Huel Essential Formula is one of the latest products from Huel Limited. The Huel website lists it as a nutritionally complete and nutritionally balanced meal replacement shake containing all the nutrients and essential vitamins and minerals the human body needs to function.
Unfortunately, when you examine this Huel shake more closely, it’s clear that drinking Huel Essential Formula won’t meet your body’s nutritional needs in the way they suggest. In the following Essential Formula Huel review, we’ll show you exactly why that is. And there are other options on the market in the same price point that do actually manage to do this.
Huel Essential Formula Meal Replacement Shake Review
The Essential Formula Huel powder contains oat flour, tapioca starch, pea protein, brown rice protein, ground flaxseed, sunflower oil powder, xanthan gum, sucralose, natural flavourings, and a micronutrient blend of corn starch, maltodextrin, and essential vitamins and minerals.
Most of the Huel powder ingredients look good at first, but the problems start when you see they’re in a proprietary blend. With no quantities given and many similar ingredients used, it’s very easy for them to use more of the cheap ingredients than the beneficial ones.
You even have some ingredients that are used solely due to their price, which can even have negative effects. Throw in undisclosed natural flavourings and low doses of the vitamins and minerals and Huel’s hot new product starts to unravel extremely quickly.
Buzz words like gluten free and a low price will both help entice people, but those who do buy it will find it isn’t the nutritionally complete meal replacement shake they’re expecting. Only being able to buy in bulk is another drawback too.
We’d therefore highly recommend you go with proven Huel alternatives like Rootana instead. One of the best meal replacements on the market, it truly can replace hot meals and become a core part of a nutritious meal plan. On top of that mixes a lot better than huel essential, tastes better and whilst it is a couple of cents more expensive per portion there isn’t enough in it to justify such a large difference in quality.
Huel Powder Essential Formula Ingredients
Oat flour is rich in fibre, minerals, and protein. It can help lower the risk of heart disease, regulate blood sugar and prevent spikes, make you more energetic, boost the health of your skin and digestive system, and even stimulate weight loss (1).
Unfortunately, it’s also very high in calories and not as nutrient rich as things like wheat flour. It isn’t bad and is even a good gluten free choice, but being the main ingredient in Essential Formula Huel powder severely limits the potential benefits and effects of the product.
Pea protein is among the best plant based protein sources, as it’s a complete protein which contains all 9 essential amino acids. It isn’t too dissimilar to whey protein, although it’s not as bioavailable and is slightly harder for our bodies to use (2).
The real issue with its inclusion in Essential Formula Huel powder though, is the fact there are multiple protein sources in one proprietary blend. With no way to see how much of each is present, it’s impossible to know what sort of benefits to expect, if any.
Tapioca is a type of starch obtained from the cassava plant native to Brazil. It’s lower in carbohydrates than oat flour but doesn’t contain all the nutrients, so it’s usually used mainly for its sweet taste and to add thickness (3).
Like with the pea protein, the real problem with its inclusion comes down to the presence of multiple similar ingredients in one proprietary blend.
As it’s easy to load Essential Formula Huel powder up with this, rather than more nutritionally complete ingredients, and we’ve already seen Huel prefer to use cheaper ingredients, its inclusion can only be seen as a red flag.
Flaxseed powder is extracted from the flax plant and is known to be rich in the omega 3 alpha linoleic acid. This acid can regulate blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels, and prevent or combat issues like diabetes, heart disease, or metabolic syndrome.
The problem is, to see these benefits, you have to consume a large amount each day, with the optimal dose believed to be around 50 grams and there are much better sources of omega 3 such as algae (4).
The Huel powder proprietary blend masks the exact quantity of each ingredient, but with each serving weighing just 100 grams and flaxseed not being right at the top, it’s highly unlikely it contains enough for users to see optimal results.
On the Essential Formula packaging, Huel claims it uses natural flavourings, but gives no more information on them. This means people can’t research the ingredients themselves and continues the trend of Huel products being less transparent than others.
