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Soylent Closes $50M Series B Round Led by GV (soylent.com)
335 points by thejacenxpress on May 4, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 640 comments



Soylent gets a lot of hate (I'm looking forward to skipping out on this thread before the inevitable negative comments from people who assume that Soylent consumers will eat nothing but Soylent for the rest of their lives), but to me, it's solved a large problem in my life: what to eat when I'm hungry but I don't have enough time to prepare a full meal. It can happen every now and then when I'm rushing around, and soylent blows away whatever I'd eat before (nothing, some Mexican I bought in the Mission, clif bars, etc).

I've actually switched over to a product called Ample which is similar to Soylent but a bit more health conscious with ingredient choice. Still, I've got nothing against Soylent.


What advantage does Soylent have over say, other meal replacements e.g. Slimfast, weight watcher shakes, juices etc that have existed for years before it and will continue to do so for years after? All I see is SV hype and marketing. In fact you just showed that Soylent is easily outplayed because you switched to a different drink already.


Slimfast has 4x as much sugar as Soylent (per-calorie). To get 2000 calories from Slimfast you'd be getting 180g sugar, while with Soylent it would be 45g. Now 45g is a little higher than recommended, but 180g is way too high.

http://d8m5oga7foiu.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/1...

http://files.soylent.com/pdf/soylent-drink-nutrition-facts-e...


not sure where you got the slimfast nutritional info but they have 1g of sugar: http://slimfast.com/advanced-nutrition/#shakes

if it had that much sugar, it wouldve never gained a reputation for losing weight.


That's a hilariously naive comment.

Historically, diet shakes/meal replacement shakes/etc have been almost entirely sugar, and slimfast is infamous for exactly that.

> if it had that much sugar, it wouldve never gained a reputation for losing weight.

That's not how advertising works. :)

(There is a new variant of slimfast with low sugar, but that's a very recent exception to the rule. Most slimfast is high sugar, and historically all slimfast was high sugar. It's like arguing "coke doesn't have lots of sugar", and linking the nutritional information to diet coke.)


> if it had that much sugar, it wouldve never gained a reputation for losing weight.

Ah, I see you've forgotten about the 'low-fat' era.

Efficacy has very little to do with the popularity of diets.


Original vs Advanced (click the buttons on their website to find Original).

The Original I checked had 18 grams of sugar.


And it looks like Advanced was introduced after Soylent.


looks like the "original" versions have much more sugar: http://slimfast.com/original/#shakes


You can't go hiking with Slimfast, Weight Watcher shakes, or juices.

What I don't understand: the REI market is the one place where Soylent is inarguably better than any other product in its niche, and nobody seems to give a shit about that.

I carry a bag of dry Soylent in my SAR pack. When I get sent out on an assignment, I have no idea how long I might be out for. For less weight than any other option, I have dinner and breakfast and lunch if necessary.

If I know in advance I'm going to be out hiking for more than about three hours, a pre-mixed solution of it in a Nalgene, with a quick chug here and there, really beats back the fatigue.

The REI market is not small, and it's got a huge focus on ultralight, ultralight, ultralight now. Soylent really seems to be missing an opportunity here.


> What I don't understand: the REI market is the one place where Soylent is inarguably better than any other product in its niche, and nobody seems to give a shit about that.

I guess it depends on what you mean by "better".

SAR is a niche within a niche. I can totally understand why Soylent is 1000x better than other options.

But most backpackers are doing it for fun. Reducing weight and space is great, but there are plenty of much more enjoyable meals that are only marginally heavier/bulkier.

At least for me, cooking a good meal before bed is my favorite part of the day. I'll happily carry an extra pound or so to make that happen.

TBF, a lot of purely recreational backpackers care less about the pleasures of life. The type doing 14 hour days and so on. But that's a small market, and all the folks I've met on trails who are doing that sort of thing tend to be pretty price sensitive. Young folks with few savings taking a few months off work don't have three months of Soylent money ;-)


> Young folks with few savings taking a few months off work don't have three months of Soylent money ;-)

thru-hiker here. I did it on $2k of credit cards, which is the least of anyone i met personally. a dehydrated meal with 350 calories costs $5 minimum, requires cooking (fuel cost/weight), and requires time/energy for your body to digest.

a soylent powder meal costs $2.


You can easily have dehydrated meals for under 50cents that don't have the nutritional criticisms of soylent.

It does require you to go to the supermarket, quickly buy some ingredients, and mix them together.

Here is an example: You can just buy oats, skim milk powder, peanuts (a bit better if you buy them crushed, or crush them), raisens, and dehydrated fruit & berries. I also add almonds, walnuts, chocolate, coconut. It works out to b/w 25-50cents a meal if you buy at Costco, and is very healthy. You can add sugar if you want (I add a little, and a very small amount of salt).

You can also customize to your heart's desire. Replace milk powder with whey powder. Peanuts with almonds, flax for omega 3s, etc.

There you have it - The wisdom to outcompete soylent on price, nutrition, and taste, and all by a lot.


1/4 the price, but how much extra time does that take?

Not saying that's a bad option, just different.


Realistically, I need to go to Costco anyways, and I can buy these products in bulk as they have long shelf lives. Perhaps I spend 5-10mins extra at the store every 2 months, and another 5mins pouring everything in a large container together, once a month. So perhaps 10 minutes a month to save, say, 3$ a day, or 90$ a mo, works out to $360/hr tax free value creation rate without including the value of eating healthier, better tasting food. Where I waste my time is on reddit, HN, and video games.


I like your idea. Certainly sounds way better taste wise.


Gorp is not a new idea. In fact you can get it for free in every single hiker box on the AT. I know someone who claims he didn't buy a single meal on the trail.

The disadvantages to soylent are taste, chewing difficulty/calories, preparation, it stops up your digestive tract, and takes much longer to become usable energy.


Trail mix (never heard the word gorp before) is nothing new, neither is muesli. My version above, however, is low sugar and a complete protein with much more varied nutrition sources. Thought it doesnt taste quite as good to your sweet tooth as a bag of m&ms and nuts.


> muesli

Ah, now I know why it sounded good to me. As a Swiss we basically grow up with that stuff.


You should go to Nepal. Serious mountains and everyone there uses dried instant noodles, which were less than 50 cents a pack. You can eat them dry, or boil them up and make a soup.


Agreed. I use Soylent as a replacement for cliff bars when I ski or climb. It's easier to get down and has more calories.


What are the acronyms REI and SAR?


REI = Recreational Equipment, Inc. (essentially a a camping and hiking store though they do have some general sports stuff like bikes)

SAR = search and rescue


SAR = search and rescue

REI = major American outdoor retailer


Uh, you know that every REI has a wide selection of freeze-dried camping foods, right? They're a lot better than the idea of slurping down bland nutrient goo (but more power to you, if nutrient spooge is your preference, I suppose).

As for price, I bought a 30-day supply of camp food for less than $100 on amazon.


Those are really not alternatives to the mentioned uses. The freeze dried food selection is somewhat limited, tends to be very salty, takes substantially more time to prepare, and generates a lot of waste you get to continue hauling around.

If your goals include speed or (less) weight, those freeze dried options are really far from ideal. To get around the weight issue you mostly need to plan and package your food yourself, which takes some time. If you're getting called out to do SAR you either need to have it done in advance or go with another option.


The things i'm talking about are a single pouch per meal. There's no more or less waste than mixing up a sack of goo. Many can be eaten dry in a pinch. Have fun eating dry soylent.

I can't really speak to the exact sodium content, but it's more than reasonable for emergency rations or hiking or SAR. You're not eating this stuff every meal for the rest of your life, and if you are, you deserve what you get.


Yes. That single pouch is a significant problem when you generate several a day. They are intended to be used for meal prep, which involves hot water. They're fairly heavy and large, and you have to carry them out with you. You can save a significant amount of weight when packaging your own food by using smaller, lesser weight bags with a separate reusable insulator. Remember, we're talking about people that will pay a significantly higher price for an item that is maybe an ounce or two lighter.

It also gives you a lot more control over portions, which can be an issue as well. There is no point packing more than you are going to eat.

I brought up the salt content not for health reasons, but taste. Many of the ones I've tried have been so salty I've had trouble finishing them even after a day of backpacking.


Last time I checked, Soylent comes in packages, and requires water to eat.

So sure, you can combine your nutrient goo powder into a single sack, and thereby save a tiny fraction of the weight of the food (and water) itself. But you're splitting hairs.

I picked a mountain house pouch-based product at random on amazon, and the packaging weight was .06oz on a gross of 5oz, or 1.2%. Which is, of course, nothing. I have heard exactly zero people, ever, complain about the weight of their dried food packaging. I've heard lots of people complain about camping food being boring and flavorless.

If you like Soylent, fine, but the claim that this stuff is the obvious best product for campers is silly.


Mountain House requires more than water though, it needs to be cooked, and ounce-for-ounce, provides no more or better nutrition than Soylent. Cooking is a hassle sometimes; if I'm just doing a quick 20-miler for the day, I want to eat but not carry a stove.

If I'm carrying a stove, then I'm carrying fuel too. That weight and space adds up. Even if I'm carrying my MSR Windburner, it's still about the size of my first aid kit. My old MSR PocketRocket was smaller by itself, but required a mess kit or a pot of some kind for the hot water. I could go with a soda can alcohol stove, but then if I spill my fuel I'm a bit boned and they aren't always the most reliable or efficient setups to begin with.

Soylent is: remove Soylent package from pack, dump approx 10 oz into Nalgene, add water (cold, filtered from a stream if possible), shake, and continue.

Cooking while backpacking is fun ... sometimes. Once in a while it's nice to take the time to put together some backcountry gourmet stuff.

But for just having the equivalent of emergency rations in my pack, Soylent really is better than the other choices.

Oh, and anecdotally: digestion is a pretty big deal when you get far enough away from civilization. I've had some Mountain House meals do some pretty unhappy things in my gut, and there's only so much cleanup that small wad of "oh-no" TP I carry around can do. Soylent tends to digest really well and not cause post-digestive messes. Unless, of course, you happen to be one of those many people who were allergic to one of their recent formulations.


> Mountain House requires more than water though, it needs to be cooked

The instructions on all the Mountain House stuff that I have say "add hot water and wait N minutes".

(But I agree with the gist of the argument, that things like Soylent and Tsogo are better for this use case anyway.)


what you are saying is that you don't know any hikers that care significantly about weight.

I can also state that the majority of people I know care so much about weight that they would never carry mountain house type food around.

If we both extend our friends to the general public, we have a clash. Or, maybe, there are different types of people in the world, some of whom think that Soylent is a great alternative for many of the situations they find themselves in.


I'm saying that nobody I know cares about the weight of a plastic bag unless they're trying to win a pedantic internet debate.

If everyone you know is different, congratulations. Enjoy your nutrient goo.


Out of curiosity, have you tried Tsogo for your SAR needs? I generally like Soylent better taste-wise; but one thing that Tsogo does, they pack their powder in fairly thick sealed mylar bags that can just be dropped in your backpack without worry of it spoiling (the shelf life is also on the same order of magnitude as freeze-dried food, so you can just put it there and forget it).


Yes. Yes, you can go hiking on slimfast or Weight Watchers. I go hiking all the time in Arizona with a Builder Bar or an apple and some water. 6 to 8 mile trail runs with some water (nothing else) is very common for me and my friends. I am not going to mix up Soylent for trail running or hiking, ever. I can almost say that 99% of my friends will not either.

I also participate (professionally) in uSAR via a technical rescue team for a decently large municipality. We don't take food on call outs and have no idea how long an extrication will take for example. When I am at work, I often don't eat for two, three, or four hours past "lunch time" or "dinner time" due to calls. Soylent is not an option anymore than drinking a protein shake on a call. Not happening.


Sorry, why can't you drink a protein shake on a call?


yeah, when I'm out backpacking I drink trader joe's chocolate protein powder, costs less, same nutrition facts on the label, no strange gas.

Soylent is just very good at marketing to people unfamiliar with protein powder.


trader joe's chocolate protein powder, costs less, same nutrition facts on the label,

I though Soylent was good because it covers all your nutritional requirements (haven't tried it) - this trader joe's has the same nutritional content?


> Soylent is inarguably better than any other product in its niche

jakefood.com beg to differ.


> What advantage does Soylent have over say, other meal replacements e.g. Slimfast, weight watcher shakes, juices etc

Which of those examples are actual food replacements instead of liquid candy blasted with vitamins?

Slimfast high protein is the only option I see online that doesn't include huge amounts of sugar, but a single 180 calorie shake also gives way too much vitamins and protein to be sane times 10, which is what you need to get a day's worth of calories from it.

Weight watchers shakes look like they have exactly the same issue as slimfast high protein, except with more sugar and more servings required.

So here you are crapping on the product, but you actually haven't pointed to a realistic replacement for it.


Products for people on feeding tubes like Jevity?

Last I checked Soylent contained Sucralose (Splenda).


Not speaking to that specific product, but actual medically-approved food replacements are at a big price premium, because their use is so niche.

(And if it's not going in your mouth, it can taste like ass.)


> but actual medically-approved food replacements are at a big price premium, because their use is so niche

No, they're expensive because no food manufacturer wants to kill the customers, and these customers tend to be at significantly increased risk of death.

> And if it's not going in your mouth, it can taste like ass.

Medical sole-source of nutrition products can be given through a naso-gastric tube, but many of them are designed to be drunk. Manufacturers have increased the range of flavours because they recognised that people hated the vanilla / chocolate / banana / strawberry limited range.


> ... sucralose

Funny how that information buried on the site. I've re-ordered a few times based on its (prominently featured) use of Isomaltulose, thinking that is where the sweetness came from. Some evidence that sucralose will spike insulin. Seems to jibe with personal experience. Will probably hold off until they eliminate sucralose. Perhaps trehalose?


Huh, I thought they got rid of sucralose in 1.7; it's clearly there in 1.8 though.


I don't like artificial sweeteners because I am worried about changes in gut bacteria. There's some research suggesting it may.


Meaning they'll eventually become capable of digesting sucralose? Or that the artificial sugars are killing our gut bacteria. One I care about. Haha.


https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/artificial-sweete...

Last year, though, a team of Israeli scientists put together a stronger case. The researchers concluded from studies of mice that ingesting artificial sweeteners might lead to—of all things—obesity and related ailments such as diabetes. This study was not the first to note this link in animals, but it was the first to find evidence of a plausible cause: the sweeteners appear to change the population of intestinal bacteria that direct metabolism, the conversion of food to energy or stored fuel. And this result suggests the connection might also exist in humans.


