The Huel Bar Formula
- Nutrition and Ingredients
- Huel Bar Formula Explained
- Huel Bar Macro Split
- Carbohydrates in the Huel Bar
- Fats: Flaxseed, Sunflower and Coconut
- The Huel Bar Is High in Protein
- Vitamins and Minerals in the Huel Bar
- The Huel Bar Is High in Fibre
- Phytonutrients in Huel
- Amino Acid Profile of the Huel Bar
- Cautions, Allergens and Medical Interactions
By James Collier BSc (Hons), Registered Nutritionist, who devised the Huel and Huel Bar formulas. He has over 25 years of experience working in nutrition and dietetics, including seven years as a clinical dietician in the NHS. Covering an array of clinical areas, he worked with people with a wide range of ailments and food intolerances. He also has an honours degree in Nutrition with Dietetics: read more about James here.
Huel is more than complete nutrition. Not only does Huel meet the UK and EU Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI), Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) and Nutrient Reference Values (NRV) for all macro- and micronutrients(1, 2), it also provides a sustained source of energy and has a wealth of other benefits.
Below is the full list of ingredients contained within the Cocoa Huel Bars:
Oat Powder, Polydextrose, Fruit Juice Concentrate, Brown Rice Protein, Pea Protein, Glucose Syrup, Pea Protein Nuggets, Flaxseed Powder, Cocoa Fibre, Coconut Oil, Pea Protein Crisps, Sunflower Oil, Vitamin & Mineral Blend, Vanilla Flavour
The principal macronutrients through which we obtain energy from food are carbohydrates, fats, proteins and fibre, and the Huel Bar contains them at the ratio of 41:22:25:12 respectively; i.e. 41% of the energy comes from carbohydrates, 22% from fats, 25% from proteins and 12% from fibre. As many people still don't count fibre separately in a macro split, fibre should be included as a carbohydrate making the ratios 52:22:25.
Amino acids are the most basic units of protein, and several amino acids are essential for life, with others being crucial for good health, so any diet has to contain a significant amount of protein. There are also fatty acids that are essential for life and good health, so including sources of fat is crucial too. Carbohydrates may not be essential per se, but they do have significant benefits in sustaining even energy levels.
The Huel Bar provides these macronutrient ratios so that they are within the parameters of healthy eating guidelines as well as allowing for optimum, sustained energy release whilst also covering macronutritional requirements for disease prevention. The ratios are different to that of powdered Huel because a bar has to adhere together, with a pleasant texture and flavour, so different ingredients have to be used.
The carbs in the Huel Bar are from a number of ingredients including fine powdered oats. Oats have been shown to have a low glycaemic index (GI); GI refers to the speed with which blood sugar rises after we ingest a carb source and, hence, energy levels(3). As oats are natural, they provide so much more than just carbohydrates: many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients too.
Carbs in the Huel Bar also come from a number of the other ingredients. Some of these carbs are sugars making the total sugar content of the Huel Bar significantly higher than Huel powder. However, the total sugar content is still well below the maximum daily intake of sugar as per the EU recommendations. The reason that the sugar content of the Huel Bar needs to be higher than powdered Huel is because, in order for the bar to bind together in production, it needs a high proportion of wet ingredients – these can be from fats (in the form of oils), soluble fibre or high sugar-based ingredients. The fat level of the Huel Bar is within recommended guidelines(2), and too much of the soluble fibre ingredients could have a laxative effect, so we’ve found a balance between the oils, soluble fibres and sugary solutions that meets both nutritional goals and makes a pleasant bar.
Indeed, compared to most other nutrition bars on the market, the Huel Bar is much lower in sugar content at just 8.2g per 70g bar, which is 11.7% by weight. Compare this to Nakd bar (Caffé Mocha) at 16.5g per 35g (47% by weight), or to Jordans Frusli bar (Apple & Cinnamon) at 10.8g per 30g (36% by weight).
The fats in Huel provide 22% of the total energy and are made up from flaxseed powder, sunflower oil and coconut oil. This is to ensure there are essential fatty acids in sufficient amounts. The two oils are present to both help bind the bar and to provide good nutrition. The fats in coconut oil are what are known as medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs, and these are treated much like carbs, i.e. they provide an energy-rich, sustained fuel and are perfect for those of us with busy lifestyles(4). But MCTs have another invaluable quality: they are not susceptible to oxidation and rancidity, meaning that they do not contribute to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques, which increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. In short, MCTs from coconut are a healthy and efficient source of energy.
There are two completely essential fatty acids (EFAs) that humans require: linoleic acid (LA – an omega-6 fatty acid) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA – an omega-3)(5). By including flaxseed powder and sunflower oil, we’ve ensured Huel contains high amounts of both of these EFAs as well as other omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. Moreover, these natural oils provide antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals in a biochemical redox balance to help minimise free-radical production. Free radicals may be involved in the pathology of cancer, cardiovascular disease and ageing, so it’s desirable to keep their formation to a minimum, and this is the role of antioxidants.
