Tim Ferriss Intro
Hundreds of people have asked me about Soylent, a controversial Silicon Valley team trying to replace food with a grayish liquid.
“Does it really deliver all the nutrients the human body needs?”
“Is it safe?”
“Why hasn’t anyone tried this before?” [Hint: they have]
And most often: “What do you think of Soylent?”
Serendipitously, four or so weeks ago, I received an e-mail from Shane Snow, a frequent contributor to Wired and Fast Company:
I’m sure you have seen the buzz about the food-hacking movement, where a couple of Silicon Valley techies have been creating Matrix-style food replacement formulas for “optimum” chemical nutrition. Soylent.me, in particular, has been buzzing like crazy, having raised $800k in a Kickstarter-like campaign.
But nobody (besides the creators) has gotten his or her hands on any yet.
Naturally, we had to do an experiment.
This post describes the longest non-employee trial of Soylent to date (two weeks without food), including before-and-after data such as:
– Comprehensive blood panels
– Body weight and bodyfat percentage
– Cognitive performance
– Resting heart rate
– Galvanic skin response
I share my thoughts in the AFTERWORD and occasionally in brackets, but this article focuses on Shane’s experience and data. Please also note that this is *not* a Soylent take-down piece. I hope they succeed.
That said, there are some issues. I expect the debate on Soylent to be fierce, so please leave your thoughts in the comments. I’ll encourage the Soylent founders to answer as many questions as they can. From all sides, I’m most interested in studies or historical precedent that can be cited, but logical arguments are fine.
Also, a quick clarification: There is a bit of soy lecithin (an emulsifier) in Soylent, but soy is not a main ingredient, which is understandably confusing.
Enjoy the fireworks…
It’s seven a.m. on a Wednesday, and I am in my kitchen staring at a bag of flour. A crinkly, metallic bag with a blue, Superman-style “S” logo glued to it. With no scissors handy in my one-bedroom Manhattan apartment, I’ve managed to tear the bag open roughly with my teeth, inhaling a blend of oatey sawdust that, when mixed with water, will be my sustenance for the next two weeks.
I stare at it, thinking about all the pizza I won’t be eating, and the donuts Rebecca from the office will surely set out on the table next to my desk. But, I had all those things last night as a parting gift to my taste buds, so I sigh, pour the flour mix into a 2-litre pitcher of cold water, and shake.
This is Soylent. Not the cannibalistic “Soylent Green” that Charlton Heston weeps about in the 1970s sci-fi movie, nor the soy and lentil “soylent” steaks in Harry Harrison’s 1966 novel, Make Room! Make Room!. This is Soylent, the tasteless, odorless food replacement drink that a kid in California—who raised a million bucks from strangers like me—invented to take food out of our daily equation and, ambitiously, cure world hunger. This is the Soylent that geeks in Silicon Valley have been buzzing about for the better part of a year, and the Soylent that various nutritionists have attacked with dire arguments of Ad Hominem mixed with Appeal to Authority. This is the Soylent whose inventor, Rob Rhinehart claims has made him fitter, more alert, and more productive, after having drank it semi-exclusively for about seven months.
… and it tastes like oatmeal water. Not bad, I admit as I gulp down half a Nalgene bottle’s worth for my first of many non-breakfasts with the stuff. I fill a second Nalgene to drink after work, and leave the Fedex box with a dozen more crinkly bags on the kitchen counter as I lock the apartment door behind me.
On the surface, Rhinehart, a 24-year-old entrepreneur and engineer, seems an unlikely person to invent such a concoction. I had reached out to him months ago after reading his blog, where he moaned about how time consuming cooking and eating food is for him, and documented the development of a meal replacement in the vein of the amino acid goop served on board The Nebuchadnezzar in The Matrix. But when we met up a few weeks ago in Brooklyn, Rhinehart became in my mind the most likely person to invent such a drink. Quiet, earnest, with the precise diction of someone smarter than any of your friends (unless you hang out at science poetry slams), Rhinehart strikes you as the kind of obsessive introvert who really doesn’t have the patience for food and just might be willing to cram a decade of biology and chemistry into his head during Winter Break to invent a cure for it.
Basically, he’s a hacker. He’s just taking that hacker’s mindset to the human body.
“People see some credential as this binary thing,” he explained to me about why he’s qualified to do this. “The formal path is really inefficient.” But by devouring textbooks and seeking mentorship from master chemists and nutritionists, and bringing his experience in electronics manufacturing (which turns out to be strangely analogous to mass-producing supplements), he had successfully reverse-engineered—at a molecular level—exactly what the human body needs out of food. He claimed, at least.
And that’s where the nutritionists and whole foodies start to freak out. As Rhinehart published his findings and geared up to take his chemical smoothie to market (the natural thing for a Silicon Valley-ite to do upon inventing anything), the objections started to chunkily pour in like mineral-packed oat-water in a Nalgene bottle. The most common include the following:
- The body needs whole foods and not atomic nutrients; the synergy between diverse ingredients is what matters in nutritional uptake.
- We don’t know what we don’t know about nutrition (i.e. Soylent might be unexpectedly harmful).
- The inventor has zero background in health.
- Some of its core ingredients are nutritionally empty.
- “If food is too hard, you’re doing it wrong.”
- It’s “ludicrous” and “dangerously unhealthy.”
- It hasn’t been scientifically tested by anyone but the founder.
I love food as much as the next person. As a New Yorker, I hang out with whole foodies, juicers, raw vegans, and holistic health coaches aplenty. As a vegetarian, I am no stranger to dire warnings about dietary choices, or superstitions many people have about food. But as a technologist, I can relate to Rhinehart’s questioning of the assumptions we perceive as granted. (For example, I’m nervous about antioxidants, as some studies indicate they’re harmful to the point of causing cancer; however, most of us assume “high in antioxidants” is a selling point.)
So, when I look at the above list of objections, I think this:
- The body needs whole foods, not atomic nutrients; the synergy between diverse ingredients is what matters in nutritional uptake. This sounds nice, but has not been scientifically proven.
- We don’t know what we don’t know about nutrition (i.e. Soylent might be unexpectedly harmful). That’s not a good reason to not try to innovate. Why not do some tests?
- The inventor has zero background in health. If we’re going to dabble in logical fallacies, this one is better: If a man with a bachelor’s degree can invent self-landing rockets, then a kid with the same degree and a blender can invent a meal replacement drink.
- Some of its core ingredients are nutritionally empty. The Soylent team claims they’re updating the formula to resolve such concerns. But even so, is Soylent on the whole less healthy than the average person’s diet? Are the “filler” ingredients supplemented in a way that delivers balanced nutrition? Those are the questions that need answering.
- “If food is too hard, you’re doing it wrong.” Given the obesity epidemic in America and the number of malnourished people in the world (including America), it’s not a stretch to say food is indeed hard for a whole lot of people.
- It’s “ludicrous” and “dangerously unhealthy.” Given the lack up scientific backup for such statements, this is only conjecture at this point. (Interesting side note: Rhinehart told me that Soylent meets FDA guidelines; the crowdfunding campaign says the components are FDA approved, and Soylent will be made with “strict regulatory controls.” I’m curious what those controls are, but it sounds to me like he is essentially cooking with FDA approved ingredients but hasn’t gone through the nightmare that is the FDA testing process on the final product yet. Not that FDA approval means something is perfectly safe for all people, per se.)
- It hasn’t been scientifically tested by anyone but the founder. I want to test it.
As the crowdfunding orders piled up, and it became clear that Soylent’s delivery would be delayed like every Kickstarter project ever funded, I asked Rhinehart if I might get my hands on some supply, so I could do a gruel-based version of Supersize Me and measure the results of what Soylent does to a mildly out of shape 28-year-old.
He shipped me two weeks’ worth.
Then, I asked Tim Ferriss, himself a body hacker whose penchant for lateral thinking is refreshing in the echo chamber of interest-conflicted health bloggers and naysayers, for advice on how to make my two-week study scientific. He had a company called Basis overnight me a health tracking wristband, gave some advice regarding blood tests, and said, “Keep me posted!”
Now, I knew that two weeks was probably not enough time to see dramatic changes, but it is enough time, worst-case scenario, to do some damage. (However, total meltdown didn’t seem likely.) What I wanted to do was begin testing the conclusions that Rhinehart and his company had claimed, that compared to the average person’s diet…
- Soylent provides all the energy and nutrients the body needs.
- The body can absorb all the nutrients Soylent provides.
- Soylent makes one more alert.
- Soylent can help people cut fat and maintain good body weight.
- Soylent saves time and money.
- And at the end of the day: Soylent isn’t dangerous.
I consider myself a pretty health-conscious person. No alcohol. No meat. Slow-carbs when possible. Run three miles, three times a week. Pull-ups, push-ups on the days I don’t run. On the weekends, however, my weaknesses come out: I tend to devour pizza and shotgun Vanilla Coke. Despite what is probably an above-average-health routine, I am out of shape compared to five years ago when I lived in Hawaii and surfed/body-boarded every day, and I’m certain that I don’t get all the vitamins and nutrients I need—especially things like Omega-3s that vegetarians have a tough time eeking out of spinach and arugula smoothies.
Here’s what a typical day’s worth of food looks like for me:
Breakfast = Muscle Milk (often I’ll also have mate tea when I first get up)
Lunch = Chipotle vegetarian burrito (or something akin to it) and a Diet Coke
Dinner = Take out, usually something like Thai red curry with tofu
Snack = Typically, a handful or two of peanut M&Ms from the office; almonds if I’m lucky
Nutrition Facts–Grand Total:
Total Fat: 74.1g
Saturated Fat: 24.5g
Trans Fat: 0
Dietary Fiber: 34g
Vitamin A: 96%
Vitamin C: 139%
Vitamin D: 35%
Vitamin E: 35%
Vitamin B6: 35%
Vitamin B12: 35%
Pantothenic Acid: 35%
Want to see the individual nutrition facts for each item? Here they are:
Muscle Milk Diet Coke Chipotle Burrito Thai Red Curry (x2 servings) Rice Peanut M&Ms
$24 / day
For two weeks, I traded that in for this:
(Click to enlarge. Note that my shipment had two weeks’s supply, though this paper says one.)
Soylent isn’t supplying a finalized nutrition facts list until the company launches this Fall, but here’s the breakdown based on information Rhinehart shared with me and has posted online, based on daily nutrition percentages for an adult male and the recommended daily serving size of Soylent. (Download his most recent nutrition facts sheet here.)
Total Fat: 65g
Saturated Fat: 95% of daily recommended value
Trans Fat: 0
Dietary Fiber: 40g
Protein: 80g (Note that early reports declared that Soylent had 50g of protein; Rhinehart recently revised his blog to say 120g of protein now, though he told me it was 80g in the Soylent Version 0.8 that I drank. The formula isn’t final yet.)
Vitamin A: 100%
Vitamin C: 100%
Vitamin D: 100%
Vitamin E: 100%
Vitamin B6: 100%
Vitamin B12: 100%
Pantothenic Acid: 100%
$9 / day (at the crowdfunding campaign price)
The day before Soylent, I went in to my doctor for some fasting blood tests. Tim recommended a comprehensive swath of exams via WellnessFX, a company that collects and visualizes health information in cool, newfangled ways. Unfortunately, the nearest clinic was two states away from me. Most of the tests in WellnessFX’s “Cadillac” suite don’t have to do with dietary changes (according to my doctor), but were just plain cool and important to know about in general. So I did the next best thing and got a few panels—ones that a local nutritionist recommended—at my doctor’s office and had them shipped to a lab that WellnessFX uses. (Also note: if I had gotten the comprehensive suite here in New York, it would have cost over $5,000 to cobble together the individual tests on my own! One day, I will spring for that, but not today.)
[TIM: I disagree with Shane’s doc and would argue that most blood markers can be moved up or down by diet. After all, outside of physical environments/pollutants, what other primary epigenetic inputs have greater global effects? From liver enzymes to gene expression, you are what you eat.]
Then, I attempted to do 3 different body composition and weight tests: my FitBit home scale, a bioelectrical impedance body composition analyzer (or BIA, for which I used an InBody 230 at a local gym), and a DEXA scan at a local radiology lab. Bad news struck once again, as the DEXA scanner table was broken, “but will be fixed in two weeks.” After calling the only place in NYC that I could find that has a Bod Pod (Brooklyn College) and getting voice mail every day for a week, I decided to bag the third body scan. It was the before/after comparison that mattered anyway, which I would get with the other two just fine.
Finally, I took some tests on Quantified-Mind.com to measure my mental alertness while I was eating my typical diet of burritos and Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi. In this way, I could try to reproduce Rhinehart’s claim that Soylent improves mental acuity.
I normally wear a Jawbone UP bracelet to measure my steps and sleep, but Tim recommended the Basis band, which measures those things plus skin temperature and heart rate, so I started wearing that.
I was determined to eliminate any other variables, including bedtime, stress, and exercise, so I tried to stick to my regular routines before, during, and after the trial, and I did my best to standardize my sleep schedule and the times I weighed and measured myself, for both mind and body tests.
And then I had a mini party for myself, gorged on all the foods I shouldn’t eat, and went to bed with food in my belly for the last time.
(Me. 7am. Looking like some sort of a wild animal.)
My first surprise was that Soylent tasted fine, familiar even. It’s easy to gulp down quickly. In fact, as someone who’s used to drinking disgusting vegan protein shakes made out of peas and hemp, I found it quite pleasant.
