suitable for people with a wide range of dietary needs, including vegans.

Depending on serving size, four or five Huel meal replacement shakes would contain your entire recommended daily calorie intake. This same daily serving would include 92% of your recommended fat intake and 60% of your recommended saturated fat intake. It is also low in sugar and contains just 69% of the recommended intake of carbohydrates. Due to the lower than recommended energy levels, this shake might help users to lose weight (if it is all that they consume).

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How Huel Works

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The Huel meal replacement shake is not advertised as a weight loss product. Nevertheless, looking at the nutritional content, it appears that people taking the Huel shake as recommended might lose weight.

In terms of weight loss, the meal replacement shake would act as a diet plan whereby the user would be consuming significantly less saturated fat, sugar, and carbohydrates than the recommended daily intake. This is not a recommended method of weight loss in the long term, but might help users to shed some weight in the short term, particularly if combined with regular exercise.

The shake should act as an appetite suppressant, helping the user to feel full despite not consuming a solid meal.

How Each Ingredient Works

Oats

Oats are not thought to have any particular weight loss powers in terms of, for example, fat burning or metabolism boosting. Nevertheless, oats are thought to be a healthy addition to the diet that help to keep the user full without contributing many calories. Oats are also said to be high in fibre, so could help to maintain digestive health, and may offer some texture to the shakes – making them feel more like a meal than a drink which may in turn have an appetite suppressing effect.

Pea Protein

Pea protein is a vetetable source of protein and amino acids (the building blocks of amino acids). The ingredient is fairly common to muscle building and weight loss shakes, particularly as a dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan alternative to other sources of protein, like whey and casein. Protein supplementation is thought to be beneficial for weight loss in several ways. Firstly, protein is thought to be a healthy macronutrient that helps to keep consumers full for long periods of time, potentially helping the shake to act as an appetite suppressant. Secondly, supplementing with protein has been suggested to improve fat burning and so body composition. Particularly when combined with regular resistance exercise, taking extra protein is thought to encourage the use of fat as an energy source whilst promoting muscle gain and recovery. The ingredient might therefore not cause overall weight loss, but might help the user to lose fat tissue and gain muscle tissue.

Flaxseed

Flaxseed is also high in fibre. This ingredient is sometimes claimed to act as an appetite suppressant. It is said that when a user consumes flaxseed, the ingredient forms bulk in the stomach and takes a long time to move through the digestive tract. This is said to cause a feeling of fullness in the consumer, thus potentially helping them to refrain from snacking between meals. Flaxseed has also been suggested to have benefits for high cholesterol, potentially binding with cholesterol molecules in the gastro-intestinal tract and preventing their absorption by the body. This may be beneficial for those attempting to lose weight since high cholesterol is commonly experienced with obesity.

Brown Rice Protein

Brown rice protein is another source of dietary protein – this time attained from rice. The effects of brown rice protein for weight loss are therefore largely said to be the same as those associated with pea protein. The protein content is thought to suppress the appetite and help the user to feel full in between meals. It is also thought to aid body composition – helping to reduce fatty weight and increase muscle mass, particularly when taken at the same time as an intense exercise regime.

MCT Powder

MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides – a type of dietary fat that is thought to be associated with a range of different health benefits. This form of fatty acid is said to contribute fewer calories than other forms (like long chain triglycerides). They are also said to be more readily available for use as an energy source and so may be used for energy for the muscles and organs rather than being stored as fat. There has been suggestion that supplementation with MCTs can help to increased fat burning and boost the metabolic rate.

Micronutrient Blend

The Huel micronutrient blend contains an array of vitamins and minerals. These include vitamins C, B6 and B12, which have all been associated with weight loss in the past due to their important roles in the body – including in the metabolism of substrates for energy. The blend also includes chromium, which has been said to help with weight loss by helping to increase fat burning and improving body composition, as well as suppressing the appetite through the control of blood glucose levels.

