Testosterone / Phytic Acid - what is Huel doing to mitigate?

Dear Huel team and Huel-ers,

I’ve been on 100% Huel powder for a rather long time now and consider trying the H&S as I need something solid to bite sometimes. This made me look into the ingredients once more. Now I have a few very specific Huel questions I’d like answered before attempting:

Phytic acid is bad for men’s testosterone levels and many studies prove that. If cooking real food, there are various ways to reduce the level of phytic acid, like soaking seeds, legumes, grains. With Huel this task is up to … Huel. And a ‘regular’ diet doesn’t have it as concentrated as Huel to start with, where it’s part of the main ingredients.

I’m interested in explicit details, methods, considerations. No ‘it’s fine, just consume our blackbox’, please. There are enough ‘powders’ like that around that are really bad like the 42 new soy-based products we get every month. I went with Huel powder because you seem to care more than the competition.

regular powder Huel

  1. Flaxseed contains a lot of phytic acid. This can be lowered in various ways. What is Huel doing to do so?
    You list milling here. Is that with said intent?

  2. Brown rice contains a lot of phytic acid. This can be lowered in various ways. What is Huel doing to do so?
    Especially the bran contains it - and since you explicitly call it ‘brown rice’, I assume you include the bran.

  3. Same question for the peas, which could be high in phytoestrogens too. Your link speaks of extraction, whose intent I cannot judge.

Hot & Savoury

  1. I assume Huel processes the ingredients for the regular powder to reduce the amount of phytic acid.

    Huel H&S on the other hand looks like it’s only pre-cooked and simply includes the full, otherwise unprocessed ingredient.
    Consuming tons of brown rice is very bad, therefore the same question applies as for the powder:
    What is Huel doing to mitigate?

General

  1. ‘Brown rice’ simply means rice with the bran and germ. If you do process the rice to reduce the phytic acid levels, why even call it ‘brown’?

  2. After searching your website up and down I found some blood results, but they do not include testosterone levels/hormones. Do you have those numbers?

When consuming 100% Huel (or really any non-negligible amount) these questions are vital. Due to the Corona situation I wasn’t really taking notes of changes myself. A properly controlled study is better anyway. Ideally with more than 4 participants.

On a side note: Why is Huel H&S so much more expensive in Germany than the UK? (with current exchange rates more than 60 EUR difference for the maximum order amount) It’s way beyond mere shipping costs. In Germany it’s not really in the ‘affordable/budget’ class at all like your mission statement says, especially not the H&S. Eating the typical mainstream garbage costs well below half. Even a basic diet of non-organic-but-still-better-than-processed-foods costs less. Personally I’m still very interested in doing Huel long term for health benefits. If it provides superior optimized nutrition it’s worth it.

My experience so far is that it makes me feel full really quickly. It’s almost hard to drink enough to get 100% of the daily maintenance for a moderately active person. (almost 3000 kcal) H&S seems interesting to satisfy the need to bite. At least once day bite-able, real food that’s still nutritionally optimized would be good.

Here’s a ‘ping’ to @Dan_Huel who I saw is one of the responsible persons.

Thank you in advance and have a nice day! :grinning:

Hey there! This is the US Forum so I thought I would hop in and help provide you with a bit of information. :slight_smile:

Would you be able to send along a few of the studies you are referring to about phytic acid and testosterone?

As far as phytoestrogens found in foods like flaxseed, we have this page which can provide more detail on this topic (as well as flaxseed overall), which you may find useful. According to the research (see link above), phytoestrogens from flaxseed do not appear to have an effect on testosterone. In Huel Hot and Savory the flaxseed is whole and in Huel powder it is ground.

Huel was created with the larger nutritional picture taken into consideration. What I mean by this is how various ingredients and their nutrients work together (or against one another) and how they are digested and absorbed within the body. This is the case with both zinc and phytic acid in Huel as well as iron and phytic acid in Huel and both hyperlinks included provide more detail on this. Furthermore, with regard to the ingredients of Huel Hot and Savory, these have all been pre-cooked and freeze dried, which is likely to decrease phytic acid content, as well. We work hard to stay on top of current research and provide appropriate amounts of each nutrient within Huel to balance any potential negative effects of other nutrients.

