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Soylent: No Food For 30 Days 440

Daniel_Stuckey writes "Senior Editor of Motherboard Brian Merchant went an entire month without eating regular food. Instead, the journalist whisked up a concoction called soylent, an efficient take on the future of nourishment and nutrition. Merchant says: 'It was my second day on Soylent and my stomach felt like a coil of knotty old rope, slowly tightening. I wasn't hungry, but something was off. I was tired, light-headed, low-energy, but my heart was racing. My eyes glazed over as I stared out the window of our rental SUV as we drove over the fog-shrouded Bay Bridge to Oakland. Some of this was nerves, sure. I had twenty-eight days left of my month-long all-Soylent diet—I was attempting to live on the full food replacement longer than anyone besides its inventor—and I felt woozy already. ... By the third week of Soylent, not eating food seemed normal. I saw a doctor, who said I was healthy; I was still losing weight, but nothing serious. Yet, given that a daily mixture of Soylent contains 2,400 calories, both Rob and Dr. Engel thought it was odd that I’d shed so much. Dr. Engel said that given my weight, height, and body mass, I should only require about 1,800 calories a day. I could still be adjusting to the new diet, or I could have such a hyperactive metabolism that before Soylent, I was tearing through hundreds of extra calories per day and staying trim.'"
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Soylent: No Food For 30 Days

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  • by wrackspurt ( 3028771 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @09:11PM (#45407887)
    A real people person ;)
  • Or... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drater ( 806171 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @09:12PM (#45407895)
    it could be that it's just flat out bad for you.
    • Yeah, kinda odd that was omitted as an option.
    • Re:Or... (Score:5, Informative)

      by AlphaWolf_HK ( 692722 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @11:47PM (#45409007)

      The blood work tells you pretty well what is and isn't supposed to be in your body (if a given nutrient isn't carried in your blood serum, then nothing gets it)

      http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7c/Reference_ranges_for_blood_tests_-_by_mass.svg [wikimedia.org]

      The only problem his had was being D deficient. I think D is one of the most expensive ones to test for (I heard it costs around $500) so I think if they included that in his blood work panel then they were probably very comprehensive in their testing.

      With that being the case, it probably is that this isn't (fully) healthy for you in that it doesn't satisfy your D requirements, but that is actually easy to address.

      There exists the possibility that this wouldn't satisfy every persons metabolic requirements as well (for example, some people need different amounts of electrolytes such as potassium and sodium than other people, which genetics are known to play a heavy role in) so if/when they do clinical tests they should also isolate based on race and do the same regular blood work throughout the trials.

      • by Catskul ( 323619 )

        Dietary sources of D are almost always insufficient unless you live on only seafood. Sunlight is pretty much the only viable way to get enough D. Probably not diet related.

        • His D levels were pretty low from what I noticed on the blood chart that they showed on the video (they were hand written, which was kind of odd) so I am a bit doubtful that it is a sunlight issue (I paused it and frame stepped as it quickly panned over it.) Lack of sunlight alone isn't generally enough to cause that to such a degree. It may explain his depressive symptoms though.

          I'd say it's possible that his kidneys aren't doing everything correctly as they have direct influence of the D levels in your bl

          • I'm not sure why they say these things are hard to understand as it seems like even an idiot could.

            They're hard to understand because there isn't a direct one-one relationship between intake and serum levels, and different substances have complex interactions that can take years of experience to properly understand. As a simple example, if you're low on sodium - take salt, right? Well if you eat table salt or inject sodium chloride your sodium will go up, but so will your chloride, which causes acidosis

  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @09:13PM (#45407911)
    "We wonder why other countries hate us? I love that! We have a game show in our country called "Survivor." Thats a GAME in our country! ...You can win a million dollars for surviving on a place where people already live! Do you realize what kind of message that sends? Not a good one!"
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by vux984 ( 928602 )

      You can win a million dollars for surviving on a place where people already live!

      Nevermind the camera crew that follows them around everywhere.