Key Huel Ingredients

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A list of ingredients is provided on the official Huel product website, though the list does not contain ingredient quantities (apart from for the components of the micronutrient blend). The bulk of the powder appears to be composed of oats and flaxseed (both principally sources of fibre) and pea protein and brown rice protein (both protein sources). These ingredients are supplemented with additional ingredients like fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, which might help to keep the user healthy and in some cases, have been linked to supporting weight loss.

Active Ingredients

Oats

Oats are a type of cereal that is commonly eaten by humans in the form of oatmeal and rolled oats. Oats are cultivated in temperate parts of the world but are consumed globally. They are nutrient-rich, containing numerous B vitamins and minerals, as well as being high in protein and fibre. Oats are claimed to have a range of health benefits; for example, their regular consumption is thought to help with cholesterol levels, cardiovascular disease risk, and risk of certain cancers.

Pea Protein

Pea protein is a source of protein extracted from the garden pea or yellow pea plant. The fact that is comes from a plant sources means that, in contrast to other popular types of protein, like whey protein and casein protein, pea protein is suitable for vegans, vegetarians, and people who are lactose intolerant. The protein source is said to be high in branched-chain amino acids and so to be beneficial for muscle gain and possibly also for weight loss.

Flaxseed

Flaxseed is an ingredient made from the seed of the Linum usitatissimum plant. The ingredient is often added to herbal medicines for a range of different reasons. Most commonly, it is used as a treatment for gastro-intestinal conditions like constipation, diarrhoea, and gastric ulcers. It has also been used in traditional medicine to treat cardiovascular problems, high cholesterol and bladder infections, amongst many other health issues. The seed extract is high in dietary fibre and omega-3 fatty acids.

Brown Rice Protein

As with pea protein, brown rice protein is an ingredient used to boost the protein and amino acid content of a product. As the name suggests, the ingredient is extracted from brown rice, which is a whole grain food with the outer hull removed. Brown rice is said to be a healthy alternative to white rice because it is whole grain. The rice ingredient is high in fibre as well as several nutrients, such as vitamin B6, magnesium, thiamine, phosphorus, and niacin.

MCT Powder

MCT powder is a powdered ingredient made from medium-chain triglycerides (fatty acids). In the powder form, the ingredient is commonly added to supplements claimed to aid muscle gain. The fatty acids are partially man made. They have an altered chemical structure, apparently attained by mixing coconut and palm kernel oils. MCTs are used in herbal medicines as well as muscle building supplements. The conditions treated by MCTs are usually related to the digestive system, like diarrhoea, celiac disease, and surgical removal of parts of the gastro-intestinal tract.

Micronutrient Blend

The micronutrient blend present in the Huel meal replacement product contains a number of different vitamins and minerals. Amongst these are: vitamins A, C, B6, B12, D2 and K1, riboflavin, chromium, potassium chloride, and biotin. Vitamins and minerals are required by the human body to maintain good health; they perform a whole range of different functions in the body, from cell repair to maintaining the immune system. Some of the added vitamins have been said to help to support healthy weight loss since they are involved in metabolic processes.

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Clinical Studies

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The Huel meal replacement product does not appear to have been subject to any clinical studies; this is not surprising since it is not directly advertised as a weight loss product. Meal replacement products have been tested in clinical studies for their usefulness as weight loss agents; nevertheless, each meal replacement product will vary because they all have different ingredients.

Clinical studies are trials performed by scientists to test the safety and/or effectiveness of an ingredient or product. The studies are performed in controlled conditions and are generally fairly reliable because the reports are reviewed by other academics before being published in scientific journals.

Clinical Studies On Each Ingredient

Clinical Studies on Pea Protein

There have not been many clinical studies published on the effects of pea protein on weight loss or body composition, particularly when compared to other protein ingredients – like whey and soy protein. One study, published in 2015, looked at the effects of pea protein on muscle mass during resistance training. A pea protein oral supplement was tested against a whey protein supplement and a placebo on parameters such as muscle thickness and strength. The allocated treatments were taken at the same time as subjects underwent a resistance training programme. A total of 160 male, young adult subjects took part in the study; they were randomly divided into the three treatment groups and took 25g of their allocated treatment twice a day for a period of 12 weeks.

