This is my Soylent log

This isn't really new. There are tons of articles of folks documenting their "omg I did Soylent 'only' for X amount of days". I'm doing that too, but I'm going to be collecting more data on myself. Which is going to be pretty revealing about myself, but whatever. Hopefully that will give you an idea of what Soylent could possibly do for you if you were to do what I'm about to do.

I'll be updating this post when necessary, generally at night (around midnight, US mountain time).

What's Soylent?

It's a meal in a bottle. There's a lot of write-ups about what it is and isn't (both from the company and 3rd party), so I'm not going to go too far into it. Each bottle has 20% of your daily allowance of nutrients, totaling up to 400 cals per bottle. 5 bottles a day would give you the average daily allowance for nutrients and calories the average person needs per day. It tastes sort of like cereal milk. It's also shelf-stable, making it a great choice for 1) Mormons and 2) Preppers.

The Diet

So this is going to be about 6 weeks. Unlike other, really ridiculous people, I have tried hard-switching into diets and the outcome for the first week is disastrous. So rather than being a silly willy, I'll ease into the diet. First two weeks, half of my meals will be Soylent while the other half is actual food. Then 4 weeks of mostly Soylent through my day.

Data

Every week I'm going to take two inventories, measure myself, and weigh myself. I am not going to look at the data until this is over, but I'll have the responses I log available to view to everyone.

Two inventories I'll use will be the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale and the Body Image Quality of Life Inventory. I chose these two because generally dieting is about feeling better about yourself, both mentally and physically. Many body image inventories seem to be geared towards assessing eating disorders or predicting eating disorders -- this one had no implications towards disorders (although the sample was only on women). The self-esteem inventory is something that doesn't include items on body image, so hopefully it's more of an assessment of my current self-esteem (not just based on the diet, but in general).

For physical measurements, I'm taking weight (lbs), thigh (inches measured around my thigh; for consistency, will measure half the distance between the bottom of my hip and top of my knee and use that as my reference point), waist (reference from the top of my hip bone), and chest (right under the armpits).

Day -14

Soylent isn't actually disgusting. It has a milky quality and an aftertaste of oats. Reminds me of cereal. I sort of lied about looking at data -- I'm keeping track of my measurements and weight for a diet thing I'm doing with a friend. The personality inventories though, I'm not touching those for awhile. My weight at the beginning of this is 178.6 lbs. You can check out all my other stats here.

Someone mentioned it gives you a lot of gas. I'm not sure if that's just coincidence or if that's true, but currently that's what I'm experiencing.

For dinner, I ate some sausage and eggs.

Day -13

I drank Soylent as I was getting ready for work. I can see myself not liking the taste of this -- sort of like how I don't fancy the taste of protein bars. Tolerable but I feel sort of like I'm being force-fed.

Eating ribs and some mac and cheese for tonight. Was delicious.

Went weightlifting. Felt pretty good -- didn't feel like I was at a caloric deficit (I currently am, assuming the Soylent is 400 cals and the half rack of ribs plus a two cups-ish of mac and cheese was no more than 1200 cals). I suppose the true test will be tomorrow morning and later that evening for leg day.

Day -12

Not everyone is on-board with the whole Soylent thing:

But whatevs! Just downed some Soylent; #YOLO

Soylent, if anything, does one of the things they promote: efficiency. I was having my meal (aka a bottle of Soylent) while finishing up some figures for a manuscript. A bottle of Soylent and a bottle of water later, I was both full and finished with my work. Generally I'd be craving junk food of some sort after work but this helps bridge the gap between work and going home to eat.

The full feeling has been good -- today I may only have ~1800 cals -- but I'm a bit worried that without the solid food component, I won't feel as full and I'll be too tired to go to the gym on my gym days. I suppose I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

Day -11

Woke up around noon and drank some Soylent. Promptly drove down to Wanship, UT to the High West Distillery and went on a whiskey tour. It was fantastic. I would definitely recommend the trip out to Wanship for whiskey and small bites.

Went and ate way too much food at In-n-Out on the way back.

Now I'm eating fried pickles my roommate made. Needless to say, I'm probably exceeding caloric intake tonight. But no matter. The exchange from solids down to Soylent still occurring over the next 12 days.

Day -10

Today was an unexpected off-day. Didn't eat any food until 6pm, which ended up being pizza. Felt full the entire day -- guessing something to do with all the trash stuff I ate yesterday -- so didn't drink any Soylent. Will make up for it tomorrow via mostly Soylent.

Kind of scared about weigh in coming up. I've gained back some weight, but it varies a few pounds in the morning. Need a strict week this week before I take off for a long weekend.

Day -9

Went with two Soylent bottles today and a light dinner (chicken and a little rice). Having some issues, I think due to the dry air (I live basically on a mountain and have nose bleeds constantly). Going to the campus clinic to make sure it's not something crazier (e.g. diet related). I can't imagine it's diet related since I'm getting a greater regulated diet now than when I did Whole 30 a few weeks ago -- monitoring nonetheless.