      I think that's on par with wilderness camping in your mom's basement.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Real men camps in their mom's garden!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      In poor countries, only the rich can afford to get fat.

      In rich countries, only the rich can afford to stay thin.

      • by slick7 ( 1703596 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @09:58PM (#45408191)

        In poor countries, only the rich can afford to get fat.

        In rich countries, only the rich can afford to stay thin.

        Feed the homeless to the hungry, it's for the national security of the children.

      • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:52AM (#45409811)

        "In rich countries, only the rich can afford to stay thin."

        Bullshit. You can eat a healthy diet and control calories cheaply. I shop at Walmart and local grocery stores (all that's available where I live), and since I quit all soda, all refined starches, all sweets, all juices (if I want juice I eat fruit) my grocery bill has dropped considerably. I eat about 1300 calories/day, including meat, fruit, fish and veggies. I no longer eat out, at all. No need, and because I don't eat vending machine food that's more money saved and less shit ingested.

        I dropped over 50lbs since July and feel great.

        The Americans who CHOOSE to stop being fatasses have an option. It's called PUT DOWN THE FUCKING FORK. Used exercise bikes are dirt cheap on Craigslist (expect a flood after every holiday season) and make for convenient cardio at home.

        If I can do it so can anyone else because I'm not special.

        • by Bill, Shooter of Bul ( 629286 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @02:34AM (#45409989) Journal

          So... Not only are you losing weight, you're saving money. If you keep this up ... You'll be thin and rich?

        • In many countries poor people not only eat healthier food but also tastier than most people here. It's amazing what you can make with a little bit of rice or pasta and some vegetables and spices for virtually no money if you know how to prepare it. In the US poor people will eat garbage fast food daily in their comfy sofa in front of a big screen TV and complain that they are fat because they are poor.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @09:42PM (#45408091)

      Oh stop fooling yourself. Other countries don't hate you because you're rich or even wasteful. They hate you because Your Government Interferes With Their Country. Period.

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @09:15PM (#45407919)

    Maybe the Gut bacteria [slashdot.org] found the soylent concoction particularly tasty and were eating more of it than the human, hence the weight loss.

  • by manu0601 ( 2221348 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @09:21PM (#45407965)
    Summary notes that he lose weight at 2400 kcal/day, which is relatively high. This is not surprising: fat storage or burning is controlled by insulin, which is controlled in healthy subjects by blood glucose level. If the food does not rise blood glucose level (either because it is low carb, or because it contains carbs that take time to digest), insulin remains low, and fat is burnt.
    • Replying to myself: TFA says "The carbs are an oligosaccharid". Theses cannot be digested by human enzymes. Gut bacteria will break them, leaving some to the host, but the process will be slow, which means that will insulin will be stuck to base level.
    • If the food does not rise blood glucose level (either because it is low carb, or because it contains carbs that take time to digest), insulin remains low, and fat is burnt.

      OR... his body is having a hell of a time processing it, it's going through him like Metamucil, and he's losing muscle mass.

  • Nope! (Score:4, Informative)

    by kamapuaa ( 555446 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @09:25PM (#45407983) Homepage

    Dude is over six feet tall. There's no way his maintenance calories was only 1800, 2400 sounds right. For example, if he's a mildly active 170 pounder, this calculator says he should eat 2560 calories a day to break even [bmi-calculator.net]. Sure maybe I'm guess wrong or he's not active or what have you, but 1800 isn't even in the realm of possibility.

    Surely, it's that eating measured amounts of a controlled substance forced him to measure his calories accurately...study after study show that people wildly mis-represent how many calories they consume.

    • That calculator is based on someone swinging a hammer, not sitting on ass as most of us do

      • Calculator puts "light exercise" at "light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week." He's a journalist in his 20s and looks like a total hipster, he probably rides a fixie to the vinyl shop or what have you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @09:26PM (#45407997)

    When you eat, you are not only feeding yourself. There is an entire ecosystem of bacteria that you are feeding.

