My Two Week Soylent Review

9/25/2014 Unknown 0 Comments

I ate nothing but Soylent for two weeks and I liked it.

What is Soylent?  It's an open-source food developed by Rob Rinehart when he became fed up (yes) with normal food.  It's expensive, it's time consuming, and messy.  Sure, food is an important social and nutritional fixture, but the vast majority of meals are more of a hassle than they're worth.  Rob wanted to fix this, so he invented Soylent.

The problem with the way we typically consume our nutrition is that it's very disproportionate.  We get the wrong kinds of fat, our veggies have too much salt and butter, and everything somehow has too many carbs.  It's nearly impossible to have a properly balanced diet, especially if you're eating out.

Although Soylent doesn't have to be a replacement for every single meal, it has a nearly perfect nutritional balance, so it hypothetically could.  I decided to consume Soylent exclusively for two weeks to see how it served as an exclusive food source.  I was a little more liberal on the beverages (a few bears/cocktails), but I didn't eat any other food product during my testing period.

The first thing everyone asks me about when it comes to Soylent is how it tastes and feels.  I didn't mind it, but it's not pizza in a bottle.  It's a fairly innocuous taste, although it's very similar to a whey protein shake with an almond aftertaste.  You can add chocolate, peanut butter, fruit, or any other flavor additives, but I just drank it plain every day and actually came to enjoy the subtle taste.

The texture is also very similar to a whey protein shake, but maybe a little grainier.  It's still very smooth, though.  The taste and texture were both very reasonable for me, but the big issue was flavor and texture deprivation.

For 26 years now, at least 3 times a day, almost every day, I eat something that has a specific texture and a specific taste.  Not only was it weird to casually sip my nutrients over the course of the day, but the mental cravings for something flavorful and crunchy, crispy, or chewy were insane.  They subsided after the first 3 or 4 days, but I never got used to the complete deprivation.

As far as the health aspects go, I didn't gather any quantifiable data before, during, or after my Soylent excursion, but I can say that I felt great the whole time.  Not only did I have absolute portion control, but my consumption was perfectly nutritionally balanced, by definition.

I found my energy levels were up, and I even dropped a couple of pant sizes.  I didn't weigh myself, so I don't know how that translates into pounds lost, though, but being on Soylent is almost like being on a clense, just minus the nutrient deprivation, so it's entirely possible that I simply lost inches and not pounds.  Either way, I've been off a 100% Soylent diet for almost a week, and I haven't (completely) gained the inches back.  There were also some... minor issues with noisome flatulence from about day 4-7.  That fortunately didn't last.  My wife almost made me stop the experiment.

Every time I had to explain Soylent to someone, there was usually some sort of joke about a "liquid diet" and the digestion issues associated.  I can happily say that since Soylent is perfectly balanced, so was my digestive system.  I never had a stomach ache, queasiness, or any other digestive discomfort while on Soylent.  In fact, the biggest issue was the heartburn I had immediately after getting off Soylent.  I definitely binged and brought that on myself, though.

Soylent is also very wallet friendly.  According to Gallup, the average American spends about $150 on food per week.  My two week supply cost me $130, but I backed the daily calories off slightly from the 200 per day assumed diet, so I consumed about $100 of Soylent in two weeks.  That's 30 percent less than the average American spending on food for the same amount of time.

The social implications were sort of weird.  I've read some other Soylent reviewers who abandoned any social activities that revolved around food, but I wanted to see what a "normal" life would be like if the only difference was that I consumed liquid food.

The first weekend was the hardest.  I had an engagement party on a Friday night and a wedding on Saturday.  I drank my Soylent before and after each event, but just sat at the table and drank otherwise.   It was definitely a conversation starter.  I also learned that Soylent helps save money on booze, because it doesn't take much if you've only been drinking Soylent.

You don't realize just how socially significant food and meals are until you are present but not eating. It felt very isolating to be around people all day, yet to not share meals with anyone, even if I was present when they had their own meal.

After the fact, I've been comparing it to a cross between a fast and a cleanse whenever I explain it to someone.  I definitely learned a lot about my own relationship with food, and—outside of some initial binging—I think I've gained a better natural understanding and appreciation for proper portions and balance.

I'm actually back on Soylent as a regular part of my normal diet now.  I make a thermos every night to take to work for breakfast and lunch on weekdays, then do regular food for dinner and weekends.  I find it's an excellent balance that saves me time and money, while assisting me with regulating my diet without depriving me of the mental needs I have for flavor, texture, and fellowship.

I'm definitely going to continue using Soylent for the foreseeable future.  I actually plan to do it exclusively for 1-2 weeks every couple months, just because I appreciated the way it worked as a sort of mental and physical nutrition reset button and an excellent exercise in self-control.

Soylent also has a huge DIY community.  It's open source, so you can make your own to match your own unique needs.  Are you trying to lose weight, gain weight, bulk up, save money, or accommodate special dietary needs?  DIY Soylent is definitely a great way to accomplish any of these goals.

I'm very excited about the future of Soylent and intend to participate as it changes and grows throughout the coming years.  Just like anything open-source, the potential is nearly limitless.

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