Protein isn't a panacea. Eating 2,000 calories of Soylent a day would mean consuming 100 grams of protein. That's unnecessary for the average person.


Eating 2000 calories of Slimfast notcompletelysugar^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^high protein, because it seems to be their only option that isn't giant heaping piles of sugar, would net you 222g (and wickedly overload you on vitamins, but, you know, whatever, right?). Which would you prefer?


Eat some fruit and vegetables.


Man, I wish I needed 100g of protein a day. I try to be very conservative on my intake, and I still need 142g minimum at 180 pounds.


RDA for protein is 0.8g/kg (~0.36/pound), so about 65g in your case if you're sedentary. 1g/pound is an old bodybuilder myth according to this article [0] which goes through various studies: "many review papers have concluded 0.82g/lb is the upper limit at which protein intake benefits body composition". This is for strength athletes and bodybuilders, mind you: most people (even many athletes) need far, far less.

[0] http://bayesianbodybuilding.com/the-myth-of-1glb-optimal-pro...


> 1g/pound is an old bodybuilder myth according to this article

Except that every time I've ever seen/heard it from bodybuilders it has always been 1g per lean pound which fits pretty well with your 0.82 figure accounting for typical bodyfat percentages. So your article is arguing a strawman and they've been right all along.


You're right, I forgot about that. My main point was that parent is probably overdoing it (even if he/she were a bodybuilder), and this seems to be quite common.


What do you mean by overdoing it?

It's hard, although possible, to have too much protein.


That's not a massive ton of protein. It's probably a bit more than the average person is likely to make use of but I'd rather an extra 20g of protein than an extra 20g+ of sugar.


> So here you are crapping on the product, but you actually haven't pointed to a realistic replacement for it.

Why should suggesting a replacement be a requirement for criticism?


In this particular case, the criticism was that there are better replacements.


>... haven't pointed to a realistic replacement for it.

The "realistic replacement" is to not worry too much about perfectly balanced nutrition if you need skip an actual real meal occasionally. The body can handle it.


Buy why not Soylent? Why is it so offensive compared to not eating at all or eating Taco Bell or a few granola bars?

A better alternative to Soylent is going hungry? Why?


> Buy why not Soylent? Why is it so offensive compared to not eating at all or eating Taco Bell or a few granola bars?

When Soylent launched they made several misleading, unethical, medical, claims.

They've since dropped every single one of those.

Soylent have had a number of product recalls. They don't have a huge volume of product, and they've only been in business for a short time, so it's a bit worrying that they haven't fixed their problems.

Some people think that when you're raising money from the public you should be honest. Some people think that when you're providing a safety critical product you should be competent.

There's also an element of backlash against the massive hype / very successful marketing - we see this with any product.


> easily outplayed because you switched to a different drink already.

Not really. Soylent is much cheaper than Ample, and that's a major plus for the cost conscious (which is a lot of people!)

As for the other ones - honestly mostly marketing I'd imagine. I've never heard of any product billed as a "nutritionally complete" meal. SlimFast to me sounds like a dieting product (as do weight watcher shakes), which isn't what I want at all. Non-dieting meal replacements, where they exist (I don't know the name of a single one!), just don't seem to target the same market that Soylent does.

Do other products exist that do what Soylent does? I don't doubt it. I've never heard of them, though.


I lived on Garden of Life's Raw Organic Meal + Green Vibrance + Alkaline Water for a while.

https://www.gardenoflife.com/content/product/why-choose-raw-...

https://www.vibranthealth.com/green-vibrance/


How did that go?


It worked, though I had a few other items. Those products don't contain many fats nor carbs so I also had green juices, Garlic Hummus & Mary's Gone Crackers & eggs in the morning as well. What was nice about this combination was the ease of digestion.

I was working from home & had an ashtanga yoga routine. Personally, I think it's better to have a diet of home-prepared food consisting of whole foods grown in good soil, but in the interest of time & (lack of) motivation to prepare meals, it worked for me.


Do you have a blog or anything? Sounds like you have an interesting lifestyle (potentially). I'd be curious to know more about what your diet is like, what your work from home habits are like, etc. Always looking for ways to improve.


I hope you realize that alkaline water is a total scam.


Check out Tsogo.


Snickers?


>All I see is SV hype and marketing.

That's all it is. If Soylent brands itself as a normal meal replacement, that's not sexy. So Soylent branded itself as a food replacement - which is more interesting and more dangerous (I just cannot trust that replacing food with Soylent won't have unintended health consequences down the line).


Well can't have Herbalife having all of the fun


That's my impression as well, feels a lot like this juicer https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-04-19/silicon-v...


There's a marked difference between all of the above if you take a cursory glance at the nutritional information. If you tried to eat a 2,000 calorie diet on classic Slim Fast, you'd be getting around 200 grams of sugar and over twice the recommended daily allowance of sodium. Ensure, Cliff Bars and a lot of other popular snacks of that kind compared about as unfavorably last time I checked.

I agree with the common sentiment that Soylent's original goal/purpose - a simple powder/drink that could serve as one's sole source of nutrition - is sort of ridiculous, but it actually led to a remarkably well balanced product unlike anything on the mass market. It's remarkably filling and nutritionally well balanced for a convenience food.


...a simple powder/drink that could serve as one's sole source of nutrition - is sort of ridiculous

Care to explain why? I am genuinely curious, as it sounds like an awesome idea.


Pro GMO: they are not hiding that they used a lot of GMO product, instead of selling you something organic with a huge premium.

Glycemic Index/Glycemic Load: a quick search doesn't give me SlimFast's GI/GL info, while Soylent does post the number.


> Glycemic Index/Glycemic Load: a quick search doesn't give me SlimFast's GI/GL info, while Soylent does post the number.

It's available. Seems weird to decide based on the availability of the number versus the number.


GI/GL is important for diabetes/prediabetes. The number is of course reasonable (mid-low GI/GL).

I don't see result by searching "glycemic site:slimfast.com". There are some numbers posted on other websites (e.g. http://www.glycemicindex.com/foodSearch.php?num=1469&ak=deta... which looks credible), but compare to Soylent's disclosure (https://faq.soylent.com/hc/en-us/articles/212769503-Glycemic...) I'm more confident to choose Soylent instead of SlimFast.

Out of curiosity, I also searched GI/GL info on amplemeal.com and found nothing.


A very quick look at the Slimfast page for their high protein product links the nutritional information. It shows that the mix has ~1g of sugars per serving, but is mixed with milk, so you'll need to account for that in your calculations depending on the type of milk you use for mixing.

http://slimfast.com/advanced-nutrition/


GI/GL is not directly related to the carbohydrate number on nutrition fact table. The number must be tested in a controlled environment.

E.g. regular coke has a GI of 63 (source http://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/glycem...), and is considered medium GI, but of course it contains a lot of sugar.


This is a really weird myth that has started spreading lately. That somehow Soylent was just another meal replacement in a long line of meal replacements.

No, none of the products you mentioned is anywhere near as nutritionally balanced as soylent. And those that are, clearly came after


Yeah, I've noticed that. It seems many people simply aren't aware of the state of meal replacement drinks when Soylent came out. People in the Soylent community actually looked at the other options at the time, but they were all fairly bad.


Yes, exactly. The reason why I remember it so well is because I had been looking for something like Soylent for years before it came out


This was posted last week https://www.blendrunner.com


Brand.

Unlike the examples you mentioned, Soylent is not a "lose weight" brand.

As an undergrad in college, Soylent is everywhere. Can't remember the last time I saw any of those other meal replacements.


Neither is Ensure a "lose weight" brand. But Ensure is an old-people brand. So Soylent (and Ample, which I learned about in this thread) are basically Ensure for young people.


Ensure is a weight gain brand, which is also incidentally marketed as a meal replacement for everyone and their dog because why not - of course marketing will never tell anyone, "don't eat this, it's not for you". That's why it's an old people brand, it's for people who can't eat enough solid food to maintain their weight. Just compare the nutritional labels:

Soylent (400 kcal) 21g fat 37g carbs (9g simple sugars, 3g fibers) 20g protein

Ensure (400 kcal) 11g fat 60g carb (?g simple sugars, doesn't say, NO FIBERS) 16g protein

I looked at every single brand of meal replacement shakes I could get my hands on around here at drugstores, I was looking for a cheaper alternative to Soylent and figured one of them would do. You would think someone would be making a meal replacement that's not sugar water garbage already. NOPE. Plus, most of them serve a different goal, either weight gain or weight loss, not just meal replacement.

EDIT: arguably Soylent is sugar water garbage too, it's first ingredients are water and maltodextrin (a sugar), but it's not as bad as the others I've looked at.


The maltodextrin is the primary calorie source in Soylent, but it's a much slower absorbing sugar (higher glycemic index, so it doesn't completely fuck your blood sugar) than the plain old sucrose you get in literally every other meal replacement drink.


It's the other way around. Higher GI carbs will absorb quicker and cause spikes in blood sugar levels. Maltodextrin is considered a complex carb but it breaks down quickly into glucose so the impact on your blood sugar levels is on par with dextrose.

Every time someone talks about Soylent I always bring up the main ingredient, Malto, it's such a terrible substitute for real complex carbs (oats, brown rice, etc.). You may as well be pounding sugar all day. Maltodextrin is what I use in my post-workout shake to spike my insulin.


I just researched it, it's actually worse, the GI of maltodextrin is like 105-130, that's higher than plain sugar or dextrose.

I didn't know that... thanks, I've actually switched my subscription to Biolent, the carbs in it come from oat and buckwheat flour, it has more fibers and no fast carbs as far as I can tell. I'm Canadian so it's only slightly more expensive for me.


Apparently, I got the high/low backwards, but keep in mind the GI of a serving of Soylent is 60 for the powder, 49 for the drink. You can't just take the index of one ingredient alone and peg the whole product to that when the other ingredients influence absorption. Soylent's glycemic load over time is pretty modest.

https://faq.soylent.com/hc/en-us/articles/212769503-Glycemic...


Quest Bars have better much macros (barely any net carbs, plenty of fiber and protons) than that, though you'd need to eat ~two to hit the same calorie count. Any reason it needs to be a drink?


Did not know them, will look into it, thanks. No, doesn't have to be a drink.

EDIT: They're protein bars, not meal bars, am I missing something?

20g protein, 6g fat, 4g carb

That's too much protein. AFAIK even a strength training diet is only 30-35% protein or so.


Are they any good? The erythritol worried me a bit.


I have been eating a Quest bar for lunch for a year now (to save time and leave work half an hour earlier). I'm happy with them. They are quite filling (I don't get hungry until dinner time), I like the taste of most variants (bit of an acquired taste, they do have the artificial tinge of all artificial sweeteners), and I have zero gastro issues from them.


They are a bit hard, but filling. I microwave my chocolate chip ones to make a cookie.



How bad does a food system have to be to get to the point where people deliberately choose to eat this?

Filtered Water, Soy Protein Isolate, Maltodextrin, High Oleic Algal Oil, Isomaltulose, Canola Oil, Rice Starch, Oat Fiber, Isomaltooligosaccharide, Soy Lecithin, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Phosphate, Magnesium Phosphate, Natural & Artificial Flavors, Dipotassium Phosphate, Salt, Choline Chloride, Gellan Gum, Sodium Ascorbate, dl-alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, Ferrous Gluconate, Zinc Sulfate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Niacinamide, Sucralose, Thiamin Hydrochloride, Copper Gluconate, Manganese Sulfate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin A Palmitate, Riboflavin, Chromium Chloride, Biotin, Folic Acid, Sodium Molybdate, Sodium Selenite, Phytonadione, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D. Contains: Soy


Allow me to introduce to the ingredient list of an egg. Terrifying isn't it.

https://jameskennedymonash.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/ingre...


Is a list of ingredients intended to be a slur? I just see a list of ingredients.

While you're at it, you might as well list the ingredients in fast food meals, pizza, and all sorts of other food people "deliberately choose to eat".


https://www.blendrunner.com/ has a huge table.


Ensure, like Slimfast, has much more sugar than Soylent.

Per 2000 calories, Ensure has 135g sugar to Soylent's 45g.

https://ensure.com/nutrition-products/ensure-original#vanill...

http://files.soylent.com/pdf/soylent-drink-nutrition-facts-e...


[flagged]


Consuming 135g (a cup, give or take) of sugar daily is pretty crazy, nutritionally speaking.


Is that product penetration or advertising?


The advantage, for me, is that there are no animal products in Soylent.



Unless you grow and prepare all your food yourself, you have this problem with anything.


You have it disproportionately more often with Soylent.

Other food manufacturers go for years, with tens of millions of units sold each day, without having a recall.


Other food manufacturers have been around for a lot longer.


So what?

Plenty of new companies are capable of producing food in similar or greater volumes than Soylent is without any recalls, why has Soylent had more than one recall?

Soylent aren't even doing the production; they're sub-contracting it out to existing companies.


So, mass production is hard, supply chains are hard, shit happens. A recall of ~700 boxes isn't enough to damn the whole company.


I get what you're saying, but for many who have tried it, Soylent is simply better than ensure and slim fast. (Frankly, ensure is just too sweet.)


I drink a mix of whey/soy protein powder mixed in milk each morning. Does soylent have any advantages over that if I eat balanced meals the rest of the day?


Depends on how balanced those other meals are. There are some nutrients in there that are not in every ordinary meal, like methylfolate. You could think of soylent as a weak multivitamin plus macronutrients. In an early report a tester talked about a fantastic energy boost, and I'd wager he was deficient in one of the nutrients soylent contains. In the case of methylfolate, it's actually better than most multivitamins which only contain folic acid, which is harder to metabolize (especially if you have a MTHFR mutation).


I like the Coffiest product because it's basically like green tea, due to the caffeine + l-theanine they add (basically you get calm energy). Also I have only 13 minutes from waking up to leaving my door each morning, so saving time from mixing anything up, chewing food, etc is very useful.


Do you shower?


He could be like me and shower before going to bed.


Marketing.


This is my take as well. I don't see an innate advantage to Soylent over existing meal replacements like SlimFast. While Soylent has struggled with quality control, their competitors have been producing high volumes of equivalent products for many years, at better prices, and better name recognition to the american population outside of SV.


>I don't see an innate advantage to Soylent over existing meal replacements like SlimFast.

Aside from being an actual meal replacement, rather than a calorie-cut diet drink (140ish for a single slimfast shake) who's third ingredient is plain old sugar?


> I don't see an innate advantage to Soylent

> equivalent

Then you havn't looked very hard. Some of us have gone so far as to look at the nutritional label and list of ingredients.


