The supplement world is like the wild west as far as this goes. And as attracted as I am to a meal replacement like this, the worry about getting accidentally dosed with high levels of arsenic or lead from a shitty supplier really concerns me.
Just one pinch can cause serious and painful injury.
Will it always be mixed evenly?
"Several individuals experienced in chemistry have already figured out how to make it on their own. I'd like to keep it this way for now, as I trust them to measure the ingredients properly."
Generally though - yes - anything water-soluble is pretty easy to get very controlled concentrations of, since you can dilute until your in the operating range of your weighing machine.
EDIT: Mostly correct! Fat-soluble vitamins build up in the fatty tissues and are much slower to release and are almost always responsible for Vitamin Poisoning, water-soluble vitamins are easily excreted in the obvious way.
There are exceptions though, you can overdose on some of the B vitamins which are water-soluble, I didn't follow up to find out why that is.
I really believe that if an actual scientific study was done on this, it would rank right next to a pure fast food diet. It's not that it isn't theoretically possible to make something that is "perfect" nutrition, it's that we don't know enough today to say definitively whether carbs or fat causes metabolic syndrome, much less how all the various micronutrients interact with macronutrients, gut biota, and phases of the moon.
Until we understand every piece of the nutrition puzzle, this is just dangerous. That he wants to take it out to others is even more frightening.
Until we get to where we really understand what the body needs at an individual level, I'm sticking with whole foods. I really hope this guy doesn't do long-term damage to himself, or anyone else, for that matter.
1. Unfortunately, it is pretty hard to double-blind whether you get a Big Mac or a cup of gray stuff. This isn't just a problem with Soykent, it is a problem with every attempt to perform nutritional experiments. It is really hard to perform good, predictive science in this space.
2. We need to know like chemists know how chemicals will react and physicists know how forces will behave. We don't.
I'd take the drink over the junk an average American eats any day. I'd take it over my own well researched eating regime every other day if it seemed to be working for me.
You underestimate the power of self experimentation. With a drug which if you took 40x the daily dose you might die, or a drug that might cause significant harmful side effects at normal dose, you need careful studies to prove a benefit and quantify risks. With a dietary change, the risks are orders of magnitude lower. I'd be surprised if the average American wouldn't improve their nutritional status doing this for a while, with an existing diet likely low in magnesium, copper, zinc, vitamin c and d and probably more.
Sure, his experience is not scientific in the least, but then again, history is full of these 'crazy people' who dared to do something that was considered stupid, senseless and plain wrong at their time.
A very important fact is that the guy is documenting the process, and at least it will wake interest in the idea of getting the necessary day-to-day nutrients for living in a single-dose drink.
Me too. But just because junk food is worse, does not mean this is good. I for one would not take this over: Eat food, mostly plants, get exercise and lots of sleep.
For me this experiment is a testament to the variety of human individuality, and the resilience of the human organism.
I can't imagine wanting to replace most of my food with a powder shake, and I drink them fairly regularly post-gym. Beyond that, I think the author's self-testing and self-evaluations are so lost in noise, and so subjective, that they have virtually no measurement value. Finally, his method of picking out what he needs seems ad-hoc and partial.
While we can show lots of things are wrong with chronically bad diets, the human body is surprisingly good at dealing with sub-optimal quantities and qualities of food. The 'perfect' diet is a curious notion really, since the body is a dynamic system that responds to input.
But this is awesome research. He is trying to do something awesome, at great personal risk.
He has shown some integrity in not providing the recipe until it has been verified, and has stated that he will proceed to large scale trials before commercializing.
I'm not saying I don't expect him to damage himself (and anyone else who eats this full time), but I don't really understand all the heat he's getting for trying.
If this yields something cheap we can eat ~80% of meals in the long term, then that's a really great thing. There are people who eat an unhealthy and monotonous diet due to cost, even in the west. If that could be partly replaced with something a bit more healthy, that would be very socially valuable.
Are you suggesting that your metabolic response changes if you know what you're eating, or don't know? Otherwise, why does this matter in this context?
This premise assumes we understand, with no uncertainty, how the human body functions and utilizes nutrients. Since this is still a huge mystery to science (and much of what we "know" currently is just guesswork) any 100% simulated food diet will only prove to be "better" by a stroke of luck.
