I’ve been a big fan of Soylent; just got a huge shipment in, talk it up to people all the time. But then someone showed me this, which makes me a little concerned about basing my nutrition on it.
This article is little more than junk pseudoscience and fearmongering.
According to the article there is a certain je ne sais quoi to “real food” which is nonsense. The body digests food without prejudice.
I’m not saying Soylent is biologically ideal because in order to live forever exclusively on Soylent a few supplements are probably beneficial.
However, I trust the expertise of thousands of scientists who inspired and formulated the methodologies behind Soylent far more than some provocative blogger who has no real experience in the matter.
Even if you presume that Soylent “isn’t completely healthy” (which I disagree with), it’s still the best option. If you live a stressful and busy life with no time to prepare food, a bag of Soylent is far less damaging on your body than subsisting exclusively on greasy takeout or fast food. Theoretically an ideal, carefully-prepared diet may be “better” than Soylent, but in real life that’s a pipe dream for your typical Soylent user.
I mean, he ends the article with the naturalistic fallacy, which is a good illustration of his whole theme:
“The default for evaluating some food that isn’t found in nature shouldn’t be that it’s “healthy until proven bad,” rather, bad until proven healthy.”
First off, evaluations of healthfulness aren’t based on the inverse of the criminal justice system. Foods don’t go on trial to prove they’re good for you. It takes existing scientific evidence, long-term consumption results, and, with consumer products, even anecdotes to establish whether something is healthy or unhealthy overall. And any seemingly firm conclusion in this regard is always subject to change with new evidence.
Anyway, this is the same argument that’s been made dozens of times by lots of media outlets and blogs. And I get it, new things are scary. But the Pollan-esque assumption that there’s some magic thing (or combination of things) in plant- and animal-based food that synthetic food can’t match has no basis in nutrition. The human body uses a chemical sludge and gut bacteria to shuttle essential nutrients where they need to go, and it couldn’t give less of a damn how they got there.
And yes, it’s entirely possible that we don’t yet know something we should about how to eat nutrients in the right combinations for optimal health. Maybe putting everything in one beverage or bar isn’t the best way to go about it. But you could say the same thing about the millions upon millions of different possible food combinations. However, the consensus from nutrition experts seems to be “get what you need in whatever combination you please,” although admittedly they usually advise a whole foods diet for anyone not bedridden.
Thoughts? Some guy I’ve never heard of with no apparent qualifications writes an article full of personal opinions, misconceptions, logical fallacies, and bad science. Meh.
Also, according to his “about me” page he wrote a book about sex for men whose dads never sat them down to have “the talk.” He seems happy to share his shallow pool of “knowledge” on just about any subject.
Chief nutritionists disagree. Every article I have read suggests that one can thrive on such a diet but that they personally wouldn’t want to live “in that way”. Being against Soylent comes down to personal biases against liquid diets because they personally love to eat and can’t imagine others not being like themselves.
Just one off the bat:
“Do we know which nutrients we need?”
For the most part, yes. You’d be hard pressed to find that one person that is receiving every single nutrient in perfect intake from a non-Soylent diet. Even if we discover some interesting nutrients in the future, it cannot be that everyone in the worlds diets are receiving these nutrients in recommend or any doses, and yet they thrive just the same. There are interesting nutrients in Maca powder yet how many healthy people aren’t getting them? Just how important is Maca to the diet?
The writer seems to think there is some magic unforeseen nutrient in foods that isn’t in Soylent. It’s just a symptom of holding on to cherished norms. Change is difficult to accept. Magical thinking when it comes to food is expected with this sort of change. People throughout history lived with much less.
The same phenomenon happens with those that think “organic” foods are somehow better. Lurking inside an organic apple lies some golden nugget of nutrition that hasn’t been discovered but with a hope that it will be.
All of the above criticisms are spot on, but I’d still like to see more protein in Soylent.
Amygdalin (Cyanide / Cyanogenic glycoside). Another example of why not all food is 100% healthy and good for you and why the potential of Soylent is so great.
Call it what it is, an opinion piece from someone without first hand knowledge…which I am always open to hear opinions but he certainly lost me at "All of these issues with their claims about why their healthy should give you pause. " I mean come on, you are a professional blogger and you don’t know there, they’re, their, get another job man.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a good “Soylent will kill you” piece.
I figured by now we were past ‘it’s not really food’ fear mongering, le sigh…
More people are complete idiots than you realize. I think a former co-worker said that it can’t be healthy because it’s not alive. In the sense that the fresher a food is, the more of some kind of intangible, magical, life-force is present in it that makes it healthy. I really wish I was joking.
And I’d like a keto version, and some people want a diabetic version, and others want versions specific to their gender, etc. I’d assume that if RL is going to make another line of product they’d just take a look at what the other 'lent producers are successfully selling. Keto seems to be the next largest demographic after techno-dweeb.
Is he/she a raw vegan (or maybe they eat living animals?), because otherwise…?
While I was stating a preference, protein is in fact one of the few things where Soylent is nutritionally inadequate. For most adult males, you’ll need to supplement your protein if you rely on Soylent. I have one solid meal a day, and insufficient protein is one of the main reasons.
Not in the foods I used to eat…
I also enjoyed the Star Wars movies!
I’m not so sure. Earlier Soylents, with the rice protein, clearly didn’t have enough protein for me (I exercise a lot and could see myself grow steadily weaker, until I started adding whey, when it dramatically turned around). But the current (2.0) Soylent, with the soy protein, seems to have enough. I still add whey when I’m about to work out, but when I’m out of whey and have just Soylent it seems to be OK. I suspect that unless you exercise pretty hard, Soylent has all the protein you’ll need.
I also do one solid meal a day, and it is usually comprised of chicken or fish, I also eat cottage cheese and peanut butter to try to boost my protein intake. But at times I also add whey protein to one of my servings and that boosts my protein for that day. If I don’t supplement with whey protein I find that I am only around 125 grams of protein a day, If I do supplement then I can get into the 160’s which is around where I like to be.
EDIT: This is doing 800 cal/day of Soylent, 2 shakes from powder and one solid meal at home with a light snack
How much protein do you think we need?
If you are sedentary you only need 0.8g/(kg body weight).
A days worth of Soylent has 100g of protein. So unless you’re active or are over 125kg Soylent provides plenty of protein. Even if you are active you will need more than the 5 serving of Soylent and be getting more protein as a result (which could theoretically still not be enough)
I really wanted Soylent to work for me. I followed them from the start and tried it a couple of months ago for a whole month. The health benefits are, in fact, questionable despite what the dogmatic have to say about it. At least for males, using soy as their main or one of their primary protein sources is absolutely unhealthy. I tried using it to substitute breakfast and lunch during the weekdays but I never felt satiated or full. I always felt I could binge on anything given the chance and didn’t feel well during the day. It was torturous waiting to get home to have “dinner.” Near experiment, not for me.
I saw this article also, and while I’ll agree with most people here that the naturalistic fallacy is a major hole in his argument, I thought the article was, relative to most critiques of Soylent, decently thought out.
I’m not sure whether this has been discussed elsewhere, but one thing he brings up is the most recent nutritional science about saturated fat showing that they are important for hormonal function, and that research showing the association to heart disease is dubious at best. I think he’s mostly referring in the article to a broader macro-study that I’ll link below, but I’d like to know the community’s thoughts on this, and whether well-sourced saturated fats could be integrated into Soylent.