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The Huel Ready-to-drink Formula Explained

This explanation was written by James Collier BSc (Hons), Registered Nutritionist, who devises the formulas for Huel products. 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 fields in nutrition, James has worked with people with a wide range of ailments and nutritional goals. 

Huel is more than complete nutrition. Not only do Huel products meet the UK and EU Reference Nutrient Intakes (RNI), Reference Intakes (RI) and Nutrient Reference Values (NRV) for all macro- and micronutrients* (1-3), they also provide a sustained source of energy with a wealth of other nutritious benefits. The reference values are what's accepted as enough of each nutrient to cover most of the population and are essentially the recommended daily amounts (RDAs) for each nutrient. But there's a lot more to Huel Ready-to-drink than just meeting these RDAs.


Huel is 35:42:20:3 macro split

The principal macronutrients from which we obtain energy from food are carbohydrate, fat, protein and fibre, and in Huel Ready-to-drink their ratio is 35:42:20:3 respectively; i.e. 35% of the total energy comes from carbohydrate, 42% from fat, 20% from protein and 3% from fibre.

Amino acids are the most basic units of protein, and nine amino acids are essential for life – with others being crucial for optimum health – so any diet has to contain a significant amount of protein. Huel Ready-to-drink is high in protein with all essential amino acids present in good amounts (see below).

Fat is more energy-dense than carbohydrate and protein, so the Huel Ready-to-drink formula includes large amounts of healthy fats in order to achieve less volume and an easy-to-consume Huel meal in a bottle. Moreover, there are some fatty acids that are required for optimal health, and Huel Ready-to-drink is rich in the fats that provide these essential fatty acids. 

Carbohydrate – whilst not essential per se – does have significant benefits in respect of sustaining energy levels, and those in Huel Ready-to-drink are slow-release carbs – ideal for maintaining energy for up to several hours.

The amounts of fat, protein and carbohydrate in Huel are designed to provide optimum, sustained energy release as well as covering requirements for health and protection against disease.


Huel Ready-to-drink is high in protein

The RI for protein is 50g per day, but this only covers our very basic needs at a level that adequately prevents protein deficiency (1-3). The Western diet typically provides more (4), and Huel Ready-to-drink does too*. All essential amino acids are included in adequate amounts from vegan protein sources: pea protein, brown rice flour, oat powder and flaxseed. Each 500ml bottle of Huel Ready-to-drink provides 20g of high-quality protein – 40% of the average person’s daily requirements, a good amount for optimum health as well as building and maintaining a healthy body. Furthermore, protein is more satiating (appetite suppressing) than other macronutrients (5), and a Huel Ready-to-drink meal has been designed to stop unwanted hunger pangs.


Oats, tapioca and brown rice for carbohydrate and more

The carbs in Huel Ready-to-drink are mainly from ultra-fine powdered oats, brown rice flour and tapioca starch. Oats have been shown to have a low glycaemic index (GI); GI refers to the speed after which we ingest a carb source to the resulting rise in blood sugar and, hence, energy levels (6). The oat powder in Huel Ready-to-drink has been milled so finely that it’s readily soluble and also provides so much more than just carbohydrates: soluble fibre and many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients too. Brown rice flour provides carbs, protein and other nutrients. Tapioca starch is an ideal source of carbohydrate as it is soluble and works well with other ingredients. The oats, rice flour and tapioca starch in Huel Ready-to-drink support the other ingredients in helping to sustain energy levels until the next meal.


Fats: Rapeseed, flaxseed, sunflower and coconut

The fat in Huel Ready-to-drink provides 42% of the total energy and is made up from rapeseed oil, flaxseed and sunflower lecithin to ensure that the essential fatty acids are included in optimum amounts with Huel Ready-to-drink being rich in monounsaturates, omega-3s and omega-6s. We’ve also included MCTs from coconut for a very good reason: MCTs, or medium-chain triglycerides, are treated much like carbs, i.e. they provide an energy-rich, sustained fuel and are perfect for those of us with busy lifestyles (7). 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. Read more about MCTs here.

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) (8). Using fats from rapeseed, flaxseed and sunflower, we’ve ensured Huel Ready-to-drink contains sufficient amounts of both of these EFAs as well as other omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids*. Moreover, these ingredients provide antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals in a biochemical redox balance to help minimise the negative effects of free-radicals. 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. Read more about fats here.