With regard to the trial you mentioned, we did that trial with a few individuals to assess what would occur if individuals consumed 100% Huel. Any lab values measured were included in the results we shared. I do understand that the sample size was small, and that the trial had limitations and places for improvement, but the trial was done more to provide us with data and further understanding of our product and its effects.

This may be a good question to ask on the Global Huel Forum! I can also ask for additional information on this and will get back to you regarding prices in Germany vs. UK, if you would like! Let me know!

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Big difference between phytoestrogen and just estrogen…

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Thank you. I deliberately chose the US one as usually the US are a lot more active and helpful in general.

I’m quite busy due to the impact of Corona, but here is one I found just now about phytic acid blocking iron absorption: Soy protein, phytate, and iron absorption in humans - PubMed
It seems to always work the same way: phytic acid blocks iron/zinc/nutrients that in turn are required for testosterone production.

I’ve read dozens of studies months ago when I considered Soylent - and the results were not pretty, which disqualified Soylent. Unfortunately not only soy is full of phytic acid.

I read all of that. The only relevant citations are

And that’s why I asked the questions I posted. Is this done to reduce the amount of phytic acid? What exactly is done? Does whatever is done have a measurable effect? etc.

How does H&S differ in phytic acid content? What are the considerations?

That doesn’t have any measured facts either, unfortunately. And that never mentions H&S.

It’s not smart to bet your (hormonal/reproductive) health on ‘likely’. Please publish your research.

And that makes it unfortunately quite useless.
Why not a full blood test?

The only act to really remedy this question besides ‘don’t worry’ and ‘likely not an issue’ is proper testing with measurable facts.
Just include testosterone levels in the testing. I’m sure you can get willing participants in roughly 15 minutes if you offer free Huel for a year to 100 people or whatever statistically significant size. Doesn’t cost you much at your scale, and would make you the number one company in an instant. (since the others put even less effort into publishing research and testing or have nothing at all)

There are thousands (at this point maybe even millions, I don’t know your customer base) of people going 100% Huel, so I’m really shocked you don’t have proper testing in place.

Do you have any tests on this at all? Or is it all just a wild guess? Do you (as in the creators) not test on yourselves and get detailed bloodwork done just out of personal interest?

After reading the Huel page up and down and your reply I’m really not sure how to proceed at all. How can you release a product with the obvious implication of people using it 100% without having tested that fully?
It’s heavily advertised for more than just a single drink here and there, so I really expect testing that covers every possible area and consequence, since you’re playing with peoples’ lives after all.

Please don’t give me the ‘we don’t directly recommend 100%’, since you strongly imply that it’s fine. People follow that, as we can see on forums/youtube/etc.

You also don’t have the GI numbers up yet, which is hard to believe. Such data should definitely come before releasing a product to the masses.

Don’t get me wrong - I love the Huel idea - but the only reason why anyone would go with Huel instead of the much better tasting, and much cheaper, alternatives is proper research and trust that you actually did look into everything. There are dozens of meal replacements out there with pretty much all the same contents more or less, mostly soy.

Can we please get data on this question and make Huel number one! Thank you!

This sounds like a matter of priorities, what is more important to you @Caterneved ?

A. Consuming Huel exclusively and worry about alleged testosterone concerns?

or…

B. Not consume Huel exclusively and not worry about alleged testosterone concerns?

Neither Huel nor any other entity can or should cater specifically to your every want.

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Thank you for taking the time to respond. Both the US and the UK/global forums are equally active and responsive. @Dan_Huel is also here to provide you with any nutrition assistance and we welcome feedback, questions, and discussion on all platforms!

The study that you provided from 1992 looked mainly at soy versus egg white but did also reference wheat bran, casein, and whey. Huel does not use these ingredients but I understand that you may be referencing the paper for the phytate content rather than the ingredients themselves. This study also states that there is conflicting research regarding phytates in these foods and its effect on iron absorption. It also mentions potential confounding factors like calcium, which also decreases iron absorption. Ultimately, the study you provided did find an effect but noted that even without phytates, soy still seemed to have an effect on iron absorption when compared to other foods and more research needs to be done.

Phytic acid/phytates are found in various plants, like grains/seeds, which are consumed by many daily and are also included in Huel. Both Huel pages I linked in the previous post from our website regarding zinc and iron do discuss this in detail.