On the first day, I was struck with a wave of exhaustion around 3:30, and I had a “tired headache” the rest of the afternoon. This low energy in the afternoon is common for me, but felt particularly bad this day. I blamed it on the Vanilla Coke at 11pm the night before.
Months ago, my doctor had told me I had a mild amount of acid reflux. It hadn’t bothered me lately. But as soon as I started the Soylent, I noticed that the back of my throat started feeling like fire.
On the second day, it was clear to me that I was psyching myself out on the “no food” thing. My nose seemed to pick up the scent of food everywhere. I even wrote this in my journal:
“Last night I had a dream that I ate a brownie, and halfway through the brownie realized that I was only supposed to be eating Soylent for the next two weeks.”
By the end of Day 3 I realized that if I drank more Soylent in the morning and rationed it less, I had great energy levels in the afternoon. On Days 1 and 2, I drank about half of my supply by 8pm when I got home, and on the days that I tried to drink 3/4 of my supply by mid-afternoon, I felt great.
But also by the end of Day 3, I had a monster canker sore on my bottom lip.
(Me. 7am. Still looking haggard.)
By the fourth day of Soylent, I turned a corner. I started feeling noticeably great. I didn’t get the afternoon doldrums, I wasn’t starving, and had plenty of energy for my regular, 3-mile run along the West Side of Manhattan. On Sunday, I held a marathon writing session, where I didn’t even look up for over 6 hours—a shocking feat for me lately. And my burning reflux throat was completely gone. Though the canker sore was still going strong.
WARNING: Skip to the next section if you don’t like reading about poop.
It was around this time that something I should have anticipated—but hadn’t—finally happened. My poop became Soylent. Typically (and forgive me if this is TMI) I have a bowel movement once a day; it’s rare that I don’t. With Soylent, I started going every two days. And by the time everything from before made it out of my system, said infrequent bowel movements became extremely sticky and, ahem… off-whitish-tan. It was gross, but felt strangely… purifying?
(Me. 7am. Look who took a shower!)
I stopped craving food at this point. I felt fantastic. I sat at a work outing and didn’t care that I wasn’t eating the delicious guacamole that everyone was passing around. I would watch people leave for lunch breaks and chortle to myself while I got an hour of extra work done and sipped my Soylent. My energy levels were higher than I had felt in a while. I didn’t feel that sort of shaky invincible like you do after drinking a Red Bull, but I felt pretty darn close to it.
But on Day 8, something peculiar happened. I got really bad vertigo in the afternoon. Then again the next afternoon.
I soon realized this was because I had been cheating since Day 7.
What happened was my blender broke. I had been shaking and stirring Soylent by hand, which meant I wasn’t able to get all the clumps out. By this time (and either it was my batch settling or me starting to get lazy at stirring), the chunks in my mixtures were getting huge. The white stuff that was mixed into the tan stuff was floating to the top and congealing together. For the last few days, I’d tried swallowing the white chunks down and gagged on them. So I just started just scooping them out.
I’m pretty sure the white chunks were the rice protein, and perhaps something else important. Whatever it was was causing my blood sugar to crash. On the afternoon of Day 9, I bought a Magic Bullet.
(Hey, look at you, Mr. Morning Person!)
The Magic Bullet did the trick. I fully mixed and fully drank my Soylent, and soon felt great. No more vertigo. Energy levels still at an all time high.
At this point, I was becoming hyper productive—both because I felt like it and because I was no longer using food as a procrastination method in my life. One of my coworkers told me I was more wired and chipper than he’d ever seen me.
[TIM: The “food as procrastination technique” is a non-trivial point. It’s critical to always ask yourself: “What else could explain this effect?” Personally, I love to delay writing by snacking and drinking when totally unnecessary. If Soylent removes these delay tactics, is the improvement due to biochemical change or a behavioral change?]
Also by this time, the canker sore was completely gone (I am told it was stress), and there was still no more sign of the reflux (perhaps also stress?).
I was happy. Life was starting to feel simple. I felt… lighter… inside. Which is a hard thing to objectively measure, but that was the case.
And by the final day, to my surprise, I found myself wishing I had two more weeks’ of Soylent left.
My first day back to real food was a bit of a doozy. I took all the blood tests and body scans in the morning, fasting, and then went straight to upstate New York for a meeting. In the meeting, we were served pasta salad and melty cheese sandwiches, which I promptly devoured. And then felt like a camel had kicked me in the intestines. Later that day, I ate half of a pizza from Angelo’s in Midtown (great place, btw) and washed down some vitamins with Muscle Milk to ensure some modicum of nutrition.
And the next day I felt gross.
Inspired by my experience with Soylent, and with that junk food binge over and done, I committed to eating healthier on my own. And I have. I cut soda out of my diet entirely—an easy thing to do after two weeks off. After a couple days of mild indulgence on things like bread and chocolate, I’ve now restarted Tim’s Slow-Carb Diet™, this time with what appears to be a little more will power. I even started working out with a trainer. (No more half-hearted pull-ups!)
Though I felt a noticeable difference in energy after the first couple of days, once I started eating healthy on my own, I feel like I’m somewhere between my “normal” and “Soylent” level. Which is not too shabby.
(Oh, and it took two days for poop to not be Soylent anymore; four to completely return to normal. Hooray.)
Here’s the raw data from my tests, plus explanations when needed:
Weight / Body Composition:
This is the embarrassing part where everyone gets to see how out of shape I am. (Note to any lazy future news reporters who arrive at this page via Google or some other future search engine: Do not describe me as 160 lbs and made of 20% fat in any future articles. I’ll soon be a changed man, I swear!)
InBody 230 (BIA) Scan, BEFORE:
InBody 230 Scan, AFTER:
The BIA indicates that I lost 7.7 lbs in these two weeks. (Awesome!) Concerningly, I seemed to have lost 3 lbs of fat and 4.7 lbs of lean mass. (Hmm….)
Fortunately, only 1.2 lbs of that lean mass was “dry lean mass” aka muscle. The rest was apparently water weight. So I had a 3:1 fat loss to muscle loss ratio, which is much less concerning.
My home scale tells the same story, just scaled down about 5 lbs:
FitBit WiFi Scale, BEFORE:
FitBit WiFi Scale, AFTER:
I’m not quite so heavy on the home scale; that’s undoubtedly because the bio-electrical scanner scans you while you’re still wearing your clothes, and I was wearing pretty heavy jeans the first time I went in. To make sure clothes weren’t a factor, I wore the same jeans when I went back in the second time (both times I wore a V-neck t-shirt of similar weight).
For anyone who’s curious, I do have DEXA scans, which the place with the broken table (Chelsea Diagnostic in Manhattan) took of me on the last day of Soylent. They pretty much corroborate the %s. Here’s a fun picture:
I had several blood panels tested before and after, with the following results:
(Click either of the below images to enlarge)
(Click either of the below images to enlarge)
You can pore through the data yourselves, but the areas that stick out to me are the following:
- Fasting Glucose went down
- Sodium and Potassium and Chloride and Carbon Dioxide and Nitrogen and Calcium stayed relatively the same
- Creatinine went up 30%
- Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate dropped 27%
- Total Cholesterol went from 127 to 117, dipping just below the normal range. (Says the nurse at my doctor’s office, “The abnormal result was your total cholesterol level which was 117mg/dL. The low limit is 25mg/dL, so it was only slightly out of range. When your levels are high this is a concern, but low cholesterol is not anything to worry about.”)
- HDL Cholesterol (the good kind) stayed basically the same
- LDL Cholesterol (the bad kind) went down from 66 to 63
- “Non HDL” Cholesterol (I assume more of the bad kind) went from 82 to 73
- Triglycerides, or fat in the blood stream, dropped 46% (apparently lowering my risk of heart disease)
- Monocytes, Absolute went up 25%
- Eosinophils, Absolute went down 33%
- Basophils, Absolute went up 25%
I tested my reaction times via a site called Quantified-Mind early on and toward the end of my Soylent trial (and attempting to get the same amount of sleep before each test, also mitigating other variables such as mood or time of day). The site puts you through a battery of tests, randomized in groups of 7, so the results below are a combination of a couple of trials that I did in order to get matching tests both times.
Higher scores mean better reaction times and accuracty. As you can see, I improved across the board. This seems to corroborate the observation that I was feeling more alert and mentally snappy.
Vital Signs & Steps:
I wore a Basis band for the duration of the trial (with the exception of Day 5, when the battery ran out, and I left it at home charging). Below are some screenshots of early days on Soylent versus later days on Soylent.
(click either of the below to enlarge)
(Key: Blue line is skin temperature; red line is heart rate; orange bars are steps walked or run. Gaps are when I took the thing off for some reason.)
It’s difficult to pick out many Soylent-related insights from these charts, other than nothing crazy went on with my heart or skin temp throughout the trial. One interesting tidbit is my sleeping heart rate seemed to smooth out the longer I was on Soylent. There was less jumping up from 45 to 53 beats per minute and back.
I asked Bharat Vasan, one of the founders of Basis, to take a look at the limited data set I collected and help me unpack what happened. He dumped my data into a spreadsheet (which you can view in its entirety here), and commented on the following highlights:
- RHR: Your Resting Heart Rate had declined over the last 3 days of data from 50bpm to 46bpm which could be a sign of improved fitness. There are also other factors that could have contributed to it from your diet or sleep patterns. It may be interesting to chart your weight against resting heart rate.
- Sleep: You slept a little over 8 hours a night (both average and median) which is the great since that’s what’s recommended. Sleep times seem to have been pretty consistent with a couple of late nights (judging from the patterns chart below).
(Side note: one of the cool things the Basis tracks is perspiration vs heart rate. Notice with this chart how my perspiration spiked even at times when my heart rate was normal. “Potentially due to an emotional reaction or temperature changes,” Bharat tells me. Does that have to do with diet? I’m not sure. But it’s interesting.)
Regular diet (not including meals out with friends on weekends, which almost always includes dinner Friday night and brunch Saturday): $24/day
Soylent diet: $9/day
Savings: $15/day or $105/week ($5,460/year)
(If you include $80/weekend I typically spend on eating out here in New York, then that’s another $4,160/year, for a total of $9,620.)
Potential weaknesses in the data:
Although I attempted to eliminate variables that could affect any of my before/after measurements (such as wearing the same clothes for the bioelectrical impedance scan and taking photos and tests at about the same times of day), the following things could have affected the final data:
1) I took my second BIA approximately 3 hours earlier in the day than the first one. Though I drank tons of water during Soylent, according to the instructions, those missing 4 lbs of water weight indicate I may have been less hydrated when I came in the second time. And studies of BIA measurement (on obese subjects, at least) indicate that hydration potentially alters the accuracy of BIA muscle and fat measurement.
2) On that note: I drank more water during my 2 weeks of Soylent than I normally do. How much of my results could be attributed to that change versus the actual Soylent ingredients, I’m not sure. But it could be a factor.
3) An alternative explanation to my improved scores on Quantified Mind could be that I simply got better at the tests because I had taken them before.
4) This experiment only looks at the effects of addition (I added Soylent). The gaping hole is that I couldn’t properly test the effects of subtraction of elements of my regular diet. What if the elimination of diet caffeinated soda is what really caused the fat loss? What if Muscle Milk was making me sluggish, rather than Soylent making me alert? (I think these explanations are probably unlikely, but I’d rather be certain than hunch-driven.)
5) Perhaps most importantly with a one-man experiment like this, I’m not immune to the possibility of a placebo effect. Would I have had similar results if someone told me that a pizza-only diet would make me skinnier and snappier? (P.S. If that diet ever becomes a thing, count me in.)
What I would do differently next time:
I believe a 30- or 60-day Soylent trial would produce more conclusive (and perhaps dramatic) results than the two weeks. Before embarking on such a trial, I would test (or study) the elimination of various elements of my diet, one by one, to account for the effects of subtraction on all of the measurements I took.
Second, I would like to test Soylent with a number of subjects, and give half of them placebos. The difficulty here, of course, is in the details, and in the possibility of really screwing the placebo people over. (Do you give them a drink that truly is nutritionally empty and then watch them nearly starve to death? What do you split test: high carbs and low carbs, high vitamins and low vitamins, individual ingredients? Do you blend up a day’s worth of Chipotle and Muscle Milk and dye it tan as a control?)
I would certainly do a DEXA scan or Bod Pod before and after, not just BIA and a home scale. (Couldn’t help it this time with the broken table at one location and summer break at the other. Also, how does the entire city of Manhattan only have one of each of these?!)
To better measure muscle gain or loss, I would physically measure the inches of my waist, arms, chest, legs, and neck before and after.
Finally, to really make things interesting, I would love to split test subjects living off of various other meal replacements (they’re out there). The Ultimate Meal, GNC’s Lean Shake, Slim Fast, Naturade—shoot, even Muscle Milk (if I drank 4 of my 34g shakes a day, I’d get 100% of nearly all my vitamins and tons of protein).
While we’re at it, we might as well put the test subjects all in a house together and let MTV film. 😉
After looking over the data and my daily observational journals, it appears that a Soylent diet contains more nutrition than my typical diet, and that I was able to absorb said nutrition sufficiently well. Even though I’m not in the habit of putting many bad substances in my body (except for caffeinated soda, which I have now cut off), I was definitely getting more balance and less junk via Soylent than I do with my normal routine. My blood tests show that I remained healthy under a Soylent regimen. I had no weird heart rate or sleep issues (and in fact seem to have slept better than normal), and I was indeed more alert.