We've seen his posts before and discussed it to great lengths, but the bottom line is if he's created something that is truly capable of sustaining health for the lifetime of a person he should be rewarded, but without scientific proof of longterm health this will never, and should never, be taken unquestionably.
Anyway, if it's that thing to have on stand-by, I'm sure its ok, but so is an Ensure, a Balance Bar, a Slim-Fast, etc, so again, no real innovation here.
The same thing happened when I became a vegetarian (how will you get your protein??). When you do something abnormal like this people tend to have ill thought out emotional reactions.
The biggest valid criticism is the QA process. But it's an issue with all meal replacement shakes.
I really believe the combination of long-term liquid diet and an extreme uniformity of diet will be the cause of significant health problems. I also think we will find a bunch of "nanonutrients" that are critical to long-term health that we have no idea are important today.
There is no easy answer today for nutrition. If there was, the thousands of food technicians working everywhere from universities to food companies to NASA and the military would have already come up with it. They all have compelling reasons to try.
You have to start somewhere...
I'm all for experiments with n=1 in nutrition (I do it all the time), but call it what it is. Don't pretend that, even if it works for six months or a year on you, that you really have any info that is relevant to the rest of the world. Increasing his n with others is a good start, but it will still take 50 years or more to know if this stuff is poison or panacea.
Sample size is 1.
He's still eating, just much less often. Some nutrients are only required in very small amounts, which he may still be getting from his occasional meal.
Three months is a very short time frame on which to evaluate a diet. Even something as simple and well-understood as scurvy can take three months to develop. In other words, he could have forgotten something as basic as Vitamin C and still lived this long.
He has something to gain (even if just recognition) from this diet working. He also wants it to work. The effects he reports could be psychosomatic.
No. He has a group of volunteers who are testing it with him, see the second post: http://robrhinehart.com/?p=474
Not to mention the community that's sprung up around it, on http://discourse.soylent.me and elsewhere
Everything has been pivoting into a kickstarter campaign. He is trying to turn this into a business.
Which is all very weird. There are a number of "nutritionally complete" meal supplements on the market. I do not understand why this particular one, with rather quackish supporting claims, gets attention here.
I'm on the fence as to whether I'll to wait and see how this turns out, with his volenteer base or to even hit up the Kickstarter to try it myself, as I personally am at a pivot point where I could change my diet significantly and benefit. If Soylent proves the easy route, so be it.
I also believe a lot of us are just curious.
Absolutely. Timothy Ferriss has made good bank doing something similar, hacking various aspects of his life.
What earns criticism, though (this is a discussion board, and we aren't here to blanket applaud everything), is the pseudo-science: The "I ate a normal meal and my cognitive process degraded, etc". There is zero scientific validity to those claims, and they give it the rank stench of snake oil (again, exactly like energy bracelets, good aura, or the tactics of the anti-immunization crowd). It may be entirely well-meaning, but such are a million quack remedies and claims.
At the end of the day, this is all still experimental, caveat emptor and all that, but everything I've seen so far suggests to me soylent can't possibly be any worse than the garbage served at any number of fast-food restaurants every day.
As for the "nutritionally complete" meal supplements, I think that you can find your answer in the last word of that, "supplement". None of the various "food shakes" that are available commercially are designed to be truly nutritionally complete, rather they're designed to include some of the vitamins and minerals that tend to be lacking in the average diet. Further they tend to be a "one size fits all" affair which out of necessity will be less than optimal for nearly everyone in an attempt to be marginally useful to everyone.
Could be a sham. He's (as far as anyone can tell) dogfooding though, which is, in this case, behavior you'd expect from either a very dedicated sham, or someone who wants to make sure something that they think is a potentially very good idea isn't going to make people terribly sick in three months time.
Survived, yes, but he'd have had bleeding gums and a host of other serious issues. Just fwiw.
You're right about many nutritional deficiencies, though, for example lack of niacin causes pellagra which takes longer than 3 months to appear.
