Thanks for your detailed responses, @EliasAlucard! What’s wrong with maltodextrin? Is it really that bad, or does it only have a PR problem (like GMOs)? What about the extra lead in Huel?
In no way am I defending Huel over its heavy metals content. Soylent has caught some flak over that too, but aren’t both far below the tolerated/legal levels anyway? In any case, EDTA supplements can fix that issue.
Maltodextrin has an extremely high glycemic index ranging from 85 to 105, or 110, somewhere in that ballpark (meaning, dental caries, insulin spikes, diabetes, obesity), whereas isomaltulose contributes none of that due to its low glycemic index at 32; the carbs in isomaltulose are so slow, that the bacteria in your mouth can’t use them as energy, and on top of that, isomaltulose burns fat because your body readjusts itself to oxidize fat since it has a super slow carb source.
I’ve seen Rob Rhinehart’s response on the maltodextrin issue, but he didn’t convince me. Maltodextrin is another cheap filler ingredient just to increase the calorie count. There’s absolutely no justifiable reason whatsoever to use maltodextrin when you’re already using the best carb ever. Soylent already has isomaltulose, and soylent should only use isomaltulose for its carb content. Seriously, isomaltulose/palatinose is the best carb ever (it’s actually much better than the oat carbs in Huel, but oat has a great fiber source, beta-glucan).
Now, what is true, is that if you have two carb sources, and one has a very high GI whereas the other has a very low GI, you’ll get a medium glycemic index when you mix them, but still, that’s a downgrade compared to just using isomaltulose, and even if your body gets a medium range glycemic index from the combination, the dental caries prone bacteria in your mouth will still get energy from the maltodextrin.
I’m generally a purist, and I see no reason to use inferior ingredients, or other ingredients that offer no actual value. Only the best ingredients should be used.
Maybe Soylent is using the Maltodextrine to improve the taste.
Maltodextrin is totally tasteless. Maybe it can add some “texture” to the taste, but I’m pretty sure they’re using it because it’s cost-effective more than anything else. It’s not like maltodextrin has any actual value from a nutritional standpoint, or from a taste perspective. Bodybuilders often argue how great maltodextrin is when taken immediately after a heavy weight lifting workout, but palatinose works just as well, and you don’t have to time palatinose immediately after your strength training routine, as it supplies you with the glucose you need anyway, throughout the day.
Really, there’s absolutely no valid reason whatsoever for Soylent to include maltodextrin, other than it being cheap.
Speaking of Huel, I just found out that they used to have methylcobalamin in the past, but replaced it with the inferior cyanocobalamin. That’s a major thumbs down to Huel. I mean, that’s like a totally unacceptable downgrade of their product.
Thanks for your take on the diffference between Huel and Soylent, as well as the comments re your DIY receipe.
Regarding the Maltodextrine, it is used in other food products, and most food products don’t want a high calorie count. So I’m thinking there must be some benefit to including that other than to increase calories.
Soylent is trying to reach multiple goals (sustainability, allergen free, vegan, etc.) and make a corporate profit, so I’m sure they had to make a lot of tough decisions regarding what to put in the product. Some items were likely trade offs between competing concerns. Also, seems like there are a lot of disputes in the nutritional world regarding which items are good and which are bad. Sad that nutrition isn’t a settled issue at this point in time. In any event, I’m glad to see there is competition out there, and glad to hear a new perspective on the ingredients. I will try Huel when they come out with RTD.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t there various kinds of maltodextrin which have different characteristics as well as glycemic loads? I say this because, while Soylent does use maltodextrin, 1.8 has a glycemic index of 41. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Soylent uses tapioca maltodextrin, which is made from cassava root. This begs the question on whether ingredients within categories should be evaluated on a case by case basis rather than spurning the entire lot. Could the tapioca maltodextrin that is used be modified in some way to offset the perceived negatives of the category as a whole to achieve its current glycemix index? Again, I may be incorrect in my reading of things and if you think so, let me know. It just seems that an index of 41 is pretty low for the amount of maltodextrin that is used, even when accounting for the mixing with isomaltulose.
And as far as there being a reason to use “inferior” ingredients, cost is a very applicable variable to consider when making something on the scale of Soylent, especially a scale that is ballooning over time. Not to say that all the ingredients should be considered using the criteria of cost, but it certainly is quite the underappreciated balancing act for a product of this category/profile. For example, while one ingredient may be virtually better in every nutritional characteristic to another, it may not be subsidized in the same way or in the same volume, which may yield noticeably higher prices for the end user. Another way I look at it is how the three primary product values relate to each other: taste/nutrition/cost. Not everyone prioritizes the same values. And until cellular agriculture makes some crucial breakthroughs (which Soylent is exploring and is in the best position to continue exploring), to improve one of these values you have to sacrifice from another (sometimes two). Spinning plates!