    All that stuff that is NOT calories, can becomes calories, vitamins, and various other things, depending on your gut bacteria. That is one of the reasons to eat fiber, vegetables, and similar stuff. Gut bacteria is the reason why eating too much meat causes heart disease. Etc. etc.

    If you do not feed your gut bacteria, there may be consequences that neither you nor your doctor can understand. And these consequences could be long term and maybe not even easily reversible.

    As a summary and FYI, our shit is 50% bacteria (mostly e. coli.) by mass. That bacteria is more critical to our health than almost anything else. And that is why we still eat - to feed that bacteria. Otherwise, we could just live with intravenous system without the need for stomachs and related, messy plumbing.

  • Marketing Scam (Score:2, Insightful)

    by teknopurge ( 199509 )
    How is this different from any of the thousands of MRPs(Whey shakes, post workout shakes, etc.) already on the market? Sounds like a gimmicky marketing strategy.
    • whey shakes dont contain all the nutrients the human body requires
    • Re:Marketing Scam (Score:4, Insightful)

      by uvajed_ekil ( 914487 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @10:15PM (#45408313)
      The difference, if you don't doing a quick search or taking a minute to RTFA, is that the substance in question is far more balanced. It is a complete nutrition solution, not a protein or vitamin supplement. Big difference. It looks like it works, and there's no reason it shouldn't completely satisfy a person's nutritional needs, but I like food way, way too much to use it by choice. Of course if I had no access to interesting food I might change my tune, but eating a variety of foods is very pleasurable to most people.
      • Oh, a "balanced" substance? That's never, ever, been thought of before in the food/dietary/fitness/supplement industry. The more I read the more it's just social marketing.
      • You can essentially get this sort of substance from some medical suppliers. It's what they use to keep alive people in comas and other situations where normal food can't be used. I suspect something like it is used in "force feedings" as well. You don't need a 25 year old wannabe nutritionist to get this.

    • Well, for starters I am pretty sure(though not 100% sure) that Dr. Weider doesn't include people as an ingredient in his whey protein shakesâ¦. but then again, I could be wrong.
  • Some Australian guy already did this, and the movie is on Netflix.

  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @09:42PM (#45408095) Journal

    I don't see how "soylent" is superior to any of the other meal-replacements we've had for the past half-century. In fact, with all the problems people have had adjusting to the soylent diet, it sounds like the old ones were vastly superior.

    I've known people who have survived entirely off of items like reliable old Nutrament [amazon.com], after surgical procedures made it too difficult for them to eat *any* solid foods for weeks... I've seen nurses preparing some generic forms of Carnation Instant Breakfast (powder), as meals for their feeble patients. And I've seen kids eating nothing but lots of chocolate milk for days at a time. With none of those do you need to FORCE yourself to consume them, nor do you get gastrointestinal distress after a couple days of use, and you certainly don't waste 1/3rd of the calories you consume.

    Of course 30-days is really going to be too short of a time-frame to determine the long-term suitability of any meal-replacement. A little bit of up-front weight-loss sounds like a good thing for a few days, but *months* of losing weight would be a clear sign of a major show-stopping problem with the concoction. The same goes for the nutritional balance, as 30 days without fruits and vegetables won't show obvious medical signs, but would be obvious after months as your whole body turns strange colors...

    It seems the only thing Soylent has going for it, is clever marketing and extreme claims, with a name that grabs reporter's attention.

  • I'm not usually one to particularly worry about sterile environments etc, "clean enough to be healthy, dirty enough to be happy", but seriously, that factory, and the practices in general, just, nope. That's food poisoning just waiting to happen right there.
  • This isn't new (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The thing that bugs me the most about this product is that the press is acting like it's something new and unique.

    It's not. This sort of thing has been around at least 50 years or so.