Phytic acid can bind to vitamins/minerals such as iron and zinc, which you mentioned, and can decrease their absorption as a result. However, phytic acid is also an antioxidant that may assist with binding free radicals/unwanted metals, as well as have positive benefits in certain disease states, like cancer. Though, it is important to note that more research does need to be done. Additionally, the amount of phytates/phytic acid in a food can vary based on many factors, some of which you mentioned in your initial post, and this is something to consider, as well. I linked some reviews that look into this further (#1 and #2 , and #3).

When looking to see if an individual is getting adequate nutrients, you want to look at the whole picture rather than individual components because some nutrients affect others in both positive and negative ways, and some disease states can also affect nutrient metabolism and absorption. If an individual is at increased risk for any sort of deficiency due to examples that include dietary intake, access, or prior medical history, looking more closely at dietary intake and potential supplementation to remedy this, depending on the case, would be something to do for sure. This is noted in the reviews that I included in this response (linked above).

Huel powder has ground flaxseed so that it can be mixed into the powder. Huel Hot and Savory is meant to be eaten with a spoon (or fork, depending on what you prefer), and thus, flaxseed was added in the whole form. All of our Huel products go through testing for food safety and analyses, this includes looking at phytic acid, and it is not of concern. There are adequate amounts of iron and zinc within Huel, and this takes into consideration competing nutrients. It is also important to note that it is not just what is being done to take out phytic acid. As shown by your study, some foods can still have an effect on vitamins and minerals irrespective of phytic acid (and decreasing the amount). It is also important to look at what you are doing to ensure there are adequate amounts of any vitamins and minerals that may be affected (like iron and zinc) and we have done so.

I explained above many of the factors and complexities that go into this topic. This was also discussed previously on an older UK forum thread (see here), as well. Ultimately, similar findings regarding a balanced and healthy lifestyle as the most important factor influencing this were seen.

I agree with you regarding my word choice, and ‘likely’ was not the right verbiage. The way that Huel Hot and Savory is processed where it is pre-cooked and freeze-dried reduces the amount of phytic acid.

I respectfully disagree that the trial was “useless.” This trial was done to set a baseline understanding of the effects of Huel when consumed as your only source of nutrition. This was not done to say that we recommend consuming 100% Huel. While testosterone was not measured, we did do comprehensive testing on participants and this was included in the trial results. Please see here for those results specifically. It is incredibly expensive and complex to do the types of research studies that you refer to and it is not necessary for Huel. I will discuss this more in the next section.

I also disagree with you regarding 100% Huel, as I mentioned above. We do not recommend this to anyone and while there are Hueligans who do consume 100% Huel, it is not the vast majority. We believe in a balanced and varied diet. Huel can fit into that, if you so choose. We recommend consuming Huel 1 or 2 times per day as well as at least one other meal with other food to provide that variety. However, the amount and frequency that you consume Huel is ultimately up to you! We do not need extensive testing to show that Huel is nutritionally complete food. We can see that based on its nutritional components and how they come together to create Huel as well as its nutritional facts. Huel is a food, and while it can be complex depending on how closely you want to examine it, Huel is also wonderfully simple.

As far as the glycemic index of Huel products, we do have this published on our website which I linked here. Huel Hot and Savory is a new product and thus the testing for this product as well as Huel Black Edition, which is also relatively new, are both in progress. COVID-19 delayed testing and research in some areas. This delay includes the glycemic index testing of our product. When we get the results we will publish them. We test this to provide additional information for those who want it, but it is not a requirement to publish this information and I do not think it should be.

We too want Huel to be the best it can be and we do copious amounts of research regarding nutrients and ingredients to ensure this! Thank you for writing about this, it is a great topic of discussion and an important one too.

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Thank you for taking the time to respond, Charlotte. I only have a brief moment right now, but I wanted to quickly respond to this part in particular:

You advertise it as a ‘universal food’, so the implication is directly that you can eat it 100% because it ‘has everything you need’. Huel posts that everywhere and it’s even on the bags. It’s explicitly differentiated from let’s say a protein powder or some diet shake. So the logic ‘all types of foods I need in one item’ => ‘let’s eat it everyday and enjoy optimal nutrition’ follows naturally. If you have a food that is so good, the only reason to not do so would be taste/texture. You (as in Huel) probably check out other forums too I suppose? There are many people going 90%+ on the meal replacements. Many companies have similar or even identical wording to Huel (One could even say some copied…) and people even do the soy-based stuff 90%+. I tried some competitors before I realized it wasn’t smart to dump huge amounts of soy into your system. Customers report big problems with this on various social media, therefore I stayed clear pretty quickly.