I personally would never have slimfast because I'm not on a diet! This feels like a large distinction that you are missing here.

If there are non-diet meal replacements, I don't know if any, which clearly seems like an opportunity for a product such as Soylent.


Yes, I understand the diet centric focus that SlimFast has employed since their founding. My assumption is that the parent company could easily create a spin-off brand that is not focused on the dieter's market, with considerable resources, and a considerable advantage in their existing supply chain.


>If there are non-diet meal replacements

Millions.


Im going to copy a response I made to someone else in this thread:

The fact that at least 4 people in this thread have mentioned "meal replacements" but not a single one has named a specific product I would know by name (non dieting!) seems to me a pretty clear indictment that this category is not as established as you are suggesting.


Vega brand has decent penetration in mainstream retail, including grocery stores, as well as outlets that specialize in supplements and specialty nutrition items.

I agree, though, that Soylent's unique strength is in marketing to middle-class to upper-middle class Millennials that arent seeking any particular goal other than replacing the bother of food; not through unique product features, just pure marketing focus.


the meal replacement (or "MRP") is extremely well established. Just walk into any nutrition store like GNC or VitaminShoppe and they'll likely have a whole section devoted to MRPs right next to the protein shakes/bars.

And as for specific products...

- https://www.bodybuilding.com/store/vega/one.html

- https://www.bodybuilding.com/store/garden-of-life/raw-organi...

- https://www.iherb.com/pr/Madre-Labs-Zenbu-Shake-Meal-Replace...

- https://www.iherb.com/pr/Now-Foods-Tru-Food-Vegan-Natural-Be...

- https://www.iherb.com/pr/Nature-s-Plus-Source-of-Life-Vitami...

- https://www.iherb.com/pr/Orgain-Organic-Meal-All-In-One-Nutr...

- https://www.iherb.com/pr/PlantFusion-Phood-100-Whole-Food-Me...

- https://www.iherb.com/pr/MRM-Veggie-Meal-Replacement-Chocola...

- https://www.iherb.com/pr/Pure-Advantage-MRP-Meal-Replacement...

- https://www.iherb.com/pr/Vibrant-Health-Maximum-Vibrance-Ver...

- https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0038B1EOY/

- https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00KS6WUUE/

- https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0184DGHHO/

- https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B004VRGS7W/

- https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0088YQ8MO/

- https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B01N2M3RK0/

- https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B01N3Y7R1S/

And those are just a few results from a quick search for "meal replacement" across 3 different stores.

Now, I'm not against Soylent, and I'm definitely pro meal replacement products, but let's at least be honest here and call a spade a spade. Soylent's main differentiating factor is it's marketing pitch and that's ok, it doesn't have to be totally revolutionary to succeed.


Skimming the ingredients and descriptions for those, they seem to be intended as protein powder mixes for bodybuilders, not general meal replacements.


Yes, because like I said: marketing. "Protein Shakes" are a bigger/more popular niche than "Meal Replacements", so naturally a lot of products are gonna double dip and try to claim belonging to both categories. But that's irrelevant because what matters is the actual nutritional​ composition of these products.

Soylent has 20g of protein per serving, and most of the products listed above are also in that 15-30g of protein range and share most of the same micronutrients, so functionally they're about equivalent. The only real differences between all these products are marketing, price, taste, "recommended" serving sizes, and small tweaks in nutrient ratios. Other than that, they're all pretty interchangeable.


The serving size is the whole freakin' point. If you were to consume 1 bag of the Soylent powder, or 5 bottles of the pre-mixed drink, you would have exactly 100% of your RDA for most macros and some micros (+/- some modest amount) for a 2000cal diet.

This breaks down easily into per-meal replacements especially for the powder. Half a bag is half a day's needs, and so on.

That is literally the whole reason Soylent exists. As far as I know, it's the only product that works that way at that price point.


The only items in that list that require less than 10 servings to get to 2000 calories are the ones with serving sizes that are twice as large. Not even remotely comparable.


The "Recommended Serving Size" for these products can effectively be considered as just another part of the marketing. Comparing them based on their superficial face value is as useless as comparing apples and oranges, you have to actually calculate the amount of nutrients per quantity of mass if you want to compare them thoroughly.

Right off the bat, it's worth noting that Soylent has an unusually large serving size of 106-142g [0], compared to the products listed above which have an average serving size of 30-40g, and therefore position themselves as being 'better deals' because they can claim to have more "servings". But otherwise the nutrient ratios are quite comparable and it's disingenuous to suggest otherwise.

[0] https://faq.soylent.com/hc/en-us/articles/204409635-Preparin...


Uh yeah I looked at a 6-7 of the "meal replacements" you linked randomly, they all have way too much protein.

> Soylent has 20g of protein per serving, and most of the products listed above are also in that 15-30g of protein range and share most of the same micronutrients, so functionally they're about equivalent.

The point is that they have 15-30 g of protein per 120-150 kcal serving as opposed to 20g per 400 kcal serving for soylent.

The macro ratios are not comparable at all. Point me to a single meal replacement that has comparable macros. If it's actually cheaper I will gladly cancel my soylent order and buy that instead.


Have you heard of keto or Atkins diets? High protein intake isn't really a problem.


EAS Myoplex.


Name one. I've check the nutritional labels of every single thing that looks like a meal replacement shake around here looking for a cheaper alternative and didn't find one that came close.


>what to eat when I'm hungry but I don't have enough time to prepare a full meal.

Protein powder (whey or soy pick based on lactose tolerance) + powdered oats + whatever for flavoring (eg. cocoa powder and coconut flour) in a shaker bottle - add water/whatever milk - shake and consume.

Throw in fiber supplement if you don't get enough fiber like psyllium husks.

Waaay cheaper than soylent if you buy smart (bulk), scale macros according to your requirements, at home or if you have a kitchen at work you can pre-mix powders in a container then scoop out, mix, drink and clean up in 10 mins tops.

Take some fruit along if you want - like an apple or a banana. Honestly soylent seems like a shitty version of a protein shake diet - low satisfaction is there but you get none of the gains.


You missed a major benefit of Soylent... convenience. It is pre-made, pre-bottled and ready to drink. For some at least, time is worth more than the money saved.


Soylent has 20% of calories from protein - good luck with that if you do any physical activity.

The stuff I mentioned can be bought in 5kg bags which will last you a month at least - depending on how much meals you're replacing - if it's all then you'll probably go trough more - you can pre-mix a week worth in a standard plastic container and shake in like two minutes.

The major time difference is going to be in figuring out how to do it the first time - but this is time well spent if you want to balance your nutrition (figuring out how much protein/fat/carbs you want and how many calories).

I'm in the same boat - I don't want to cook every day or eat out all the time - this is convenient and works towards my fitness goals. Throw in a multi vitamin, fish oil and some fruit/vegetables and you got a easy to do fast and cheap diet for building muscle.


Oh my gosh, one of you shows up in every thread about Soylent or veganism talking about how we need 30% protein in our diet or something.

As I went vegan I went from benching 120 to 200 with about 20% protein intake, and it was fine. We don't need shit tons of protein that everyone says we do, Soylent has a nice ratio of it.


You went from 55kg to 90kg (I'm assuming those numbers are lbs beacuse I highly doubt someone eating 20% protein can bench 200kg) ? That's just your CNS learning how to activate the muscles with intensity - you probably gained very little lean mass. For comparison I made a bigger jump in first 3 months of training on a 500 kcal deficit - but I plateaued after that because I just wasn't getting enough calories and protein to grow - after I went in to a surplus I started adding weight to the bar again. There's no way you'll be anywhere close to a competitive (even on recreational level) with 20% protein intake - and you won't gain significant muscle mass/look like you lift (you might get some newbie gains but even those will be underwhelming compared to a proper bulk diet).


You know, there is a world of difference between each of those things:

> good luck with that if you do any physical activity

> close to a competitive

> on recreational level (how is this is even a thing? "competitive on a recreational level"?)

> you won't look like you lift

You've just substituted "any physical activity" for the "do you even lift bro" culture. Please don't do this and try to understand that the majority of people don't need or even want to be bodybuilders. For them Soylent is A-OK.


There's a huge gap between DYEL and BB - you can have a physique most would find desirable/attractive without even coming close to BB level - but you can't do it on 20% protein, the best you can do on that is be skinny.

When I said "any physical activity" I should have said "actively engaging in a sport" fair enough - but it doesn't have to be lifting, that's just the example you mentioned with benching. Your performance will go to shit in endurance sports on that low protein as well simply because catabolism would wreck your muscles and you wouldn't have enough protein to recover.


> You can have a physique most would find desirable/attractive without even coming close to BB level - but you can't do it on 20% protein, the best you can do on that is be skinny.

This statement is ridiculous. You can't have a physique that many would find attractive unless you're bulking with extra protein?

Perhaps you meant to say something less presumptuous, like you won't look "ripped" unless you are taking protein.


btw. competitive on a recreational level means you aren't a professional athlete (you don't make money from it/do it full time) but you still want to compete in amateur categories.


>Soylent has 20% of calories from protein - good luck with that if you do any physical activity.

20% calories from protein is fine. Even for a strength athlete, if you are trying to gain muscle mass, 20kcal/lb and 1g protein/lb is a reasonable set of macros, which indeed is 20% calories from protein. A lot of bodybuilders will go up to 25% or even 30% from protein, but that's on the high end and certainly not something that would make sense for non-strength athletes.


1) It's not convenient 2) That's not nutritionally complete.


You're just describing DIY soylent. I've seen recipes very similar to yours on the official DIY site.


Soylent gets a lot of hype, and invariably the hype follows a predictable pattern-

"Geez, you don't eat only Soylent! It's just an occasional meal replacement!"

"Okay, then how is it interesting when there are dozens of competing products in the meal replacement category?"

"Because those aren't a full dietary replacement. You can't live on only Ensure (insert many other products here)."

"Okay....but you just said..."

I don't get Soylent. Not only is food one of the greatest luxuries in life -- one of the greatest rewards -- it's laughably easy to have a nutritionally complete lifestyle with minimal effort or time. But if I were enfeebled they all sound pretty terrible.


Just because I don't intend to replace 100% of all meals with Soylent doesn't mean that its nutritional content is irrelevant. The fact that I could replace all meals with Soylent if I wanted to suggests that it has a better nutrient profile than something like Ensure or Slimfast, which is not intended to replace all meals. If you look at the macronutrient profiles of those three drinks, Soylent comes out head and shoulders above the others. Even though I don't want to bother making breakfast, a 200 kcal shake isn't going to cut it for me on a regular basis.


Soylent has a very high glycemic index, and isn't far off of eating a bowl of sugar. From that angle alone I would categorize it as an extremely poor choice (and indeed this whole discussion is a little surreal -- Soylent would be categorized as garbage, ultra-processed junk food if it didn't have the VC/valley aura around it). I've never bought into the super-food fantasy, because there is utterly nothing qualifying it.

Having said that, most people -- even very busy people with busy lifestyles and a "poor" food diet -- are not nutritionally deprived (and really, a centrum can alleviate concerns with ease).

There are a lot of valid reasons for products like Soylent. Stocking a bunker, for instance. Or for coping when under low energy (depression, as mentioned elsewhere), or in a critical crunch. But that seems to be such a niche that the presentation on here constantly as if this is the future of food seems like fantasy, and would never get a pass if it weren't that it somehow got bound up in the valley/VC bubble. If Oprah came out and started pushing Soylent, it wouldn't get a mention on here beyond derision.


>Soylent has a very high glycemic index

This is false, particularly for Soylent 2.0. https://faq.soylent.com/hc/en-us/articles/212769503-Glycemic...

I'm not saying Soylent is a super-food, but it is a food that isn't horrible for you (at least not as horrible as you're letting on!)


Soylent 1.6 has a GI of 65. That happens to be the same GI as sucrose (aka sugar). It is literally spot on, so you don't have to say "particularly" regarding 2.0.


> Soylent 1.6 has a GI of 65. That happens to be the same GI as sucrose (aka sugar). ...

Both false and misleading. According to the link provided by the parent poster:

-Soylent 1.6 _powder_ has a GI of 60

-Soylent 2.0 _liquid_ has a GI of 49.

Also, note that common white bread has a glycemic index of 75, which is higher than that of table sugar (65), so your statement, even if you had used the right number, is not as much of an indictment as you make it out to be.


>Both false and misleading

Apologies, I should have said Soylent 1.5. Not sure why you decided to say "both false", however, given that sucrose most certainly has a GI of 65. Further, what is the relevance of saying _powder_. You realize that mixing a powder into water generally doesn't reduce its GI, right?

Further, saying "white bread is worse" is a laughable diversion. White bread is considered the unholy worst case for GI, so being better than it is not a high mark.


> Further, saying "white bread is worse" is a laughable diversion.

I beg to differ. White bread and other baked goods like bagels, pizza, etc are a staple of the western diet, so it is absolutely a valid baseline for comparison. People don't regularly consume plain table sugar.

Moreover, as far as I know, Soylent 1.5 powder isn't even being sold anymore. According to the Soylent site, the current version being sold is 1.8.

Therefore, I think I'm perfectly justified in calling your statements misleading.


Partially agreed, though, I replace two meals a day with the UK equivalent. I suffer from depression and ADHD, so while I generally collect myself enough to make a proper evening meal, prior to Huel I would often skip or forget meals, and binge on junk later in the day. I'm working on 50/50.

From the horses mouth, most use cases I've heard are pretty sensible. Very few users treat it as their entire diet. You've a good point that food is great, and it's good to do it right. I'd hope students would take the opportunity to learn, but they rarely do. Still, Soylent or equiv >>> pizza. Most other arguments against it/characterisations are a little circular at best, or reduction to absurdity at worst.


I've lived off Huel for months on end (3? 4?) with snacks and cheat weekends and never felt better in my life. As in, I felt significantly better than when eating "normal" food.


I would gladly pay twice the amount I pay for Soylent for a "nutritionally complete lifestyle" that I could get in the same amount of time.

I honestly don't think it exists, though. Cooking and preparing food takes time and creativity.

> Not only is good one of the greatest luxuries in life

See, I promised myself I would leave this thread before people started toting out the arguments isomorphic to "you only eat Soylent 100% of the time! You monster!" - and yet here we are :). I thought I made it clear in my OP, but I don't eat Soylent for every meal- just the meals where, in the absence of Soylent, I would have had something worse.

Does that clear things up?


See, I promised myself I would leave this thread before people started toting out the arguments isomorphic to "you only eat Soylent 100% of the time! You monster!"