Vitamins and minerals in Huel Ready-to-drink

A bulk of the vitamins and minerals – also known as micronutrients – in Huel Ready-to-drink 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 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 (9-11), so we've reflected this in the Huel Ready-to-drink formula. Benefits of consuming more vitamin C include a healthy immune system, healthy skin and antioxidant properties (10-12).

With calcium, the US recommended amount is more than the UK RNI (1,300mg vs 800mg per day) (1, 2, 13), and we feel the US recommendation is more than sufficient to protect against osteoporosis. With some of the trace element minerals the levels are higher than the recommended amounts. This is because we only need tiny amounts of them, but the natural ingredients in Huel Ready-to-drink are a rich source.

Choline is a conditionally essential B vitamin, and although, strictly speaking, it can be synthesised in our bodies, it’s more efficient to obtain it from our diets (14). It’s of particular importance for post-menopausal women (15, 16). As Huel is all about optimum health, the inclusion of choline was felt to be fundamental.

Another example is vitamin D: the RNI was 5mcg per day, but in 2016 this was revised to 10mcg per day (17), so the amount of vitamin D in Huel Ready-to-drink more than reflects this higher requirement*.

There has been some concern about phytic acid: a naturally occurring substance in some plant foods including oats and flaxseed. Phytic acid can chelate (bind) some minerals meaning that they’re less bioavailable (18). As oats and flaxseed are fundamental ingredients in Huel Ready-to-drink, we've ensured the levels of some minerals, like iron and zinc, are higher, to accommodate any issues with phytic acid chelation. Furthermore, the high level of vitamin C in Huel Ready-to-drink will also further promote iron absorption (19).


Fibre in Huel Ready-to-drink

Huel Ready-to-drink contains 5.7g of fibre per bottle. The fibre in Huel Ready-to-drink is a mixture of soluble and insoluble forms all naturally supplied from oats, flaxseed and chicory. This fibre profile helps to ensure the formation of normal, solid stools in healthy users.

Fibre acts like a sponge, so it’s important to include lots of fluid in a fibre-rich diet (20). As Huel Ready-to-drink is made with water, there’s plenty of fluid supplied, but we do recommend you also include plenty of water in your diet.

The Huel Ready-to-drink formula has been designed to maintain optimum digestive system health, and there are also other benefits from its fibre profile: you may well have heard about the beneficial soluble fibre in oats called beta-glucan; well, Huel Ready-to-drink contains good amounts of this cholesterol-lowering fibre, ideal for a healthy heart (21).


Summary – Huel Ready-to-drink is a meal 

As you can see, Huel Ready-to-drink provides superior nutrition compared to most conventional meals. Huel Ready-to-drink is a nutritious meal to be enjoyed at any time, or as an add-on improvement to your diet to ensure you’re giving your body what it needs.

*based on a 2,000 calorie intake of Huel products.


Amino acid profile of Huel

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.

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 of 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 Ready-to-drink comes from four of the main ingredients: pea protein, oats, brown rice flour and flaxseed. This ensures a good range of all amino acids and that there are sufficient amounts of the essential amino acids. Rice 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. Selecting different sources ensures everything is covered whilst keeping Huel Ready-to-drink vegan. Plus there’s additional protein from the oats – which are reasonably high in all essential aminos – and the flaxseed.

Ready-to-drink (based on Vanilla v1.0)

Amino Acid (mg) per 100ml per 500ml serving RDA* % of RDA per serving
Tryptophan 35 173 280 62%
Threonine 144 719 1050 68%
Isoleucine 201 1003 1400 72%
Leucine 346 1729 2730 63%
Lysine 318 1592 2100 76%
Methionine 37 183 1050** 44%
Cysteine 56 281
Phenylalanine 212 1062 1750*** 108%
Tyrosine 164 820
Valine 30 151 1820 8%
Histidine 336 1678 700 240%
Arginine 82 410
Alanine 180 899
Aspartic acid**** 454 2271
Glutamic acid***** 667 3333
Glycine 159 797
Proline 151 753
Serine 330 1651


