After reading the first Soylent post, I felt inspired to try and come up with a recipe for a "nutritionally complete" soup. I used an online tool that calculates the total nutrients for a recipe and came up with this:
500 grams of wild alaskan salmon
1/2 cup of mushrooms
3.5 tbsp of olive oil
30 grams of sunflower seeds
1 tbsp of dried parsley
2 tbsp of ground thyme
50 grams of parmesan cheese
3 cloves of garlic
20 grams of sesame seeds
1 medium oyster (from a can)
1 tbsp of ground mace
1 tsp of cod liver oil
To cook it I just added everything to boiling water in order of cooking time, starting with the potatoes and onions and ending with the salmon.
I tried making it last night and ate it for dinner and breakfast, and it was delicious! I also feel amazing. I guess I should track the effects of the recipe on quantified-mind.com. :-)
I was actually surprised by how hard it was to fit all of the daily nutrient requirements into a recipe with about 2000-2500 calories (while also avoiding nutrient overdoses). It would be great if someone would create a website for "nutritionally complete" recipes, especially recipes that are cheap and easy to make with a good blender or crockpot.
> I was actually surprised by how hard it was to fit all of the daily nutrient requirements into a recipe with about 2000-2500 calories (while also avoiding nutrient overdoses). It would be great if someone would create a website for "nutritionally complete" recipes, especially recipes that are cheap and easy to make with a good blender or crockpot.
I hit the same wall when I overturned my eating habits and tried to fit all my nutrients into my three-meals-a-day habit. I succeeded by tweaking things but then it dawned on me I could spread out all the nutrients on a week. It made recipes composition much easier.
It wasn't some kind of soylent though but "regular" meals.
Yeah, I was wondering the same thing as I was making the recipe. That brings up an interesting question: Is it fine to get 200% of your daily requirement for Vitamin A on one day and 0% the second day and let things average out, or will you be healthier if you get a steady stream of your daily requirements throughout the day? Maybe there are some nutrients that are easily stored in the body (like fat-soluble vitamins) and some that aren't?
This is in fact why multi-vitamin pills are a useless generic habit. Vitamins are trace compounds/elements by nature, and your body is very careful to eliminate excesses (since they can catalyze all sorts of side-reactions which can be otherwise harmful).
The classic example is if you take multi-vitamins, you usually have noticeably different colored urine. That's no coincidence.
>you usually have noticeably different colored urine. That's no coincidence.
Personally the only substance I've noticed cause substantial colour changes is high doses of riboflavin (the infamous neon yellow...).
Several of the vitamin B's are often found in energy drinks and various pre-workout mixes in very high doses as well (e.g. it's not uncommon for pre-workout mixes to trigger niacin-flushes as well as riboflavin-neon color). The motivation seems to be that the potential benefits might be good enough and the risks low enough that it's better to dose high and maximize what is available to the body, even if most ends up being excreted.
Not many other supplements tends to be dosed at such high multiples of RDA's as some of the B-vitamins often does.
Yeah except you might be deficient in some vitamin, and in that case you're screwing yourself over by not taking a multivitamin that has just 100% of the RDA's. Not everyone can afford to eat a world-class, healthy diet, and obtain all nutrients sans a multivitamin.
It is medically very difficult to be vitamin deficient. Modern food is fortified in so many ways that its now almost impossible unless you do something like eat exclusively exactly 1 food product. Even then.
It's not about a healthy diet - it's about the fact that vitamins are trace components that your body holds onto what it needs and discards the rest. This is very different to the general nutritional needs of the body (carbohydrates and the like - all the things the Soylent maker is principally concerned with).
Multivitamin pills are an expensive "worried well" type supplement. Very very few people need them. They're not "generally a good idea", and if you can afford them you should be using that money to buy better quality foodstuffs because they certainly won't surrogate for poor nutrition in the major groups that you do need in large quantity.
By common I mean it's something that your average General practitioner doctor will encounter. Pregnant and Nursing mothers are often told to take supplements with good reason. Also of note absorption issues are just as important as diet which is one of the reason B12 shots for example are used to treat deficiency.
With that said, taking a daily multivitamin is often overkill taking it weekly is often just as useful. It's just that they are cheap enough that trying to figure out the ideal dose is generally a waste of time.