You announced this at the outset, and remarkably have left a number of comments now. Yet you were the one who keeps bringing up this strawman, and exactly the same circle of argument happens every single time. You, as is the rote cycle, are trying to argue both sides at the same time.


I'm not sure I follow. How is it a straw man if people such as GP literally did exactly what I said they'd do. That's not a straw man, that's the opposite - like a flesh man.

(In my defense I didn't expect my comment to become popular at all. I find it only polite to people asking me direct questions, such as yourself.)


Your comment reminds me of this article an article the guardian wrote about "conspicuous production" being the new way of signaling status[1]. To that end, the consumption of food becomes just another thing to be optimized.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/apr/24/new-statu...


> it's laughably easy to have a nutritionally complete lifestyle with minimal effort or time.

Care to elaborate? I can cook and know how to eat a balanced set of macro-nutrients, but I find it quite difficult to be consistently health concious when eating out all the time and cooking regularly is anything but minimal effort and time.


I get a lot more pleasure out of shopping, meal prepping and cooking without the pressure of having to scramble for crappy food if I get busy when I'm low on food. There have been many times where I'd normally be sheepishly eating Wendy's where instead I'll head straight to the supermarket with a Soylent in my car's cupholder. On a similar note, I love cooking breakfast for myself and my wife, and if anything occasionally being able to take a break for a day or two has sustained my enthusiasm.

So Soylent and real food hardly need to be enemies.


I would much rather do any other enjoyable thing, than stop doing that thing, to eat.


> I don't get Soylent. Not only is food one of the greatest luxuries in life -- one of the greatest rewards

totally agree with this. soylent feels too much like... dog food for humans


How miserable the dogs must be to eat so poorly. They must never have a moment of joy in their lives.

Personally, I think this whole "food fetish" mantra is a ridiculous exaggeration. There are literally thousands of things that bring me more pleasure than food.


Something I always wanted!

I love cooking, I love eating, but cooking well takes time, effort, ingredients, shopping trips, storage, inventory management. I can do all that, but when you get right down to it replacing some of my diet with Huel (a British product in the same niche as Soylent, although the composition is substantially different) just makes my life easier. It's tasty enough, it keeps me going, I can be confident that it's giving me a balanced meal, and on a busy day it's saving me a pile of money too.

Then when I do have time, I cook something ridiculously delicious.

For me, this category is about convenience, and it serves it very well.


Soylent is exactly that - it's kibble for humans.

And there's nothing wrong with that. It's great to enjoy your meals, but you don't always get an opportunity for that.


Soylent does nothing for me because I find that any other viable option for eating, be it a sandwich from a vending machine, is a more attractive.

Even low quality food is likely to give me a modicum of satisfaction, when a meal replacement does not.

I can't get the hate either, though.

If you are happy with it and improves your life, more power to you (and to Soylent).


> I can't get the hate either, though.

I believe the fact that someone just wrote them a $50MM check is a fine reason to make a critical assessment of their actual value.


But I think that's really the point.

Criticism of Soylent seems to be due to factors that go beyond a reasonable critical assessment of the product, and tends to be much harsher in form.

I think many people tend to assume that just because Soylent is not an appealing product for THEM, then there is not a market for it.


Why? Most $50mm investments end up worth nothing. The fact a company has investment does not mean they have actual value.


It's a quibble, but I would expect most $50 million dollar investments to be low risk. Things like power plants and so on.

You mean VC investments, the point is that VC investment is a small fraction of overall investment.


I mean, it kind of does.

For example, the day they close the round of funding they will presumably have $50MM in their checking account, so it would be a quite remarkable situation indeed if their actual value on that day was below that number.


> Ample which is similar to Soylent but a bit more health conscious with ingredient choice

What does that mean? How did you make this judgement?


If you go to what they've written up on their website, https://www.amplemeal.com/products/ample, you can see they've taken and written about a lot of care in selecting ingredients.

Off the top of my head, probiotics are a big thing that you don't see in Soylent. Spirulina is included. Omega 3 fatty acids. The emphasis on whole foods rather than nutrients is another thing important to me.

From what they've written it is clear they are taking a significant focus on nutrition, as the expense of, er, expense. This is a trade off I am willing to make.

I don't want to spend my days pouring over the latest nutrition research to see what I should be eating. Before Ample I would spend a lot of time chasing the latest research, yet continually feeling like there were huge things I was missing. It gives me great peace of mind to see that apparently smart people are doing this work in my stead. This is a huge advantage I cannnot overstate.


Spirulina is far from a good health choice. It got popular because it contains a molecule that's similar to B12, but it turns out that it's not B12. But it does bind to B12 intrinsic factor, which is a problem because intrinsic factor production, not B12 consumption, is frequently the limiting factor in how much of the nutrient you can get into your system.

Or, to put it more succinctly - spirulina : B12 :: CO : O2.

And while I'm laying it on, probiotics isn't really all that impressive, either. Right now the food industry's approach to probiotics is, at best, comparable to the kind of thinking that caused to large swaths of the USA to have problems with kudzu and asian carp.


To be honest, I take my data from examine.com, which does a survey of the literature and backs me up on this (sorry, on mobile so I'm not going to pull out the URL, but google finds it easily). It specifically says spirulina is one of the few "superfoods" that is in fact good for you.

Unless you've done a similar review of the literature and have comparable credentials, I'm probably not going to trust you on this one, unfortunately. It's nothing against you in particular; it's just that literally everyone totes a different set of studies and I can't trust everyone to have done the work necessary to show if they're valid.


Not interested in getting into an Internet argument over credentialism, but I will say that I did some looking at examine.com's treatment on spirulina, and found it to be less than compelling.

It still commits the same fundamental mistake made by any other popular sources that covers supplements: it doesn't really give study quality adequate attention. Instead, it just accepts all published findings as probably being valid. What with the replicability rate for medical research papers being somewhere around 20%, that's an approach that will lead you astray 4 times out of 5.

As a concrete example, the support they give for the first item in the table of results, lipid peroxidation, is three papers with n=37, n=16 and n=9. All of them throw some flags that make me suspect p-hacking may have occurred, with the n=37 one being the most worrisome in that department.


Examine.com absolutely gives study quality, impact factor, etc consideration.

Perhaps your superficial look was the problem.


I recently tried Ample Original and AmpleX, and I like Ample Original quite a bit. The only other product I've tried is from Super Body Fuel, though that one had a pretty different macronutrient profile and required some preparation.

I agree that the focus on nutrition is a huge benefit. In addition, I appreciate the transparency of the company and what seems to be a desire to iterate and improve on their product. Today, they announced a few small tweaks to their formula and released a "change log" (their choice of word) detailing the reasons behind their choices.

Do you personally feel any physically different or have noticed any health improvements upon switching to Ample from Soylent?


Looks great. I've been using Huel, the British Soylent knockoff, for 1-2 meals per day (much healthier than the 4oz bag of chips it replaced), and now that I'm moving back to America I'm looking for local alternatives.


Looks good but doesn't list many vitamins or minerals on the label.


The published nutrition panel [1] lists four micros:

Vitamin A 0% (zero percent)

Vitamin C 2%

Calcium 4%

Iron 14%

Since they list no others, one might infer those are not present.

[1] https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/1096/7494/products/Ample_4...


Hence my comment.


It contains an unnecessary amount of protein if you're only consuming Ample.


Yeah- in comparison to Soylent the Ample guys specifically say not to only eat Ample. Arguably people get less protein than they should.


There is no such thing as protein deficiency in America. If anything Americans get too much.


There's no such thing as poverty in America. If anything Americans should get rid of some stuff.


What does that have to do with protein?


It was a sarcastic retort that your perspective is egocentric extrapolation based upon averages. Akin to looking at the highest GDP/capita and deciding that poverty does not exist.


I still don't get it. How is my comment egocentric?

e·go·cen·tric ˌēɡōˈsentrik/ adjective 1. thinking only of oneself, without regard for the feelings or desires of others; self-centered.


Sorry maybe a poor word choice. By "egocentric extrapolation" I meant applying the statistics on an individual basis, centered around an individual, which is egocentric more in the Greek sense than in common usage.


Soylent is great, but you should check out Joylent if you get a chance. Similar nutritional profile to Soylent, but cheaper, better tasting, and cooler branding.

I've been getting 90% of my calories from Joylent for about 5 months.


I've been getting 90% of my calories from Joylent for about 5 months.

90% for 5 months? Any specific situation or just prefer it that way?

Personally, I'd prefer to get out of the home /office, stretch, clear my head and eat the (kinda) old fashion way. Everyone has the same 24 hours...


Re Amplemeal? You should take a close look at the nutrition label and compare to Soylent's, Joylent's or any other meal-replacement. You will find the product provides laughably paltry amounts of micronutrients, less than 5% RDA of any vitamin, in a 400 kcal "meal". If you replace even one meal a day with Ample you will run a deficiency.


There's Calorie Mate Balanced Food Block from Otsuka Pharmaceutical Company in Tokyo.[1] It's like Soylent, but in solid form, without the pretension. Popular with Japanese salarymen who eat lunch at their desks. It's such a cliche in Japan that it appears in Metal Gear Solid. Nijiya Markets, the California chain, stocks it.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Calorie-Mate-Balanced-Chocolate-Ounce...


The bay area version is called Mealsquares: http://www.mealsquares.com/

Whole foods, in bar form. Pretty good when warmed up (think banana bread, but slightly gritty, from all the fiber) but not exactly recreational when cold. Short shelf life.


That's my use case too. I've also just bought something called MealSquares, which may be serve the same purpose with the advantage of being solid food and using mostly whole foods.


I second MealSquares! I've been on their subscription for months now and don't intend to stop. I really appreciate their emphasis on full nutrition with whole foods.

I'd never again trust Soylent with my health for all their problems.


Yeah! I tried MealSquares for a while and they were great. The actual taste left something to be desired - they were quite dry - but if I wasn't into Ample I'd totally get some more.


I think you nailed it. I drink Soylent not to replace a dinner with my girlfriend, but in those times when the alternative is getting a quick burger or pizza due to lack of time, usually late in the night.


For other readers, a caution - I found Ample to be inedible, taste wise. I took a few sips of the first bottle, and didn't touch the rest of my order.


That's a really interesting experience. I personally find it to be significantly better tasting than Soylent.

One crucial thing is that the water you mix it with has to be very cold, otherwise I did find it to be difficult to drink. Once you hit that temperature threshold though, it makes a world of difference.

At least for me.

I've never been bothered by the taste of any version of Soylent, even 1.0, so I could just have a unique experience.


What about the taste was bad? Does anyone use a dairy-free milk alternative instead of water?


>what to eat when I'm hungry but I don't have enough time to prepare a full meal.

In what way is Soylent any better than a handful of almonds and a banana?


Thank you for mentioning Ample, as I hadn't heard of it before. I'm a T2 diabetic, so I've been avoiding Soylent because of the carb content. Ample looks like it's made of things I'd actually feel good about putting in my body vs the maltrodextrin/oat base of Soylent. I went ahead and ordered a 12 pack to give it a try.


Soylent does publish their GI info [1].

But if you want a low-carb product with a wide range of flavors, check KetoChow [2].

[1] https://faq.soylent.com/hc/en-us/articles/212769503-Glycemic...

[2] https://www.ketochow.xyz/


Is there a KetoChow equivalent in the EU?

edit: I just found this: https://www.completefoods.co/diy/recipes/keto-chow-150-maste...


How does it blow away a clif bar?


Clif bars a terrible meal replacement, they're intended to be something that you eat to fuel or replenish for/from endurance sports.


As I recall, Clif Bars are predominantly carbs and some fat. Soylent has a reasonable balance of protein and more emphasis on vitamins and minerals.

To be clear, I'm not a nutritional expert. But I've had people who know more than me tell me clif bars are basically non-nutritious.


My Choc Chip Clif Bar says 10 of its 65grams are protein with approx 10% of daily values of quite a few vitamins #NotADoctor


And too much protein?

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/fda-daily-recommendations-pr...

"The FDA recommendation for daily protein intake is 50 grams on a 2,000-calorie diet."


That's not a maximum. The body can heathily process a few times that much a day (don't quote me on the precise number).


That's true but it also means they could be using those calories for other macronutrients instead.


Clif is ok if you are going hiking, there is a lot of sugar. Sitting in front of a computer? Not so much.


Clif Bars are roughly the same caloric and nutritional content of a standard size Snickers bar.


Except Clif Bars have like 4x the protein, which makes them a million times better for their primary purpose, which is a compact energy source during/after a workout.


Clif bars are candy, but this would be a much more interesting comparison with Quest Bars.


What's wrong with those microwavable stuff (like noodles, and others)? I mean it's not healthy, but if it's once in a while, it's cheaper and imo tastes better!


> What's wrong with those microwavable stuff?

I'm guessing you and many other commenters haven't hit the age where heart disease, high blood pressure, and pre-diabetes start raising their ugly heads. All of those conditions are depressingly common in the Western world and require medication with various side effects to treat. Each one of those microwaveable meals, though tasty and convenient, takes you one step closer to a rather unpleasant conversation with your doctor.

Given this, it should hardly be surprising that there's a market for a convenient meal replacement that is, if not actually healthy, then at least health-neutral.

("Just prepare your own healthy means and exercise more!" you say? Easier said than done. Just because you are able to do it doesn't mean everybody is in a situation where they can do the same.)


Not all microwave dinners are beer-battered steak fries with gravy and nacho cheese. There are some that have reasonably healthy ingredients, like lean meat and actual vegetables. If you want, you can go all the way and get some that have whole grains, kale, quinoa, etc. in them.


Soy protein, maltodextrin, and canola oil blended with a multi-vitamin doesn't sound healthy. I suppose it can't be worse than the occasional discount 10-pack of Celese frozen pizza. Paired with a vitamin, of course.


> I mean it's not healthy

And that's precisely why people turn to Soylent and its competitors, because they are attempting to be healthy, balanced sources of nutrition. A bowl of instant ramen might be tasty but it's not going to get you much in the way of protein or vitamins.


So stopping at a groceries store to buy a fruit is not an option when you're 'rushing around'?


It is an option with trade-offs and variables (distance, hours, how busy they are)

Is "a fruit" really a healthier alternative as a meal replacement?

"Which fruit" is also a question that requires some overhead to answer (bananas are convenient but I don't like the flavor, oranges are delicious but messy to eat, etc)

I actually do prefer to have a Soylent in addition to whatever fruits I have available. It's not like you're swearing off all other foods if you choose Soylent as an option.

Everything that was an option still remain to be options, Soylent adds to the list of available options


Soylent is a meal replacement product. A fruit is not. Not to mention, it is indeed faster to drink the bottle you already own, rather than going to a grocery store.