However, the composition of my weight loss (3 lbs of fat and 1.2 lbs of muscle shed) indicates that I wasn’t getting enough protein to maintain lean muscle, given my height/weight and the 3-mile runs and pullups/pushups I do 3x a week. This speaks to the challenges of creating a one-size-fits-all formula in a food replacement. When I try Soylent again in the Fall, once the company ships orders, I plan to supplement with extra protein. Of course, Rhinehart and team are still tweaking the formula. They say they will soon release different flavors, and Rhinehart indicated to me that they could adjust the mixture for athletes. So more optimal protein/carb mixtures are likely in the cards at some point.
Going along with some of the skeptics I mentioned earlier, I do question the high amount of carbs and the use of oat flour and maltodextrin in the Soylent 0.8 formula; why not something healthier to deliver energy, like quinoa? Perhaps it’s a cost issue?
One thing to note is that these guys aren’t marketing Soylent as a fat-shredding regimen. It’s meant to be a health simplification diet. And that it absolutely was. Shockingly, so, I might add, because I expected to be miserable the whole time and was in fact quite happy. Beyond the time savings (and not having to think about food much), I was struck by how much easier it was to stick to a diet as simple as Soylent versus any other diet I’ve tried. As they say, it’s easier to be 100% obedient to a diet than 99%. Soylent left no room for debate, and therefore turned out to be quite easy.
(Though sticking to the diet was surprisingly easy, I did have one gripe: Nalgene bottles are a rather bad user experience with anything but water. The mouth of the bottle is huge, making it easy to spill. And spilled Soylent dries like paper mache.)
By far, the most interesting result to me was the cost and time savings of living on Soylent. I saved $200 during my trial. This is good news for the company’s greater mission of combating world hunger—especially since I imagine they’ll be able to manufacture and ship the stuff to impoverished areas at much cheaper than the kickstarter price. (One side note: the use of Soylent requires access to clean water, so there will be additional logistical challenges to making a “cure-all” for the world’s starving.)
My two weeks of Soylent is just a data point among a flood of results that will come out as the powder hits the market this fall. Long-term, clinical trials are certainly going to go a long way to proving the stuff’s effectiveness and safety to a degree that will not leave nutritionists nervous. But in my limited data set, signs point in a positive direction for the Soylent crew.
On the other hand, food is delicious. Much more delicious than Soylent, even though Soylent isn’t awful.
“We’re definitely not trying to compete with the experience of your mom’s cooking,” Rhinehart tells me. “Our goal is to make food more like water.”
I found a new appreciation for good food after living on Soylent for two weeks. That first bite of Angelo’s Pizza on my first day off was a truly aesthetic experience.
But all the freedom to eat heavenly, post-experiment food didn’t prevent me from saving half a bottle of Soylent after the last day of my diet, just in case I needed a quick meal sometime.
It wasn’t long before I did.
Shane Snow is a technology journalist in New York City. He contributes regularly to Wired Magazine, Fast Company, Advertising Age, and more. Follow him on Twitter @shanesnow or on his LinkedIn Influencer blog at http://www.linkedin.com/influencer/7374576. And if you’re especially adventurous, subscribe to his private mailing list at http://eepurl.com/yJaEP
I came away from my Soylent experiment with a few unanswered questions. I’d love any insights or opinions from Tim’s readers on the following:
1) How much of a problem are the so-called “nutritionally empty” ingredients like Maltodextrin? Are carbs from that source (or oat flour) just as good as other carbs, so long as one gets all the other vitamins and minerals from other sources?
2) What powder-izable ingredients might one swap in for any of the Soylent ingredients to further optimize the formula?
3) What other variables ought to be controlled for in future experiments with Soylent?
4) What’s the probable explanation for the acid reflux and canker sores in the first few days? Is it possible that they were related to Soylent, or more likely related to other factors in my life?
5) Also, can we suggest some more marketable names than Soylent? (Or is the fact that it’s a hoax-sounding name good for marketing?)
Afterword from Tim
I commend the Soylent team for attempting to simplify food. The problems of nutrition and world hunger are worth tackling.
That said, I’d be remiss if I didn’t highlight a few points, voice a few concerns, and pose a few questions. Soylent has done an incredible job of building an international PR platform, sparked from single well-done blog post written before it was a business.
And with great audience comes great responsibility.
Food isn’t a game, and people can die. I propose that — if Soylent doesn’t modify it’s claims — people will die. For their customers and investors to remain intact, allow me to highlight a few things:
– Meal-replacement powders aren’t new. The only reason SF-based investors think it’s new it because of a novel target market: time-starved techies. Met-Rx pioneered meal-replacement powders (MRP’s) in the 1990’s, and there have been dozens of copycats since. From the Wikipedia entry:
Created by Dr. A Scott Connelly, an anesthesiologist, the original MET-Rx product was intended to help prevent critically ill patients from losing muscle mass. Connelly’s product was marketed in cooperation with Bill Phillips and the two began marketing to the bodybuilding and athletic communities, launching sales from the low hundreds of thousands to over $100 million annually. Connelly sold all interest in the company to Rexall Sundown for $108 million in 2000. MET-Rx is currently owned by NBTY.
– Be careful with any terminology like “FDA-approved” or indirect implications of medical-like claims. Get a good regulatory affairs law firm familiar with both compliance and litigation. Consumables at scale involve lawsuits.
– It’s premature to believe we can itemize a finite list of what the human body needs. To quote N.N. Taleb, this is “epistemic arrogance.” Sailors only need protein and potatoes? Oops, didn’t know about scurvy and vitamin C. We need fat-soluble vitamins? Oops, consumers get vitamin A or D poisoning, as it’s stored in body fat.
But let’s put aside a complex system like the human body–what about an isolated minimally-viable cell? Craig Venter, who sequenced the human genome, was recently interviewed by Bloomberg Businessweek on his team’s attempts to build one:
We’re trying to design a basic life form–the minimal criteria for life. It’s very hard to do it because roughly 10 percent of the genes are of completely unknown function. All we know is if we take them out of the cell, the cell dies. So we’re dealing with the limitations of biology.
Upshot: The human body isn’t well understood at all.
This doesn’t mean you can’t attempt to create good nutritional products; it does mean you need to mind your claims.
– Nutrition and people are not one-size-fits-all. Among the Soylent claims Shane outlined, there are the below. I’ve added my comments:
Soylent provides all the energy and nutrients the body needs.
[TIM: I’m not convinced Soylent can prove this.]
The body can absorb all the nutrients Soylent provides.
[TIM: I’m not convinced Soylent can prove this for healthy, normal subjects, let alone — for instance — people with celiac disease who cannot handle grains.]
Soylent makes one more alert.
[TIM: If measured, this could potentially be demonstrated.]
Soylent can help people cut fat and maintain good body weight.
[TIM: Be wary of any structure or function claims. Reword.]
Soylent saves time and money.
[TIM: Provable compared to another defined group (e.g. eating at Chipotle), but not across the board.]
And at the end of the day: Soylent isn’t dangerous.
[TIM: I’m not convinced Soylent can prove this. Where are the data? Safe for how long?]
I think claiming to know all the nutrients human’s require is dangerous. Claiming something is “safe” as opposed to a more objective/provable “all ingredients are on the GRAS list” is also playing with fire.
Given your early adopters, there’s a good chance you’ll have at least a handful of Type-I and Type-II diabetics (among other medical conditions) who are engineers prone to enjoying extremes. How do manage that with your user directions and messaging? What if they’re 100 pounds instead of 180? Or 350 pounds instead of 180? Don’t expect “Don’t use Soylent if you have a pre-existing medical condition” to stop them from using it exclusively as food, if that’s your positioning.
Tread carefully. Moderate claims are nothing to be ashamed of and can be monetized incredibly well. Don’t roll the dice with your customers’ long-term health.
Best of luck. I really hope you guys figure it out.
And dear readers, what do you think of Soylent’s approach and the above experiment?
Please join the conversation in the comments below. There several MDs, nurses, and nutritionists kindly offering their professional opinions (and answering questions).
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.
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656 Replies to “Soylent: What Happened When I Stopped Eating For 2 Weeks”
This was a great, enlightening (and fairly rational) experiment. I’m a huge Soylent skeptic, but I’m also willing to listen to reason. It looks to me like it’s not that bad, but it’s also not the saviour of humanity, which is all I seem to be hearing about it lately.
My issue with their argument lies in the fact that diet has a long-term effect on the human body. Soylent’s forumla seems fundamentally logical in the short term (as a supplement/infrequent meal replacement), much like other meal replacement powders, like those available from Vitamin Code. However, I’d be very skeptical of changing the majority of a person’s diet over to consuming this stuff long-term. I wonder what the 5-10 year effects on health would be?
Also, I dislike their rather aggressive stance in the media towards other options (Michael Pollan’s food tactics, etc). Saying that food is a luxury and steering us away from creating better ways to feed the world through responsible agriculture is a dangerous game to play. They’re obviously not forcing this belief on people, but at the same time saying that they’d thrash Michael Pollan or other sorts in “cage match” seems a bit concerning in terms of their good intentions.
Agreed. Lets just grow better food & restore the bounty of the Earth people! Lol
This could help the hunger crisis of the world. There should be more organic farming going on though. But we still need to focus on the soil crisis. At the rate we are going, we will run out of top soil in 60 years. We need to plant more grass, and use migration grazing techniques, to increase the nutrition levels of the soil, also planting tree’s would help immensely with the carbon crisis. By planting more grass plants and tree’s, we could reverse climate change and save the world. One of the major ways that you could help the planet, on a (at home scale) would be to compost, and grow a certain percentage of your food at home. To conclude, I think that soylent could be a good thing, with more testing and further modifications. Who knows, maybe in the future. Everyone will be thin and trim and healthy. Only time will tell.
actually, cannabis farming has been proven to not only provide food to 3rd world or impoverish villages,(the oil of the seeds is THE best source of the 3 essential fats that you require) but the plants themselves actually filter air much more efficiently than trees. They also filter cancerous carcinogens that would kill most plants, and cause us cancer.They grow in nearly any climate and soil type ( with the right strain) and can fully mature in 60 days. On top of providing the grower with a fibrous plant, that is perfect for making soft clothes, and
*browser crashed on me, sorry about that. It cut me off.
But the fiber is also perfect for making sturdy housing. There is also an organization working to provide fresh water to needy villages. Usually by drilling down to fresh water for them, and setting up a system to help the village self govern the pumps. I think a mix of these 3 things (cannabis seeds, fresh water, and soylent) would be the the perfect solution.
I’m thinking of making a food replacement bar made from steak and kale.
dehydrate it together and make various jerky flavors from it
maybe call it veat?
What if I’m not the most active of individuals..? I would love to try soylent, but I worry that the protein level may actually be too high for me. I’m barely 115lbs on a good day, and I’m attempting to gain healthy weight, but I’m just not super into exercise. Would there be a lower protein formula for the less active? Also, If it really does increase my energy level, and I find myself wanting to go for a run, would I need a protein adjustment? Is there a separate formula for woman? And if there is, how does differ from the regular formula? For example, I and many of my female friends have a hard time getting enough iron in our diets. Would I have to take a supplement, on top of the soylent? But most importantly, I am looking to GAIN weight, not shed it. Would soylent maintain my weight, or would it drop me into the under weight category? I’m very, very interested in giving this a try, and I’ve been begging for it for Christmas. (Side note, I recently had surgery, and just came off antibiotics. Would medications affect a soylent diet? Like my birth control for example.) I’m curious to see how this works out in the long run, and I’m rooting for its success. If anyone has answers to my questions, it would be much appreciated 🙂
With many Americans eating fast food daily, I don’t think any of the concerns about soylent are warrented. Take the same criteria and review mcdonalds. Idk if you’ve ever read, “dont eat this book”. But basically he shows you can’t eat only fast food to live a healthy or normal life. Mcdonalds response? “Don’t eat our food for every meal.” They admitted admitted their food was shit. At least this guy is trying to do good. Support for him and some slack cut due to many Americans already terrible diets.
The 30% increase in blood creatinine is actually quite concerning. This indicates lower kidney function. This will need to be investigated thoroughly before rolling this out.
In this case it’s much more likely to indicate a higher protein intake than during the previous tests or increased muscle breakdown not kidney failure. My creatinine levels are much higher now at 250lbs and 10% bodyfat than they were at 160 and 15% years ago. Given potassium is similar to before, GFR dropped but not to any level to be concerned about (below 60 mL/min/1.73 m2 monitored over a 3 month time would be chronic kidney disease and 15 mL/min/1.73 m2 being failure) and BUN didn’t throw any red flags nothing screams impaired kidney function. You have to look at the full panel not just one measurement when looking at things like kidney function, it’s never as simple as one measurement.
I’d like to see a hormone panel though. One other factor seems to be that the author changed the overall caloric intake between the soylent and normal food consumption. There are some other concerns and I’m not a big fan of any supplement based on the RDA as it doesn’t actually apply to people who want optimal nutrition but it’s good to see people at least making an attempt at science based decision making….even if the method is flawed.
He’s a vegetarian, and his creatinine levels were low to begin with. It is a spike, but put more into a normal range.
If my blood creatinine dropped 30% I’d be on dialysis. Also a drop of 27% of GFR is very concerning for any renal patient
I agree that the creatinine bump was concerning enough to immediately catch my eye. Changes in creatinine have a logarithmic effect on GFR, such that small changes from normal indicate significant changes in renal function, whereas it’s not particularly worrisome when a person with kidney failure goes from 3 to 4. I don’t feel comfortable just attributing it to changes in protein consumption, but I’d be interested to hear a good argument.