Women who want to become pregnant, or who are already pregnant, should be taking 400 micrograms of folic acid (from before conception to at least 12 weeks conception) and 10 micrograms vitamin d, but avoiding anything with vitamin a.
My biggest concern would be that healthy adaptive systems benefit from variety, challenge, and chaos.
Intermittent fasting is good. A little contamination from things that are normally unhealthy is good. (See, for example, the hygiene hypothesis or the idea of hormesis.) Chewing is good -- as is the somewhat random mix of very-chewed or less-chewed foods you swallow. Triggering your body's reactions (including your gut biome's reactions) to different extremes of nutrient mix will keep the systems 'practiced'...
..unless you're sure you'll spend the rest of your life like a brain-in-a-vat, and then you might as well take nutrition by IV.
For those of us who generally don’t like food, consider it an annoyance, and yearn for a way to avoid eating it, Soylent sounds immensely promising. But is it safe?
Surprisingly, the answer from nutrition experts seems to be, “Yeah, probably.” Jay Mirtallo is a professor of pharmacy at Ohio State and the immediate past president of American Society for Parental Enteral Nutrition, which focuses on the science and practice of providing food to patients through both intravenous injections and feeding tubes. His main concern with Rhinehart’s plan is that he’s making the concoction himself, rather than buying it from reputable suppliers.
“He basically made medical food,” Mirtallo says. “If he wanted to switch to a liquid diet, those are already available.”
Indeed they are. Companies like Abbott Nutrition and NestléHealthScience sell dozens of medical food products.
I asked Mirtallo if I could live a healthy life just drinking medical food from here on out. “You can completely,” he says. “But I don’t know why you’d want to. There are so many social aspects to food in what we do.”
One potential downside is cost. Rhinehart claims that he only spends $154.82 a month on Soylent. By contrast, a case of 24 eight-ounce cans of Jevity 1.5cal, a high caloric density product Abbott sells for feeding tube patients, costs $57 from Abbott’s Web store. As each can has 355 calories in it, you’d need six cans a day to top the 2,000 calorie a day mark used in FDA nutrition data. So a 24-pack would last you about four days. That works out to 7-8 packs a month, which could cost up to $456.
Nestle produces something called Modulen specifically for people with IBD. The idea is for people with Crohn's to switch to a liquid diet during bad flare ups to settle things down as digesting food causes inflammation.
It is rather expensive. Luckily for me, my insurance covered it (I'm from Israel, so YMMV). The hard part is that you have to pound a dozen glasses of the stuff every day. Some people can't even drink that much water and this is a heavy drink.
Soylent may be an improvement in terms of price and preparation because Modulen comes in powder form and doesn't mix well with water and goops up quickly. It is simply not easy getting it down.
To those of you suggesting this sort of thing can solve world hunger - doubtful. I'm the only one my doctors know of who actually was able to adhere to a liquid only diet for a stretch of multiple months, people simply don't have the willpower.
You miss food quite badly and are never satiated. What I think Soylent could possibly be is an ultimate supplement, like a protein shake - in fact, fitness companies like Beachbody (P90X) hawk all kinds of dubios concoctions, it is a lucrative market. One that actually works would be neat.
> I'm the only one my doctors know of who actually was able to adhere to a liquid only diet for a stretch of multiple months, people simply don't have the willpower
My experience was due to jaw surgery: 1 week clear liquid, 4 weeks completely liquid diet, 1 week extremely soft food (baby food).
I lost 30 pounds over that 6 weeks (incidentally, more than should have been possible on a complete fast. Healing is energetically expensive.) . I actually found by the end that I didn't really want to go back to solid food - it was extremely convenient having everything set up for me.
On the other hand, I also essentially lost my sense of taste for that six weeks too - probably made it easier when there's functionally no incentive.
However, when I did return to solid food (after my sense of taste returned), dear god the first bite of mashed potatoes were the best food I have ever eaten.
Also plenty of people have awful dietary habits precisely because they're either hurried or bored by the process of cooking and simply aim for the easiest thing - which in our society these days trends far away from "nutritionally complete" and usually has serious problems with providing satiation.
Plumpy'nut  is food product specifically designed to be consumed by malnourished children. Given that the cost of it is around $30/mo I would actually guess that the barriers to adoption are political and social in nature and not technical.
