The Soylent Experiment

This is a personal recount of my experience with Soylent. After waiting for so long, I finally started consuming it. I was supposed to start a week before, but during that period I was having a stomach bug, so I postponed the start date. Wouldn’t be a fair experiment otherwise. My lifestyle is quite active. I do my best to exercise every week; weekly dance practice on Sundays, short runs and pullups and kicks during work days, and Ingress walks and parkour sessions at least once a week. Since I’ve recovered, my health is at it’s normal level when I started.

I’m using Soylent v1.2, just FYI. They changed the oil so now it doesn’t use fish oil, meaning that I can consume it without worrying about triggering an allergy reaction. The aim is to see if Soylent can replace my meals and actually fill me, and also to determine how much money I’ll save, if any.

1st April
One Meal (Lunch)

This is my first time I’m preparing and consuming Soylent. I had a medical checkup for my asthma at NUH today, just before lunch time, so I thought it would be useful to bring a bottle of chilled Soylent to the hospital. I didn’t know how long the appointment would take.

I prepared one serving in the morning. The instructions said one scoop of Soylent to two scoops of water. I prepared everything I needed on the kitchen counter then proceeded to open up the packet. Protip: Tap the bag to make sure the powder settles at the bottom, because if you don’t, the bag will explode. Okay, not really, but a bit of the powder did fly out over the table and my hands. I decided to see what it tastes like. It was kinda malty and the taste was closer to Horlicks than anything else. It was sweet, but not overly so. Quite pleasant, but not addictive. Mind you, this was just the powder. I hadn’t drunk the real thing yet.

The opening of my bottle wasn’t big enough for the scoop to fit, so I used a funnel. The powder doesn’t flow nicely, so next time I’ll prepare everything in the pitcher given, then pour it out into individual servings. Took me a while to shake all the powder into the bottle. Then I added two scoops of water. The first one didn’t fully wash in all the powder, which I noticed didn’t absorb water very well. The powder that stuck to the funnel just eroded with the force of the water I poured. I poured in the second scoop of water more gently, controlling the flow until all the powder washed in.

01 Powder in the Bottle

Next, I added in one and a half teaspoons of the oil, as per instructions. The oil was nearly odourless unless you intentionally smell it, but it smelt just like normal oil. Then I capped my bottle tightly and started shaking it. Again, I noticed that the powder didn’t absorb the water well and there were still clumps of powder inside. I shook harder until most of the clumps were gone, then I left my bottle to chill in the fridge for about an hour or so. I think I might ask my mum for her blender next time.

02 Before Shaking
Before shaking

03 After shaking
After shaking

Looks a bit like a lighter version of Milo, huh? Didn’t taste like it. Didn’t taste like anything at all. What I licked from my hand was concentrated Soylent and it was mild. Blending it with two parts water made the whole thing tasteless. I can’t say I like this drink much. It’s grainy, tasteless and messy. When I came home, I finished what was left of the drink, then added more water to wash out the rest of the powder clumps that stuck to the sides of the bottle.

Perhaps I need to actually blend it. The particles are quite heavy, so I think it’s supposed to be a suspension, not a mixture. I’m going to add my mum’s chocolate condensed milk tomorrow and see if it tastes better.

Nutrition-wise, it was pretty okay. During and after drinking Soylent, I craved something savoury and I kept thinking of fried chicken, but I wasn’t hungry enough to buy a snack. It filled me well enough, but it was overall unsatisfying. I had expected something slightly sweet. It was also quite thick and when I added more water to get the dregs of the drink, I found it much easier to swallow and didn’t feel the thickness or the graininess as much.

Meh. I hope I feel a lot more benefits from Soylent then I did drinking it.

2nd-3rd April
One Meal per Day (Lunch, then dinner next day)
I had to prep two meals at home, so I used the pitcher that was provided, instead of my bottle, because I thought it would be easier to mix the larger quantity in a larger container. Also, I made a few changes.

First, I added an extra cup of water per scoop of Soylent. I figured that since it was thick, I’ll add more water. I also added Chocolate condensed milk, something my mum bought back from overseas. I forget where. Maybe Malaysia. Or Hong Kong. Anyway, the point is, I can’t get that in Singapore.

04 Chocolate Condensed Milk

So I added in all the ingredients into the pitcher, shook it well and brought it into camp. We have a fridge in the guardroom, so I put it there until lunch. SAF meals are usually pretty horrible, so I wasn’t going to miss anything by having Soylent instead of army crap.

When I took the pitcher out, I shook it some more, then poured it into a cup. It was surprisingly smooth and tasted much better than when I had it plain yesterday. The chocolate taste wasn’t strong, but it was there. The graininess of the drink also went down and it was a lot more palatable.

I’ve noticed that whenever I drink Soylent, I crave something salty, like fried chicken. I didn’t want to eat the fried chicken because I was hungry, I just wanted something savoury in my mouth. Good thing there was seaweed chicken provided in the dinner rations, so I ate those and felt satisfied.

4th April
One Meal (Lunch)
I made the same Soylent as the last two days, but this time I used Hershey’s Chocolate syrup instead of my mum’s chocolate condensed milk. Pretty much the same thing, but this was less thick, for obvious reasons.