It really doesn't. Whatever knowledge we do have can be applied, with whatever degree of certainty we have, and that is likely to be better than what we do currently, because what we do currently is basically nothing. Most people, most of the time, eat what they feel like, combined with some vague ideas about calories and fat, and whatever they read in a magazine last week if they're particularly conscientious. In other words, guesswork. Except this is guesswork that's almost totally uninformed. No, we can't be certain about this stuff yet, but what you call "guesswork" i.e. Our best hypothesis given all the information we have about the functioning of the human digestive system, is almost certainly going to be better than the current state of affairs, which is pretty much stab-in-the-dark randomness. It's really not hard to beat.
> any 100% simulated food diet will only prove to be "better" by a stroke of luck.
If you manage to find an optimal diet by choosing foods you think of as 'healthy' and trying to avoid cookies, well that's a stroke of luck. Deliberate scientific optimisation by adjustment, experimentation and measurement? That's not luck.
We invented vaccination more than half a century before we had even accepted the Germ Theory of disease, and the history of science is full of such things. You don't need full understanding with no uncertainty in order to figure out what works. Science is neat like that.
What's it called when a person has an irrational preference for the current state of affairs? Look it up, because you have it.
If "no uncertainty" was the golden standard, we'd never do anything new (except perhaps mathematics). Yes, there is uncertainty in what he's doing, as there is always when trying something truly novel. But I'm sure glad someone is making the attempt. Nutrients are not a huge mystery to science - there are entire college courses on biochemistry and such.
The human body has trillions of cells and even more symbiotic bacteria. We are clueless how the system functions as a whole. We know some simple things (iron and calcium compete for absorption in the intestine), but only the "big" stuff.
Maybe if you eat 20% of your RDA of Vitamin E at every meal, it makes your intestines toxic to a particular strand of gut biota that regulates half your body. The space we know nothing about is huge, and jumping in with a product for the masses with so little respect for that is, IMO, very dangerous.
1. There is evidence that people suffering metabolic syndrome have significantly different gut biota than those who aren't and when "normal" biota is reintroduced, their health improves. My hypothetical is not an impossibility.
Really, that seems to be totally irrelevant to whether or not this guy is on to something. (Personally, I think he's probably running a long con. But making stupid arguments against con men is just a way to send them more victims. Ask for some evidence instead - arguments screen off authority.)
Why? The world isn't short of food. Food is just poorly distributed, or contaminated, or with insufficient micronutrients. None of those problems are solved by this type of feed.
Sometimes there's a need for crisis feeding of a population - during a famine or feeding lots of people in a evacuee camp or somesuch. Again, this feed is of minor use there.
I guess he's having fun doing this stuff, but it's of no use to wider society. Especially because complete liquid feed of high quality already exists, made by different companies and subject to very high levels of quality assurance.
If I recall correctly though is motivation is that he's simply not a "food person". He has no interests in the finer parts of dining and sparking the palette of the human taste. I'm not one to judge him because I'm quite the opposite. But for people like him who's to say such a goal is wrong? Something simple, quick, and effective marketed well would be a huge success. I just don't want to see innocent people swept up in the moment and getting hurt.
It seems mostly to assume that health follows rules that you can discover and which aren't particularly unstable.
To believe that you have a decent chance of hitting on it assumes that we have a broad understanding of what's in what we normally eat I suppose.
But, you know, this is why people mess around with this sort of stuff. If it goes great then fantastic, and if it doesn't then we only lose a couple of people here and there. The risk-reward is almost certainly going to work out in its favour. It probably sucks for him if he gets it wrong but, well, that's his look out isn't it? It's not like anyone's taking advantage of him.
I suppose to be strictly ethical you'd go and feed it to starving kids and feed the others your best natural diet, so everyone seems likely to get a bit of a win out of it even if eventually it turns out to give them cancer or something. But that seems a bit beyond DIY studies.
Personally, I'm very curious to give it a trial run. It certainly can't be any worse than what I eat now. Rob said it best:
>I'm touched so many people are concerned about my intake of possible unknown essential nutrients. No one seemed to worry about me when I lived on burritos and ramen and actually was deficient of many known essential nutrients.
This sort of nonsensical dichotomy seems to infect discussions of this. Yesterday I had a Burger KingTM Whopper (it was, after all, Whopper Wednesday). The day before I had a spring-mix salad with added tomatoes, green onions, and cucumber, and a cucumber dressing, in a day that I also had a peanut butter sandwich...
