A week without food, a Soylent experiment

I have a problem with food. A bad relationship. I want to quit it, but after a few hours without it, I’m just hungry for more.DSC01038

Partly, because of this relationship, I am not a healthy man. I am overweight, and I have health problems which can be traced back to this. I’ve tried to adopt a more healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly–which I am not good at, and eating better–which I am even less good at.

I have been overweight all my life, and even when I was in the best shape of my life, I wasn’t going to win one of those presidential fitness awards. When I was in Drum and Bugle Corps and marching outdoors for hours a day, I was still pudgy.

I have tried many diets–low calorie, low fat, low carb. I’ve tried Weight Watchers–my wife signed up but I followed along. The only one I seemed to have some success on was low-carb. I can maintain and even lose a little on low carb, but soon, I start to get cravings.

Recently, I found out I was a type 2 diabetic, and after sitting through some nutrition classes, I didn’t really feel like I would ever be able to be healthy. Not only was diabetes going to kill me, but if I tried to fight it with my diet, I’d also die unhappy. I kind of gave up on the concept of trying to eat healthy.

Somewhere, right now someone is eating a diet chocolate brownie. It is mostly soy and contains no sugar. They will try convincing themselves it was satisfying for the next three days, and then end up stopping at DQ for an Oreo Blizzard.

See, that’s what it’s about, the unhappy part. That thing I said earlier about a relationship with food. It’s true. When I eat food I want to eat, I feel good. When I think I have to eat to be healthy, I feel depressed. I feel like I’ve been eating food all my life and it hasn’t worked out for me, so maybe the food itself is the problem. But you can’t live without food. And here the logic circle would repeat.

But maybe there is a way to not have my cake and eat it too.

A few months ago, I heard about this food replacement, Soylent, developed by a Silicone Valley engineer named Rob Rhinehart had developed a completely balanced food substitute, and he had been living on it for months. I was immediately intrigued. Maybe there was a way to live without food.

Okay, before you say “Soylent Green is People,” that’s the joke, the final product doesn’t even contain soy.

The concept behind Soylent is simple, a relatively flavorless food substitute, a staple meal for the person on the go who doesn’t have time to cook. Currently, Rhinehart drinks Soylent for 90% of his meals, and only eats socially.

So, I pulled out my credit card and ordered a week’s worth of Soylent. Unfortunately, as they are the start-up, it won’t be available until February.  And if I hadn’t been feeling especially adventurous, this story would stop here. But I decided to take it to the next level.

As part of  his concept/crowdfunding program/company, Rhinehart decided to go for full transparency, he shared the macro and micro nutrient specifications and started the website: diy.solent.me, where you can go and build your own Soylent recipe to share with others. I found a recipe that seemed easy enough, and ordered the ingredients–here’s what they look like.P1000643

I mixed my first batch as a test on Friday, and I had Soylent for my evening meal on Friday and my breakfast on Saturday. Then, on Saturday, I did the social eating thing for the rest of the day. Today, I am committing to a week of eating nothing but my homemade Soylent.

Here’s what today’s batch looks like:



Okay, I know, if you’re reading this, you want to know how it tastes. And before I answer that, let me remind you–that’s not the point. But to be perfectly frank, it tastes like a bunch of unsweetened flours and chemicals mixed into a soupy paste. However, if you’re me, you find this slightly more pleasant than a green salad–now you know why it’s so hard for me to eat healthy.

It is currently approaching 1:00 PM. I had 1/3 of my daily Soylent at 8 and again at 11, this follows my usual eating schedule, I’m an early eater. I will probably divide the the rest into an evening meal and afternoon snack.

I’ve had expensive meal replacement shakes before, and I would feel hungry, run-down, and light headed. This is completely different. Currently, I feel full. I feel good. Do I feel a mild craving for the leftover pizza in the fridge? Yes, but not because the Soylent has let me down, just because there’s pizza and I like the flavor.

Overall, I have a feeling of optimism. There is no magic pill that will reverse a lifetime of bad choices, but maybe this is a better choice for my future. I’m also hopeful that the official 1.0 version of Soylent has less flavor than the one I’ve produced at home.

This afternoon, I am going to produce my Soylent for the rest of the week. I’ll try to check in on the blog each day and give a summary of how I’m feeling.

One thought on “A week without food, a Soylent experiment

  1. Katy

    I hope that works for you. Each person is different. I’ve been going up and down for years, and dieting absolutely does not work for me because I would feel I was depriving myself of my favorite foods. A few years back I developed diverticulosis, and two years ago I was also diagnosed with colitis. That stuff will make the weight come off, let me tell ya… Since eating solid foods makes the pain worse, one is forced to stick to a soft diet. I’m going crazy because I want to eat but I literally can not.

    But anyway, that is neither here nor there. I’ve found that the most successful way for me to lose weight is to simply be happy. If I’m happy, it starts to come off. As long as I was worried about it, it stayed on, no matter how active i was. And you know, if you are active and still carry some extra weight, that’s no big deal.

    Diabetes sucks. I hope you can find a way to manage it. I’ll be thinking of you.


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