>it's solved a large problem in my life: what to eat when I'm hungry but I don't have enough time to prepare a full meal.

Meal replacements is a well-defined and established category


The fact that at least 3 people in this thread have named the category "meal replacements" but not a single one has named a specific product I would know by name (non dieting!) seems to me a pretty clear indictment that this category is not as established as you are suggesting.


While I'd generally agree with you, you can look up any "meal replacement" shakes made for athletes that are used to add calories. They contain a large amount of protein and calories and are fairly well established. MET-Rx Meal Replacement is one of the larger SKUs on the market, but there are many others.


If it has a large amount of protein, it's not an actual meal replacement -- it's a supplement.


An average meal comprised meat and rice contains a large amount of protein. It's a relacement for that. What are you talking about?


Only about 25% of your daily calorie intake should be from protein. 60g a day for a 160lb sedentary person. Those high-protein shakes are usually around 60% protein. It is possible to consume too much protein.

So I say that it's a supplement rather than a replacement because it's not replacing a balanced meal. It's supplementing protein. A single protein shake can give a sedentary person almost 100% of their protein. That's great for active, athletic people who have higher protein requirements. Not great for sedentary people who have lower protein requirements.


Yeah, just like ketogenic dieting and no-carb diets are supplements.

What?


If you're a sedentary person, and you were to drink 3 of those protein shakes per day you'd end up with 2x your recommended protein intake and only but only 1/2 your recommended calorie intake. That's not a balanced replacement. It's a protein supplement.

Even on keto or no-carb, you still only get 30% of your calories from protein (same ratio as a non-keto diet, BTW). If you were to drink protein shakes all day you'd get 70% of calories from protein. The keto diet does not change the ratio of protein you consume. It only replaces carbs with animal and vegetable fats.

Too much protein is not good for you. It can damage your kidneys. It also causes weight gain, digestive issues, bad breath, and other things.

So again, I say that those shakes are a supplement, not a meal replacement, because they're not balanced. They're great for athletic and active people, because the more active you are the higher your protein requirement is. But a typically sedentary person should not use high-protein shakes as a meal replacement.


A ketogenic or no-carb diet only works if you completely abstain from carbs. If you have one or two keto meals a day, but not every meal, you're not doing a keto diet. Just eating a ton of protein.


Can't you keep some fruits like strawberry or bananas handy?


I do! But strawberries, bananas, apples, even nuts don't feel like a full meal. I always feel oddly and uncomfortably unsaturated after eating them.

The closest I ever got was avocado. Avocado is delicious and satiating. Takes a bit to prepare, but that's okay.

Avocado: the true Soylent competitor?

(Probably not. :))


Hehehe...I think the argument made here is perishability/storage since they spoil easy. But that brings up another point: dried fruits, nuts etc. are excellent sources of nutrition, and I would certainly prefer that over Soylent.


I don't really hate it, but I don't see Soylent as providing anything you haven't been able to get by just walking down to the local drug store and buying a bottle of Ensure or other meal replacement formula.

I do think they have brilliant marketing, though. They turned something that was for old, dying people and made it cool. So I see all the "research" stuff they post as kind of a joke or marketing, because it has all been done and available for over a decade in terms of product...


The reason it's for old dying people is that it's a weight gain shake. It turns out old dying people have trouble eating enough food to maintain weight so it (arguably) makes sense to give them basically liquid candy to up their calorie intake.

Please walk down to the local drugstore and actually look at the nutritional labels. Than tell me they are the same.


Their initial shtick was that you could replace all meals with Soylent - an idea with appeal to SV engineers.


>meal replacement formula

I've noticed many people mixing up "supplement" with "replacement". For example, Ensure (the commonly cited "alternative") is a supplement - not a replacement.

In fact, FDA regulation differentiates between "dietary supplements" and "food". Go ahead and research how Ensure is classified then compare that with Soylent.


> For example, Ensure (the commonly cited "alternative") is a supplement - not a replacement.

This is incorrect.

Several Ensure products, including Ensure Original, can be used as a sole source of nutrition.


Although I was initially brought onto the hype train by great marketing and the promises of health and complete nutrition, I realize that my initial reliance on Soylent was actually part of a deeper problem, brought on by problems such as depression and inappropriate time management. When in reality I should have had enough time to eat out or possibly even cook a meal, I found myself relying on Soylent. I didn't leave my room, and had trouble doing anything. I soon began to lose my appetite and had to force myself to gulp it down, attempting to make sure I wouldn't starve myself. Drinking Soylent was ruining my health.

I think many people approach Soylent as a way to solve some of their problems, but people should realize it won't be and can't be. Another person I knew had bought a few boxes of Soylent attempting to lose weight. In reality, she did not change her weight appreciably, as all she did was consume the same number of calories she would have otherwise.

Lastly I would like to add that there is some debate over the actual nutritional efficacy of the composition of Soylent. If you look at the bioavailability of their calcium supplement, calcium carbonate, it is significantly less than the one found in milk, calcium phosphate. However, Soylent will still claim that it is possible to have 100% D.V. of calcium with 5 bottles.

Overall, Soylent is probably not a healthy solution to your problems.


This comment is kinda silly. Like, the problem here isn't Soylent, it's that you were depressed. And the problem with your friend using Soylent to watch her weight isn't Soylent, it's that she ate more of other crap when she drank Soylent as a meal replacement.

I drink Soylent occasionally -- once every two or three weeks, maybe. Normally I use it if I know I'm going to eat a huge dinner, or if I ate a giant lunch and don't need to consume many more calories in the evening. It works great for me.

Yes, if you misuse Soylent, it will not be a good thing for you. That goes for, like, everything.


The founder of Soylent has repeatedly pushed his product as a solution for world hunger, unhealthy diets in the first world, and poor time management. I think critiquing the product on those terms is fair.


Agreed, while the intentions of Soylent are probably sincere, when I first heard about it my response was "nope nope nope".

My parents were hippies and we grew/raised most of our food when I was a kid. But my grandparents had embraced the new space-age diet: margarine in place of butter, tang instead of orange juice, kraft instead of cheese, etc. I thought it tasted awful compared to real food.

As we have found out, some food choices like trans fats have an impact on health. There's really too much noise in the nutrition related data to draw wide ranging conclusions. But buyer beware.

For me I think the safest option is the "whole foods" (Polan) route. For me it would be "eat what your grand-grand parents ate". I was even a vegetarian and eating fake-meats and then realized I was just eating chemicals. So I started eating meat again.

Edit: Changed wording on first sentence


and then realized I was just eating chemicals

You do realize that everything you eat is chemicals, right?


I hate this argument. Usually people are talking about synthetic or non-naturally occurring compounds ancillary to the reason for eating the food.

In other words, are you eating processed cheese for the protein, or for the potassium sorbate? Only one of these is a "chemical" is the vernacular.


> Only one of these is a "chemical" is the vernacular.

The vernacular is wrong in this case and encourages ignorance. "Preservatives", "dyes", "perfumes", "thickeners", and "artificial sweeteners" are all words that everyone understands. We can say "artificial ingredients" instead if we want a catch all. The English language is really expressive.

"Chemicals" is a buzzword used a lot by hucksters to push sales through pseudoscience. We must demand better and more specific reasoning than "chemicals" if we want the words "shown by science" to be meaningful as well.


To add to your point, many of these "chemicals" aren't even all that artificial. Some thickeners for example come from algae and gave been in use since centuries just in different countries. Looking at some traditional food like ham they are incredibly processed we just are used to it.


My point was basically about food breaking down in a system (our gut). We have some knowledge about this. But not much.


I apologize for using "chemicals" rather than using correct terms. I was just using it as a shorthand for something grown vs something made.

Edit: This seems to be your argument, that engineered is the same as non-engineered. Because they are all the same basic building blocks. Right?


How do you feel about orange juice manufacturing? They take "something grown", fractionally distil it apart into tanks of purified constituent molecules, and then create a drink by mixing stuff from those tanks together.

Is the result of this process "grown"? "Made"? "Engineered"? All of the above?


> ...that engineered is the same as non-engineered

I was just saying the vague and abused "chemicals" is a bad descriptor. It's fair to rail against "manufactured", "under-researched", or "engineered" ingredients.


Yes, I get that using the word "chemicals" is problematic. I understand that food is made up of the same proteins, fats, etc.

When I hear hucksters marketing organic, GMO, or Soylent. I'm always cautious. Caveat emptor.

Edit: I'm not anti-GMO. Nor the concept of Soylent. But I use a headset rather than hold my phone up to my head. Even though there's no definitive proof we can get cancer from smart phones. I just think there is additional risk here.

Edit: Also, your "chemicals" point is like arguing that Global Warming doesn't exist because it's snowing today. It's true, but not relevant to the discussion.


Plenty of naturally-occurring compounds found in various plants and animals are toxic for humans to consume. To say that naturally-occurring foods are inherently better for us to eat requires an awful lot of cherry-picking (no pun intended).


Right, and we don't eat them....what's your point


We do. The most obvious example is read meat (which is now officially designated cancerogene), a bit less obvious is various "natural" herbal medications that induce renal failure [1] and cancer [2]. People consumed those substances for centuries, only to find out recently that they are harmful.

[1]: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/crim/2015/150204/

[2]: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/1343598/Chinese-herb-...


Your grand grand parents probably died of polio or something, so I am not sure if taking their advice on health is a good idea.


Polio is not a disease caused by malnutrition. Also, your ancestors probably did not die of it -- it mostly affected young people, so people who died from it usually didn't have descendants.

Quibbling aside, health in general was certainly much worse in our great-grandparents' days, but for those who weren't straight up underfed, nutrition was probably not worse. I'm not sure it was as magically better as some would have you believe, but there is decent evidence that traditional diets were more-or-less fine, and that the modern diet has something wrong with it.


Most of the impetus for Federal nutrition programs in the US was because of the large number of malnourished and unfit to serve draftees in WW1.


No, a heart attack at 48 and cancer at 91. This data tells you little

Edit: Sorry, misread. All I know is my great grandfather was a pony express rider and got colon cancer


It's only bad advice if they died of malnutrition


>"eat what your grand-grand parents ate"

Not possible, unfortunately. Meat and vegetables are so totally different now. For example meats are raised on GM corn and antibiotics, altering their balance of omega 3's, impact on gut health, and other things. While today's vegetables are massively decremented in micronutrients- and may have less arsenic-based pesticide residue than your greatgrandparents', but more of other pesticides.


They still exist. Eat locally from farmers. All my beef is grass fed (which have higher omega 3's), for example.

And if you can't because of where you live, there's a good chance neither could your grandparents had if they lived there as well.


Or you could take an omega-3 supplement and eat normal beef. There isn't much evidence to show that grass-fed beef has any measurable effect on health.


There isn't much evidence to show that supplements do either.


Agreed, research here is that supplements don't have an impact.

Edit: For pregnant women and others for sure. But in the general population no


Well, fish oil does have SOME evidence behind it.


However, there is strong evidence that any type of beef may cause cancer.


I am pretty sure this isn't true.

The advanced glycation end products from overcooked/burnt meat have been shown to, but not meat itself.


Better to eat how your great grandparents would have eaten if they lived somewhere notorious for long, healthy lives.

There's such a gap between Soylent and something like Wendell Berry's ideas:

https://www.ecoliteracy.org/article/wendell-berry-pleasures-...

People do mention that in relation to Soylent, encouragingly (whether it's altogether right or not). Historical perspective is very important.


Do you have any evidence? I'd love to see a comparison of nutrients in produce over the decades.



Any peer reviewed, legitimate studies that suggest GM corn causes problems with beef? It's popular to critique GM, but it often seems like a knee-jerk reaction rather than based on actual scientific studies. And by studies, I don't mean an article in Mother Jones, but actual science.


I mean it tastes better but that's not peer reviewable, the major issue currently is that the microbiom of a cow's digestive track really can't handle corn that well and as a result methane output of the live stock skyrockets contributing more drastically to anthropomorphic climate change.


yeah, the apples of today are so different from my grandpa's apple that a bottle of soy sludge is a much better choice nutritionally.


Learn to hunt. Its rewards go beyond better personal nutrition.


> Not possible, unfortunately

My wife raises our livestock and garden while I work. Yesterday I had a sandwich and I know where every ingredient came from(our yard). Look, it's not impossible. It just requires you to look outside of your modern context.


You grow, thresh, and mill your own grain? That must be a lot of work.


My great grandparents ate nothing but potatos, no thanks.


What's your point? My great grandparents were Italian and Irish.


Eating only potatos isn't healthy, why would I emulate their diet?


I would add:

And refrain from "food" that comes with a version number. But that's just me.


Orange juice, from your example, is pretty bad for you, especially compared to the low glycemic index carbohydrates found in things like Soylent.

File under "false dichotomy".


Glycemic index means nothing. Cake has a low glycemic index (someting like 30, depending on fat content). Oatmeal has a higher glycemic index (55). Does that mean we should stop eating oatmeal and substitute it with cake?


Meat is chemicals too. Just more complex ones, usually.


Yes. It's like comparing snow to climate.


I agree with you.

For everyone else, I just want to add that there is a place for things like Soylent, beyond the marketing. We're most likely not going to be able to continue our current method producing food cheaply. I could be wrong but things like Soylent will probably be the future that mitigates this issue for a lot of people.


Yeah, meat/food substitutes are likely central to our population growth rate, but let's be intellectually honest. I'm not sure it'll work. I'm really hopeful the meat substitutes will pan out. We haven't figured out cancer yet. You're betting on us figuring out food?

Edit: because cancer is complex, the same a food and nutrition


> You're betting on us figuring out food?

Things like Soylent are already here. It's not vaporware. Yes it's not perfect or ideal but it's an answer to really inefficient food production whose water and nutrient needs aren't sustainable for a growing population.


>it's an answer to really inefficient food production whose water and nutrient needs aren't sustainable...

But, is it? The ingredients include oats, grapeseed oil, soy derivates, and whey. I'm sincerely having trouble seeing how this represents more efficient food production.

In fact, it would seem to be less efficient from that perspective: it still requires the resources for crops/farming, derives isolates from foods that are otherwise more whole (what happens to the rest?), then adds a degree of processing that requires still more resources.

Isn't it more efficient to just eat whole foods rather than extracts from various foods that, by definition, require energy/processing to obtain and must leave some waste in the process?

Maybe it's more convenient from the consumer's perspective, but I don't see how it solves the production problems you suggest.


Well, for example, you shouldn't eat soy derivatives that haven't been processed. This is why fermented soy products have been popular - they are more easily digested by humans. Raw soybeans are actually toxic.