The GDA for protein is around 50g per day, but this only covers our very basic needs and prevents protein deficiency(1,2). The Western diet typically provides more(6), and the Huel Bar does too. All essential amino acids are included in adequate amounts from two vegan protein sources: pea and brown rice protein, as well as protein from the oat powder. Based on an average 2,000 calorie intake, you’ll be consuming 126g protein per day from Huel Bars with each bar providing 15.7g. This provides a good amount for optimal health as well as building and maintaining a healthy body. Furthermore, protein is more satiating (appetite suppressing) than other macronutrients(7), and weʼve designed the bar to stop unwanted hunger pangs.
The bulk of the vitamins and minerals – also known as micronutrients – in the Huel Bar are from natural ingredients. However, in order to meet the demands of a Western lifestyle, we’ve added a unique vitamin and mineral formula to provide, in some cases, more than 100% of the recommended amounts.
Since the UK Dietary Reference Values were compiled in 1991(1), there have been numerous studies in the past 20 years demonstrating that, for many micronutrients, levels higher than the RNI may have beneficial effects to health. For example, it’s widely considered that the amount of vitamin C we’re recommended to consume is too low(8,9,10), so we’ve added a high inclusion in the Huel Bar formula. Benefits of consuming more vitamin C include a healthy immune system, healthy skin and antioxidant properties(9,10,11), and it also helps the absorption of some minerals like iron and zincs(9,11, 12).
Similarly for vitamin D, the type we use is vitamin D2 or ergocalciferol, which is the vegan-suitable form, and we’ve included this at a level a lot higher (300% per 2,000 calories) than the NRV(2).
With some of the trace elements, the levels are far higher than the recommended amounts. This is because we only need tiny amounts of them, but the ingredients in the Huel Bar are a naturally rich source.
Choline is a conditionally essential vitamin, and although, strictly speaking, it can be synthesised in our bodies, it’s more efficient to obtain it from our diets(13). It’s of particular importance for postmenopausal women(14,15). As Huel is all about optimum health, the inclusion of choline was felt to be fundamental.
There has been some concern about phytic acid: a naturally occurring substance in some cereals including oats. Phytic acid can chelate (bind) some minerals meaning that they’re less bioavailable(16). As oat powder is a fundamental ingredient of Huel, we’ve ensured the levels of some minerals, like iron, are higher, to accommodate any issues with phytic acid chelation. Furthermore, the high amount of vitamin C will help absorption of these minerals(12).
The fibre in the Huel Bar is a mixture of soluble and insoluble forms all naturally supplied from the food ingredients, and provides more than most modern diets. The high-fibre content of Huel helps to ensure the formation of normal, solid stools in healthy users.
As discussed above, using soluble fibre solutions is one method of binding the bar in production, and the ingredients used are based on fibres that break down slowly so as to avoid laxative effects. Fibre acts like a sponge, so it’s important to consume lots of water during the day(17). Moreover, you may well have heard about the beneficial soluble fibre in oats called beta-glucan; well, Huel Bars are loaded with this cholesterol-lowering fibre, ideal for a healthy heart(18).
Phytonutrients are substances found in plant foods which, whilst not essential, may exhibit some health benefits like disease-risk prevention. Junk food diets and many synthetic liquid diets that aren’t based on real food are deficient in phytonutrients, and thus consumers miss out on invaluable health benefits and antioxidant effects.
Because some of the fundamental ingredients in the Huel Bar are plant-based foods, these are already phytonutrient-rich and the benefits are passed on to anyone consuming Huel. However, we’ve also added some additional phytonutrients to optimise the formula and to complement the antioxidant nutrients vitamins C and E and selenium.
Phytonutrient polyphenols have antioxidant activity and help protect against cardiovascular disease, some cancers and age-related conditions. Huel Bar’s beneficial phytonutrients include:
- Avenanthramides: antioxidant polyphenols unique to oats shown to have anti-inflammatory effects(19).
- Ferulic acid: also from oats, a potent antioxidant and antibacterial agent that has also been shown to have anti-cancer properties(20).
- Lutein: from the flaxseed powder, and we’ve also included additional lutein in our vitamin and mineral blend. Although not essential, there is concern that diets low in lutein may lead to macular degeneration of the eye in the elderly, as lutein is involved in eye pigment development(21,22). Lutein is also an antioxidant.
- Zeaxanthin: another antioxidant, this has been added as it also has a role in long-term eye health(22).
- Lycopene: added as it’s a potent antioxidant and has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers(23).
Summary – the Huel Bar Provides Optimal Nutrition
As you can see, the Huel Bar, like powdered Huel, has superior nutrition compared to most conventional diets. Huel and Huel Bars can be your sole nutritional source, or you can consume them as individual meals or even as between-meal snacks. In this way they can be an add-on improvement to your diet to ensure you’re giving your body what it needs.