*WHO (2007) recommended daily amounts for essential amino acids for 70kg adult

**combined total for methionine + cysteine

***combined total for phenylalaine + tyrosine

****figure includes asparagine

*****figure includes glutamine


Cautions and allergen advice

Huel Ready-to-drink 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 – Huel 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.
  • Coeliac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis – Huel Ready-to-drink is made with gluten-free oats and is certified as gluten-free; each batch is tested for gluten as part of our strict quality controls.
  • 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 using Huel Ready-to-drink. Huel Ready-to-drink is not suitable for those who suffer from phenylketonuria (PKU).
  • Inflammatory bowel disease – if you suffer from Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or proctitis and are experiencing a flare-up, we advise caution when using Huel Ready-to-drink. However, if you’re in remission, Huel Ready-to-drink may be enjoyed freely.
  • Pregnancy and lactation – Huel Ready-to-drink is fine to use during pregnancy and for nursing/lactating mothers, but it should not be the sole source of nutrition as there are different nutritional requirements during this period.
  • Children – Huel Ready-to-drink is not suitable for children under 4 years of age. However, older children may include Huel Ready-to-drink as part of a balanced diet that includes a variety of other foods, but Huel Ready-to-drink should not be their sole source of nutrition as children have different nutritional requirements to adults.
  • Eating disorders – Huel Ready-to-drink may be consumed by individuals with anorexia or bulimia nervosa as a useful source of complete nutrition. However, we recommend that individuals with eating disorders only use Huel Ready-to-drink after discussing it with their doctor or relevant clinician.


Medication interactions

Huel Ready-to-drink is fine to consume if you’re using most medication. Although there are no obvious reasons why Huel Ready-to-drink 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.


Allergen advice

Huel Ready-to-drink is 100% vegan, gluten-free and free from all the main allergens.


Further reading:



  1. COMA. Dietary reference values for food energy and nutrients for the United Kingdom. Report of the Panel on Dietary Reference Values of the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy. Rep Health Soc Subj (Lond). 1991; 41:1-210.
  2. Food Drink Europe. Guidance on the Provision of Food Information to Consumers Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 2013 [Available from here].
  3. British Nutrition Foundation. Nutrition Requirements Revised 2017 [Available from here].
  4. Cordain L, et al. Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005; 81(2):341-54.
  5. Weigle DS, et al. A high-protein diet induces sustained reductions in appetite, ad libitum caloric intake, and body weight despite compensatory changes in diurnal plasma leptin and ghrelin concentrations. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005; 82(1):41-8.
  6. Foster-Powell K, et al. International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002; 76(1):5-56.
  7. Marten B, et al. Medium-chain triglycerides. Int Dairy J. 2006; 16(11):1374-82.
  8. Linus Pauling Institute. Essential Fatty Acids  [Available from here].
  9. Deruelle F & Baron B. Vitamin C: is supplementation necessary for optimal health? J Altern Complement Med. 2008; 14(10):1291-8.
  10. Combs GF Jr & McClung JP. The Vitamins. 4 ed: Burlington: Elsevier Science; 2012.
  11. Carr AC & Frei B. Toward a new recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C based on antioxidant and health effects in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999; 69(6):1086-107.
  12. Linus Pauling Institute. Vitamin C  [Available from here].
  13. FDA. CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 2016 [Available from here].
  14. Zeisel SH & Da Costa KA. Choline: an essential nutrient for public health. Nutr Rev. 2009; 67(11):615-23.
  15. Fischer LM, et al. Dietary choline requirements of women: effects of estrogen and genetic variation. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010; 92(5):1113-9.
  16. Fischer LM, et al. Sex and menopausal status influence human dietary requirements for the nutrient choline. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007; 85(5):1275-85.
  17. SACN. Vitamin D and Health. 2016.
  18. Committee on Food Protection; Food and Nutrition Board; National Research Council. "Phytates". Toxicants Occurring Naturally in Foods. 1973.
  19. Lopez HW, et al. Minerals and phytic acid interactions: is it a real problem for human nutrition? Int J Food Sci & Tech. 2002; 37(7):727-39.
  20. Gallaher D. Dietary Fiber. Washington D.C.: ILSI Press; 2006. p. 102-10.
  21. Brown L, et al. Cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary fiber: a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999; 69(1):30-42.


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