Body measurements were taken before, during, and after resistance training. The results of this study showed an increase in muscle thickness for all groups; if results of just the weakest participants were included, those in the pea protein group had significantly increased muscle thickness when compared to those in the placebo group. No significant differences were reported between the three groups for muscle strength. It was concluded that when taken alongside appropriate training, pea protein supplementation could help to increase muscle thickness, particularly for those just starting or returning to a training programme.

Clinical Studies on MCT Powder

A number of clinical studies have looked at the effects of medium chain triacyglycerol consumption on weight loss and related parameters. A clinical study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the effects of medium chain triacylglycerols on fat loss and body weight when compared to olive oil. For this trial, 49 overweight male and female adult participants were given either 18-24g of MCT per day, or the same amount of olive oil, at the same time as undertaking a weight loss programme. The study continued for 16 weeks, during which time, the partiicpants were given weight loss counselling and body measurement were taken on a regular basis.

The results of this trial suggested that consuming medium chain triacylglycerol oil could reduce body weight over a 16-week period when compared to olive oil. The authors therefore concluded that medium chain triacylglycerol intake might be beneficial for weight loss when taken at the same time as a weight loss diet.

A second study, published in 2007, looked at the effects of medium chain triglyceride consumption on weight loss and insulin sensitivity in overweight subjects with type 2 diabetes. Forty subjects took part in the study, which was performed in China. The participants were divided into two groups; the first consumed medium chain triglycerides whilst the second consumed corn oil (containing long chain triglycerides) as a control, every day for 90 days. Bosy measurements were taken before, during, and after the study period.

It was reported that those in the medium chain triglyceride group generally lost body weight and had a reduced waist circumference – differences not found in the long chain triglyceride group. There also appeared to be a reduction in food intake in the medium chain triglyceride group. Overall, it was stated that medium chain triglycerides could be useful for reducing risk factors in overweight humans.

Another study, published in 2001, investigated the impacts of medium chain triacylglycerol intake in the long term of body weight and fat mass. A total of 78 healthy male and female subjects took part in the double blind, place controlled study. The subjects were divided to receive either medium chain triacyglycerols or long chain triacyglycerols as a dietary supplement every day for 12 weeks. Body measurements were taken throughout the trial period. The results showed a reduction in body weight and body fat for both groups, but the degree of body weight loss was significantly greater in the medium chain triacyglycerol group than the long chain triacyglycerol group for subjects with a BMI of 23 or more. In this BMI range, a greater body fat loss was also recorded for the medium chain triacyglycerol group at week 8.

Clinical Studies on Micronutrient Blend

The micronutrient blend in the Huel meal replacement product contains a wide range of different vitamins and minerals; we don’t have the space to go into the potential weight loss benefits of each here, so have picked out a couple of studies on a couple of the vitamins/minerals included. Firstly, a 2008 trial looked at the effects of vitamin B6 intake on women after following calorie-controlled diets. The 49 female subjects (all with a BMI of 25-35) were divided to receive a diet high in vegetables or a diet high in cereals. As usual, measurements were taken before, during and after the trial period. The results showed that a diet rich in cereals (particularly forified breakfast cereals) could help to improve vitamin B6 status and in turn, help users to maintain fat-free mass during weight loss.

Studies on the effects of chromium on weight loss have produced mixed results. A pilot study published in 1999 studied the effects of chromium supplementation in overweight women undertaking a weight loss programme. The results of this study suggested that chromium could be beneficial for increasing fat loss while maintaining muscle mass. A 1996 study however produced contrasting results, showing that eight weeks of daily chromium supplementation did not have any significant impact on body composition in men undergoing regular resistance exercise.