What a great article! I would definitely eat the goop if we were In the Martix era and I had a metal hole in the back of my head. With that being said, the protein value is lacking and the carbs are way too prevalent, there’s much better healthier food out there, but I love the savings, eating healthy is expensive, but I like my six pack.
Going through all that trouble to do the pre and post tests and then blow two days because your blender broke??? That’s gotta be grounds for the complete dumas award of 2013.
Second, new??? Didn’t NASA pretty much do this for astronauts already a few decades ago?
He specifically mentioned that this wasn’t new, even quoting where it discussed how an almost identical formula was used in a hospital in the early ’90s. He also didn’t blow two days, he simply resorted to hand blending rather than mechanical, which had unforeseen complications, thus the quick purchase of a Magic Bullet. This isn’t an FDA monitored case study, it’s one guy giving it a 2 week trial.
I’m interested in trying out Soylent becsuse I usually don’t consume enough calories everyday. I just dont eat a lot and when I’m busy I forget to eat or just don’t..like if I had lunch at noon I sometimes may not eat again until 11pm or etc. Some days I skip out on breakfast and so on. I’m not unhealthy and maintain a healthy weight although gaining a few pounds wouldn’t hurt me.. but I dont like to eat enough to gain.
I’m wondering if I try Soylent in addition to my regular diet if it would help me gain some weight? I am a bit thrown off because a majority of reviews I’ve read where people go on a soylent diet they seem to be losing weight and that wouldn’t benefit me at all. Any advice? I like the idea of being able to make soylent and just drink it on the go when I skip meals.
There are many meal replacement and supplement drinks in the market – today, and not in July or maybe August 2014, which is when you will get your Soylent AFTER you pay TODAY. At $65 a week, it’s not exactly cheap either, unless you do really stop eating anything else. Actually it’s still not cheap.
Looks very promising. I do hope the cost comes down.. A LOT. i spend $10 day feeding a family of 3, so to me $9 a day for one person is quite high. I would spend more if i could but the budget does not have any wiggle room. If we are forced to eat out i have to reduce the amount of home food I buy for the rest of the month. So in short, $9 a day is very far from being a world hunger solution. Looking forward to launch!!
You don’t spend $10 a day on a family of 3. You’re not calculating your costs right, it’s higher than that. $255 for a month of food is the cheapest it’s available for now, and that easily beats any homemade food I could do.
I am curious what you feed your family. I am currently on a DIY soylent of just oats, milk, protein powder, and vitamin supps, and the cost still comes out to about 3 dollars a day. Although, I have pretty high protein (120 grams), which is the most expensive part. Also, I guess kids eat a lot less?
The muscle mass lost is in fact around 4.7lb, not the dry mass lost, muscle contains water! But there could be some loss of bone mass also, it goes hand in hand with muscle loss usually, so that may be part of the 4.7lbs.
Either way it is a bad thing. But it may not be due to insufficient protein. Most people in ‘Western’ countiries eat far more protein than needed to replace lost protein. The muscle loss may reflect a drop in Insulin like growth hormone and Insulin itself. Both are stimulants for ‘growth’, or at least maintenance of lean body mass. This is a likely scenario as the reduced blood glucose and blood triglycerides that you saw, is the pattern seen with lower Insulin.
As to whether more protein in the Soylent would help maintain lean mass, It is true that under some circumstances higher proteins in the diet might drive increased insulin secretion, thus promoting increased lean mass.
To improve glucose and triglycerides, which is important to reduce diabetes and heart disease risks, while maintaining lean mass, is hard, requiring more resistance training exercise (ie weight training).
That is why diets often fail in the long term, despite early weight loss ‘success’. The lower lean mass leads to lower basal metabolic rate and hence it is hard to stop fat regain if there is any diet relaxation. People who strength train are, not surprisingly, the most likely to have long term success from dieting, ie maintain lower total body fat and better blood glucose and triglycerides.
Most people lose weight initially on Meal replacements because variety drives appetite. But boredom with the diet leads to ordinary food becoming more and more seductive, so people give up in the longer term.
You think it unlikely the benefits to your mood and energy were due to what you stopped eating. I can’t agree. the pop drinks and the weekend overloads may have been impacting on you.
Also it sounds like it was easier to adjust the liquid soylent to give you the intake reliably as your body needed it, ie earlier in the day. Our society’s patterns tend to encourage big eating at night when there is time to cook or eat at a restaurant, and social eating is common. The better adjustment enabled by the simple liquid, and lack of associated social cues, may have contributed to a more even blood glucose, which is good for sustained energy. This would be a benefit for any easy prep liquid diet with vaguely reasonable nutrition profile.
It is particularly interesting that you found it easy enough to consume your drink at social times and not needing too much willpower to avoid taking some of the ‘indulgence’ food on offer around you. This is a real plus point. It will be interesting to see how many users can replicate that.
The lack of time wasted on shopping, preparing, consuming and cleaning up after a meals is important. I would love to save this time!
I don’t think the price is anywhere cheap enough to help with world hunger by shipping it to the hungry. They are typically hungry because the price of rice is more than they can afford!
But some similar strategies could help with world hunger indirectly, in the future, when there really is not enough arable land to feed all of us. That is because of the lack of wastage which might be achieved with centralized powdered food preparation. Typical households today throw out 30% of food bought, because of uneaten leftovers, food going stale or ‘off’, not liked after bought, off cuts during trimming in food preparation etc. Losses at supermarkets are also quite significant (check out “the people’s supermarket” UKTV show).
A benefit, of intermittently having days or weeks of a replacement drink, could be making healthy non liquid food ( eg veges and salads and plain fruit) seem more appetising and desirable afterwards. Currently for most of us these foods lose out to the big appetite appeal of convenient ‘fancy’ heavily marketed high fat and sugar foods with a high ‘Variety’ in appearance.
It is interesting that Soylent relies on maltodextrin. This means it is good for those of us who want to avoid sucrose/fructose, which some experiments suggest are important factors contributing to diabetes and cardiovascular risk, probably by the effect on the liver when taken in large amounts ( the liver has a major role in controlling blood glucose and lipids).
Thanks for doing the experiment. I hope the comments above are helpful to people wanting to interpret the results.
It like the herbalife products. Is n it?
No choline, no Vitamin K, no break down of fatty acid profile, apparently no phytonutrients , no information about what types of fibre are included – not good enough.
It does have choline, and vitamin K! Check the website before spreading misinformation like this.
There’s a child starving to death in somalia.
He is going to die tomorrow.
We can produce enough soylent to feed him for close to zero cost.
We don’t know what the long term effects will be.
But it seems likely he will survive longer.
Whatcha gonna do? !
Harry, marry me. Sorry. It’s just that your post was/is awesome. Thank you for cutting through to what is amazing about this: Cheap, easily transportable/storable and complete human nutrition + plus access to fresh water – and the World could change. Has anyone called Bill Gates??
Bill Gates is an eugenics tool. Don’t be fooled again. Maltodextrin is straight filler as well. Any mention of GMO ingredients here or the inferior pesticide ladened ingredients in this nerd mix?
I have been on nearly an all liquid diet for nearly the last decade. Never felt better.
Tell me more Chase; I am very interested in significant health improvement through radical dietary change.
I’m on the sixth version of my food replacement system “uberfood” and suspect that more than 20 different versions will have to be tried before achieving acceptable physical and cognitive performance increases. I would greatly appreciate your insights.
I assume you:
rarely/never get sick?
have much more energy than regular people?
have measured/noticed a significant increase in cognitive performance?
Beer – the only acceptable liquid meal replacement.
: ) ha…no : )
Beer= a pork chop in a can
I liked your article and experiment with this product. One question I have is for the two weeks of Soylent only, how much plain water did you drink? Is water the only other thing you ingested besides drinking Soylent in your experiment?
Did anyone else notice that his “real” diet potassium-to-sodium ratio was about 1:3, while the soylent diet ratio is closer to the 2:1 ratio that is commonly pushed as optimal?
More energy? More alert? That dietary change alone would do wonders for energy and alertness.
I think Soylent will help people maintain a good baseline for nutrition. Wondering if I’m getting enough nutrition, worrying about food cost, and lots of time to cook food can be a huge source of stress. I’m vegetarian, and sometimes when you travel (into unknown areas) it can be very difficult to maintain a lifestyle. I’m also a picky eater, have expensive tastes, and I have a hard time eating breakfast. I think soylent can take some of that stress away.
Maybe I’m just a control freak, haha, but I like the prospect of being able to control (a bit more) what’s going into my body. Especially since it looks like it’s easy to travel with. For a bulk of my diet (maybe 80%), I’d be willing to trade taste for the convenience. I think I’d appreciate the really good food a lot more.
Or eating disordered. The basis of all eating disorders is the power to control what goes into your body.
You don’t have to wait for Soylent. There are many, many products already on the market you can use to replace 80% of what you eat with a nutritional supplement. Soylent is not intended to be used as a baseline for daily nutrition, it is intended to REPLACE all other nutrition.
My question is, how is this different from all the juicing diets that people from celebs on down are doing? Or, the raw food diets? Vegan? I do think it is like Tim said, not a one-size-fits-all thing. The needs of people literally starving to death are far different from those who are obese, medically ill, or in perfect health. I think all these diets are just appealing more to our vanity than to our health.
This is different from a “juicing diet” because it has the USDA recommend dietary intake of macronutrients (Carbs, Protein and Fat) and micronutrients (Vitamins and Minerals). An all juice diet will almost surely leave you undernourished. People lose weight on them because they are essentially starving themselves. Soylent is designed to be something you could live on. It is not a weight lose diet. It is a nutritionally complete food!
A healthy diet has to be dynamically responsive for each person, not only on the nutrient deficiency side, but on the toxic chemical side; that’s why soylent and all similar diets will never work; this is what I’m doing:
>test blood for nutritional deficiencies and detrimental chemicals
>formulate food bars dependent on test results
>eat bars for 3 days
I’m using the principles of managed ignorance, fast iteration cycle, and dynamic feedback cycle.
Give the Soylent founders a call.
I’ll start with a text, and post the conversation here.
Here is my first text (yes I realize the # given may not be a cell):
I’ve read about your soylent product and it sounds like a great idea.
A few thoughts:
>A healthy diet may benefit from a individualized formulation?
>Perhaps looking at the nutrient deficiency side and the toxic chemical side may be useful?
I am presently experiment with food replacement by doing the following:
>test blood for nutritional deficiencies and detrimental chemicals
>formulate food bars dependent on test results
>eat bars for 3 days
I’m using the principles of managed ignorance, fast iteration cycle, and dynamic feedback cycle.
have you heard of theranos testing? Its fast(2 hours), cheap(~$4 per item), and easy (available at some walgreens, takes 1 drop of blood, and can test for over 80 different things)
looking at my text I probably should have read it once before sending it:
an experiment instead of a experiment
experimenting instead of experiment
perhaps writing while drinking everclear and playing with children isn’t a good idea?
I’d like to see BUN, Creat, and eGFR after 60 days…yikes!
Wow, I never really came across such a thorough review of soylent! And yeah, in those I read, no one cared to share about the bowel movements, and that’s the only thing that seriously worries me about this product. If I’m not mistaken, using this product and no food at all for a long period of time could seriously affect the intestines if we were to switch back to normal food.
Thanks for sharing your experience in such detail
According to Rhineheart, three months of eating ONLY Soylent kills off all of your intestinal bacteria. I doubt this, but even if so, the immune system is built on the intestinal flora. He also claims that you will have very few solids to eliminate – kind of like a baby on formula. AND if you ever want to eat solid food again, your body can’t digest it, as you have killed off all of your digestive bacteria (which I also doubt).
I am not saying Soylent is bad. I’m concerned about the lack of science that’s available about it. That this single-person, single case study is pretty much all we have access to gives me pause.
During the experimentation phase, early versions of Soylent had very low (much too little, much below recommended, almost no) dietary fiber. Digestive bacteria have the ability to break the beta linkages in fiber, and they derive some amount of energy from this. So his died off when his formula was young and incomplete, and he had difficulty recovering from that. Same goes with people who undergo intense bouts of antibiotics. The takeaway is that we need more fiber in Soylent, not that Soylent kills all your intestinal flora. Context is an important thing here.
This is not a single-person case study. There is an abundant DIY community who have been living on things close to this for close to a year. Personally, I’m not interested in DIY, as I’m trying to unload a burden, not pick one up. (The DIY community is largely looking to geek out on a new hobby, something I can totally relate to, but I just don’t want to spend time on normal, daily calories anymore.) While I recognize that a bunch of individual tales does not a scientifically rigorous study make, it does lend us the point that if this were seriously harmful on any short-term scale, the population is large enough that some of those problems would have popped up by now.
As far as long-term effects like cancer, I don’t think that will hold up to medical rigor either. These are nutrients, and as distant and unnatural as it feels, they serve the same purpose no matter their vehicle. If there is some rigor about a new nutrient that no one has ever detected before and absence of it causes some hugely terrible disease (borderline /s), than I feel confident that Soylent could be modified to contain it.
Soylent ingredients include sucralose, a nutritionless artificial sweetener that we do not digest but just excrete. There are studies that have shown that sucralose reduces the bacteria in the gut of rats, and also sucralose accumulates in the environment, because it is hard for bacteria to break down. Supposedly it is harmless to humans, but I wonder if it could be responsible for the digestive problems for at least a few Soylent users, and I would feel uneasy eating it long-term, especially if it also accumulates in the environment. I hope they will eliminate sucralose from the Soylent formula and only retain ingredients that have nutritional value.