Yeah, that's a different topic.


I'm not calling it vaporware. We don't understand clearly about our gut bio/digestion/food absorption. It'd be great to hear an expert on this chime in, but my guess they would say "we don't know yet".

I'm not telling you to not eat Soylent or that it won't potentially be great for the human race. But again, we don't know.

Edit: fixed wording Edit: What if they get something wrong like including trans fats? I know this a "playing to fear" argument, but there is a long history of industrial foods being not healthy. It just takes a new generation of suckers to come of age.


People have been eating imperfectly for millenia and keeping on nevertheless. How many billion (trillion?) Chinese peasants, across history, do you think ate only rice their entire lives?

Sure, said peasants probably had vitamin A deficiency—but they managed to live long, mostly-healthy lives despite that. Which is my point: we don't need to get "food" perfect in order to ensure that 10x as many people as today can live "long, mostly-healthy lives." It's not unethical to feed starving people food that's missing some micronutrient we aren't yet aware of, because they'll still be better off than if they were starving. The human body is hardy.


Those peasants also ate a lot of vegetables because they couldn't afford meat. Vegetables that have beta-carotene, like bok choy.


The Soylent of today doesn't claim that though. It says right on bottle that it can replace a meal but it should not replace every meal. In that respect it's not much different than Ensure or other meal supplements.


Their website definitely claims that Soylent is a complete substitute for all food.


Where do you see that? It only claims it's a meal substitute, which it is. The only other recommendation I could find was this:

> As a nutritionally complete food source, Soylent should be considered a food product just like any other. You can include Soylent in your diet for as long as you’d like, in any amount that suits your needs. There is no right or wrong amount of Soylent to eat - the whole idea is to find a balance that works for you.


And Soylent can be fine for those things. It's simple to see that it's faster than cooking a meal. Does that mean you'll spend that time better? No. It's simple to see that your calories are measured out for you - does that mean you won't eat more than you should? No.

Both examples had underlying issues that Soylent did not solve, because it never could. Doesn't mean it can't solve those same problems for others.


Just because someone is too far gone to get help from a product that _CAN_ help doesn't mean it is the fault of the product.

*edit: clarity.


Sure, but some things are more likely to be misused than others. For instance, Facebook. It's obviously a wildly popular and profitable product, but studies show that the more you use it the more likely you are to be depressed - but Facebook has a financial incentive to addict those users regardless.

Anyway, I'm not really a fan of Soylent. I disagree with its health benefits. I think the company is pushing it as a far more miraculous product than it is (especially considering the recalls they received for their health bars which seemed like poor quality control). I also think it tastes awful, but obviously that is completely subjective.


Facebook causing depression when used too much? What were the alternative groups doing? Correlation is a tricky thing to measure. I'm not sure how I feel about these types of studies or what utility they really provide.

Other than maybe giving the reader some perspective on their life. Anything used in a poor context, for example not combined with the right attitude, environment, etc can cause issues.

Often we just fall into negative cycles and need to be kicked in the butt to change them. We often fixate on one specific thing, like I quit smoking and suddenly became healthy (but I also worked out, started eating better, spent less time/money on a neutral/negative activity, etc, etc). There are always so many moving parts.

At most you could critique Solyent if they advertised as the solution to your health problems. Rather than something to replace 1-2 daily meals when you're on a tight schedule. The former is a complicated multi-faceted lifestyle thing that no company could offer with a single product but that won't stop them from positioning the product that way. But we should be smart enough to know it will only ever (potentially) be a component of it.


So I actually decided to look for the source and you're right - the results are a lot more complicated than I thought. I guess I'm a victim of confirmation bias.

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/09/07/49287102...


Thank you for checking it out. This "Facebook causes depression (studies show!)" meme is being repeated left and right, even on HN, and it's kind of annoying at this point.


Reminds me of the "Diet Coke causes depression" over depressed people could be more likely to drink diet coke.


Kudos to you for fact-checking!


Soylent's behavior needs to be brought to the attention of the FDA and you can do so with the following link:

https://www.fda.gov/safety/reportaproblem/

Let's not forget about alleged mold in Soylent not that long ago:

https://www.reddit.com/r/soylent/comments/53eikw/mold_on_soy...

This is yet another example of how dangerous VC money is because it enables idiots to push their garbage with little to no oversight.


Sure, the underlying problem is depression. We can still have a reasonable discussion about things that enable that depression, or extend it. That's not at all a silly concern.


Meal replacement shakes have been around for, what, 2+ decades now? Saying that Soylent has come along and now somehow enables depressed people strikes me as insanity.

Depressed people misuse all kinds of perfectly valid products and services. Being mad at Soylent, or pizza delivery, or the internet, or beds, or any other thing that depressed people might end up leaning on in an unhealthy way seems pretty silly to me.


From the parent's comment:

> I think many people approach Soylent as a way to solve some of their problems, but people should realize it won't be and can't be.

I'm not sure the parent's tone indicated that they were "mad" at Soylent and honestly your response to it is fairly insensitive.

> Meal replacement shakes have been around for, what, 2+ decades now?

Reading the copy on the Soylent website suggests that it saves you time. If meal replacement shakes have been around, then what is Soylent's value proposition and what makes it different?


> If meal replacement shakes have been around, then what is Soylent's value proposition and what makes it different?

Marketing. Initially based around the idea of replacing all food with it (which even the founder stopped doing during his initial trial).

It's tapping into a lot of sentiments around food as a "problem" or "nuisance", where a lot of the other shakes on the market have gone for the health and fitness angle, or the "I'm too important and busy to sit down and have breakfeast so I'll down a shake on the go" angle.

But it's not bringing much more than marketing.


It's: "Look! I'm busy! I'm important! I eat special food!"


Are you unwilling to consider that there are people for whom food is not a priority and is actually a nuisance? Like say cleaning one's home - which some enjoy and some find a chore.


Meal replacement shakes like Ensure are meant to be supplemental to food. Soylent markets their product as ALL you have to eat, if you so desire. That could have a very different outcome on someone's health. The OP was giving his experiences with it.


> Meal replacement shakes like Ensure are meant to be supplemental to food.

I wish people would stop saying this.

There are many products, some are Ensure brands, that can be used as sole source nutrition products.

They don't market themselves like that to the general public because they're big companies with lots of lawyers who are cautious about that kind of claim.


What Ensure products are meant to be all you ever eat?


Except Soylent marketed itself as a replacement. All those shakes you talk about are aimed at supplementing. They weren't stupid enough to tell people to live on it because of the legal liability.


I agree Soylent used irresponsible marketing.

But many of those other products can be used as sole source of nutrition.

EG fortisip: http://www.nutricia.ie/products/view/fortisip

> Fortisip is a Food for Special Medical Purposes for use under medical supervision. Fortisip is a nutritionally complete, 1.5kcal/ml, ready to drink, milk shake style nutritional supplement, for the management of disease related malnutrition. Fortisip can be used to supplement the diet of patients unable to meet their nutritional requirements from other foods, or used as a sole source of nutrition. Fortisip is available in 200ml bottles, with a flexible straw attached, in 8 flavours: Neutral, Vanilla, Chocolate, Toffee, Banana, Orange, Strawberry and Tropical Fruits.

Ensure original: https://abbottnutrition.com/ensure-original

> For interim sole-source nutrition.


How is it irresponsible marketing?


Oh right, we already had this discussion. At least they got upgraded from "unethical marketing" to "irresponsible marketing". But how long can you continue to claim that the company engages in irresponsible marketing based on (allegedly) exaggerated claims during a Kickstarter?


Hence my use of the past tense "used", not present tense "uses".


It seems to me that everything that enables depression is almost always otherwise an objective good. Internet access enables depression. Having shelter that won't be taken away from you for lack of monthly payment enables depression. A family willing to take care of you enables depression. Remote work enables depression. Etc.

Depression, in this way, is kind of a weird bogeyman of an argument: its prevalence would be increased by anything that makes life easier. And so, naturally, the solution is reactionary: eliminate depression by eliminating progress! (This is the same sentiment behind the phrase "idle hands are the Devil's workshop"—made clearer with the knowledge that Christianity considers sloth–or in other translations, sadness—a sin.)


What if it's not a bogeyman, but something that really is pervasive and should be addressed? I don't think the commenter or anyone I've read is saying "eliminate progress". Have you, or are you just making it up for rhetorical effect?

Look, it's not crazy to grant that each of those things is a benefit and bring up the fact that there are downsides. It doesn't have to be all good or all bad. We can say "ordering pizza is great, and we should consider the fact that some people rely on it to the detriment of their physical and emotional well-being."


Making life hard on people with a problem, doesn't make the problem go away. It just makes people struggle harder, with worse options, that wear them out even more, as they struggle through the same problem.

It's this same attitude that ends up with heroin addicts on the street: these are almost always people who, at one point, had chronic pain; and then became addicted to their (much less scary) pain medications; and then, when someone decided to make it hard to live an easy life while addicted to pain medications by taking the supply away, they "solved" this problem by finding a different opiate to consume that they could access.

A person with depression will be able to have an easier time having depression if they don't have to cook for themselves, yes. But you know what that easier time means for them? More emotional energy left over to maybe try to get over their depression! And you know who's never going to get over their depression? The person stuck spending the little time they feel like getting out of bed each day trying to scrounge up a meal, pay bills, take care of children/parents, etc.

In short: things like Soylent are, at worst, a crutch. Even when misused and relied upon long-term, they're still letting people have the opportunity to get better, in a way that forcing them to "walk it off" would permanently disable.


Do you have any special expertise or qualification in this area? I ask only because what you're describing is a perfectly reasonable-sounding but naive view on how depression works.

It's not as simple as "easier/more efficient = more emotional energy to get over depression". In fact, you might have it backwards. Therapies such as behavioral activation therapy[0] exploit the fact that our mood can follow from our behaviors. (You might be familiar with this, for example: force yourself to smile for thirty seconds, and see how your mood changes.)

I experience a chronic, mild to moderate form of depression called dysthymia[1]. For me, there are two things that can make a world of difference in how my day goes. One is leaving the house shortly after getting up, which prevents me from starting the day by flopping on the couch and wasting hours online, then feeling guilty. The other is taking a shower after getting up, because if I don't, I generally won't leave the house. Both of these actually take effort, especially some days, and your read on things would suggest that just not doing them would leave me more time and energy to "try to get over" my depression. But in fact, it's precisely the immediate investment in myself and my day that makes the difference.

As it happens, cooking also ties in for me. I enjoy cooking, generally, and I feel proud of the food I cook for myself and especially for others. On the other hand, here's what happens when I order a pizza: I feel guilty about being lazy, and I feel hopeless about the prospect of getting out of whatever funk I'm in when I can't even get myself to put together a meal. That said, I take what I can get: I was alone a couple Thanksgivings ago, and had been in a low stretch for a few weeks, and it was a victory to make myself get up and go to the gas station for Bugles and Swedish Fish, rather than ordering in.

I'm telling you this personal stuff, which doesn't feel terribly comfortable, because I constantly hear naive bullshit[2] about how depression works, and it is supremely unhelpful. It is not simple. And my experience isn't going to be the same as anyone else's. But the person who has to scrounge up a meal, pay bills, and take care of others could absolutely be doing better than the person who "has it easy", because they've got structure, activities that get them out of their head, and others who they can be responsible for or even live for.

I'm not saying Soylent shouldn't be on the market, and I'm not saying pizza shouldn't be able to be delivered. But the idea that thinking about how all these factors fit together is "silly" and worth dismissing is really wrongheaded.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioral_activation

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dysthymia

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_Bullshit


I do have personal experience with depression, yes. I didn't mean to suggest that there aren't things that take effort but which yield more "spoons" than they consume.

Rather, my point was more like this: I have a friend who, right now: is in debt; is transitioning from male to female but can't afford to keep paying for the relevant drugs; is too sore (from the drugs) to work more than one shift per week at their job; is depressed (from gender dysphoria); is insomnaic (from a side-effect of an anti-depressant); is tired all the time (from insomnia); has very little willpower to do anything (from tiredness, and depression, and chronic pain, and, well, all of that.) Their only passion in life is art—but they not only have no emotional energy left over to do said art, but their wrists and arms hurt too much to work on their art even when they're inspired (because of the drugs, but also because their job is labor-intensive.) And they'd look for a new job, but...

This friend of mine would benefit immensely from anything that could "lighten the load" on them, to the point that they would be able to find both the physical and mental energy—at the same time—to do a single enjoyable thing for a minute per day. With all of it together, it's a swirling vortex that sucks them back in each time. (And I constantly wish I lived within 1000km of them, so I could go help them out a bit.)

So—I guess I was more considering the case of "depression + chronic pain" than depression alone. It's a terrible motherfucker of a place to be.

---

> It was a victory to make myself get up and go to the gas station for Bugles and Swedish Fish, rather than ordering in.

Here's a question: do you think being unable to "order in" would make your depression less? If you didn't have that option?

Consider what it would feel like to be homeless+carless+penniless. You'd have to put quite a bit more effort into life each day in order to survive. Probably interact with more people. Would your disposition improve?

Because that's not my experience. I went through a period in my life where I was depressed, didn't go to work, got fired, got evicted... and continued to be depressed. All of those things made the depression worse, not better.

These experiences, at the time, served to tell me that I didn't deserve to have a job; to have money; to have a place to live. And, on top of that, they made life harder in a particular way where each day was then a reminder of how much of a fuck-up I was. Bootstrapping back up to a regular life required engaging with the world, but engaging with the world as I was meant a constant confrontation with just how far bad I had let things get. The fact that I had to get food from a food bank was a reminder that nobody thought I deserved money to eat—and I didn't want to be reminded of that, so I just didn't go, and let myself starve. Etc.

At that point, it would have been quite nice to have replaced those activities that cost emotional energy, with energy-neutral ones. Having some free Soylent laying around with no "aura of self-pity" attached to it, would have left me with more energy for the rest of the day.

Yes, it would have been nice to also add on experiences with positive affect, on top of removing the negative ones. I did do a few of those: forcing myself to dress up nicely for job interviews every day and go to a downtown library to send out resumes made me feel a lot better than doing so from home.

But those things do require some amount of a crutch, before you can generate enough initial emotional-energy "steam" to even contemplate doing them. That's the real use-case for anti-depressants, after all: they take enough self-loathing and grey affect away from things to let you contemplate ideas like actually making it to your therapy appointments every week. To me, things like Soylent solve a similar problem.


Convenience of any form enables unfavorable outcomes. Delivery pizza may have caused suicide, from this perspective.