Micronutrient Blend (Corn Starch, Maltodextrin, Vitamins, And Minerals)
Essential Vitamins And Minerals
The blend of essential vitamins and minerals in Essential Formula Huel powder has vitamin a, vitamin b6, vitamin b12, vitamin c, vitamin d2, vitamin d3, vitamin e, vitamin k1, vitamin k2, biotin, folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamin, calcium, chloride, chromium, zinc, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, and selenium.
This is a diverse range and looks fairly good at first glance. However, vitamins and minerals is one area where Huel are required to state the amounts present in the powder.
Most are present in doses around 20 to 30% of your daily requirement. This not only means the levels aren’t optimal, but also suggests they may be using less than optimal nutrition in other areas of the shake too.
Maltodextrin & Corn Starch
Maltodextrin is an artificial sweetener with the same calories as sugar, while offering no extra health benefits. It even has the ability to spike your blood sugar faster than sugar too.
This makes it nothing more than a less healthy alternative to sugar that’s only used to sweeten drinks as it’s a much cheaper option (5).
Corn starch is a carbohydrate found in corn that serves no purpose other than to thicken the powder and the drink that it makes.
Brown Rice Protein
Brown rice protein can be a useful plant based protein source, as it has a high concentration of essential amino acids, which are required for building, fuelling, and repairing muscles. It can’t, however, be considered a complete protein source, as it doesn’t contain the amino acid lysine.
This isn’t always a big problem, but it’s worrying when Huel products don’t list the amount of each ingredient present. This is because they can easily do a bait and switch, using a small bit of a complete protein source, then filling the powder full of an inferior ingredient like this (6).
Sunflower Oil Powder
Sunflower oil powder is a popular meal replacement product ingredient as it’s very cheap, yet rich in omega 3 and omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. It can be beneficial for reducing cholesterol levels and lowering your risk of heart disease or a stroke.
Unfortunately, sunflower oil powder also has a very poor omega 3 to omega 6 ratio. This means while small doses can be beneficial, large doses can actually be harmful to your health (7).
This is worrying as its price makes it attractive to manufacturers, while the lack of quantities means you have no way of knowing how much they’ve used.
Xanthan gum is a polysaccharide that’s added to products sold in powder form as it enhances their appearance, consistency, flavour, shelf life, and texture (8).
However, many protein powders use it in combination with a number of other similar ingredients. As the Essential Formula Huel powder only uses xanthan gum, it’s highly likely it won’t last, mix, or be as easily drinkable as other similar meal replacement drinks.
Sucralose is an artificial sweetener that’s used to provide the Essential Formula Huel powder sweetness rather than using sugar, as it’s calorie free and doesn’t spike your blood sugar.
The problem is it also contains no nutrients or goodness, harms good gut bacteria, and can cause issues like diabetes, inflammation, and obesity (9). This means the sole benefit of using sucralose is far outweighed by the many negatives linked to it.
Huel Review: Essential Formula Pros & Cons
- Low Price
- Contains a number of useful ingredients
- Ingredient quantities are hidden in a proprietary blend
- A number of cheap, low quality ingredients are used
- No information is given on the “natural flavours”
- Can only be bought in bulk
- Vitamin and mineral doses are quite low
Essential Formula Huel Powder Review Conclusion
As we bring our Essential Formula Huel review to a close, it should be clear that it’s a product which is the definition of you get what you pay for. Most of the ingredients are ok but not great, while the proprietary blend makes it impossible to know exactly what you are drinking.
Add in the fact you can only buy Huel products in bulk and some of the ingredients can even cause issues, and you’re simply much better going with other meal replacements, like Rootana.
Working out only slightly more expensive, Rootana is one of the best meal replacement drinks on the market. It provides everything Huel products claim to and then some, while being one of the best tasting shakes on the market, making it superior in every area.