Protein is made up of amino acids. There are over 500 amino acids in nature, 20 of which are known as the standard amino acids, as these are the ones that are coded for genetically and are subsequently involved in primary protein synthesis in animals. Of these 20, nine are essential as they cannot be synthesised from other amino acids.
The nine essential amino acids are:
The other 11 are:
- Aspartic acid
- Glutamic acid
Amino Acid Content of Huel v1.1
|Amino Acid (mg)||Per 100g Huel||Per 2000 cals Huel||RDA*||% of RDA|
- *WHO (2007) recommended daily amounts for essential amino acids for a 70kg adult
- **Combined total for methionine + cysteine
- ***Combined total for phenylalanine + tyrosine
- ****Figure includes asparagine
- *****Figure includes glutamine
All protein sources are not equal: some are classed as ‘complete proteins’ and some are not. A complete protein is one that contains sufficient quantities of all nine essential amino acids.
Generally, proteins derived from animal foods (meats, fish, poultry, milk and eggs) are complete. Indeed, some proteins derived from plant foods (legumes, seeds, grains and vegetables) are often complete as well; examples include chickpeas, black beans, pumpkin seeds, cashews, cauliflower, quinoa, pistachios, turnip greens, black-eyed peas and soya. Many plant foods have insufficient amounts or one or more of the essential amino acids. Some are notably low, such as corn protein, which is low in lysine and isoleucine.
The protein in Huel Bars comes from pea protein (powder, crips and nuggets), oats, brown rice protein, flaxseed and cocoa. This ensures a good range of all amino acids and that there are sufficient amounts of the essential amino acids. 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. These two sources ensure everything is covered whilst keeping Huel products vegan. Plus there’s additional protein from the oats, which are reasonably high in all essential aminos, the flaxseeds and the cocoa.
The Huel Bar is food; therefore it is suitable for people with most conditions. However, as some conditions require dietary intervention, like with any food, please heed the notes below for the following conditions:
- Diabetes mellitus – the Huel Bar is suitable for type 1 and type 2 diabetics. As with all food, if you’re using medication to help control your diabetes, you should structure your intake of Huel appropriately.
- Inborn errors of metabolism – if you have a glycogen storage disorder (GSD) or other inborn error of metabolism where you require dietary manipulation, you must consult your doctor or specialist clinician before consuming Huel Bars.
- Inflammatory bowel disease – if you suffer from Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or proctitis, due to the high fibre content, we suggest caution when consuming Huel Bars as symptoms vary considerably between individuals. Try one bar per day for a few days and assess symptoms before increasing your intake. If you are experiencing a flare-up, we advise you not to consume them.
- Pregnancy and lactation – Huel Bars are fine to use during pregnancy and for nursing/lactating mothers, but they should not be the sole source of nutrition as there are different nutritional requirements during this period.
- Children – Huel Bars are not suitable for children under three years of age. However, older children may include them as part of a balanced diet that includes a variety of other foods, but Huel Bars should not be their sole source of nutrition as they have different nutritional requirements to adults; for more information see our Beginner’s Guide to Nutrition.
- Huel & Huel Bar are not suitable for those who suffer from phenylketonuria (PKU).
Huel Bars are fine to consume if you’re using most medication. Although there are no obvious reasons why Huel Bars should be an issue, there may be specific drug-nutrient interactions relating to a particular medicine you’re using, so we recommend you read the drug information provided with your prescription, and if you have any further concerns, please discuss them with your doctor.
Huel Bars are 100% vegan and free from all UK listed allergens.
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(14) Fischer L, et al. Sex and menopausal status influence human dietary requirements for the nutrient choline. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;92(5):1113-19.
(15) Fischer L, et al. Dietary choline requirements of women: effects of estrogen and genetic variation. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85(5):1275-85.
(16) Committee on Food Protection; Food and Nutrition Board; National Research Council. "Phytates". Toxicants Occurring Naturally in Foods. National Academy of Sciences; 1973.
(17) Gallaher, D. Dietary Fiber. Washington, D.C.: ILSI Press. 2006.pp.102–110
(18) Brown L. et al. Cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary fiber: a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;69(1):30–42.
(20) Abdelly & Sfar. Antioxidant and Antibacterial Properties of Mesembryanthemum crystallinum and Carpobrotus edulis Extracts. Bouftira Ibtissem. Ad Chem Eng & Sci 2. 2012;(3): pp 359-365.
(21) Richer et al. Double-masked, placebo-controlled, randomized trial of lutein and antioxidant supplementation in the intervention of atrophic age-related macular degeneration: the Veterans LAST study (Lutein Antioxidant Supplementation Trial). Optometry. 2004;75(4): 216–30.
(22) Semba RD & Dagnelie G. Are lutein and zeaxanthin conditionally essential nutrients for eye health? Med Hypotheses. 2003;61(4): 465–72.
(23) Linus Pauling Institute. α-Carotene, β-Carotene, β-Cryptoxanthin, Lycopene, Lutein, and Zeaxanthin. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/carotenoids