...and on, and on. Such is any normal diet where people tend to eat lots of varied things, any of which, if the singular source of nutrients, would cause concern for anyone.
The nonsense argument that it is either this or fast food, or ramen noodles, or whatever, just highlights how utterly ridiculous this is.
Humans are also awful statisticians - fat people don't think they eat much. Thin people think they eat tons of food. Nobody accurately assesses what they do and don't eat, and our entire society is negatively geared towards maintaining healthy eating patterns anyway (your above example of variety will get blown to hell for most people past a few stressful weeks).
Yes, technically this is unnecessary but that's hardly the point.
To each his own, but some things are just too unorthodox.
To each his own, but some things are just too unorthodox."
Comfort and pleasure are subjective irrational metrics that have a lot of inertia, but that change with time. I'm sure it's plausible that people would love soylent just as much as a freshly baked croissant, but it takes time. The way things stand right now, soylent solves a problem that few people have and it comes at a price that is awful. So, yeah, it's unorthodox.
They are basically lumps of butter and salt held together with a trace amount of flour. The versions available from mainstream stores (e.g. M&S) or from recipes online are fairly tame - for the real effect they need to be purchased from a small local baker in some remote fishing village.
Best butteries I've ever had were actually on a trawler in the North Sea - where they were served hot awash in molten salted butter.
you know what'll happen if this catches on (which i don't think it will but anyway)? people will tinker with it, trying to make it more palatable, making different varieties for different occasions, or moods, or just for the sake of variety. this idea for replacing food will just become new kind of cuisine, at best. a style of cooking that seeks to provide all or most of the nutrients a body needs would be cool, but markedly different to the shift from horse drawn carriages and automobiles.
when automobiles came along, they replaced horse buggys rather than becoming a new kind of horse buggy.
- I hate cats. All that fur, the smell...
- Oh, you just don't know a good recipe
I used to have more time, and might again in the future - and if that happens, I'll go back to spending a few hours preparing dinner. Until then, I'd absolutely love to be able to eat a magic nutrition pill instead of grabbing a badly-made sandwich from the nearest shop. Especially if it's cheaper, too.
There is almost certainly someone, somewhere, claiming that sleeping on the floor and/or not showering makes you think better and your body healthier ("The Cave Man Sleep Technique....we didn't evolve in cushy beds now did we?")
99% of these sorts of stories are outrageous pseudo-science looking for an easy fix. Mood/energy changes from diet are interesting reading, but hold astonishingly little value because of the Hawthorne effect, and the simple reality that again people want easy fixes: His description of the perilous decline of his mental capacities when he regressed to normal food sounds like the standard nonsense you hear from people pushing energy bracelets.
Like the GP, food is one of the glorious luxuries of life. Next he'll be chemically castrating himself to save the annoying time waste of sexual congress.
On the internet, of course there is :) http://www.paleodietandliving.com/paleo-living/sleep/sleep-w...
Oh and showering to often is linked with everything from fungal infections, dandrufs, psoriasis and acne. Definitely not healthy according to lots of lifestyle strategists out there.
The great thing about having values is that each person can value what she/he wants. You and GP value food, soylent green dude seems to value experimenting and optimizing his body/brain with food (lack/substitution of food?). I'm not hating on either one of your values, but pretty much everyone thinks "food is good" (to put it simply) so that isn't really gonna pique everyones interest like soylent green guy over there.
When he does choose to eat a tasty meal with friends or family, I think those meals would be even more delicious.
So now I'm thinking, ‘does this guy even know what fats are, or how fat digestion, assimilation and metabolism works?’.
* “We no longer live in a hunter-gatherer society. I have no use for bulging biceps. No one in the United States plows fields or hammers steel. It has all been automated. We need mental strength.”
Well, y'know, that's true until you're caught in a car accident, or a bombing, or a fight, or any kind of natural disaster which actually tests your ability to survive. It's simplistic and naïve to suggest that we've evolved beyond the need to even try to survive.
* “If people had more self-control obesity would take care of itself.”
There's just so much incorrectness here, I don't know where to start.