I said 90%+ now because that group is truly a huge bunch of people (or at least it seems that way from all the online activity, not that I ever met another ‘Hueler’ randomly in real life). The remaining real meals seem to be more a type of ‘cheat meal’ since humans like to… eat.

Another argument to be made is that ‘we’ 90+%ers probably make up a major chunk of your sales. I buy more in one single order than the ‘typical customer’ that follows your recommendation would ever buy in an entire year.

In addition, why would someone who has it just every once in a while bother registering to a forum - unless supremely bored. You can eat the most unhealthy food every once in a while and it won’t matter. The food you eat for the remaining 90%+ matters

The entire reason for meal replacement companies’ existence is to get rid of this question - you pay for their research. There are sheer infinite ‘regular’ convenience dishes, just for the convenience aspect.

There are in fact plenty. But I’m not in the US, so I don’t have that level of access. In Europe Huel is pretty much on its own in this market segment and scale. And by far the easiest to deal with. Congratulations on that - it’s as reliable as buying any other household goods.

And my ‘want’ as you put it most surely isn’t any sort of exotic desire. I have a certain set of chromosomes that react a certain way, under the influence of a one-sided diet. You do too. The Huel you eat tomorrow is the same you ate today, with no chance of randomly achieving median nutrition for your region or culture. Hence you literally play with your very life.

I really ask the most basic question. You should see the true nutrition masters that keep logbooks and pursue true research on their own! Sport and health communities have a lot of those. I don’t have the time nor the knowledge, thus I pick the product that does.

Can’t stress this enough: all we do is really pay for the research and very minute processing with attention to details a regular person doesn’t have the time or skills too. If you think that’s not necessary, buy a high powered blender, and you can make an infinite supply yourself just fine. (lots of fun stuff on youtube)

How do ‘astronaut food’ or ‘MREs’ compare to Huel while we’re at it? Why are there no Huel RTDs on the ISS? MREs are required to provide optiminal nutrition I suppose - why do we not just eat those? (we don’t have cheap access to them in Europe, but a friend said in the US it’s trivial to get authentic MREs.)

I hope you’re both safe and taking care! We’re fully :mask:ed.
Happy Halloween!

Man, I don’t know… Too much discussion about testosterone. All I know is two of my meals have been Huel for nearly two years and I’m thinner, stronger and my sex drive is great. Stop getting paralysis from analysis!

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To put it simple, if you want to know how the phytic acid is impacting you personally have your doctor do the blood work. Huel reps or nutritionists can’t tell you how it will impact you individually.

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I’m of the same species as the other 99.9999%, believe it or not. There is a baseline that can be studied very well, and with statistical significance.

Extensive blood testing sans medical necessity is not covered in my country, and expensive. Additionally, my schedule is too hectic for a properly conducted study. I don’t have a control group either, as a single person. So respectfully: that’s not useful in any way.

Meanwhile a multi-million dollar company will get enough test subjects in literally five minutes after announcing and can conduct proper research extremely easily. Finding matching subjects from a pool this big is trivial.

Not doing so is reckless and irresponsible.

From Huel site “https://eu.huel.com/pages/the-huel-powder-formula-explained#ingredients”:

" 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 [20]. As oat powder is a fundamental ingredient of Huel Powder, 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 Powder will also further promote iron absorption [21]."

Antinutrients: The Dark Side of Plants?:

Huel is nutritionally complete food. This is what you may see in advertising, on social media, and on packaging. What this means is that Huel meets the percent daily value recommendations, which are recommendations for the general population of healthy individuals in the United States based on a 2000 calorie per day diet (#1 and #2). Nutritionally complete food does not mean that we recommend it to be consumed as every meal, but to provide an understanding of its nutritional value.

A majority of Hueligans consume Huel 1 or 2 times per day due to reasons like its nutritional value, ease of preparation, accessibility, and affordability. There is a small group that consumes Huel more frequently than this. As mentioned prior, Huel is food that is nutritionally complete based on its ingredients and extensive research is not needed to show this. Thank you again for the great discussion. I have provided you with all of the information surrounding Huel, but please feel free to continue the discussion with one another!