My mother just passed of cancer, she was on a feeding tube for 8 months consuming this Abott liquid food. It was shipped in cases just like anything else - cardboard boxes - and delivered via foil-boxes just like the portable milk that you see at any starbucks, though it required no refrigeration.
However, this substance was not made for taste buds and it smelled fairly bad.
They have different types depending on what caloric intake was prescribed by the doctor.
As stated in Steko's quote above, that costs ~4x as much as soylent. Note also that the numbers for soylent don't include packaging or shipping. If you made a commercial version with preservatives etc. the price might be comparable.
>Note also that the numbers for soylent don't include packaging or shipping.
Sure they do. He says he's buying them in personal-size containers, and the price includes shipping. Someone is already buying the ingredients in bulk and reselling them in smaller containers, it's just not the soylent guy. Once he's buying in bulk I would expect costs to drop, even with the added expense of packaging and shipping.
I am still skeptical of that stement: the medical cost of Abott's product is high. That does not mean the manufacturing cost is high. In fact, as I mentioned, I think the margins are what is extremely high.
The packaging of this is ubiquitous in many many other products (milk, juice, etc) and I am sure is a very very low cost factor.
> Some people tell me going "ketogenic", or reducing carbs is healthy. I am now skeptical of this claim as lowering carbs makes me feel hungry and tired, and the drink taste less sweet. Perhaps it would be possible after an unpleasant transition period, but I don’t see the ultimate gain...
Their advice seems to fall in line with the paleo/primal philosophies—in a nutshell: man only started eating a significant amount of carbohydrates after the agriculturalization of cereals (grains) about 10,000 years ago. They argue that wasn't enough time for us to evolve enough to adapt.
But to your point about feeling hungry and tired—I think it's because you're addicted to carbs and sugar (like almost all of us are), but you don't NEED carbs, at all. I tried primal for a month, and yes, the adjustment took a few days (maybe a week). However, after I got over the sugar/carb cravings, my energy levels where much more even throughout the day, sans-grains.
We evolved to drink milk in only about a thousand years. It was evidently so successful that huge swathes of the population are now lactose tolerant - but only if they descended from particular groups which had access to it.
Just because those genes exist doesn't mean they're evenly distributed. For example, look at the spectrum of lactose tolerance: some people do just fine, some people get a little gassy, some people get severely ill.
10K years hasn't been enough for cats, apparently. Plus, the lifespan of a dog is ~7 times shorter than the lifespan of a man, which will give them at least 7 generations more to adapt.
Obviously there has been some adaptation to the change of diet, and it is also obvious that this diet was not letal to human (or nobody would have adopt it), but this does not implies that it is optimal for human consumption. Most people in my region are not lactose intolerant... but do you know what? I threw up every time that my mother had me drink a glass of milk because it was "healthy" and good for my bones. If adaptation depends that much between humans (the % of lactose intolerant or lactase persistent is not the same in the US than in China or Africa, for example), trying to correlate anything with animals seem completely off to me.
Humans lifespan was that low since the high mortality rate the first months of life. After the first years, the expected lifespan increased dramatically. A humans need a few years to be able to reproduce and those who were able to have a longer lifespan. Even if the dogs didn't improve their lifespans (which honestly, I doubt they didn't) we are still in a similar ratio.
What question is really being asked - did we evolve the ability to digest carbs? We've apparently always been able to do that. Or did we evolve the ability to eat large amounts of carbs without risking various ills like type II diabetes and heart disease?
The paleo hypothesis is that we haven't adapted to carbs to the point that they don't cause disease. Carbs aren't dangerous enough to kill us before we reproduce, so why would we expect the genes to be selected out?
Population members aren't useless to preserving genes once they're done having babies.
Elders use and share collected knowledge (particularly skills that take a long time to master), care for babies while the parents are hunting/etc., help with gathering/cooking/cleaning/etc.. If they are all sick & dying instead of doing this work, your group isn't going to do as well as the competing group whose elders are in good shape.
I don't eat sugar sugar anymore, but consume plenty of fruits, so I wouldn't consider myself addicted to sugar.
However, I simply could not eat enough calories through the day to fit my lifestyle without eating carbs. I tried, it didn't work. Burning ~400 calories every day before breakfast and adding another ~900 calorie burn at boxing practice every two days ... just nope.
I can't even fulfill my caloric goal when eating carbs on the days I have boxing. My stomach can't process that much food.