- - -
Anyone can go ahead and try an experiment like this for themselves, and I support their right to document and share the experience. But seriously, anyone ignorant enough to try subsisting 100% on this 'soylent' concoction, in its current or future form, deserves all the health problems that await them.
For the past two years, I've relied on the fact that I walk a lot to take care of my exercise needs. But last year I started experiencing crippling neck and shoulder pain. A visit to the doctor and a referral to a physical therapist revealed that my upper body had atrophied to an alarming extent. Strength in the upper body affects your posture among other things. Muscle mass also affects your metabolism in a positive way. Now that I'm rebuilding I feel much better.
Plus I look better!
>After three months I should be finding deficiencies, and I did. I started having joint pain and found I fit the symptoms of a sulfur deficiency.
I like the doublethink here. Reductionism works fine except when it doesn't. And surely the only important components of food are the ones I've identified after a few months of experimentation.
You know, we should eat like our ancestors because that's what we're adapted to. When you try to invent your own environment to live in, there's a good chance you won't be well adapted to that environment. Rhinehart's logic is like asking "why should we want the same gravity as our ancestors? Wouldn't life be better without the hassle of gravity?" Actually, no. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-does-sp...
>If we can make transistors that are cheap, fast, and low power, surely we can make food that is tastier, cheaper, and more nutritious than anything that exists naturally.
This highlights the confusion. Does anyone think for a moment that a manmade device like a transistor is anywhere close to the complexity of a biological one such as a cell? This is laughable. A transistor is literally a device with THREE terminals.
I guess this statement would necessarily include wearing clothes, living in houses, using glasses, taking antibiotics, and anything else we do to actively counter forces of nature. I'd say we do quite well at that.
I'd like to point out that the rest of that paragraph is simply a strawman argument and is of absolutely no value to this discussion.
Finally, you obviously do not come close to understanding the complexity of transistors if you think that it can be summarized by the number of terminals it has. That is like saying the programming behind an API is simplistic because the API only consists three functions. I've taken multiple semesters of classes specifically on transistors and logic design have never even come close to using the mathematical and physical techniques they use for designing single transistors, let alone large integrated circuits consisting of billions of them. I agree with your point that the complexity is not on par with biological systems, but you are trivializing something far more complex than you think. We are not that helpless.
Actually, that's pretty close to my argument. I'm not saying the mechanisms underlying a transistor are simple. I've taken (and struggled with) a microelectronics course. I have a good idea how complex they are.
I'm saying that the metrics for success are really simple because we have designed it to fit a very simple logical abstraction. If you want to make a better transistor, the process might be extremely complicated, but it couldn't be simpler to test what you have and see if it's correct.
On the other hand, it's simple to make food (I should, however, stop and point out that when Rhinehart is "making food", mostly what he's doing is mixing together other existing foods. Of course that is simple.) But it's orders of magnitude more complex to analyze the result of that food than doing the same for a transistor. Because now instead of plugging a black box we understand into another black box that we understand, you're plugging your invention into the human digestive system. Not only do you have to consider the interaction with human parts, you also have to consider dozens of species of gut bacteria. I don't think that is simple and I think anyone who claims that it is is quite confused.
It's laughable only because it's a straw man. The claim is that FOOD is simple, not human bodies. Industrial process optimization for transistor production costs many orders of magnitude more than this experiment will.
We don't eat cells - we consume relatively simple nutrients from them. Our bodies carry around a strong acid hydrolysis system for the exact purpose of obliterating all that "sophisticated" internal structure.
For that matter, we have no idea what our ancestors were adapted to. The human body has spanned the range and breadth of ecosystems on this planet, and the survivors of that have passed down what they think is safe to eat by tradition, not science.
1. Visit website. On the webpage, login and click "order 1-week supply."
2. If you're a new customer, then put in some basic metrics (height, sex, age, current weight, activity level, exceptional family diseases/allergies). Then, a "standard" supply will be shipped to you, optimizing the ingredients generally for what they think you'll need, with an ingredient list (how much of each ingredient is in one serving).