    Back in the late1950s/early 1960's, scientists from NASA didn't know for sure if man could even swallow in zero-gee. So they concocted a liquid meal that could be pumped into the astronaut's stomach via a gastronasal tube. Now the astronauts didn't want to be fed by a plastic tube going up their nose and into the stomach. And a

  • Ahem (Score:5, Funny)

    by garompeta ( 1068578 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @10:00PM (#45408199)
    "but if I had any money or a girlfriend I would probably eat out more often"

    lol, that explains a lot

  • Some people have to live a specially-prepared supplement through a tube, sometimes for years. How is this any different?

  • But at night I'd had these wonderful dreams
    Some kind of sensuous treat
    Not zucchini, fettucini or Bulgar wheat
    But a big warm bun and a huge hunk of meat!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @10:36PM (#45408463)

    Due to a medical condition I've been living on a liquid food, Jevity 1.5 for over a year and a half. I take in about 1700 calories a day through a tube into my stomach, have maintained a steady 145 for the whole time.

    Not having food or drink was very hard at first, a form of torture almost. Be gradually I accepted it. I still spend a good bit of time watching cooking videos. Used to watch the Food Channel for hours a day, something I NEVER did before all food was denied to me.

    There are actually some benefits here. My entire food shopping, preparation, intake, and clean up takes about 1/2 hour per day. So I have more time for other things, including watching cooking videos.

  • http://pandodaily.com/2013/11/12/vice-investigates-soylent-finds-rats-and-mold/ [pandodaily.com]

    It's being sold as a supplement so they don't have to prepare it in a facility that meets FDA rules for food preparation.

    This is a typical food fad fraud organization.

    • by sahonen ( 680948 )
      The actual product being shipped to customers is being prepared in a fully FDA certified and inspected facility. The place where they were making the prototype formula was just that - a place for prototyping.
  • by jbeach ( 852844 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @11:05PM (#45408659) Homepage Journal
    The early stage of wooziness and cloudiness, and then the later stage of alertness because his body has switched to burning fat cells? So the caloric intake doesn't matter, unless and until he hits more than 25g of carb a day?

    I'm sure the product keeps him from starving to death; I'm just not seeing how his doctor saw the fat loss and other things as such a mystery. Is there something I'm missing here?
  • If you want an all-in-one food, it's available. Most drug stores stock "liquid nutrition" drinks which offer a balanced diet. In Japan, such products are popular. Calorie Mate [amazon.com], from Otsuka Pharmaceutical Company Ltd. "Handy solid type Balance protective foods which gives your lips. Each 100-kcal serving contains Protein, Lipid, Carbohydrate, 6 different types of minerals, 11 different vitamins, Contains dietary fiber." Popular with Japanese salarymen who eat lunch at their desks.

  • by bledri ( 1283728 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @11:34PM (#45408917)

    I love food, and I love sharing meals with friends. But many of my meals are purely functional. It would be awesome if there was a meal replacement for those purely functional meals. I hate everything currently on the market that I've tried, it's all too sweet and usually has a strange aftertaste (presumably because of artificial sweeteners or flavors.) If I could replace about 50% of my meals with something like Soylent and still be healthy, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

    I have no idea if Soylent is a viable meal replacement, nor if it's any better than what's already on the market. But I hope it is.

  • by RandomUsername99 ( 574692 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @11:49PM (#45409021)

    Do the ingredients here have non-food plant or animal sources? Are they actually made of completely synthetic chemicals? If not, then how is this considered *not food* as opposed to *extremely processed,* food fortified with synthetic vitamins, with most food-like characteristics stripped from it? I don't get it.

  • by meburke ( 736645 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:48AM (#45409783)

    The need for carbohydrates has never been established. True, the body needs fuel, but the body can burn fats and protein. The brain is actually designed to run more efficiently on ketones than sugars. People have lived healthily for years on meat-only and mostly meat diets. However, if you don't take in carbs you pretty much need fats and oils for fuel.

    I'm more worried about the soy content than anything else; There seems to be strong evidence that lots of soy is antagonistic to testosterone balances.

    As for vegetarianism: http://www.amazon.com/The-Vegetarian-Myth-Justice-Sustainability/dp/1604860804 [amazon.com] . This is a great basis for lively discussion from a former vegan.

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?