05 Hershey's Chocolate Syrup

5th April
Two Meals (Breakfast and Lunch)
Mum gave me permission to use a bit of her vanilla extract, so that’s what I did this morning when I made my Soylent. Or at least, I tried to. The first bottle I found had a red liquid inside. It said “Vanilla Extract” on the bottle, so I thought it must be vanilla extract. Turns out, it wasn’t. It didn’t do anything to the Soylent except turn it pink and stain my fingers red.

I searched a bit more and found a similar bottle that had a brown liquid inside. This time, I opened the bottle and took a whiff, expecting to smell vanilla, but I all I got was a pungent, acidic smell that tickled my nose. No way was I going to risk adding that to my drink. In the end, I went back to chocolate syrup because that was the safest. It didn’t change the colour of Soylent, but it did its job.

I managed to not eat anything since I woke up until about 3pm, when I had three digestive biscuits because I was bored. Seriously, I need to stop eating when I bored. The point is, I only had one “proper” meal the whole day: Roast Chicken dinner, and it was delicious.

Lunch was the first time I actually had to forgo a meal with friends to stick to the Soylent experiment. Ah well, after this whole experiment is over, I’ll use Soylent sparingly, if I have any left.

6th-7th April
Two Meals per Day (Breakfast and Dinner, then Breakfast and Lunch)
My mum showed me the correct bottle for the vanilla extract, but vanilla essence didn’t do anything the the drink. Neither did the French Vanilla powder mum let me use. Okay, I wouldn’t say nothing; they changed the drink very minimally. It was a little sweeter, but I couldn’t taste any vanilla at all, as if I’d only added sugar. This Soylent just tasted how I imagined my first attempt would have tasted if I’d shaken the bottle properly.

I realised that although I love the concept of Soylent, it’s pretty miserable to survive on nothing but that. I still craved savoury stuff after each Soylent meal, especially fried chicken. I don’t know if it’s my body telling me that Soylent is not enough or is lacking in something, or if I just really love fried chicken. Probably the latter.

Anyway, I’ve decided to stop here. I definitely could survive on Soylent, but it’d be a really sad existence. It’s useful and efficient, but not tasty. Satiating, but not satisfying. Now the Soylent team is at version 1.4, two versions ahead of what I bought. Perhaps in future they’ll add different flavourings.

I’ve always said that Soylent was a choice, not a mandatory replacement of food. On Sunday I gave up a meal with my friends to stick to my Soylent and, looking back, it was a choice I’d like to change. Besides, I’ve gotten the data I wanted now.

Let’s see. Each packet of Soylent provided me with six meals and I bought seven packets at USD85 (I think). Anyway, if I include shipping, it’s about SGD236 at today’s exchange rate. $236 divided by 42 meals means its about $5.60 per meal. That’s actually pretty decent, considering I budget my meals to be about $5 per meal. Also, considering the shipping cost doubled the price, Soylent itself is actually really cheap.

Honestly, I don’t feel any change from having Soylent. I still poop regularly, but that could be because of my normal meals. Some people say that they fart a lot more, and I did notice an increase in my farts, but it didn’t bother me. Perhaps no change is good. It means that Soylent successfully replaced my meals and I was still able to maintain my active lifestyle.

I’ve got about five sealed packets left, so I’m going to save them for when I get my wisdom teeth extracted because I hate porridge and I automatically dislike anyone who suggests I eat it, not unlike some people who hate on Soylent.

-Jace

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6 thoughts on “The Soylent Experiment

  1. Jose V. Trigueros

    Did you ever try Soylent after getting your wisdoms extracted? The doctor suggested that I stay away from grainy foods, so I don’t know if Soylent counts. Let me know, I’m starving!

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    1. Jace Tan

      Haha I haven’t extracted my teeth yet; probably within the next month or two. I’ll definitely put up another post then 🙂

      Grainy foods? Do you mean texture-wise, or grains like wheat, barley and rice? Because Soylent has a grainy texture when not mixed or shaken properly, but I don’t think it affects the quality of the drink itself.

      Perhaps you can bring the nutrition information to your doctor and ask him?

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      1. Jose V. Trigueros

        Hey Jace, too late. I tried it. I blended Soylent + banana + plain yogurt both of those to enhance grainy texture. I was really hungry I don’t know if it’s actually good or not 😛 I’ll let you know how i feel after a few days of this =)

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      2. Jace Tan

        Hahaha okay cool. Did it taste nice? I didn’t have access to a blender, so I had to shake it myself, and what a workout that was XD Also do you have any cravings for something savoury, like I had for fried chicken?

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  2. Jose V. Trigueros

    Yeah I used to shake it manually, but then I switched to the blender, it gives a much better consistency. The banana takes away a lot of the weird flavour, and the yogurt makes it a bit creamy. Dude, yes I want a burger right now.

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    1. Jace Tan

      Nice. I never thought to add yogurt, but it does sound tasty, although, does it make the drink feel thicker? Perhaps I’ll try that when I get my teeth extracted.

      Hahahah good to know it’s not just me. I thought I was being gluttonous XD

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