3. When logging in again, you're asked "Are you experiencing any symptoms?" Then, you can list anything that feels off, such as aching joints, cravings, etc. Then, the site would list common deficiencies/overdoses that would cause those symptoms, and give you the option to purchase, for instance, a temporary magnesium supplement, or recommend that, prior to receiving your next shipment, you consume one less serving per day. After using the supplement, you'd input whether the symptom improved, and the ingredient's quantity would be adjusted in your next shipment.
The tricky bit about this system would be personalizing everyone's orders, at scale. But it should be pretty possible (says the developer without an understanding of manufacturing), and for far less than it would cost to order a full meal.
I am sure they weren't the only company to offer something like this, there must be plenty.
a. Somebody bothered to post the initial announcement of this guy
b. He describes his process in detail
c. He's a Software Engineer; it would be disingenuous to think that the fact that he's a peer for the members of this audience isn't a factor
Wow. Talk about being disconnected from reality.
The experiment as a whole seems somewhat uninformed, there are many liquid diets intended for long term use which have been developed scientifically and the results of which have been studied for decades. I guess this is good for his own personal discovery, but I think his goal is also around making money... in which case if I were in the market for a liquid diet I would rather something that was designed by nutritionists, taken by thousands of patients,and scientifically reviewed... rather than a learn as you go tested on one individual
Over and over again, I'd listen to someone's story of how back pain meant they could no longer work, or how a shoulder injury had put them out of a job. Then I would ask: What about a job where you don't have to lift things, or a job where you don't have to use your shoulder, or a job where you can sit down? They would look at me as if I were asking, "How come you didn't consider becoming an astronaut?"
Wow, talk about being disconnected from reality.
Sugar beet field weeding used to be done by teams of migrant workers with handheld hoes. I think they've figured out how to not have the weeds in the first place with better pesticides. Most fruits and vegetables are picked by hand.
Most people don't eat a consistent dose of for instance oat powder every day. It's likely that he's chosen at least one ingredient that is harmless in moderation, but is detrimental to your health over time.
It's also quite possible that there are other things he's underdosing on and hasn't discovered yet (like sulphur before batch #7).
>It's likely that he's chosen at least one ingredient that is harmless in moderation, but is detrimental to your health over time.
Why do you believe that that is likely?
>It's also quite possible that there are other things he's underdosing on and hasn't discovered yet (like sulphur before batch #7).
Yes, this does seem quite likely. There is probably a significant number of necessary nutrients that nobody even thinks about because they're ubiquitous.
Admittedly, I don't know much about what's in soylent, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if it turns out that eating refined XXX powder in every meal is bad for you, where XXX is an ingredient that he's using to get enough of a particular nutrient.
Extensive studies have been done on the safety and efficacy of multivitamins, and while their utility for healthy people with balanced diets is a matter of debate, their safety (when taken at the recommended dose) is well established.
I highly disagree. Food as an art form and as a science has gotten leagues better since 1913. Probably several orders of magnitude in whatever you're measuring.
Except the French. They had it right the whole time.
If you look at the extremes, the negative side of food has gone from shit (literally) to shit (figuratively) so not much change there either.
I asked how the Soylent guy would do if he converted the stuff into some kind of solid food bar, and the med student said "Probably much better!"
Pretty bad assumption.
Exercise is important, as building muscle tissue stimulates hormone production (GH, melatonin) that affect even cognitive performance.
This guy has a pretty extreme reductionist view on things like health and nutrition. No surprise he's trying to live on a nutrient shake, after all.
You're not convincing me. The idea of consuming a nutrient shake on a daily basis doesn't appeal in the least. I like chewing my food; texture is important to me. There's a reason that we have teeth and powerful jaw muscles. If we had evolved to consume our nutrients as a puree then we'd have mouth parts, like flies who squirt digestive juices onto their food and then suck up the partially-digested goop.
Well known brands include Ensure and Fortisip.
These have the advantage of careful preparation and high standards of QA.
What are the downsides of these compared to Soylent? I mean, what's the motivation for Soylent if these already exist?
Other green vegetables are better.
I swear that this Soylent thing is all, as some others have opined, a long troll.
But yes, there are a number of "meal replacement" drinks, some of them (like Ensure), very widely known and heavily advertised.
Ensure or other prepackaged products are a predefined set ratio, which may not be optimal for all consumers.