When I was strict about avoiding carbs, I lost about 5 or 6 kilograms quite quickly. Took me about 11 months of grain eating and concerted attempts at a caloric surplus to gain back the weight.
 One of the strangest feelings I have ever felt is being hungry while having such a full stomach it feels eating another bite will make you vomit. This often happens after boxing when I mess up my "every 3 hours" eating schedule and haven't eaten enough calories before going to practice.
I'm curious what your diet looks like such that you have to take care not to consume 4000 kcal a day.
When I was cycling 100 miles a week, I found I needed about 3500 kcal / day to sustain myself, and it wasn't easy. On a typical day, I ate 3-4 normal breakfasts throughout the morning (a bagel w/ cream cheese, a smoothie, 2 or 3 eggs and toast, maybe a bowl of oatmeal). Dinners were typically a massive serving of lasagna or similar pasta. Lots of snacks throughout the day. The only days where I would say that I easily got enough calories were when I gave in to the temptation of a fast-food hamburger and milkshake. However, as long as I was cooking at home, it was quite a bit of work to keep up with the calories I needed.
Two racks of baby back ribs. Bam, 5k calories, and that's not even all of the food I could eat in one day.
Damn I love me some ribs.
Or nuts - a cup of peanut butter has 1500 calories. Doughnuts, pastries, cheesecake, pancakes... Hell, a beer. Have 2 beers a day, you've burned through a good 500 calories. Real cream in your coffee, real sugar in your drinks.
If you're burning serious calories, you don't get to eat prissy. Look at what they eat in Antarctica.
> On a typical day, I ate 3-4 normal breakfasts throughout the morning (a bagel w/ cream cheese, a smoothie, 2 or 3 eggs and toast, maybe a bowl of oatmeal).
That's a lot of different things to prepare 3-4 times a morning... but my guess is you meant all those things to be 3 or 4 breakfasts, rather than an example of a normal breakfast.
When I'm trying to lose, I do low carb or intermittent fasting, or both. But if I'm not paying any attention, my diet might typically be three meals and some snacking: an cheese and bacon omelet with coffee for breakfast, a 4oz bag of avocado-oil kettle chips and plate of rice and chicken curry for lunch, a quart of chicken lo mein and three spring rolls for dinner. The snacks might something like 10-12 double-stuf Oreos, or a pint of peanuts, munched on over the course of an hour or so.
It's really easy to exceed 4000 kcal, and not hard at all to exceed 5000 kcal, all without ever feeling too full (or ever feeling hungry, of course...).
Interesting. Honestly, the sheer volume of food you're talking about would be challenging for me to ingest. A _quart_ of chicken lo mein? A _pint_ of peanuts? I'd consider a handful (2-4 tablespoons) of peanuts to be a normal snack.
This is an interesting lesson in the effect of food choices, I suppose. Because, my experience is that as long as I avoid soda and beer, it's really easy to consume <1500kcal a day, also without feeling hungry.
The physiological satiety response just isn't as strong or effective in some people. To further complicate things, once obesity sets in, it creates a degree of insulin & leptin resistance, and losing control of these signalling devices even further reduces the negative feedback available to establish a hunger / eating cycle, when ad libitum food is available.
To some degree, it takes acts of deliberate control several times a day, for years, for people who are biochemically prone to overeating, to eat a normal amount given a Western diet... on top of their actual psychological habits.
Aside from this, an obese person deals with larger caloric maintenance requirements in the first place, and views the world through the same hunger-tinted glasses that everyone else does when eating below these requirements in order to lose weight.
A Chipotle burrito with guac & sour cream, and a side of chips, with a 32oz root beer (& 1 refill), will run you about 2400 calories, and represents the approximate amount that in a past era, I was able to eat before getting a subtle, non-painful signal to slow down. Alternately: a normal bag of double stuff Oreos, 2100 calories, 2500 with a decent amount of milk. Nacho Cheese Doritos Family Size: 2400 calories, or 3200 with a 2L of Coke. Digiorno Rising Crust Pizza: 2100 calories, or 2900 with a 2L of coke.
I'm way below my peak weight, but somewhat horrified that this kind of binging isn't out of the question, in the heat of the moment. I'm taking it one day at a time, counting calories, trying to eat small portions, and I've completely removed 'snack foods' and soda & fruit juice from my diet... but it's not easy, and if I don't focus on how much I'm eating, a single meal can destroy a week's worth of dieting.