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Huel Side Effects

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The official Huel website does not state any potential side effects linked to the Huel meal replacement product; it indicates that the product should be safe and healthy to use in replacement of every single meal of the day, every day. Nevertheless, some have suggested that this may not be the case, if only because taking the recommended amount of the Huel powder each day would leave the user consuming far lower than the recommended daily intake of some macronutrients, like carbohydrates and fat. There is a note on the product label stating that pregnant or breastfeeding women and those under the age of 18 should consult a doctor before using the product.

Side Effects Associated With Each Ingredient

Side Effects associated with Oats

Many people consume oats in their daily diets. The ingredient is therefore considered to be safe for most people when taken in the amounts found in foods. Oats can cause some mild side effects, such as gas, bloating, and stomach pain; these side effects are however thought to be likely to reduce or go away entirely as the body gets used to an increased intake of oats. If you have difficulty swallowing or chewing food, it is recommended that you avoid oats since, if poorly chewed, they can block the intestines. This could also be an issue for those who have other gastro-intestinal health problems.

Side Effects associated with Pea Protein

It is difficult to find reliable information regarding the safety of pea protein and its potential side effects. The ingredient does not appear to have been that well-studied. Whilst side effects associated specifically with pea protein remain unclear, there are some side effects that have been linked to a high intake of protein more generally. There has been suggestion in clinical studies that a diet high in protein can have negative effects on the kidneys, so should be avoided by those with kidney problems. Increasing protein intake has been said to cause milder side effects too, like increased bowel movements, stomach pain, and diarrhoea. These side effects may ease as the body gets used to the altered diet.

Side Effects associated with Flaxseed

Flaxseed is considered to be safe for most people when taken by mouth. The ingredient does however come with some associated side effects, such as increased bowel movements, diarrhoea, constupation, stomach discomfort, nausea, abdominal pain, case and bloating. The higher the dose, the more likely it is thought to be that these side effects will be experiences. Taking large quantities of flaxseed on a regular basis is not recommended due to its potential effects on the digestive system. Flaxseed should be avoided by pregnant and breastfeeding women since the ingredient can act like oestrogen. It is recommended that you consult a doctor before taking flaxseed if you have: a bleeding disorder, gastrointestinal problems, diabetes, hormone-sensitive conditions (including some cancers), abnormal blood pressure, or high triglyceride levels.

Side Effects associated with Brown Rice Protein

Not much information is available with regards to the safety of brown rice protein. The WebMD page for brown rice suggests that the ingredient is usually safe to use in the amounts found in food; its safety in medicinal amounts however is not yet known. Again, due to a lack of information it is recommended that pregnant and breastfeeding avoid the ingredient (or consult a doctor before taking).

Side Effects associated with MCT Powder

Medium-chain triglycerides are thought to be safe for use by most people when taken by mouth. Nevertheless, there have been reports of side effects asociated with this ingredient. The substance has been said to cause stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, intestinal gas, irritability and an essential fatty acid deficiency, amongst other side effects. It is suggested that taking the ingredient with food could help to reduce the negative impacts. The safety of MCT powder for pregnant and breastfeeding women is not known, so it is recommended that these groups of people avoid the ingredient. It may also cause problems for those with diabetes and those with liver problems.

Side Effects associated with Micronutrient Blend

Most of the nutrients present in the micronutrient blend are not generally associated with side effects and in fact, are required for maintaining a good level of general health. Nevertheless, many of the vitamins in the micronutrient blend are present in high quantities, offering up to four times the recommended daily dosage if the Huel product is taken as suggested by the company. High doses of some nutrients can cause side effects; we recommend that you consult a doctor before taking this product as regularly as is advised, particularly if you have a pre-existing health condition or are pregnant or breastfeeding.