For example, highly active people will probably require a higher ratio of carbohydrates than less active people. Similarly, some people will be genetically predisposed to have higher/lower uptake of some nutrients/vitamins.
Ultimately, for any one person to succeed with a Soylent style approach, they will need to monitor their blood levels of a range of elements and compounds.
To my mind, developing a rapid, cheap, broad spectrum blood analysis to allow people to monitor their diet (soylent or not) is what should be focused on.
Your mileage and diet may vary...
I'd imagine that Soylent's sales success will lie with its price point reaching around ~120-150/month price point. Going much higher than that, and the financial incentive would be lost.
Does that actually matter? (I know nothing, genuinely curious.)
But actually, looking again at the soylent recipe, he seems to be preferring maltodextrin as his carb source. He was probably mislead by the fact that it's a "complex carbohydrate", but in fact, the GI of maltodextrin is higher than cane sugar. In fact, it has basically the same glycemic index as pure glucose.
So I retract my previous statement. Unless you replace carb source in soylent, SlimFast is basically just a better option.
Want to replace a meal with something similar? Throw some milk, oats, protein powder and peanut butter in a blender. Drink it down with a multi-vitamin and a fish oil capsule or two.
I read something yesterday that summed this up pretty much perfectly.
If there's more than one of something, it means that it wasn't done right the first time. See: Cars, Computers, Telephones, Light Bulbs, etc...
The only slightly annoying or difficult part of this is cleaning up.
I have yet to do a proper min-maxing of ingredients for optimal nutrients/calorie.
Spend more time making your dreams come true. Yeah right, more facebook or more tv time !
Let me remind you all that cautious and timid natures rarely pioneered anything throughout history.
E.g. I recently started increasing potassium (eating more lentils and potatoes, and the occasional powder/pill) and my focus increased so much. Two years ago, I discovered that keeping vitamin D up in winter stops me from getting sick all the time. And I think MSM helps me recover faster after workouts (interesting fact: cooking decreases MSM content radically, so one could eat raw stuff instead of drinking it in powder-form).
Next step: Instead of swallowing pills, incorporate food that contains all that stuff. And have a deeper look at Soylent's more exotic ingredients.
What I'm wondering is if that means that they are not trying to include 100% all nutrients, or is it just a legal claim to pretect them, since noone knows 100% all necessary nutrients.
This will take you 20 minutes/day, maybe less if you make food in batches and freeze it, and it's been tested for the past few thousand years with pretty good results.
"I used to spend about 2 hours per day on food. Typically I would cook eggs for breakfast, eat out for lunch, and cook a quesadilla, pasta, or a burger for dinner. For every meal at home I would then have to clean and dry the dishes. This does not include trips to the grocery store. Now I spend about 5 minutes in the evening preparing for the next day, and every meal takes a few seconds. I love order of magnitude improvements, and I certainly don't miss doing dishes. In fact I could get rid of the kitchen entirely, no fridge sucking down power, no constant cleaning or worrying about pests, and more living space. I just need a water source." Source: http://robrhinehart.com/?p=298
It seems strange that it would take him 2 hours to cook a combination of eggs, a quesadilla, pasta, or a burger. These are foods that only take a few minutes to cook. Cooking either eggs or a quesadilla takes less than 1 minute. If cooked longer, they are ruined. One could cook a meal for two containing every one of those items in less than 20 minutes. He must have been taking a long lunch break.
Any claim that this project arose from a need for time savings rings a bit hollow, because he has spent an order of magnitude more time on this than any non-foodie bachelor programmer person has ever spent cooking.
As for a burger, when I cook one of those it's an absolute minimum of half an hour start to finish - peeling & chopping the onions & garlic, dicing the bacon, mixing it all together with the beef, cooking it properly.. I can easily take up an hour.
You seem to be confusing "Microwave crap from a packet" with preparation of decent food.
I've got ~5 minutes here:
Boil water in kettle ~2 minutes
Place in pan on hot ring on hob with eggs, comes to boil ~.5 minutes
Boil until cooked ~3 minutes
- add a minute or two if you prefer hard boiled
And it doesn't require you to be standing over it so if you take away the time you can be absent that's going to take you down to more like 3 minutes.
You guys quoting "X minutes to cook food" really don't look at the big picture of all the steps that are saved by just having to drink a pre-made substance.