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It directly means that it is not harmful at the very least: Hence, extensive research is indeed required.
Huel consists of very limited, concentrated ingredients consumed in way beyond average amounts, even if you ‘only’ consume it twice a day: Hence, extensive research is indeed required.
No normal western diet includes such a concentration of phytic acid/phytonutrients/phytoestrogens: Hence, extensive research is indeed required.

Or call it an ‘enhanced protein shake’.
Or add a clear warning label “do not eat for more than x % of your calories, this product has not been tested thoroughly”.

I’m just as human as you and my life has value beyond being a paying customer. (One that brings in more revenue in a month than others in an entire year or three, that is.) Please spare me the polite marketing phrases.

I asked clear questions:

I explicitly said I read the links already and even created a linked text to show I did, so this is belittling:

I recommended Huel to hundreds of people when COVID came crashing down on us in early 2020. (community in the local metropolis) This attitude makes me regret it. I based my entire trust in Huel on the assumption that you actually have extensive testing in place before releasing any product. Reading ‘it is not required’ is mind boggling.

From the linked thread:

The rest of the thread unfortunately consists of anecdotes and internet-trolls abusing a ‘nutrition’ forum.

Fact: Without proper testing, we won’t know.
It seems nobody ever followed up on that thread either.

This post also never got any follow up regarding the amounts of flaxseed in Huel.

The post by Huel does not mention the amount: https://se.huel.com/pages/flaxseed-overview-of-health-benefits-recommended-intake-and-caution

Hey, I’m just picking this one up to tie off some loose ends. I think Charlotte’s replies have been spot on.

It’s not, we have consumers who have been on a 100% Huel diet for years. I think there’s a some confusion around what nutrition research provides and its purpose. Research is expensive, time consuming and laborious. To conduct a trial in 100 participants with the requirements above will cost 100s of 1000s of dollars, if not more.

The issue I have with this is there is no evidence that phytic acid causes such issues. The burden of proof is not to prove that every single food compound is safe but to prove it’s unsafe in this scenario when their is research to show that phytic acid is fine to consume when iron bioavailability has been taken into consideration.

Would you expect such a claim on any other food? What about the guy who ate just McDonald’s for 30 days? There’s no need for a warning label because Huel is simply food, it’s not a supplement with amounts of nutrients far above what can be consumed in a normal diet, or a pharmaceutical product. If we take heavy metals for example the amounts found naturally in the Huel ingredients/products are lower than a diet that contains fish. Should all tinned fish products, therefore, carry this warning?

Charlotte has already answered these, and I’ll just highlight again that phytic acid is tested for in our raw ingredients and final products alongside a whole host of other nutrients and compounds.

Again, you could say this about any food. Phytic acid is tested via inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy.

Ingredient amounts are confidential as they’re part of our recipe. However, James our Head of Nutrition replied to the community’s queries.

I appreciate text can be interpreted differently to the way the author intended, and nothing Charlotte or I have said is meant to brush you off. I do think your burden of proof and understanding of the requirements for a safe food product is misunderstood and too high. This is especially considering we do far, far more than other food companies and meet all government regulations that the Huel product is sold in.

This will be the last post from a Huel representative on this thread as I feel like we are going around in circles now and the information has been provided to answer your questions.

If you have questions related to anything else feel free to create a new post and we will be on hand to help!

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I love Mic the Vegan, his videos are always informational and entertaining.

MRE’s are not geared for optimum nutrition, but maximum energy. Are they healthy? I guess, but they are not meant to be eaten for long periods of time. They were designed for soldiers operating in less than idea conditions (war zones).

Most of them come in around 1300 calories, so eating three in a day would be almost 4000 calories. Looking at the breakdown, the cheese tortellini with tomato sauce has 46g of fat, 1799mg of sodium (75% of DV), 198g of carbs, 37g of sugar and 14g of fiber.

They are also high in saturated fat (66% in this case) with total fat of 46g (or 231% of DV).

Note: These values are for the entire kit, not just the tortellini pack. It also has peanut butter, gum, coffee, crackers, pretzel mix, pudding, and sucralose (for the coffee, I guess) and a non dairy creamer.