Yes! It may have!

Why is that not something that can be discussed? I mean, I'd bet good money that delivery pizza is a net benefit, but I can still admit that some people probably rely on it in a way that's unhealthy.


[flagged]


>make shill accusation and berate someone for condescention

>make general remarks about world demand for products and time management, accuse CEO of autism, vulgarly insult product


The unfounded hostility that the mere existence of Soylent brings out of otherwise level-headed people is always a great source of amusement.



Soylent has refused to make basic changes to improve their nutritional profile based on widely known and accepted research. Lots of their micronutrients look optimized for cost and not for human health. E.g. Soylent uses D2, when even 30 seconds of googling should have turned up evidence such as: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/84/4/694.full

"ergocalciferol should not be regarded as a nutrient suitable for supplementation or fortification."

D2 and D3 are metabolized so differently that they result in the "production of unique biologically active metabolites."

Ergocalciferol is the version used in the Soylent powder, while the bottled version doesn't even deign to inform the consumer what they are getting (it just says Vitamin D)

The fact that this problem exists and has existed for years with many of their ingredients indicates that they aren't even doing shallow research into nutrition.

(https://www.MealSquares.com try to provide multiple sources of all micronutrients from different food groups)


I don't think the gulf is as significant as you're making it sound based on "30 seconds of googling". I had a pretty severe vitamin D deficiency a year or two ago and the (high-IU) prescription my doctor wrote for me was D2. I asked him if I could just buy OTC D3 pills and take more of them, and his response was "yea that's fine, if anything those are more bio-available".

This medical professional's nonchalance about the difference is in pretty stark contradiction to your bizarre claim that they "aren't doing even shallow research into nutrition". There's a million possible reasons they may have decided not to optimize solely for bio-availablility, just as my doctor did.


I don't think it's a bizarre claim at all. The ingredients just don't look like the recommendations of nutritionists, dieticians, or researchers focusing on nutrition. Nothing aiming at human health would have soy protein (59% bioavailability) and maltodextrin (absorbed by your body as fast as glucose but doesn't need to be listed as a sugar) as the first two ingredients. Why oh why are these two of the most common ingredient all over the bar and shake industry? Could it be because they are dirt cheap?


I was responding specifically to the vitamin D claim, since that was the evidence you presented to make your fairly-extreme claim (and one that I happened to have some personal knowledge about).

Even in general though, I don't see why the only thing to optimize for is as much bioavailability as possible. People care about things like cost too. (Though this opinion of mine is a lot less strong than my reaction to your initial claim)


I skimmed the paper you linked to and if I understood it correctly D2 has lower bioavailability than D3.

Is that the primary difference?


That's one important takeaway. But we don't actually know what (synthetic) D2 and (food derived) D3 are doing differently in the body. This is exacerbated by: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4210929/

That there's this much nuance just with this one ingredient is a microcosm of the overall flaw in Soylent's approach.

Optimizing for just the legible dimensions of a poorly understood domain will not result in good outcomes.

For mealsquares we take consilience seriously and combine the inside and outside view (see: reference class forecasting) on human nutrition to try to establish reasonable confidence intervals around nutrition models, and even then we aren't stupid enough to think or claim that mealsquares are just as good as fish, fruit, and vegetables.


>> Optimizing for just the legible dimensions of a poorly understood domain will not result in good outcomes.

Thank you. This one sentence can replace all my responses to the original post.


Wow, the NIH paper now has me asking if this might also be a public health problem.


> I think many people approach Soylent as a way to solve some of their problems, but people should realize it won't be and can't be.

You are saying your case (and that of your friend's) apply to everyone. I've lost a lot of weight using Huel (a similar product made in the UK), because it makes calorie tracking incredibly easy and allows me to avoid thinking about food except when I specifically choose to eat something.

Just because it wasn't suitable to you, and your friend didn't find a use for it, doesn't make it bad for everyone.

My experience with Huel was that it allowed me to reset my relationship with food to a more healthy one. My analogy is music - in the past I sat down and just listened to music, sometimes with friends. I still do that, but now I have a phone with me all the time, and headphones, and I listen to music almost all of the time. It's a constant, background thing, rather than (only) a special event.

Food had become something similar for me - I wanted to be eating all the time, to always have some flavour. For music, that relationship wasn't a problem, but for food, it has meant I'm overweight.

So I tried Huel. I don't think about food most days now - I drink, I drink a given number of calories of Huel (helping me lose weight).

Then, sometimes, I go out and eat something really nice with friends or family. Or I just feel like something and I make something nice. I still enjoy food, but it isn't a constant thing.

Now, you could do a similar thing with a normal calorie controlled diet, and in fact I did by using a calorie tracking app a few years back - but I didn't stick with it because it was hard, because every time you go to make food it's a tempation. Avoiding food entirely made it easier for me.

It's definitely not for everyone, but there are plenty of use cases.


This, exactly. I use Huel to replace the meals I eat at home. As a consequence, it is the only food in my apartment. Removing the possibility of eating junk has helped me improve my diet a lot, and I still get to have a takeaway meal for lunch to sate my cravings for real food.


Ohhh, I thought I had to give up on these things since I moved away from the US. But now I remember that Europe has a lot of these as well. Have you tried other things than Huel? I might be tempted to give it a try.


Tried MANA[1], Joylent[2] and Jake[3] back when I started.

Out of the those 3, MANA was clearly superior. The main reason was better texture. Taste was also a factor. Both of Joylent and Jake had a really distinct taste (most likely) caused by sweetener they used, which was really unpleasant.

In fact, I never managed to finish Joylent/Jake because I just couldn't get myself to drink them. On the other hand, I still use MANA for ~7 meals a week to this day.

Someone I know also tried Huel[4], but their verdict was "would not recommend".

[1]: https://drink-mana.com/ [2]: https://www.jimmyjoy.com/ [3]: https://jakefood.com/ [4]: https://huel.com/


Huel is the only one I've tried, and I've liked it enough. The flavour is not great by itself (a sweet, malty vanilla flavour for the flavoured one, which is a little weird but fine), but I tend to blend in ice and coffee or fruit (bannas and blueberries, raspberries, all work well). The flavour packs they sell didn't do much for me, they seemed too sweet for my taste (I didn't try them all though).

The other big thing I found was the texture improves a lot if blended or left in a fridge for a time before drinking. Shaken and drunk straight away the texture isn't great.


Same reaction to the taste here, and same reaction to the flavour packs. I threw my flavour packs away.


Yeah. With fruit or coffee I think it's really nice though. Coffee is strong enough to overpower the taste entirely, and with a small amount of fruit it tastes a bit like a smoothie with a digestive biscuit blended into it - or you can add a bit more fruit to get rid of that malty taste entirely.


I have a Plenny Shake° once a week or so. It's fine. I tried a few before I settled on it, including Huel. I prefer the taste and texture. Ymmv.

Here's a list of Soylent style products; you can filter by shipping destination: https://www.blendrunner.com/

° Actually my bags still say Joylent, which was the name until a few months ago. https://www.jimmyjoy.com/


For medical training, Soylent has been wonderful. On emergency shifts I often won't have 10 or 20 minutes to go to the cafeteria for a meal as there are too many acute patients. I used to rely on energy bars to get me through but I much prefer Soylent. They are quicker to eat and I know that I am drinking a someone balanced meal. I usually drink about three in an eight hour shift.

You raise a great point about self reflection and Soylent. To stop cooking entirely is madness, and Soylent can enable antisocial tendencies or depression. They shouldn't brand themselves as a complete dietary replacement for food.


"I know that I am drinking a __someone__ balanced meal"

Freudian?


>To stop cooking entirely is madness,

Does that include takeout/eating out? Because I know tons of people (myself unfortunately included) that have stopped cooking entirely and rely on takeout. It's not ideal but I wouldn't call it madness.


Cooking is an anachronism and it is in no way madness to stop doing it any more than it is madness to use a washing machine instead of a washboard or email instead of the post.


Restaurant-cooked food optimizes for taste, not health. Home cooking is often a lot more healthful....


I tried Soylent v1.2-1.4 for about 6 months thinking I could better regulate my calorie intake and lose some weight. In the end it wasn't for me.

I found that it did nothing to satiate my appetite and that I'd be hungry, bloated and gassy all day long. The bloating and gas were incredibly uncomfortable and never really subsided. Eschewing the normal 3 meals a day routine and doing 5 meals didn't seem to help. Despite the fact that I was only consuming 2000 calories, 500 less than recommended for my size/weight/age/sex, I managed to gain weight.

The powder was messy and would coat whatever surface I prepared it on with a fine dusting. The liquid smelled unpleasant after a while and eventually I started to smell like it when I sweat. The liquid was basically an oil and solid particulate suspension so if you spilled it on anything it was difficult to clean up because the particles would work their way into fabric. Not such a problem for clothes but more so for furniture or car seats.

From a social perspective it really sucked because meals are a time to socialize it was awkward to go out with people and not order anything. I gradually moved to half days which actually curbed the weight gain I was seeing and eventually motivated me to give it up.


> Despite the fact that I was only consuming 2000 calories, 500 less than recommended for my size/weight/age/sex, I managed to gain weight.

2500kcal is only suitable for people living a very active lifestyle or exercising a lot. Note that going to the gym for 45minutes 3 times a week is not being active.

When I spent an hour lifting heavy weights 5 times a week, my weight was stable at around 2500kcal.

The reality is that unless you work as a construction worker or other type of job that keep you active most of the day and/or exercise a lot (my 5x a week were heavy compound powerlifting lifts), chances are you need to adjust those recommendations down substantially.

Ultimatly the only thing you can do is to gradually lower your intake until you're losing weight. That you were adding weight at 2000kcal is not that surprising.

I've not tried Soylent, but I've trued Huel, and compared to what you described it seems a lot more pleasant, and more importantly, if anything I've found it hard to eat enough on it because it fills me up so much. The biggest problem for me in using it as much as I'd like is that filling me up doesn't stop me craving food - it's a reward thing for me.


Every source I've found indicates that my maintenance caloric intake should be 2400+ calories. Where do you get your information from?


A steady stream of accounts like yours of "it says my intake should be X, but when I ate X I added weight".

In your own case you've yourself proven that the sources you've found are wrong or at least have a ridiculous error margin, given that you've measured that your maintenance intake is much lower than your sources claim it should be.

Meanwhile it's exceedingly rare to see the opposite.

One of the big issues appears to be that people take advice based on a belief they are more active than they are. E.g. as I mentioned elsewhere, pretty much anyone in an office job is sedentary by default, even if they spend most of their spare time being active.


Personally, I tracked my calories for 6 months and found out whether I'm losing or gaining weight. I averaged 2700 and didn't appreciably gain or lose. I cut down to 1300 and started losing weight.


I'm 6'4" and around 190lbs. My maintenance, when lifting weights 2 times a week for 2 hours, was 2700. A more normal schedule would be 4 times a week 1 hour each, but I combined my work-outs because I was too lazy to travel to the gym that often.

I got a membership at a gym closer to my house, so now I go something like 3 times a week for 45 minutes (overall less, but likely more intense), so my maintenance is even lower now, probably.


> Despite the fact that I was only consuming 2000 calories, 500 less than recommended for my size/weight/age/sex, I managed to gain weight.

You were eating too many calories. 2500 for maintaining body weight is a lot. Perhaps you were overestimating your activity level?


I'm 6'5" and ~220lbs, every calorie calculator I've tried recommends 2400+ calories a day to maintain body weight with a sedentary lifestyle. At the time I tried this experiment I was running close to 30 miles a week and spending 2+ hours a week rock climbing.


Estimates like 2400kcal might work if you have a physically demanding job 40 hours a week. Running 30 miles a week and spending 2+ hours a week rock climbing will lift cause you to expend only maybe 500kcal a day extra on average, but if you spend the rest of that time being sedentary, you're still unlikely to end up at any more than 2000-2200kcal.

Overall I think the typical old advice of 2500kcal for men and 2000 for women are dangerously out of tune with modern lifestyles.

As your own results demonstrated, that's often way too high. Measure, weigh, adjust - ultimately the only thing that will tell you what the right amount of calories is for you is to actually adjust your intake and check what happens.


2500 isn't an unreasonable maintenance estimate for someone that is 6'5 and 220lbs.

Obviously if the op was gaining weight at 2000 calories it was a bad estimate for him (or he was eating more than he thought, which is often the case), but it isn't a crazy estimate or anything.


It is an unreasonable maintenance estimate for someone who isn't engaged in a lot of physical activity as far as I can tell.

The problem is not the estimate per se, it is that people don't understand what terms like sedentary and active implies, and tend to overestimate how active they are.

E.g. the vast majority of people who work office jobs are sedentary, whether or not they think that their out-of-office activities makes them "active". An hour of activity here and there in the evening does not get anywhere near compensating for 8 hours in a chair.


Source?


Your own body? If you weren't losing weight that should be enough of a feedback cycle to tell you what you need to know.


Um, you were eating (or claiming to be eating) X calories a day and you were gaining weight. That should be the only "source" you need.


> or claiming to be eating

This, to me, is another reason why employing a feedback cycle and only relying on those estimates as a first approximation makes most sense.

The estimates won't take into account how dilligent you are: do you estimate how many meatballs there is per 100 calories, or do you guesstimate based on measuring once? do you count the calories in your sugar free chewing gum (it's certainly not calorie free)? do you measure out the amount of ketchup you put on your food and count the calories? And so on.

With a feedback cycle hopefully you're roughly consistent, and if you adjust on a weekly basis based on how you're doing you'll hopefully also counter-act your own self-sabotage (e.g. it's oh-so-easy to subconsciously take more of anything you've decided doesn't need measuring, like the above mentioned ketchup, or find yourself suddenly chewing 10x as much chewing gum...)

(at the same time, one of the benefits of these shakes certainly is that if you adhere strictly at least for periods, you take dilligence out of the picture; though you still need a feedback cycle, as e.g. differences in how much energy you have can easily affect your activity levels and so change your rate)


Anecdotes not being data and all that, both you and I had the same experience of that number being too high for us to lose weight. I don't have time to look for actual research on what the right averages should be, but the mor important point is that the averages are relatively unimportant:

What matters is not what the average burn rate for your build is, but what you burn. And you yourself is the source for that calorie intake being too high for you.

The averages matters for generc advice and as a starting point, but they can never be as good as measuring and adjusting.

And I think that is part of the problem with this advice. Too many people seem to influence their intake by it but then get surprised and dejected when they don't get the result they expect, instead of using their result to tweak their intake accordingly.