Dishwasher, not worth measuring. You do it when you walk back to the kitchen after the meal.
And you'd have to clean the glass from your drink anyway. Or walk back to the kitchen to throw the bottle away and then you've got the time for throwing the extra trash away.
> time to eat and chew solid food,
Not mutually exclusive with that many other things that I'd be doing at home. Hard to really count it as a loss.
I wouldn't consider making burgers a fast-prep food, but you can chop up an onion and clean the board in under two minutes. Skip the bacon. Actually, skip the onion too, just slice it up and brown a little for use as a topping, the best burgers are pure meat. Grilling, browning the bun and assembly takes another 10 minutes. A good titanium pan is clean in 30 seconds. Freeze a dozen patties and you can have a lot of instant meals.
I do cook a lot so am used to doing things reasonably fast, but I can't really see the argument for soylent saving time. You need breaks from work/activities anyway; besides, cooking can be relaxing, and is a great time to catch up on a podcast/video you've been saving for when you have the time, so it doesn't have to be completely "wasted".
Feeding people all-liquid diets to keep them alive is well known. That's what happens to coma patients and lots of work in creating enteral nutrition products has been done. Given that people's lives depend on this that's a good place to start (take a look at, for example, Jevity ). And the people who make that stuff worry about keeping your gastrointestinal system working, the right balance of everything needed to keep a (in this case, sick) person alive, how to keep the product from spoiling, etc.
So, he's not creating something new.
The other argument against the existing products is price. Here's a quick comparison. He claims that it costs him $155 per month . If he were to live on Jevity 1.5 he'd need to drink 4.2 cans per day at a cost of $57/24 per can (it's sold in packs of 24 cans ) or $9.98 per day which is roughly $300 a month. (If he ups the kcal to 2,000 a day from the 1,500 he was on then he'd need to drink 5.6 cans a day which is $400 a month).
So, he'd be spending 2 to 2.5 times what he currently is. But he'd be spending it on a product that's been quality controlled and tested.
Is there any indication that he can fundamentally change the economics of this type of food? I don't think so. Especially when you factor in all the work that the makers of Jevity etc. are doing at that price point (the QA, the distribution, the packaging).
And certainly not enough to meet all his other goals about solving world hunger.
If a market for soylent emerges then I'd imagine that companies that make things like Jevity would step in. Oh wait, they already do. There's Ensure etc.
Also, there's so much other crap in his blog posts about how soylent lasts forever , how no one need muscles anyway , how even stopping eating soylent for a week led to massive cognitive problems , that it's hard to take the whole thing seriously.
And then there's this : "I for one would not miss the stereotype of the housewife in the kitchen. Providing diverse, palatable, and nutritious meals for an entire family every day must be exhausting. What if taking a night off didn't mean unhealthy pizza or expensive take out? How wasteful society has been with its women! The endless hours spent cooking and cleaning in the kitchen could be replaced with socializing, study, or creative endeavors."
Ah yes, soylent is not only going to solve world hunger, make us more healthy, save time, make us more creative, save money: it's going to emancipate women!
But there's more : "We no longer live in a hunter-gatherer society. I have no use for bulging biceps. No one in the United States plows fields or hammers steel. It has all been automated. We need mental strength. We need creativity, patience, discipline, and humility. If people had more self-control obesity would take care of itself. Perhaps companies would be more productive if managers had more humility and employees had more discipline."
Yes, soylent will result in an increase in humility and all those fat people who lack self-discipline will be thin.
 http://www.soylent.me claims it 'lasts for years'
Made me laugh. Not that I have any reason to think it tastes worse than his.
Obesity might be partly genetic.
You alone are responsible for your weight, health, and life.
But the fact is that there are some people for whom obesity is actually a medical problem that has nothing to do with self-control, and a statement like the one in the TFA demonstrates considerable privilege blindness.
Interested in the outcomes though. keep it up.
You may not become malnutritioned, but you will suffer from various oral problems due to lack of mastication. This may take a year or even a few years to present itself - by then it will be too late to react.
And, I presume, no one in the world is poor. Nobody struggles. There is no murder or injustice anymore.
Just which planet is this fellow living on?