I think how you look at this stuff depends on what you benchmark is for food. Do you want to compare it to highly processed, fast and commercially prepared “food,” those things being the elements of many peoples’ diets nowadays? If that is the standard, it might be somewhat better, although even that remains to be seen. This product contains artificial flavor, sucralose (chlorinated artificial sweetener that in animal studies reduced the amount of good bacteria in the intestines by 50 percent, contributed to increases in body weight and affected P-glycoprotein (P-gp) levels), and a blend of synthetic minerals and vitamins. It provides far more protein than what is healthy for the body (check out the surge in your creatinine level – kidneys straining). On top of that is also contains fish and canola oils, which are questionable for many reasons at best if good quality, and contaminated with industrial pollutants and pesticides in the case of the latter, if not.
I think the idea of slurping something down to replace food and “getting on with life” stems from a kind of arrogance that we know better than nature what nourishes our bodies, and that we can break that down into a few “essential” nutrients that can be put into a powder. Is it really that simple? I wouldn’t want to take a chance on that with my health. I think you can get away with anything for a few weeks or months, as long as it supplies basic macro-nutrients – carbs, proteins, and fat. However, it is the micro-nutrients, the things in food we can at this point only measure a small amount of, and still don’t fully understand how they interact in the body, that may well determine our long-term health.
Overall, I believe this is representative of the reductionist approach to nutrition that has seen the supplement industry burgeon into a $30 billion a year industry. I’m not surprised tens of thousands of people have already bought into this. Everyone wants a magic pill that will make us healthy. The evidence on that working so far isn’t very good. How these kind of things affect our health cannot be known in short periods. Cancer and the like develops over years or decades, not weeks and months. For people who are willing to take the risk and put their meals into a bag containing protein powder and chemicals to gain some extra time for “more important things,” more power to them. But not for me, thank you.
“reduced the amount of good bacteria in the intestines by 50 percent”
Rhinehart states that after the first three months of using Soylent, his intestinal bacteria was killed off, and he can no longer digest non-Soylent food.
It is INTENDED to be synthetic. He also said, speaking of the taste of Soylent which come have likened to watery breast milk,
“As far as safety control and completeness are concerned, formula is actually better. Natural isn’t always best.”
The more I read about Rhinehart, the more I feel like the small child who pointed out the emperor did not have amazingly beautiful clothing on, but was in fact, naked – having been duped by greedy “tailors.” Ten of thousands of people have paid in advance waiting for a product that will not be released until July. Millions of dollars have been spent on a product developed by someone whose scientific process consisted of
“…I started varying a bunch of different parameters, one at a time. People say Americans get too much sodium, so I wondered, how much do I really need? So, I dropped down the sodium and then started to feel very mentally foggy. So, I realized, obviously you need some sodium. And then, I underdosed and overdosed on potassium, and calcium, and magnesium, and phosphorus.”
Here’s the punchline: “…every time, I kept coming back to the levels recommended by the Institute of Medicine.”
No kidding. Years of science agrees with Rhinehart. Although I’m pretty sure they would disagree on the breast milk thing.
Sorry – quotes are from the Atlantic article posted here:
There are many people commenting here who sound like they probably eat very, very healthy. This product is probably not for you. You’re comparing Soylent to perfectly balanced healthy meals.
I’m not saying that Soylent is perfectly safe but let’s look at what 90% of Americans are eating. If you’re eating mostly garbage food and are obese we can assume that you don’t know what to eat, just can’t control yourself, or just don’t care. If you don’t know what to eat Soylent makes it easy.
What if these people just replace 1 or 2 meals a day with Soylent? It takes the thinking and planning out if the equation. That’s probably a good thing for many people because they won’t wreck themselves.
It may not be perfect but it is better than a Big Mac with fries and a Coke.
“It may not be perfect but it is better than a Big Mac with fries and a Coke.” … how do you know this?
90% of americans eat that way because of taste and addiction. They are not going to give up these things to drink oat powder.
very informative and comprehensive, but this comment is ludicrous: the synergy between diverse ingredients is what matters in nutritional uptake
This is awesome good for you as a fellow New york citier its hard to not go out and eat all the time, I’m gonna give it a go for the summer just deciding on how to go about it, I’ve been on a bunch of sites where people have diy solvent and have supplemented formula with more protein which I will definitely need as I lift and run about 6 days a week. I am studying for a huge test in June, so I am debating if I want to mess with myself now or after.
Thanks for sharing…showing us we won’t wither away to nothing by drinking our meals.
I’m internested in what this could do to your stomach and/or other digestive organs. Would the soylent be enough for your stomach acids to not start digesting itself? To me it seems like it’s too easy of a substance for our digestive system to absorb, so that might cause long term problems possibly. Otherwise I’m way behind this, espesially an athlete recipe.
My concern, based on your blood tests, is for your kidneys. A rising creatinine and falling glomerular filtration rate tells me your kidneys are struggling with this diet. Considering your loss of lean body protein, your body is likely “eating” itself in order to get enough calories. Thus, your kidneys suffer and this is reflected in your blood tests. In my opinion, no body organ is worth sacrificing for the sake of convenience and the novelty of not having to eat real food.
Nellyda Anslow,RN, MSN
University of California, San Francisco
Your low cholesterol is actually a sign of your liver not producing enough to keep you healthy. 70-80% of cholesterol is made by the liver and our bodies need it for many reasons. Healthy levels are 1800-200, and since yours was 127 at the outset (no surprise, given your lousy diet) and then dropped to 117, I’d say Soylent was taxing your liver even further.
I suggest you do a little liver tuneup with a liver support supplement for a month or two maybe once a year and see if your levels rise. Underactivity of the liver = congestion and overwork in natural health thinking, and can be improved.
Are you a medical doctor?
I thought the same as Joe, the bloger’s cholesterol was kind of low to begin with. It is not the overall cholesterol number being high that is dangerous but the Tryglicerid and the very low density cholesterol…
World hunger is NOT caused by the types or kinds of food that people eat. A solution to hunger and malnutrition will not be found by promoting an artificial product such as Soylent. Hunger and malnutrition ARE caused by economic and political factors inherent in global imperialist capitalism, that has forced export crop, monoculture agricultural regimes on most countries of the world. Land goes to produce export crops for the well to do in the world’s wealthy countries, leaving local populations on marginal land or with no land at all. They are hungry and malnourished because they have been denied access to local resources to produce their own food.
I predict Soylent will become like the potato in late 18th and early 19th century Ireland. Potatoes became the staple food of the Irish pesants because it gave the most caloric and food value per hectare of any crop. The pesants raised other crops to pay the rent to their absentee landlords. When the potato blight struck in the 1840’s, people starved, all while food was being exported from Ireland. That was capitalism at work.
I appreciate you saying this.
Makes me wonder if soylent can just be marketed as a detoxifying substance. To use it (short term) as you did, and not to use the soylent for a prolong term. Additionally, it seems as if soylent may need to be “catered” to people and their individual needs. Anyway, if it the results of pro-long usage of soylent are great, that would be a fantastic find for the young science of nutrition. P.s great review/experiment.
Mr. Ferriss, I applaud your study, specifically your thorough and careful, before/after data collection, your skepticism and your suggestions for additional work. Several others on this thread have raised concerns, however about what appears to be increased protein metabolism due to the diet, and in addition to burning protein for additional calories I think it probable muscle protein is being broken down to replace muscle, connective tissue and antibodies, all of which require levels of lysine not present in a diet where protein is obtained solely from rice. (Is there a reason, other than cost, why quinoa powder wasn’t chosen; like soy it has a nearly optimum mix of all amino acids humans need?) I also wonder about the long-term effects on the digestive system of a diet lacking bulk/roughage. Thanks again for your study and Blog. Cheers,
This was a great, great story, and a lot of the comments were thoughtful, insightful, informed and rational.
I want to address the comment that weren’t. I am a middle-aged guy teetering on the precipice between overweight and obese, who would very much like not to be, and I think I can speak for millions of Americans when I say that. And if there were something that would make it easier for me to lose some weight, keep it off, and not be ravenously hungry all the time, I say &^%$#ing Hallelujah. Maybe some people are not aware that being obese or overweight is in and of itself one of the most serious health problems in this country?
It reminds me of how people disparage e-cigarettes, which, whatever their problems, are a thousand times better for people than cigarettes are, and contain none — none — of the carcinogens found in cigarette smoke. But they would rather ban something that would save millions of lives because of their conviction that even something that looks like smoking is wrong.
And the folks going on about the interplay between foods being the basis of nutrition? You really think the interplay between a can of soup and some toast (which is what I ate for dinner) is really what’s keeping me alive?
Around now, this is when someone jumps in to tell me how easy it is to eat right, how quick and cheap it is to buy and cook and eat fresh meat and vegetables, simply and naturally — and if I just did that, I wouldn’t be hungry.
(Isn’t it great when someone you’ve never met tells you what it’s like to be you?) News flash: if we want to talk about eating “naturally,” we shouldn’t be eating cooked food at all. Cooking food essentially starts to digest it outside the body, beginning to break it down into more easily digestible constituent elements, making it the same general sludge of chemicals that Soylent is. Cooking is what transformed us from apes to humans.
Soylent is artificial. Cooking is artificial. We are artificial.
We also, of course, dearly cherish the notion that we are “natural,” so I don’t want to go around popping everyone’s balloon. Eat what you want. Eat what you love. Eat what you preach. But don’t go around pretending you’re a scientist when you’re just a reactionary.
I made diy soylent for the past two days and i feel really good. I don’t think ill live off this stuff but i see no reason not to eat it for breakfast and possibly when I’m too busy to make a proper meal. Probably better for me than ramen and at the same cost.
I heard about this through a youtube video done by “ASAPScience” and did a quick search. This was one of the top ones. I will most definitely keep this in mind in a few months where I will be going through some corrective jaw surgery from where I broke it as a child. I will have to be put on a liquid diet while I heal and, being anemic, this is a bit hard for me. Thank you for the in-depth review and test results!
Fascinating. I’d love to see you, Tim, do an interview with the founders of Soylent. They’re in the Bay Area, after all. Thanks for sharing these thoughts as the recent piece in the New Yorker on Soylent had piqued my interests.
If a trial with more than one person happens, you could try a staggered approach. Half of participants start with going on Soylent while half simply keep doing what they normally do. Then at the halfway point in the protocol, switch things so that if you drank Soylent before you now eat solid food, and vice versa. This might be easier and more ethical than providing a “placebo”, which might not even be possible. If some sort of dietary control is desired, consider using normal participant diet, some kind of recommended/advertised diet touting the same benefits as a Soylent diet, or some other kind of meal replacer like Plumpy’nut. Staggering would also help with identifying whether the improvement in “mental acuity” was simply a practice effect. In terms of measuring things like “feelings of lightness” you could simply have a 5 point Likert scale (strongly disagree-strongly agree) and statements like “I feel healthier during this portion of the study than before I started Soylent”, or “I feel healthier than most people my age/health status” and watch for trends.
This article was really informative, thank you! I’ve been looking into Soylent for a couple of weeks now, and I’ve been reading a lot of the fear filled arguments, but this is the first one I’ve seen of someone actually trying it who isn’t selling it.
I feel much more confident about using it as a short term solution to my food problems. As more studies are done, and the formula is perfected, I will certainly be considering a more long term stay. I do also enjoy food – sugery, fat filled, carb based food, and that’s it. If I didn’t know how bad it is for me, I would eat cookies and ice cream and chips and chocolate every day, all day long. I hate vegetables. I hate cooking. I don’t enjoy shopping, and quite frankly, I can’t afford it anyway, all of which makes me cranky about the whole process. My hesitation has stemmed from the first article I read that detailed how rats reacted badly to the diet over the long term. That slowed me down, but I also know, that rats are not the same as people, and we do not always have the same reactions to various materials. Looks like I am going to order my first month’s worth of ‘not food’ and see how it goes.
I recommend the beer, red meat, potatoes, and sweets diet….very satisfying.
A 24 year old can eat glue and still be just fine. Try the experiment on someone older for better contrast, maybe age 50+. Then we’re talking.
Even if it is totally safe and an effective means of sustenance, which I have my doubts about. Why would anyone want to not eat regular food? Food is one amongst a few things that define the human experience. Food is like art or music, it is a primal need that many people around the world take great pleasure in. This is like saying you’ll best the works of van Gogh with a digital camera and a printer. America is particularly bad with food but this takes it to a whole new level. Food is a big part of the human experience and cultures throughout the world have spent literally thousands of years developing agriculture not just for sustenance but also for pleasure. Intelligent people can be so dense sometimes…this looks vile.
Why? A person at 50+ is typically less active and so needs fewer calories and therefore fewer nutrients. Soylent will give the person more than they need and their body will just expel what it doesn’t use.
Thank you for the inspiration, My actual soylent order is taking too long to get here so I am instead going to try a DIY.Soylent for 30 days. My primary Goal will be weight loss, I will be documenting the whole thing [Moderator: link removed]
I’m just hearing about Soylent today as it was on the Colbert Report. I’ve been using Shakeology daily as a meal replacement / daily nutrition supplement. I do feel better from using it but couldn’t use it or something like Soylent for every meal. I could, but I think I’d go crazy. I’ve gone 3 days using it solely and that was my max. If it helps people from going hungry then great but there is something about eating food that will be hard to replace.
