So, in case you have not heard of Soylent, the powdered meal replacement, not the one one from the book or movie, I wanted to post a brief review of it. I also wanted to share my own notes on DIY meal replacements and supplements I worked on for travel and hurried days before Soylent came out.
I have been watching Soylent, the powdered food, ever sense Rob Rhinehart made his first post about it on his website. I supported their crowd funding campaign when it first opened and ordered a months worth of food. That was a little over a year ago, and while I was waiting I made some test batches of my own. A few weeks ago I received my official Soylent 1.0 supply. I requested the non-vegan version, so it came with a fish and canola oil bottle that had to be added to each batch.
- It tasted good. It was a bit thick, but after I added more water it was fine.
- It had all the nutrients that it should have (see details below).
- The product was compact and easy. A day’s worth of food is less than 1 lb, and fits nicely in a backpack. It is very easy to make: just add it to a container with an equal (or greater) amount of water and mix it up. The compactness makes it great for backpacking; I gave my sister some before she went hiking for three days.
- IF you get it with the subscription plan it is a good price. It is hard to beat it cost-wise over any convenience food, and then have that food be remotely as healthy. This is a major point to look at, if you are going to eat just to get the calories and don’t have the time or care about the food you’re about to eat, this is WAY better than any fast food or microwave meal.
- The starter kit came with a nice, airtight, BPA-free pitcher, and a well made scope. Much nicer than I expected.
- My digestion was GREAT, not to get into the details, but… BEST POOP EVER, after using it my first full day.
- It contains Sucralose, and artificial sweetener! It did not need any extra sweeting, it was already on the sweet side, but they for some reason decided to add this. Although Sucralose is generally considered the safest artificial sweetener, it still causes problems for many people. I am one of those people, I can not even have 1/2 a can of diet soda without getting a very bad headache. I was hopeful at first that it would not bother me, but after a full day’s worth I noticed a headache starting in the evening. This happened each day, unfortunately. I think it is a low enough amount that my body could “deal” with it for 2 meals a day.
- The protein mix is not ideal. While it is complete, it uses mostly rice protein, which will “burn” much faster for most people. In my own mixes I had the most luck with a mix of whey and soy.
- Although I picked the “vegetarian” version, it clearly was not as it came with fish oil. For me, that is fine because I eat fish, but for my strict vegetarian girlfriend, it was not so good. On the bright side, it is in a separate oil vial, so you can just not use it, and add some olive oil mixed with flax oil (to get your omega 3’s) as an alternative.
- Availability and or cost. Right now, it is backordered quite a bit, and unless you opt for the “subscription” plan, it is a bit more than I would like to spend. With the plan, it’s an affordable meal replacement, IF you can get it. The prices on eBay have soared because of this to $200+ for a week’s supply. This will be worked out though, I assume very soon.
So would I recommend it? So long as you’re okay with artificial sweeteners, a resounding YES. It is healthy, good, and cheaper than eating other fast food. I would rather eat this for meals that are a wash for me anyway, and at least be healthier, save some time and even money. For me, breakfast and even lunch are sometimes just eaten at my desk while I work, not a really “for pleasure” meal anyway, so in those cases, it is an ideal replacement. Now, if you want me to give up some of my homemade diners, or favorite restaurants, that is not going to happen with this.
Want to save even more money? Don’t want to wait for them to ship it? DIY! There are tons of user recipes out there, and even a do-it-yourself website by the company. Check out diy.soylent.me or the discourse.soylent.me discussion site for a start. You can also check out my notes in Google Docs here talking about making your own. This document here, is a copy of a nice description of all the ingredients by Rob back in February 2013, just in case his site is offline.
Further food discussion (skip this unless you want to look at an overview of what food is):
SO what is food really? Well, calories are the energy we burn in food, but what makes food nutritious? I mean, why can’t you just eat 2000 kcal of Doritos every day and be good? Our daily requirements can be divided up into five basic parts: protein, carbohydrates, fats/oils, fiber, and vitamins and minerals.
Protein is often over simplified, but it is very important not to. Amino acids are what make up protein and there are lots of different ones, but we really need to worry about eight essential ones. Our bodies cannot make them, and therefore we need to make sure we get all eight with every meal to meet our complete protein needs. Some high-protein foods, like soy, are lacking in one or more and require another complementary high-protein food, like rice, to complete it. I have made a site to help people keep track of there protein intake, aminometer.com, check it out!
Carbohydrates are often labeled as “the bad guy” of food, because most of us eat too much of this and gain weight. Many popular diets like the Adkins Diet are successful because they cut most of the carbs out. BUT this is not healthy for the long term because our bodies need carbohydrates, so you don’t want to reduce this to much. Stick to healthier complex carbs, your brain will thank you.
Fats and oils in the past were also given a bad rap. It is true that it may not be healthy to over do saturated fats, but our bodies do need healthy fatty acids. Omega 3 and 6 are the two that are essential. This is also the most calorie-dense form of food. Look at a bottle of olive oil, it contains enough calories for a few days!
Fiber, our often forgotten digestive friend. It comes in two forms: digestible and indigestible. The names are fairly self explanatory. One breaks down, the other does not and goes right through you. Fiber is very plentiful in fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It helps our bodies process simple carbs like sugar much better, and stabilizes the digestive system. I would guess that most people are not consuming enough and would be much healthier if they did.
Vitamins and minerals account for the very small remainder. They offer little calories, but the 28+ list that our body needs for various purposes are very important.
www.soylent.me //the official website
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soylent_(drink) //the wiki on it
diy.soylent.me //site to make your own
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essential_nutrient //Essential nutrients wiki
aminometer.com //my site to track and calculate if you are getting your complete protein intake.