Unsure if this is the "excess energy" boost people who do a Soylent diet report -- felt peppy this morning. Bike ride was pretty smooth as opposed to ugh, morning commute. Almost measurement day -- I know for a fact I haven't lost much weight, since I weighed this morning (still at 178). Guessing that's the total for the damage done this past weekend. Which isn't a bad thing -- I can apparently trash my body on the weekend and keep my same weight.

Day -8 and -7

How lazy of me! Missed yesterday!

Yesterday was really uneventful. I had some nachos for dinner, but Soylent in the day. Also lifted yesterday, making it 3 straight days of lifts. Today, I'm very sore.

I ended up eating a gyro for lunch, and I don't know if I'm going to be hungry enough to drink Soylent tonight. Also, I'm leaving for a long weekend this weekend and won't have available Soylent on hand!! So I'll be starting this back up next Wednesday. At least this has considerably made my hunger disappear after one meal. That's a huge thing for me, as an over-eater.

Also, I took data this week, which everyone can view here. I'm not tracking the psychological data until after I'm done, but the physical stuff I have on my whiteboard for a different thing I'm doing. It seems as though I've lost 3 lbs. That's pretty fantastic. All my other measurements seem to be the same and I haven't dropped lifting weight at the gym, so I'm really hoping this is fat loss and not muscle loss.

Going to rely on HIIT for workouts while I'm away on vacation. Hoping not to gain any weight -- an actual fear since I'll be on a vacation with friends.

Day -6 and -5

I took some days off because of a vacation, but I'm back on now. Not that insane to get back on it from a few days off -- the size of my appetite is much smaller, so vacationing is actually not too crazy (lost muscle, based on this week's measurements and similar weight, but that's not too bad with all things considered).

Need to re-up on Soylent actually. Will look into it.

Last two days I ate relatively fine. Under caloric intake for both days, but haven't exercised since I've been back. Need to hit the gym tomorrow and get back in the swing.

Day -4

Semester is starting and the days are getting definitely earlier. Soylent is a lifesaver in the morning. Drink it around 9 or 10am on the ride to work. I was content until 6 or 7 pm -- but I didn't feel the need to eat. Ate trash food, but still was under 2000 cals for the day and most importantly, FULL. Zero cravings for munchies. Feeling pretty solid about this. Will kick this all up in a few days.

Day -3

We're headed into the depths of my baseline. Today was a bit difficult but I was really glad I had some food at home (basically a plate full of broccoli and potatoes).

If anything, this is going to be a really cost-effective month. I thought I'd only do two weeks of this, but I was weighing the cost-benefits and it looks like I can get my food bill down to 24 bottles of Soylent ($64.60) + $30 of groceries for the month. Which kind of is insane, but I guess we'll see if it actually holds up. Trying to shoot the moon here to save some cash for a conference.

This comes out to a little over $3 a day for food for this month. I usually flex around the same price per day without Soylent, but closer to $4 -- not including eating out. The key this month is to not eat out at all, so getting meat in bulk and on the cheap each week will be my other goal. Usually I could find a week's worth of meat for under $10, but I'll have to ration down a little more if I want to fit the next 4 weeks into $30 of groceries only (aka meat + veggies).

This is ambitious. And with the last few days, I am optimistic -- definitely optimistic in the mornings.

Day -2 and -1

I made it through my baseline! With a few stops here and there, but nothing so crazy. I took my last baseline measurement today, so all of my current data up to this point should be used as a baseline average to compare the following 4 weeks against.

Some rules I'm imposing on myself this month:

$10 a week on groceries. Ideally this is meats and the rest on veggies. What little carbs I have left in my home will be used to stretch meals out (I have rice and different pasta and noodles, but not much. And they need to be eaten anyway).

Start eating through my freezer food. I have frozen chicken thighs and frozen veggies and all sort of things. All needs to go. Needs to be consumed.

When in doubt, Soylent. The first week or so might be rough (cravings wise) so I'm hoping to quell cravings via Soylent. I should be well under caloric intake, so a Soylent should hold me over should I get into any irresistible craving urges.

Don't be afraid of protein bars. I was really trying to stay away from protein bars since I wasn't working out a lot the last few months and was focusing on losing weight. Since this month is really focused on heavy changes to my diet, I don't want to be dangerous with how I eat, but I also don't want to be variable with my habits. So my stock of protein bars exists still, which has about 300 calories per bar at 20g of protein and tons of other things usually related to working out (lots of vitamins, but also a lot of sugar). So I won't shy away from these things if I feel like I'm having a tough day but don't want to waste my $10 food on a large consumption of a meal.

The baseline really helped shrink the appetite. Now I'm looking to change my diet. I'm not going to starve myself, but psychologically I might feel that way. Trying to behaviorally change overeating habits is really difficult, but I'm optimistic now that I spent two weeks replacing a meal with Soylent. Now to take it one step further, rely on Soylent for a standard intake of nutrients and eat smaller, healthier meals.

Weeks 1 and 2

I haven't been updating this frequently -- but that's because my daily measurements for a previous weight loss challenge ended! I have been updating my measurements weekly-ish, so data-wise I've been up-to-date.