And for a person who is genuinely hungry? The fastest I've ever lost weight was three weeks in my teens where I had a very controlled diet, and a strenuous 12hr/day backpacking activity. I shed 40lbs in 20 days and had significant related medical problems by the end of my term, so I feel this represents a reasonable approximation of 'starving' (although still at a relatively healthy weight). Midway through, a resupply opened up our food rations for return or immediate consumption. It turns out, 5lbs of cheddar cheese (9000 calories) goes down very easy; I was snacking on granola not an hour later. Stories of Holocaust survivors dying the day after rescue of GI problems aren't particularly surprising in light of a reality like that.
I've never been competitive about eating. I enjoy food, but I'm hardly that unusual: even at my peak weight, a solid 2% of the country had a higher BMI. The pathology is a function of our modern food system's emphasis on fat, sugar, and salt, our culture's value-for-money proposition of ever-increasing serving sizes, and differing physical susceptibility to these things on a personal level, not solely individual psychology. What's an absurd amount for you is the result of absentminded snacking for someone else.
As a fatass rather than an athlete, trust me, it's just a matter of training. A pint of Ben and Jerry's is over 1200. A large milkshake approaches 1000. A liter of Coke is 4 calories and two of those per day is doable. Now you're at 4000 calories without even a bite of real food!
You must've really been fucking up because I've been able to maintain 5,000 kcal per day intakes or more and be mostly comfortable and happy about it. Every 3 hours is part of it...how much fat were you getting if not carbs?
I'm 5' 9", 240lbs (108kg) and lift. I know powerlifters that bulk/eat harder than I do and I've never heard them bitch about something that extreme, even if the protein intake can get tiresome sometimes. The fat though? That's always fun.
I've known bodybuilders to be able to jerk their weight around pretty hard too.
Honestly the only two things I'm missing on low carb are ice cream (that's okay though) and coke (which is why I'm searching for a pure stevia alternative). I had way less problems then I would have expected.
edit: a) I'm in Germany, not that many products available here. b) I always steered clear of Coca Cola, Pepsi and so on, those were too sweet for me and the caffeine level was rather low anyway.
Have you tried just the fizzy flavored water you can buy at the grocery store? The taste takes some getting used to (not really sweet when compared to cokes) but I've found that what I liked most about soda is the fizz.
After dropping soda I can't even drink half a can because of the sweetness but YMMV.
You should try making your own. The Coke recipe is actually pretty simple -- most of the "super secret formula" stuff is for marketing. A quick Google will bring up a bunch of different versions, like the ones on this helpful page.
You can order the ingredients whenever you're sure you want to try it (most of them keep for a long time). Then, when you get a few hours free on the weekend, you can make a batch of soda syrup. You can experiment with the ingredients and fine-tune it to be perfect.
If you want to try something slightly different (which, unfortunately, requires processed sugars AFAICT), you can try making ginger ale at home! Here's a simple and practical guide that I used to learn how to make some, which serendipitously was written by a San Francisco tech startups guy.
You seriously suggested diet coke to someone wanting a non-sugary alternative to coke? Ok, so that's unnecessarily snarky, but diet coke is pretty much the farthest away from the non-diet colas you can get with the diet variations. These days at least I believe it's that way on purpose, as it's created a distinct market for itself.
Coke Zero is a lot closer, but Diet Pepsi and Pepsi Max are both vastly better approximations to their non-diet versions.
RC Light, though, is the only diet cola I've tasted that ever got close to fooling me into thinking I got the non-diet version. It's worth a try. But RC tastes quite different to Coke (much stronger caramel taste) so someone looking for a diet alternative to Coke might not be happy with it.
Yes, Coke does seem to have gone way out of their way to make Diet Coke and Coke Zero taste very distinct.
I miss Diet Pepsi (can't get it in Norway) - Pepsi Max is ok, but it's not the same. Since work ditched Pepsi I've cut way back on the amount of soda I drink. I suppose that may be a good thing, but I still miss the taste.
I felt very lightheaded most of the time, but I did feel more energetic. It was very strange feeling. It's not something I'd do for the fun of it, but I'd certainly do it again as a diet because it seemed to work.