You've done a great job proving it yourself - despite only consuming 2000 calories, you were still gaining weight. Unless you weren't counting anything aside from soylent (drinking, snacks, etc) you were past your maintenance consumption.


Not trying to attack here - I'm seriously trying to help - but you must have been consuming calories you weren't aware of.

For example, in my own experience counting calories, oil is always the killer - it's so calorie dense and sneaks into everything when you're cooking.

You need 2400 calories a day to maintain weight, were supposedly consuming 2000, and were (off the cuff) burning close to 1000 a day from running and other activity.

There's no way you'd gain weight at 220 lbs effectively consuming 1000 calories a day. I've lost weight eating more than that at 180 lbs body weight.

Counting calories is very difficult. It's so easy to over- or under-estimate.


> You need 2400 calories a day to maintain weight

No, his sources estimates 2400 calories a day. You're right to question if he's consumed more, but taking his claims at face value, they match my own experience and many, many anecdotes I've seen over the year to indicate that advice of maintenance levels around that range are way too high for most people.

> and were (off the cuff) burning close to 1000 a day from running and other activity.

I very much doubt that. My own off the cuff estimate is ~500 calories a day for that activity.

> There's no way you'd gain weight at 220 lbs effectively consuming 1000 calories a day. I've lost weight eating more than that at 180 lbs body weight.

More like 1500 by my account, possibly more depending on the intensity of his exercise. And if you assume lack of substantial muscle-weight in that, it matches pretty well with my own experience from before I started lifting weights - I had diets where I had to drop to around 1200/day before it made a noticeable difference.

Once I started adding muscle, I could get away with more, but not a lot more.

I don't doubt your numbers, but to me they'r why we shouldn't listen to estimates, but measure, as activity level (all day long, not just during exercise) and body composition makes the error margin on estimates of metabolic rate crazily high.


I don't disagree with you, and I agree the numbers are slightly off (more like 2200 per day required and 800 per day burned, according to a number of calculators.)

But even still, at 220 lbs, your estimate of 1500 calories a day should not cause weight gain.


As I said, at about the same weight when I didn't have much muscle, 2000 calories less ~500 spent on exercise each day would have caused weight gain for me.

And did, for that matter until I'd adjusted my intake further down. To notice much in terms of a loss I had to go below about 1600kcal before factoring in the exercise. I believe my maintenance level at the time was ~1800kcal.

If you're largely sedentary outside of your exercise, you can end up burning exceedingly little.


I was consuming one 2000 calorie packet of Soylent a day and nothing else. No snacks, no cheating, just the one a day.


> The liquid smelled unpleasant after a while and eventually I started to smell like it when I sweat

When is someone going to disrupt the smell-o-vision for the internet market?


> Drinking Soylent was ruining my health.

Was Soylent ruining your health, or enabling you to let your health decline by isolating yourself? If the later, I don't think that's any reflection of the product itself.


Eating is a complex process, usually intertwined with social interactions, stimulation of multiple sensory organs, and activation of jaw muscles and blood flow. I think by short circuiting many of those processes, along with possibly the negative nutritional aspects of Soylent and my mental state back then, I was suffering as a result.


Spot on. I don't know why we would apply reductionism something as pleasurable and healthful as food.


This is you not looking past your own world view. If you have a healthy and pleasurable relationship with food, great, good for you.

Some of us like food too much, and replacements can help with that. Some people don't care about food, and replacments are just as good to them, but easier.


I drink Soylent because I'm a diabetic. I can have one every morning and know exactly how many carbs I'm getting and exactly how it affects my body. Food being "pleasurable and healthful" is a luxury.


Reductionism is a problem when the system is too complex for you to have modeled all relevant dynamics [1]; it has nothing to do with how healthful or pleasurable something is. If you could model all its dynamics, you could make it more fun and healthy.

[1] which may actually be the case here


Because there is plenty of pleasurable and healthful things in life to do, and different people prioritize them differently.


> I don't know why we would apply reductionism something as pleasurable and healthful as food.

I applaud you for admitting your ignorance. Let me give you some reasons why:

I know a guy who doesn't enjoy eating. For him it's always been a chore. He has a poor sense of smell, it's surely related. It works for him.

I drink soylent as an alternative to eating out on my own, which is an expensive and unhealthy habit I have. It does not replace 1) eating out with friends or 2) cooking at home.


Your original comment is very confusing. It's difficult to tell whether you are blaming Soylent for the onset of depression due to nutritional deficiencies, or whether you Soylent was simply an enabler but not the direct cause.


I apologize, and let me clarify. I don't think Soylent was the cause of any of my problems. I had a problem before I started drinking it, but I had hoped the drink would be beneficial to my life. However, I started to spiral into my problems once again even with Soylent, and I believe that many others who are attempting to solve a personal problem using the drink will also do so.


Thanks for clarifying, that makes sense. I can definitely see Soylent compounding one's problems, if not taken carefully. Kudos for realizing you needed a change.


The comment doesn't claim that it's the cause. It notes that their use of Soylent as a solution was a symptom of a deeper problem.


> inappropriate time management

This resonates with me. When I tried Soylent, it was because I was working WAY too much, and that "always-on" mindset carried over into other parts of my life. I felt like I didn't have time for food - I needed to be productive instead! Soylent markets to this extremely well, and it worked on me.

I stopped using Soylent when I found a healthier work/life balance, started meditating regularly, did a bit of traveling, started exercising more often, and met a new love interest. I wouldn't say that I'm a stellar cook, but I enjoy preparing meals - it's just another thing to try to do well.

So Soylent isn't really for me - though there probably are some lifestyles in which it makes sense.


I work a lot, I like working a lot, I choose voluntarily to work a lot. I find it fulfilling and productive.

It doesn't leave a lot of time for cooking healthy things (or, more accurately, I would rather spend the limited time left over after work for reading and producing music rather than cooking and cleaning my dishes and kitchen) and most packaged/prepared food is pretty unhealthy. Soylent and Joylent and Jake mean I end up healthier.


This isn't just something Soylent pushes, either. This is a lifestyle that was crafted really carefully over many years that is at the core of 'startup culture.' It's ironic that we're talking about that "always-on mentality" in the venue that's responsible more than anywhere else for disseminating it, demonizing the 9-5 life as the choice of inferior cubicle-bound minds, and glorifying the startup life as the only alternative acceptable alternative. Otherwise, you're not smart or ambitious.

In the same way that "ball is life" gets a lot of kids to pay a lot of money for sneakers and the faint possibility of a future as a pro athlete, you'll get goods that signal your commitment to that lifestyle. Same with startups. Ergo, as startup culture does well, so does Soylent.


My question is, would you have necessarily eaten better in the absence of Soylent? Or would you have just binged on snacks and junk food instead? Plenty of people seem to do so. I agree that Soylent is overhyped as a quick-fix to diet and nutrition problems that have complex causes, e.g. depression, social isolation, obesity, etc. But, since we aren't going to resolve those causes any time soon, it's probably better, on balance, to have Soylent available as a reasonably healthy option for people.


Interesting thought, but if I may ask, can you really blame Soylent for that?

The only person that I know drinks soylent only to surpess the hunger until lunch, and doesnt plan on drinking only soylent. So far they say its doing its job good enough.

What's your opinion on that ?


Soylent isn't marketed that way.

It is marketed as a most-of-the-time meal replacement.

Am I wrong?


Yes. They stopped doing that long ago. From their frontpage video: "While not intended to replace every meal, Soylent can replace any meal". And in text: "If you’ve ever wasted time and energy trying to decide what to eat for lunch, or have been too busy to eat a proper meal" And basically everyone I see in forums will say that they don't advice on a 100% Soylent diet.

Disclaimer: I'm a firm believer that we need to change our consumption habits. Soylent is a way to make an impact, even if it is only used once a week.


I never understood Soylent. Why not simple, convenient, repetitive meals instead? Why not a protein shake and a banana if occasional liquid meal replacements are needed?


Soylent is a simple, convenient, repetitive meal.


> Why not simple, convenient, repetitive meals instead?

Name one that a) provides a proper amount of needed nutrients and b) is as simple and convenient as Soylent (or equivalents).


A multivitamin. Organic valley protein shakes (already liquid): https://www.organicvalley.coop/products/protein-shakes/

And purple corn meal for carbs: https://www.amazon.com/Z%C3%B3calo-Peru-Organic-Purple-Flour...

Organic virgin coconut oil (in glass jar) for fats: https://www.pureformulas.com/nutiva-organic-extravirgin-coco...


OK I'll bite.

Soylent is $2.69 / 400 cal and vegan.

To get the same macro ratios you don't need the corn meal, the shakes have plenty of carbs, you can do 1 shake @ $3.33 + 15g coconut oil @ $0.55 + a few cents for the multivitamin = ~$4.00 / 400 cal.

(You may still want the cornmeal for fibers and slower carbs, since the carbs in the shake are all from milk and cane sugar.)

So it's more expensive, requires preparation, is not vegan, and the glycemic load is probably worse. Beautiful.


Soy protein has phytoestrogens and lead and whatnot. Proteins from plants grown in metal heavy soil are not a good source for majority of protein supply for a human being.


Ok. Soy has isoflavones, which are kinda shaped like estrogens, and bind to estrogen receptors by chance cause they have similar structures, but not as strongly as real estrogen, because they're not sex hormones to begin with.

Cow milk has actual estrogen. Because cows are mammals. With actual sex hormones. Which binds strongly to estrogen receptors, because that's what they're for.

I know which one I'm going with.


Are you sure about this issue with normal milk? I cannot find much about it although the soy estrogen research is all out there.


I found a few studies by googling 'dairy estrogen'.

To be honest I don't think it's that big of a deal in either case (soy or dairy), for occasional consumption, I eat both on occasion. But if we are talking about replacing meals with a dairy shake, or GOMAD (gallon of milk per day, a 'traditional' recipe for fast weight gain), I might be a little bit concerned.


Considering how far removed from its "natural" source much of our food is, I don't think Soylent should be looked at with much skepticism. Additionally:

> Calcium carbonate is the most common and least expensive calcium supplement. It should be taken with food, and depends on low pH levels (acidic) for proper absorption in the intestine.[26] Some studies suggests that the absorption of calcium from calcium carbonate is similar to the absorption of calcium from milk

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calcium_supplement#Types


> Considering how far removed from its "natural" source much of our food is, I don't think Soylent should be looked at with much skepticism.

1 in 3 Americans are obese and the next 1 in 3 are overweight. We have no idea how to feed ourselves. Skepticism seems appropriate.


Hmm, perhaps I made my point poorly. I don't think Soylent should be looked at with so much more skepticism than other modern processed foods. Nobody would ask if Pop Tarts "are even food" the same way I often see with Soylent.


People that go on a strict, regimented diet do well (lose weight, medical indicators improve, etc).

We mostly don't know how to deal with abundance, combined with reluctance to utilize tools like taxes to attempt to alter societal eating trends.


Because the metric used to categorize is too simpleton (BMI) and unfairly counts more muscular frames into same categories. Muscle weighs more than fat.

When this guy goes to get a physical, he will go into database as "overweight" (BMI 26-27): http://ow.ly/KnTx30bsc3d

And this is "Obese": http://ow.ly/33ls30bsclV


In my case, soylent-like products (specifically what used to be called Joylent) helped me a lot when I was really quite depressed. I could often go without eating several days simply because I couldn't get myself together enough to source any kind of food. Having a stash of Joylent meant I could get a sort-of balanced meal with minimal effort, which really improved my physical health and enabled me to take better care of my mental health too.


Sure it is. My problems that Soylent can solve include having an easy and palatable (I sort of enjoy the plain flavor when chilled enough) snack a couple times a week.


I would be inclined to agree that it's a poor solution to lifestyle/mental health issues. otoh i have appetite problems which soylent DOES solve.


I guess it depends how you use it. I keep it in my car as a replacement for fast food when I'm short on time and I'm healthier overall


Huh? I've tried a competing product just for fun to see what it was like and for convenience when I was short on time, not a daily replacement. If you're using this to not get out of bed, I agree with others that the problem is a wholly different one than Soylent or any other product such as home delivered hamburgers that allows you to not leave your home.


N=1 here. After Soylent found its way into my home I started drinking it for lunch (chocolate shake). Previously, I'd have ordered in or run out to grab a salad.

With the extra time I found myself, instead of rushing between lunch and work, wandering around listening to audiobooks or podcasts. I started enjoying these walks so much I extended them. On one podcast I heard about Blue Apron. I've never liked cooking, but the release of lunch's tediousness pushed me to give it a try.

Dinner is now, three times a week, a home-cooked meal for myself and one other. (Together, Blue Apron and Soylent reduced my daily caloric intake appreciably, at least on weekdays.)


I got started on Soylent and Joylent while depressed and it kept me (more than I would be) healthy while I went along. I eventually turned back to cooking when I was out of depression and craved varied, richer taste and more control over the sugar/carb/fat levels in particular meals.

I think Soylent was a great crutch during my downtime. I don't think it encouraged depression. In my case I argue it kept my body healthy while my mind wasn't, which is itself a bonus.


Eh. I think it very much depends on what your problems are. If you want to stop eating fast food, but don't believe you can rely on yourself to food prep, plan, or cook, you can probably do a lot worse. Wanting more than something very straightforward from it probably isn't a recipe for success, though.


That's exactly my use case. I'm targeting 1800 calories of intake per day. I do 1 for breakfast and 1 for lunch. My wife and I then have a balanced dinner. This gives me structure and a plan for each workday. Previously, I would pickup something (probably not healthy and over 400 calories) on the fly for each meal.


No, it's not.

But it is a convenient solution for when you want a quick, kind of nutritionally complete meal that's convenient.

Of course, the founder didn't really position it that way? The hype was all about it being a meal replacement for ALL your meals - which is what caused your problem.


Cocoa soylent was just a better alternative to what I had as options for breakfast. Typical breakfast sandwich or cheap cereals were not particularly great.

I'm honestly not sure how healthy it is, but I'd be very surprised if it was worse than what I'd do otherwise.

Now I agree if you have 5 bottles a day as your only food source, that's probably not great. We don't really understand human food needs as well as we say we do, and we kind of just get by as a kind of coincidence through variety. Having the same thing over and over and over almost garentees you get it wrong, no matter what it is you have.


Very interesting comment. Definitely food for thought.

One thing to keep in mind is it's not only depresssion that could cause the poor time management that Soylent benefits from. The whole "gotta be working every minute of every day" ethos of SV can feed into this very easily as well. Which isn't also to say that the two can't be intertwined...


You were depressed so everyone is depressed? I don't think that follows.


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