Well, I guess even if one didn’t want to live on this stuff, it could be used for a while as a detox of sorts. That would allow time to get, out your system, the poisons that the food industry has so deliberately placed in our foods. It could be a fresh start to a healthy diet and help those who are addicted to the trash that plagues the American food culture. I want to try this as soon a soon as I get my hands on some… and who knows… I might even plant a garden. In addition to my reply, I would like to add the notion that no matter the outcome of this product, the intentions and inspirations behind it are surly of the best intentions. Just think… this may be one of those products that launch a revolution in nutrition.
I think that there are many negative effects of only drinking your meals, both biologically and psychologically. I’ve been doing body/nutrition experiments for years. I can tell from my own experience that my digestive health declines when only drinking my daily food intake. There are over 20 enzyme reactions that only occur with chewing. With that being said it is unnatural not to chew your food and it does not work well with the design of the human body.
With that said, there are thousands of people suffering with Pancreatitis. When they try to eat foods that need to be chewed they end up in excruciating pain.T
they don’t produce the enzymes needed to digest the foods we take for granted. Finding something they can drink would be a God send.
Very informative and insightful. I’m currently eating Paleo as I’ve found that grains, legumes and dairy create acid reflux i my system. Would be interested in doing Soylent for a once or twice a day meal replacement IF they can make one with no grains BUT I have NO plans to give up whole food as long as I can afford it and enjoy the prep and cooking process which is therapeutic – at least for me 🙂
About 5 years ago, during the cleanse craze, I wanted to lose a few pounds and my half*** attempts weren’t helping. So all in, I committed to 2 weeks of that ‘diet’. Predictably, the pounds went away, but I was reminded of that episode with this post.
I read parallels into Shane’s physical reactions. The first three days, the body is going ‘NOOO!’ and the caffeine withdrawal is a 3 day headache. I do love my coffee. Then, the new found energy and alertness. My sense of smell was heightened. I swear I could tell what a co-worker had for lunch as I passed them. And predictably, my productivity soared bc I eliminated the whole lunch-meetup-commute.
Lessons learned then and still used today. Fasting is an ancient concept, but this product is not intended as a fast/dietary alternative, but hopefully as an answer to hunger. I wish them well. Thanks, Tim and Shane for sharing this topic.
Has anyone else noticed that there are several possible and unlabled genetically modified organisms (GMOs): Maltodextrin-a corn product, and soy lecithin? Soy and corn are 80-90% genetically modified to accept Roundup sprayed on them. Corn also has its own pesticide built in that goes to your intestinal tract when eaten. These products are not well tested and can cause havoc and do in the human body. If Soylent had organic ingredients, I might try it after further testing.
I found the sharp drop in GFR interesting. Generally, I don’t see a reason for it. However, if it were to continue below something like 60, you’d be well in line for renal issues. Wonder if Soylent folks have that on their radar….
It may be safe to say that the majority of Americans consume an unhealthy diet of processed foods. So when you test a meal replacement such as soylent as a meal replacement or using soylent as 100% of your diet you would naturally expect to see improvement. Subject A could be at 95% of optimum health while subject B is at 55% optimum. These two subjects tested side by side would have different reactions. Hypothetically let’s say that a finalized soylent formula will sustain the average person at 95% of optimum. Subject A might not be very impacted. While subject B would experience a life changing process. I think that from a scientific approach a product like soylent should be possible to create. But the major hurdle is that the nutritional needs of our body changes from day to day. Unless you somehow had a mix kit with several tubs of component parts. And tailored the formula each day. Lazy day at home = mix for Formula A. Day at the park playing frisbee and walking = formula B. Playing basketball for four hours = Formula C. Just some thoughts. I know this product is a viable theory because any food ultimately ends up as a mushy blends of liquified goo in your stomach. So what’s wrong with removing the chemicals and additives to end up with a powder mix that is better then the diet of the majority of americans?
As a 75-year-old I don’t enjoy eating. I think my taste buds have died. But I know I must eat so Soylent sounds perfect. Would it be safe for me? I’m female.
I think the person who was on the Twinkie only diet had similar results.
And with great audience comes great responsibility
World Hunger is a term that is used by oxymorons. Dandelions are more of a complete food that ANY powder and it grown in the cracks of sidewalks world wide.
World Hunger is a term the UN and other death complexes use to bring war and famine to resource rich defensless soverigns – like the one the author portrays in real life.
Food was mud and dirt for the lost boys of Africa – who were running from the UN death machine and their “ENEMIES”. Look at how physically beautiful they are.
Author should be living more like an oligarch as he is pushing their agenda at the cost of his credibility to reality.
Try a juice feast if you want to see what real nutrition is. Ever put your mind or bodynon living food vs dead food?
While dandelion greens are a fine source of micronutrients, they do not have significant levels of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats: the macronutrients which are most important for our bodies. A diet of only leafy greens will result in death. World hunger is very real. For example, “poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year”. Try living without caloric staples for a while, and you will see what I mean…
Excellent article and cost / benefit outline. I’ve been considering Soylent, but it just seems too….extreme to me. I would be interested as a simplification of food, not as a time or cost saver – it would be far more efficient, and easy, to rely on one food source, than have to purchase and choose various foods for every meal. But what if I wanted to go out with friends on the weekend, and have a ‘normal’ meal, while depending upon Soylent M-F? How much would that screw up my system? Is choosing a Soylent diet an all-or-none proposition?
As for Soylent addressing world hunger, good luck with that. Access to clean water is a more pressing and basic problem than access to food, and water shortages and quality will just become more serious as the years pass. Plus, areas with severe food shortages have blenders and electrical power? In a way, Soylent reminds me of a comedy bit I saw years ago – two survivors trapped on a desert island. One survivor says “Don’t worry, we have all these emergency rations I saved. All we have to do is add water.”
I applaud Rhinehart’s efforts to minimize nutrition management. I did a similar experiment last year that lasted 8 weeks where I took nothing but plant-based food (mostly organic) and blended it all into a nutribullet shake. That was my entire diet for 8 weeks. No beer. No solid foods. I was also working out like a mad man doing mostly cardio, so it’s hard to totally attribute the results to just the nutrition, but I experienced a significant change in my life. Better sleep, reduced fatigue, no more dry skin or dandruff, increased energy. I dropped 30 lbs during that time as well. 195 to 165.
I also agree that each individual is unique in their dietary needs and there will never be a one size fits all nutrition program. Hopefully advances in personalized medicine will bring personalized nutrition. How cool would it be to totally understand the body’s mechanism for self producing certain vitamins and minerals and absorbtion rates for those that we require from external sources.
As for Soylent, I plan to try it for 8 weeks as well to compare it to my previous efforts. I’d be interested in working with other users to compare results.
Nutrition is a contraversial subject and there are so many meal replacements on the market already (so the real situation is really the marketing to a new group of consumers) who may not be overweight or bodybuilders, but busy techies. If I were going to formulate a meal replacement that was to be the only nutrition entering one’s body, it would have the absolute best ingredients possible, not what I saw above. Also the muscle loss was concerning and therefore they could at least add an amino acid complex to the mix. Manufactured food will never come close to the wonders of real whole food and our bodies’ infinite wisdom and healing power. Manufactured food will however help those who take no time to care for their health. Marketing is powerful so I’m sure they can succeed if its done right. While I am all for supplementing when needed, I am not for replacing all food. Nature knows best, it is man who will be the downfall of our world. Just another meal replacement, and not even a high quality one. They will need their marketing.
Please see : “baby formula” and “the Twinkie diet”.
This will work well for generally healthy people in their 20’s that have gained a little weight and help remove the “stress” they feel about food and eating.FULL STOP.
Give a man a fish ,feed him for a day.
Teach a man to eat bags of highly processed powder , feed him for life?
Or is the end goal to teach us how to manufacture this stuff small scale in our own kitchens?
What about these numbers? Any concern there?
“Creatinine went up 30%
Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate dropped 27%”
I agree. I was at first curious to try Soylent, but with a history of kidney disease in my family the large spike in creatinine levels makes me wary. I’m lucky to know what genetic skeletons hide in my DNA closet but not everyone might be aware of family health histories. I wish the makers of Soylent luck with their product, but I think more time needs to be invested in health trials before open marketing.
I am wondering how much cutting out sugar helped. You claimed you were ingesting 45+ grams a day. Plus the artificial sweeteners in diet soda which are worse for you than sugar. 45 grams is close to twice what is recommended. It’s one of the main reasons for obesity in this country and the food industry spends billions to try to keep that info from us. And you run. Alot. Cardio exercises are just muscle killers. I wonder if lifting weights while on a Soylent diet would keep away any muscle loss. I am very interested in trying this myself. I love food too, but the hassle and cost is annoying me as well.
45 grams may be more than the recommended amount, but those recommended amounts are made for lazy people. i easily ingest over 100grams of sugar a day. the fact is that people need to exercise more. Did u know that eating one banana puts u over the recommended daily amount of sugar. if u do cardio for 20 minutes a day, u can consume 75grams of sugar extra per day without gaining any non-muscle weight.
Interesting read, thanks for being the guinea pig, Shane. The “fun picture” under the FitBit photos seems to be missing.
The claims made by Soylent are hardly dissimilar than those made by countless other names in the meal replacement industry. Alas, the claims are far too grandiose. The claim that “Soylent provides all the energy and nutrients the body needs.” appeals dangerously to the assumptions of mostly unassuming consumers. Think “Despite my more important medical predispositions, I can purchase 100lbs of this and never eat real food again.” There’s so little to support this claim that Matt and his team should ruminate deeply over this, even as mere marketing copy, as the foundation of their literature and materials.
Soylent, so far as I am interested in it, might find a better niche in the market as a geopolitical protest to capitalist food distribution shortcomings. We’ve all heard the claims: “50% of all food produced in America is thrown away.” being the most popular. Whether the claim is true or not, supported by data, and so forth, the underlying argument is apparent: we have starving, malnourished people when we, as an advancing species, should not. Soylent could shed some light on the ease and simplicity of a solution to ending world hunger. Meal replacement powders aplenty, Soylent could serve as a more altruistic beacon in the market, rather than a cheap no-thrills meal replacement powder hocked to Silicon Valley types yearning for the next micro-bubble. Met-Rx represents good marketing, but even more so, an uninspiring product. Soylent could do the inverse–avoid the cheesy ads in Muscle&Fitness and focus their appeal on surpassing what global governments are willing to do to solve hunger and do it on their own accord. Soylent could do with nutrition what Blake Mycoskie intended to do with shoeing the impoverished; the important question is whether or not that altruistic measure will appeal more than venture capital injections into another hackneyed meal replacement powder pretending to be a game-changing solution.
This is a laughable product, by hackers that don’t have a clue about health or mother nature. Didn’t these guys see what hacking the food system has done in the last 100 years? The chemical synthetic food system we have no is a big failure. Everyone is constipated and backed up and this product make it even worse! You should be taking a dump 2 to 3 times a day if you are healthy. There is nothing better that natural organic whole fruits and vegetables, or whole real food. If this kid is to lazy to make himself good food, why is he here? This stuff isn’t even organic and it has GMO soy lethicin in it. Synthetic will never beat mother nature. The human body is far more intelligent than the human brain/mind. This will lead to dis-ease just like the paleo diet. The paleo diet is whole foods. But there are a lot of dumb and unhealthy people out there that will jump on this fad and pay a deep price, because it is unsustainable just like the chemical scientific food system, that poisons and causes dis-ease to it’s users.
I would agree with you, but your grammar atrocious
I don’t agree with him, but I agree with you. His grammar is atrocious.
(To say why I don’t agree with him: all the food that is existing (assuming that we can list it entirely and exhaustively) and be reproduced in the atomic/molecular level. We can’t reproduce life (yet), but we can imagine that it will be possible. So theoretically, there is no provable impossibility in synthesizing the EXACT same food as “mother nature” does. In practice, though, I agree with the fact that the food industry is lying way too much, for example around the marketing of “fibers” that are not actually all equivalent, and so on. But please keep your religious beliefs away from science. All that has to be remembered here is: as far as science goes, we don’t know enough yet, so the safest path STILL is the natural one, as of NOW. There are absolutely no warranties that this will always be the case, regardless of your religion. Also GMO, like everything else, is only bad when abused without conscience. So please stop vomiting such bullshit on the Internet (GMOs save lives everyday), and focus on fighting what’s REALLY dangerous: misinformation and industrial abuse in the name of “progress” and “profit”. To continue on, the “intelligence” of the human body, as you call it, is merely the result of hundreds of thousands of years of evolution. It is a fantastic machine; but no matter how fantastic is a machine, calling it ‘intelligent’ because you cannot understand it is a religious practice again. So as a bottom-line: think. That’s how to do it right. Stop copy/pasting shit and claiming religious ideas in a scientific debate).
Great article. Way to put yourself out there Shane!
However, it seems that you essentially went on an elimination diet — certainly one containing more nutrition than previous (despite the delivery system).
You may have seen similar (or even better) results if you were, say, lactose intolerant and then stopped ingesting milk products for two weeks. Or went on a strict paleo, vegan, slow-carb, etc. diet. Or if you tested your vitamin and mineral needs and then supplemented where deficient to restore balance over time.
Soylent, despite good intentions, seems like a quick fix for the fast-twitch set. Personally, I think humans evolved to eat a variety of foods, not sip the milkshakes on the WALL-E mothership. I agree with Tim that it has great potential to kill the ignorant.
Tim’s analysis of this product is spot-on. I’d add that many ingredients are likely sourced originally from China (as with many supplements) and we all know the dubious record that country has regarding the purity of its products (my dog almost died from contaminated Chinese chicken treats).