As for random experiences the last couple weeks:

  • I said I would hold myself to $10 a week on food. This has wiggled a bit. But groceries have been limited to $10. I've gone out to eat a handful of times -- twice because I owed someone, one time because of a student social, and another out of convenience.
  • I have been fluctuating between 176 and 180 lbs (just eyeballing my weight daily-ish; I haven't taken a look at the data), with my average being in the high 177s. That's pretty standard weight variability (+/- 2 lbs depending on when the measurement is taken). Still trying to climb my way down; thinking more cardio may be the answer...
  • Work has been pretty par-for-the-course. Spending this particular week to finish out some edits on a project proposal. Hopefully I can get my ducks in a row for my work soon.
  • Trying to stop myself from going out and eating a burrito right now... gonna seek some external help via friends convincing me not to.

Weeks 3 and 4

This is the last entry for my Soylent log. I thought I'd be able to keep up on a daily basis, but that just wasn't possible with my hectic schedule right now. But I didn't skimp on the diet! I was having majority Soylent throughout my days still.

I had no real major updates. I am very low on money right now, so the last thing I ate was some stale bread rolls and some tomato soup -- that was a few minutes ago. But before that? I had my last Soylent earlier today.

Overall the experience wasn't as mind blowing as I thought it'd be. In fact, I think I only managed to lose a pound or so in the time I've done this. My goal was to cut down a lot of food and a lot of spending -- food cut down, but spending ended up being similar. And that's just another issue altogether.

But for people who are interested in Soylent as a diet supplement -- it's not great. It does a good job at things like food management (if you're an overeater like me) and, as they advertise, it's great if you need a quick healthy alternative to whatever is available around you.

What it won't do: make you lose weight. It isn't meant as a weight loss drink -- nor advertised as one -- but many people see it as a way to get all your nutrients and "good stuff" (protein, fewer carbs, fewer sugar, fewer bad fats). While that may be true -- you do get 20g of protein and most likely a better balance of vitamins and nutrients than your typical breakfast or lunch -- if people are mixing solid foods with Soylent, it's quite easy to go over you daily allowance of things like protein or carbs. And going over your daily allowance of those two things in particular won't generally lead to weight loss -- at least, not for me.

But what it can do:

Introduce you to breakfast -- being able to drink a Soylent before or during the start of my workday helped eliminate lunch time spending as well as kept me away from unhealthy lunch options (there's a burger joint on the corner of my building, and a chili dog place a block or so away)

Cut down on the food bill -- I only had to buy food for dinner, while Soylent was a little less than $2 per bottle. Between a pork loin and some lasagna, with a few burritos and nachos in between, I saved about $150 in food costs for the month

Gets you used to being full (whether or not it's a placebo) -- when it clearly states that every bottle is 20% of what you need in a day, I ended up tricking myself into thinking that was all I needed for a meal since I will tend to overeat my dinner. This was definitely true, but the night time cravings ended up not hurting me as badly as they used to since the Soylent only occupies 400 calories. I'd have to eat around 1800 calories to even hit my high calorie ceiling (usually I eat that much if I'm going to lift for awhile at the gym). Most nights though, since I am mostly eating at home, I ate pretty much in the 500-800 calorie range. Lots of meat and vegetables, usually some form of starch. The thing that got me though was inconsistent eating and drinking -- some nights, I'd splurge and eat a ton of food and drink a beer or two. There was a pizza night where I ate an entire pizza over the course of around 8 hours -- with beers in between. There were a couple burrito nights plus a Coke. There was a few nights where friends took me out for chicken wings + beer. Perhaps around 5 or so nights where I went on binge eating and drinking rampages. On the plus side, I couldn't eat/drink as much as I used to since I wasn't used to that volume of eating/drinking anymore. On the minus side, my body responds pretty fast to "empty calories" -- was pretty typical to see my weight jump up 3 lbs over two days. It would reduce after a few more days, once I got back on my at-home-with-Soylent meal plan.

Is it worth the hype? It's not really that expensive -- especially if you have some friends who want to pitch in with you. Doing it on your own can be expensive. My calculation said that I could buy nearly the same amount of calories and protein and vitamins and nutrients for the same price as I would spend on 24 bottles of Soylent (~$60). I ended up having my friends get the $15-for-12-bottles promo, and let people take a couple just to try it out. So my cost wasn't as high as it could have been... but if it were more expensive, I don't know if I'd really be interested in buying it on a monthly basis.

I'd say try it -- and try the promo cost for 12 bottles. It's not a bad investment, particularly if you're looking for a morning "meal" or something to bring to work to avoid eating out. But don't think it's going to have any other benefits outside of just sustenance. Rather, it really is as advertised: a meal, or a meal-replacement. Treat it as such and you'll be fine. But if you choose to treat it as something to help fill out the stuff you missed throughout a typical day of eating, you'll most likely be gaining weight.

That's all from me on this log. I'll be writing up a summary post and looking at my data pretty soon!

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