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How To Use

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The product label indicates that Huel should be mixed with water in the ratio: one part Huel to five parts cold water and then blend or shake the mixture for 10 seconds. It is stated that the amount of the Huel powder you use will depend on your daily requirements, and that you can alter the ratio as you choose to change the consistency. It is added that the Huel powder can also be used in place of flour when baking cakes, cookies or bread.

One level scoop of the product contains around 38g, which has about 153 calories. The powder should be stored in a cool, dry place and once mixed with water, the beverage should be consumed within a few hours. It can be kept in a fridge and used within 24 hours, but will need to be shaken again before consumption.

The company behind Huel states that the product can be taken four or five times a day to replace all meals (or however many you choose). They recommend consulting a doctor before using the product if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Based on the ingredients list, we would also recommend consulting a doctor before taking if you have a health condition; particularly conditions relating to the gastrointestinal tract or cardiovascular system.

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Who Makes It

The product appears to be made by the company of the name ‘Huel’, which is said to be a trademark of Bodyhack Limited. The company is based in Aylesbury in the United Kingdom; they offer a postal address and email address on the official website, as well as an online form for customers to fill in, but no phone number.

There is no mention of a money-back guarantee associated with the product. The company does not offer a weight loss plan with the Huel products, but there are recipe ideas on the official website as well as a number of guides on nutrition. The company describes their mission as ‘to make nutritionally complete, convenient, affordable food, with minimum impact on the environment and animals’.

The facilities and equipment used by Huel are compliant with all UK and EU safety requiements. The products are claimed to be supported by expert nutritionists and dietritians. Huel states that the ingredients used to make the products are vegan and sustainably and ethically sources. Some of their profit is also donated to a charity called ‘Vitamin Angels’ that helps those suffering from malnutrition in developing countries. They supposedly create no food waste at all, in an attempt to minimise their environmental impact.

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Where To Buy Huel

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Huel does not appear to be available to buy from any well known high street retailer (like Boots, Holland and Barrett, and supermarket chains) in the United Kingdom. It is available to purchase online from the official Huel website and from Amazon.

On the official website, Huel is sold in several different forms. The buyer can choose between original Huel or Gluen Free Huel. They have the option of unflavoured and unsweetened or vanilla powder, and the product can be purchased in a range of quantities. The quantity options are: 28 meals (which should last one week and contains 14,000 calories in total), costs £45; 56 meals (containing 28,000 calories in total), which costs £86; or 112 meals (containing 56,000 calories in total), which costs £165. It is also possible to purchase these as a recurring order, where the customer will be automatically charged every week/few weeks/month/few months, depending on their preference. With this option, the user can save 10% on each order.

Huel offers free next working day delivery with all orders of the meal replacement product. Customers also receive a free shaker a t-shirt with their first Huel order. On Amazon, Huel only appear to be sold in the 28-meal package (in unflavoured and vanilla options), where it costs £45 – the same as the official website.

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Does Huel Meet our Approved Criteria

Money-back-guarantee: No, there does not appear to be a 30-day money-back guarantee.

One-off payment: Yes, the payment seems to be one-off via the official retailer, though an automatic payment option is available to customers.

Manufacturing Standard: Yes, Huel products are said to be made in facilities that comply with all UK and EU regulations.

Accompanying Diet Plan: No, there is no mention of a diet plan with this product.

Ingredients and quantities disclosed: Yes, the ingredients list is provided, but the specific quantities of each individual ingredient are not available.

Company contact details readily available: The official website discloses the company’s postal address and email address, but there is no phone number.

Huel does not meet our ‘Approved’ criteria because it fails to provide a moneyback guarantee.

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Overall Verdict

Huel is a meal replacement shake that is not claimed on the official product website to be beneficial for weight loss. It is simply said to be a simply, easy way for users to get their daily nutrients. It is claimed that Huel can be used in place of all meals every day. However, the product does not contain an individual’s recommended daily intake of some nutrients, like carbohydrates and fats. The product might help people to lose weight due to the fairly low calorie content, but it might not fill people up and may not be sufficient in its nutritional content for all users.

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