Also, these kinds of products seem to appeal to Americans for some reason more than other countries. Perhaps it’s our broken relationship with food. If you eat organic, real non-GMO food your body will get all the nutrients it needs…and the food will taste great too.
My prediction? Like other fads that regularly occur in our dysfunctional food system this will burn brightly and then flame out quickly. Then most Americans who try it will go back to their lousy eating habits (we eat 16 acres of pizza every day!).
I thought this article was fascinating. I’m curious to see more. I don’t have any comments of concern. Many foods are nutritionally incomplete, so I think criticizing that aspect may be out of order. That said, there could be modular additions to address certain varietal needs if that became seen as warranted. Iterate. Pivot. Iterate. Claims can always be said to be too optimistic. People have to monitor their own health in the end regardless of what they intake. From a practical standpoint, if you were solely consuming this stuff and not having noticeable bad health effects as measured by yourself as well as your doctor, then chances are it’s at least as nutritional as any other base diet producing the same results. Age and existing health issues are sure to play into any scenario, but all we can do is keep experimenting. I’d be happy to have this stuff available. I’m a person that fantasizes about bringing my lunch, but I don’t because I like to use the excuse of lunch to get outside. Still, sometimes I just go to Jamba Juice, and get a smoothie. This product would make bringing lunch a real possibility for me. Minimal prep. Portable. Perfect. Then I could walk around town for my lunch break.
This is a terrible product! First, nutrition facts list is not the ingredients list. Plus, this is an MSG laden, GMO chem bomb that barely resembles food. The ingredients that are NOT on the label would be nice to know. Full disclosure…transparency in our food is important. Uhhh..artificial flavor. What is that? Canola oil and soy…where does it say non GMO? The vitamin E is synthetic. Manganese sulfate is a chem…read the safety data to see that “May cause damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure” and “toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects”.
I would never suggest this to any of my clients at Santa Rosa Strength and Wellness. Anyone care to comment? Tim? Soylent? Beuller? Anyone? We need to understand our food better…
Why would anyone comment on your BS?
MSG is in itself not dangerous and even healthy in proper doses, just calling it “MSG laden” doesn’t mean it is.
“GMO chem bomb” implies GMO is a bad thing, when the reality is that the only thing the anti-GMO movement has going for it, is that it hasn’t been proven to be healthier than non-GMO products. That said, there’s also no proof whatsoever that GMO is less healthy than non-GMO products.
The Vitamin E is an extract from sunflower oil, which of course is very “synthetic”… As if it had any meaning in itself to call something synthetic.
Aaaand finally Manganese sulfate is a mineral found in nuts, grains, seeds and green vegetables. Just like any other mineral, it’s harmful if you overdose it. Now that said, the FDA has an RDI for it, so give some thought to how relevant an Israeli chemical production company’s liability waiver is for this.
All in all, no, no one cares to comment, because you’re full of shit. And as a final word: No one ever pretended Soylent was an “All natural, hippie-mainstream-buzzword-bingo product”.
It really angers me to have Rhinehart hide behind world-hunger as his motivation for creating soylent. It’s beyond crystal clear he created this product for his own benefit (by his own admission, and for others like him). The issue with world hunger is NOT the unavailability of food; it is the unbalanced distribution of food and resources across the planet. It’s well documented that there’s more than enough food on the planet to eradicate hunger overnight IF the awareness and will was there at all levels; Heck, in the U.S. alone we spend in ONE DAY (!!!) – Halloween – and for pure entertainment – enough to solve the hunger issue in Africa for AN ENTIRE YEAR. That’s 239 million people fed for one whole year [or a quarter of the hungry worldwide] JUST from what Americans spend on Halloween!
Mr. Rhinehart, if you really want to solve world hunger – I suggest you stop wasting your time on a hip venture that’s entirely narcissistic, and go spend your energy on improving the awareness for world hunger around the globe – everyone will be richer for it!
And what are you doing to solve the problem as you exhibit anger towards someone who is creating and following a dream, regardless of their intentions being in agreement with yourself?
Shall we all consult you before we attempt anything in this world?
Please give you your list of verifiable and meaningful contributions to world.
I didn’t realize I needed to have a list of contributions to quality to voice my opinion and observations. It certainly speaks volumes about your values and how you feel about freedom of speech. (and FYI, I have contributed a lot more to the plant at this point than Rhinehart has with this soylent venture).
To be clear – I have no issue with his venture or experiment. My issue is that he’s using world hunger to paint his cause for Soylent as altruistic whereas he’s already admitted he came up with the idea for his own benefit. He didn’t wake up one morning and decided to come up with a solution to world hunger because cost of food isn’t the real problem.
I can’t check your facts (That the money spent in Halloween would solve the hunger in Africa for a full year) since you didn’t provide a source.
However, if it is true, what you wrote makes a lot of sense.
You are right that world hunger is a redistribution issue. But why not keep producing the hip energy drink and at the same time use the publicity to highlight the distribution issues. It doesn’t have to be either…or?
Love the experiment! Just wish it were longer. Now that the product has been on the market for a while now, have there been any well-designed “human trials” done that are beyond 2 weeks?
Are you bound to eat only Soylent or only food. What if you wanted to say intersperse some meals throughout the week?
You´re absolutely free to eat what you want. Soylent is aiming to give you all the nutrients your body requires, based on the three-meals-a-day scheme that most of us are used to.
You can replace a meal with Soylent anytime and therefore you can also replace Soylent with a meal anytime.
Unless you´re paying a lot of attention to your nutrient-consumption, you´re most likely to get a way healthier meal when drinking Soylent.
Shane Snow’s pre-test diet of Chocolate Muscle Milk ( I’m not familiar with that but it sounds vile) and endless Coke ( with various chemical flavourings ) and his love of regular pizza is a harsh assault on the body. Any balanced regime as an alternative is likely to be an improvement.
One downside to committing to a pre-packaged diet is the need for constant supply. What happens when you travel? One of the joys of food is the ability to sustain yourself where ever you are as much as possible from local ingredients, and the discovery of new tastes.
Just preparing and cooking food is a pleasant, relaxing way of spending time whether with friends or something playing on the internet. I spent 6 months in Germany working my way thru a an Indian recipe book usually while listening to Christopher Hitchens’ debates on YouTube
If Soylent’s approach is found to work it’d be great for back-packing or perhaps a change of routine to nudge the body out of poor dietary habits.
Maybe we’ll find out early aging, some diseases are caused by eating raw foods (cooked or uncooked) from the nature, we are taking in bad stuff as well as the good stuff. Man has never got alternatives until now, some day we’ll only see today’s foods in museum.
How could we apply or hack soylent to address the four hour body?
We all know it will happen one day: we eat nutrition compounds only, un-natural food FTW.
I visited the Soylent website and found their video shall I say hilarious? Food happens to be one of the main joys in life so there discussion about completely eliminating food so you can do the things you really enjoy is – shall we say odd. Not only does food provide physical pleasure, its a social bonding thing as well. I also doubt many people can stick to it long term. That said, soylent could be useful as a one or two meal a day replacement and I’m willing to give it a try (but they currently have a 12 week shipping time – seems like bad business management there). An aside – the authors total cholesterol was around 125 which he dismissed but in fact several studies in the medical literature have shown total cholesterol below 160 can be dangerous and those with cholesterol that low while they have reduced heart disease risk they have overall higher death rates. Keep in mind the liver does make cholesterol. It wouldn’t be making something you don’t need.
I’d like to highlight one flaw in your reaction time experiment. At least one of your results has overlapping standard errors, showing the results are not significant. This therefore means soylent did nothing for some of your reaction times on particular experiments. I would however like to praise you for highlighting potential flaws in your experiment although I would probably try to add a few more. Basic things like how long did you conduct the experiment for? Did this therefore allow your body to adjust sufficiently to soylent? Did you repeat the experiment more than once to obtain reliable data? How large was the sample size in order for the data to be representative? Well I guess you did highlight that but rather in the context of placebo effect rather than sampling.
As a quick note this isn’t really a double-blind anything, the overall definition of double-blind would be obtaining something similar to Soylent and doing A to B testing, with control (Soylent) vs. (X), wherein the subjects do not know what they’re receiving.
Thanks for the great read, I’ve seen Soylent written up in many places.
With all due respect, I’d be interested to see the same experiment done by someone with a healthy, balanced diet, then see if anything improves in their test results. 😉
Check out http://discourse.soylent.me/ , you´ll find plenty first hand experiences there.
Just wanted to say that this is definitely the most comprehensive review of Soylent I have seen yet. One person’s experience isn’t proof but it is a valuable look at a new product and potential lifestyle.
So his diet was shit before (mms? soda?? vegetarian??? take out???) and he felt a little better when eating soylent but lost 8 lbs in 2 weeks? wtf this product is horrible for you and dangerous.
Melinda says: Very cool experiment. But what happened to the joy of food? The sensuality of food? I guess if it was the only thing around to eat or I’d starve, I’d eat it. But it’s not in the least bit sexy.
Great piece of journalism, a proper form of investigation as opposed to regurgitation of company facts. Well done to soylent for pursuing a noble cause, perhaps it’s a cause though that’s better pursued in famine countries for survival and not food rich Silicon Valley?
Some observations though…
The author and doctors makes assumptions about low cholesterol being good, this isn’t true.
Although he considers himself healthy. Maybe by SAD standards – his diet was pretty poor to begin with. Muscle milk, diet soda (aspartame etc) and burritos aren’t really that healthy. This could skew results.
As Tim mentioned, some of the soylent claims are quite bold ( no problem with that in general), but it’s product based on 10 years of condensed hacked knowledge, this poses the question, is 10 years really enough to learn everything about human nutritional biology, partcicularly when many scientists who have working their whole lives seem to get consistently confused with the body’s complexity. Being definite with something that’s not defined or understood is dangerous
It’s great to have vitamins a,b,c etc in a shake, but what is their source, and to what level is it Bioavailable? Are there certain minerals that are inhibiting or assisting in absorption? An example would be spinach, high in compositional iron, but the amount that’s available to the body is limited. And also calcium inhibiting iron absorption but vitamin c enhancing iron absorption.
Another awesome article, Shane. Thanks for sharing and having him on as well Tim
My Soylent arrived today. I’ve tasted it, had about 12 ozs but am still eating traditional food. I’m 62, don’t exercise and hope this food improves my blood tests. I was fortunate to create a base line about 20 days ago, and hope to see improvement 2 months from now. I have a little gas but not much. It has left me with an aftertaste which I don’t like, and I’m having trouble describing the aftertaste. Hope that goes away. I hope this sells well and lives up to the hype. Id like Rhinehart to become wealthy for his efforts, as well as the rest of his staff. I waited a yr for the product and will order more, if I’m still enthused about it after this weekend is thru. Good luck to everyone who tries it.
My idea for an experiment: Give two groups Soylent, don’t tell the control group that it is soylent, but tell them simply that it’s a meal replacement drink, and may not make a difference in their overall health. The other group, you tell them it’s soylent and the possible affects on their health and energy levels. One will go in thinking there won’t be much difference, and the other will expect results. Neither one starves.
I didn’t want my daughter to waste her money buying this stuff as we have tried vegan and other kinds of diets that were expensive and didn’t work. She bought some stuff anyway and I paid for it just hoping to be supportin, you know? I thought she would gag on it and push it over to me. What she did was drink a cup of the stuff that she mixed up , passed it to her sister and then to me. We all said “Oh my gosh this is fantastic!” It tasted so good! We are working on recipes now with it and I have tried other so called good diet drinks but this is outragious. A dash of olive oil- brown rice protein- chia seeds flax and oat flour and a bit of sugar and flavoring. Amaretto flavor syrup. That is my favorite. I can’t tell you how much crap that I was going to give my daughter over spending 30.00 dollars on this. Now I praise her.
I am a little late to this product and your trial. My friend just told me about this and I very much enjoyed reading your write up and opinions on this product. I’m not very educated on a good portion of the data contained in this trial tho I do understand what is being documented. The main concern I noticed being that I have a child in kidney failure and needing a second transplant very soon, was the creatinine elevation from .89 to 1.13. Tho that is still on an acceptable range this was only a 2 week trial with the lower protein standard of 80g ps as opposed to the new formula of i think 120? Creatinine level is a negative byproduct of a failing kidney and with this product all nutrients are being filtered through kidneys and kidneys alone. It seems and I’m wondering what prolonged use in conjunction with the new formula especially with protein at 120 might bring those values out of range and have negative impact on kidneys. Has this been something of interest at all? It is a concern for me, otherwise I’m very interested in this product.
how do you get the idea that all nutrients are being filitered through the kidneys. yeah there is alot of water intake but i dont see how that means the kidneys are filtering more nutrients.
It seems that a majority here are missing some information…
Soylent is referring to a movie to get its name out there, it is not primarily made of soy…or people.
If it provides a healthy alternative to junk food, there is no necessary need to discount the product because it might be missing the one vitamin or mineral that you get from some kind of vegetable that you (a minority) happen to constantly eat and therefore believe everyone must.
This product could do extremely well, and is more a proof of concept. Could Soylent feed a third world country into health at an effective cost? Not at its current cost, certainly not, but it takes thousands of people buying a product to grant the ability for the cost to be lowered, not one or two people somewhere testing it out, we need lots of people testing it to get a good idea.
Also, nowhere in this review did I notice that it does not HAVE to be your only meal, it only has the ability to be. Like water, you don’t HAVE to consume just water, but you have the ability to survive on only it if that is your choice.
It provides a much healthier solution than any other diet ive seen, thinking back on the “Cabbage Soup” idea where you basically do not consume calories or any vitamin/mineral. Generally every fad diet or diet that people actually want to be real, has proven, dangerous medical side-effects that can be proven. These “fad” diets are the ones people generally tend to lean towards which is what led to the explosion of the Ephedrine products not too long ago that were proved to make you loose a pound a day when taking them, also liver failure (which even at the time was known, and still taken for weight loss)
For a large number of people it simply is a much more difficult option to switch to a healthy alternative to food, mainly because those are things they don’t know how to cook, what to buy, or prepare. They look around and see that some of the foods that are touted as “good for you” and “organic” cost more than the food they are used to. Though here, and in many comments that’s being over-simplified to a scary degree, which is “I eat healthy, its easy for me, so it is for you, so just eat healthy”, which is a very lazy, and scary train of thought.
Yes a product like this would be useful in the third world, but putting a blind eye to the majority who uses some sort of dangerous fad diet (in many cases much less so, or to a degree even only so) to loose weight in a first-world country is very poor judgment, ignorant even. (HCG Diet, 500 calorie diet, grapefruit diet, juice/water fasting, Saltwater Cleanse) because there are an overwhelming number of diets out there you can take that very simply have the ability to kill you. Discounting one that finally doesn’t (at least, not that we know could, and follows FDA Guidelines for what we should eat to the letter)
There are a couple of things I would like to note about this article, as I am considering Soylent myself.
I currently have my own all inclusive nutrition shake, however, my supplements and ingredients are a bit more costly than Soylent.
I’m curious about specific ingredients that seem unnecessary, such as sucralose. They claim to eliminate undesirable ingredients like sugars, but they use artificial sweeteners? I feel like that means this is a Diet Soylent ™ or something.
I would like the non-diet version of Soylent, where they use natural sweeteners, if they have to. Why not just leave it as naturally sweetened or unsweetened? I am fine with bland food! 😉
I suffer from Acid reflux due to a failed lower-esophageal-sphincter. I can tell you that I do not take a proton inhibitor for treatment, as having a healthy diet has treated or managed most all symptoms for me.
I do not consume:
overly processed foods
I think the diet soda and potentially poor diet was a major contributor to the acid reflux. However, having a more complete nutritional intake means your body should be able to operate all internal functions and systems more effectively. In theory, properly running systems should flow into other systems and help restore functionality of the body even in situations where systems are failing. Hence the reach for health claims.
The only other claims I have seen about ingredients is that they are using cheaper sources of vitamins. Example being, Using vit D2 instead of D3 for the vit D source. D2 is hard on the body, while D3 is absorbed easily. They could stand to use better Vitamin sources, and mass produce these.
Related to the vitamin source issue, it is hard to say that having your body improve in the short term, and feeling better, is actually still healthy. The reason I say this, is because there is an increasing number of athletes with organ failure due to their health supplements. They are operating at a higher level, and in tern, they are actually causing their bodies to work harder to process all of the supplements coming in. In the short term, they have an improvement. Once their organs can’t take anymore supplement abuse, they have a rapid decline in health. I don’t know where Soylent is on this scale of healthy versus a harm in the long-term.
I totally understand the appeal here – we’re all busy, right? But there’s no quick fix for choosing real food. And your body will never absorb as easily nutrients that have been treated or added into foods as it will natural nutrients from the real source.
Soylent, according to their website, contains ‘both conventional and GMO ingredients’. The GMO would be enough for me to stay away from it. GMO foods are not safe and have been linked to so many health concerns, it’s ridiculous. They’re saying their product is inexpensive, and I can see why if they’re using GMO ingredients. Add the powdered soy lecithin to the mix, and no thank you. Soy messes with estrogen levels and is good for no-one.
Shane’s experience – the sores, the acid reflux, even the dizziness and then increase in energy and wellbeing – are all common things that occur during any kind of detox. Even healthier kinds, eg with fresh juices and organic whole foods. Given the other foods that he was eating before the experiment (pizza, burritos), his results were just as much due to what he WASN’T eating as due to going on a liquid diet, because there was so much less garbage for his body to try to digest.
There are better ways of nourishing your body quickly that are already out there. (I won’t list them here but email me if you want them). And even the price tag doesn’t impress me. In the US, in any case, you can eat raw, healthy, natural foods for $10 a day. And if you can’t where you live, drink some green smoothies. You’ll get more nutrition out of them, and at half the price.
About the claim that some nutrients might be missing: Yes, in theory you are absolutely right. However, in practical terms, what are the odds that a diet consisting in Cheeseburgers, Pizza, Coke and Doughnuts has a magical, life sustaining ingredient that is missing from a food that is specifically made to cover the nutritional needs of humans? I doubt that anyone who doesn’t spend a huge amount of time (and has a significant body of knowledge on the matter) has a day-to-day diet that will give them everything. What’s the point arguing the potential danger of Soylent in a world where people drink gallons of Coke or Pepsi? I for one will happily take my chances with Soylent.
love it. so sic-fi.
For years they’ve been saying that in the USA pet food has a daily requirement of something like 40-50 nutrients while baby food only has 7. Is it no wonder that American’s have poor general health? Foundation is everything.
Honestly I see something like Soylent (hopefully with a better name and gmo/gluten-free formula in the future) will be an answer to helping people bring at least a portion of their daily nutrients that they couldn’t get any other way. There’s lots of inner cities that have no markets with fruits/veg and lots of truckers/drivers etc who cannot stop for anything resembling normal food or meals. Imagine if they had had that at Ground Zero on 9/11 or available to mix with water during hurricanes and things like the Katrina aftermath. I do see a point to it, and yes all these powders have ‘come before’, but I don’t see any out there that are completely gmo/gluten-free and include things like vital trace nutrients. Also, if made in bulk that price-point could come way down from 9$ to maybe a more affordable 5$. Most people in the USA can’t afford 5$ a day per person x30. It would be much more affordable to use it as a breakfast/dinner and eat other foods as lunch.
If the body does seem to ‘want more’ at the beginning of the day tho, that does bear concern like Tim said, that people with high/low blood sugar issues would continue to have challenges during the hours that one is more inclined not to drink any. It would be interesting to see if that is a ‘performance enhancement modification’ that the writer made, that isn’t necessarily optimal for daily functioning but just rises out of a personal requirement. (Maybe humans are meant to take a nap since so many feel that tiredness in the afternoon even without the full carb meals at lunch.)
Those sugar challenges might dissipate as things regulated but what would they do in the beginning? I’d suggest adding something like Alpha Lipoic Acid or Bergamot which are both insulin sustainers, to the protocol somewhere. Bergamot is also a sweetener but both could be added to the vitamin pack along with D3 and B12 (sublingual). It would also seem prudent to have at least basic electrolytes and trace nutrients, psyllium (or similar), a blend of proteins such as pea and hemp and rice to variate options for the body in absorption. I disagree with the Glutathione theory ‘as’ gluta, it has to be like NAC to work but would be vital along with the ALA to deal with things like environmental toxins. The body has to create it’s own glutathione. (Though Coffee E’s create it as well.) Co-Q10 should be given as Ubiquinol, if it’s used, and of course bioperine (w/turmeric to keep systemic inflammation down during the changes) to make it all absorb. L-glutamine would help heal the GERD issues and the other things would lower chances of mouth sores.
I’d totally try it with at least the variable proteins and guarantee of non-gmo derived nutrients. I’d also prefer no soy at all since that is almost always gmo and causes hormonal imbalance/weight gain etc. I think you’d have to have a woman test it who is already pretty fit for like at least 3 weeks maybe longer, to see how it goes on the female body.
People like me who give workable and marketing ideas should get a chance at beta testing! You know that the public who is prepared to dive into this are people who are already health conscious, they wouldn’t go for anything with gmo’s or gluten in them for the most part… And they’d want it to be a bit cheaper than having to co-supplement with what they already do. (In other words they wouldn’t want to have to buy/take all of their supplements if they have to buy this at that price point.)
To prove the theory further I think future beta-testers need to do some serious vitamin/nutrient testing before/after as well. Remember that the body takes from things like Vitamin C and D to ‘convert’ nutrients into their best uses so I think with time those numbers might actually fall way below normal as the only source becomes the powder. The body uses D3 to mitigate inflammation and pain etc and is used up daily and can’t be sourced through the sun so it would have to be at least 5-10k IU a day. Anyone with a chronic condition or regular workouts would need more. (Formulas made for athletes should also be used for patients with illness like diabetes, arthritis, fibromyalgia, heart disease etc since the healing process for both includes mitigating inflammation.)
Speaking of illness, once the formula’s are perfected, this would be a great way to help people recovering from surgery (not necessarily bariatric) or long-term mobility-restrictive illness where moving around to care for one’s self or cook is super difficult.
I can think of tons of ways to market it.
I will try this product, been following it for 2 years. I am juicing now, as a means to health and time modifications & feel MUCH better. I wish they would change the name, it sucks, only hip filmmakers know film and my friends refuse to try it as “it could be human flesh”. It is an insider joke and bad marketing,
which is needed for any product or work to have a chance to succeed. As soon as I can afford 2 weeks of it I will report.
You should be concerned about kidney and liver functions. This stuff obviously is damaging. The white-ish tan stools you are talking about are a sign of liver dysfunction and you GFR, or glomerular filtration rate –although still within reference range–should be concerning.. Its indicative of renal failure when it is low.. and such a drastic drop in numbers in such a short period of time is scary. Do you even want to think about the results of taking this stuff chronically?? Renal and liver failure are not things to be taken lightly…..
Oh yeah this product is considered a supplement, so no FDA approval needed. Just wait for the class action lawsuit when people are dying as a result of this… Just hope that you’re not one of the one’s who is already dead when you make a few bucks from the lawsuit.
This was a great read and I’m glad to hear that this product did so much of what the company says it will do. My biggest issue is perhaps a really stupid one, but I can’t get past the name. It’s fiction coming to life and a little to close to the Charlton Heston version of the word ‘soylent.’ They have got to change the name or I won’t quit gagging with every gruelish swallow.
Admirable that the creator wants this to be used to solve world hunger. Unfortunately, there is a rather big flaw: this product requires water. A lot of areas that are suffering from hunger and famine also probably don’t have access to safe drinking water. Maybe if this product came with a water filtration system, it could be more viable. Also, of course, is the question of the effects of long term use of the product. Still, people are making attempts and this product is getting attention. Perhaps in the next few years we really will have a healthy meal replacement product.
I am a woman with a rare disease that has given me grief my whole life along with living in hospital &/or bedridden for half of every month. I’ve worked harder than anyone i know in finding some type of help to serious food related problems;especially if one does have allergies & is affected by almost every food. The disease i have hasn’t allowed for myself to do a lot as sickness is the number one job, but that didn’t mean i didn’t work hard, cause anytime i could i would furiously so to pay all bills b4 my body crashed again & i’d repeat the same cycle again, just to breathe not have any life. In addition i’ve got family unknown thus medical history is nil. I’ve always been very small, but when violent sickness occurs i drop to under 40 kilos;recently i was 36 kilos. I have always been careful with eating,& actually can not eat lots of foods, even fresh, as i can at any moment become so sick that i have clinically died. I found a organic high nutrient product that is expensive however it has kept me alive, even in hospitals i’ve been allowed to have it, as i had another major surgery for a tumor to be removed(along with other internals)& its been my only food for almost a year now;so i got excited reading about Soylent as a food…No more worries for me. Unfortunately after much research, & information from specialists in all fields, i find the advertising of this product fraud as it does subtly play on sick individuals, it gives a false hope, thus my opinion for the unwell is to leave this product very much alone. The creator is ONLY 24 y/o, he would ‘look’ better with an older, wiser sounding experienced proffessional backing his words. I am aware that it doesn’t mean he isn’t smart, but he can’t possibly be smart enough otherwise he WOULD have proper researchers. Ms Field
Have you tried the standard ketogenic diet and what were your results?
A pizza-only diet might be possible if you use upside-down giant mushrooms as the base instead of dough to lower carbohydrate % of the meal and keep your total daily carbohydrate intake under a certain % of total mass by for instance loading up on ultra high fat side dishes and toppings to keep you in ketosis for most of the day. I’d be really interested in your results.
The experient shows that the experimenter has incurred stage 2 kidney damage from this experiment.
What concerns me most here is kideny function. Creatinine is an excellent indicator of kidney function, along with GFR. When GFR drops, as it did in this case, creatinine accumulates. The creatinine itself is not so problematic, but it does indicate that his kidneys aren’t working as efficiently. But this could be due to many things. perhaps the increased loss of muscle mass had something to do with it. I think this is a great idea (although I would avoid the use of soy. TOo many issues with it.) but I would want to see peer-reviewed, randomized long-term testing before deciding whether or not this is truly safe. Again, my main concern lies in how this would effect kidney function.
where are the scientific journals? In pubmed there are none (0) on Soylent. How can FDA approve it to be food without having any publication without population level analysis? It may be good for you, who care? I want to know if its results are consistently good among variety of people so I can have more trust on it.
I recorded a video of my first time trying Soylent. The taste took a little getting used to but I have been drinking it for a week now and I love it. I totally get why people are put off at first though. https://youtu.be/GQQ1fvD6DMQ
Changing from a crap diet to start with to another and showing some mental improvements does not prove the change is better than that of a natural varied omnivores diet. I would first start with a very healthy individual with a good diet and then see if there are any improvements.