Huel’s comparison page to Soylent was once much, much nastier than the current one. It Among other complaints the founder of Huel made on the page was that Soylent was not complete (without mentioning that the United Kingdom’s Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency had different standards than the United States’ FDA), Soylent had a high GI (Soylent has a medium GI, their new page reflects that oats alone has a high GI) and that Soylent made you pay for a scoop (untrue, they just saw on Soylent’s page that you could purchase additional scoops).
They also had three dieticians “blind review” Soylent, Huel and Joylent. All three British dieticians chose Huel, mostly based that Huel had 100% of the U.K.'s RDI of all nutrients. Whereas they didn’t specify the name, they included the nutrition panels, which meant that the British dieticians all chose the product that fell in line most with the MHRA’s standards. On reddit, after considerable feedback, the Huel representative conceded that the reviews was in no way valid.
Anyways, they finally changed the page to the much less confrontational page that you linked. At the time, it really left a bad taste in people’s mouth, both on reddit and in the Huel forum.
I’ve tried both. I preferred Soylent. The first iteration of regular Huel was much too sweet for me (although they say the current iteration is less sweet). And their unsweeteend version was… not good. I loved the smell of the regular when I opened the bag; it smelled like vanilla pudding.
But my main problem with Huel was the thickness. It is much more like a porridge. Of course you can water it down, but then your also watering down the nutrients, so need to drink more. But it is designed to be thicker. Overall I think British customers prefer Huel because they are more accustomed to consuming porridge. Overall I think most American customers prefer Soylent because it is thinner, and smoother.
Thanks, @Ric! This is very interesting. Was there any discussion about the much higher levels of heavy metals in Huel?
That makes me think I should try Huel. Mostly because I like porridge (or oatmeal as we call it here). Something thicker and food-ier would be great.
Agreed, RTD Soylent is a little too thin and usually ends up just making me hungrier. Powder is a bit better.
There’s no reason for Soylent to have 41 in glycemic index; it is 41 because of the maltodextrin. Isomaltulose has 32 in glycemic index, and so Soylent gets 41 because of the added maltodextrin. It’s not that 41 is a disastrous glycemic index; it’s okay, but 32 is better. I’ve never heard of a low GI maltodextrin. Sure, not all maltodextrin varieties have 110 GI, but I’ve yet to see a maltodextrin with a low GI. There’s a reason why maltodextrin is the most common ingredient in weight gainers; it’s not because maltodextrin has a low glycemic index, that’s for sure.
And due to the maltodextrin in Soylent, this means you’ll have to worry about dental caries whenever you drink Soylent, whereas if the carbs in Soylent only came from isomaltulose, caries from Soylent would be a non-issue. And it’s not like isomaltulose is way more expensive than maltodextrin, sure it costs a bit more, but just a little more. And it’s not like Soylent is cheap anyway. You’d imagine that Soylent would be cheaper if they use cheaper ingredients, but that’s not the case. As I was saying, my DIY Soylent, with or without isomaltulose, is cheaper for 30 days’ use, than the official Soylent. If I can do it as a private individual by just buying separate ingredients, and on top of that, get superior nutrition with a much better macronutrient profile at a lower price, there’s no excuse for a corporation like Soylent being incapable of doing it better, with their team of nutrition experts and all. And I haven’t tried Soylent yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if my DIY Soylent tastes better too.
Looking at Huel, it has a much better macronutrient profile at equal calories. And it has overall better micronutrient profile too. I think Soylent should stick with soy, not just because soy is in the name of Soylent, but also because soy is a great vegan protein source, and soy is really the best bean out there. So I think Huel is wrong in using soy as a negative for Soylent. But maltodextrin is useless, and there are numerous other ways Soylent can be improved. A sunflower/chia oil combo (chia is quite similar to flax, but better, since chia doesn’t have the potential health issues flax does) and no maltodextrin would be a good improvement for the next Soylent version.
I’m getting started on my next DIY Soylents, I’ll be adding two recipes or so in the coming days, one of them, the one with soy protein isolate, will be cheap, the other one will be a bit more expensive, but that’s because the non-soy vegan protein is a bit more expensive. In any case these DIY recipes will just be there as a guideline for how a kickass DIY Soylent is really done with superiority in mind, as opposed to sacrificing quality in favor of the cheapest ingredients.
That said, I don’t believe quality always has to cost more; it’s not uncommon that the best stuff tend to be cheaper. It’s just not the case with the current Soylent versions.
Thanks! I think a lot of us are looking forward to that (those) recipe(s)
Also, sorry if I missed it, but given your harsh criticism of Soylent and extensive talk about things way over my head, do you mind sharing your credentials?
Regarding the suggestion to use EDTA supplements, I performed a quick Internet search and found that although it binds to harmful metals like lead and arsenic, it also binds to (and removes) calicium and and beneficial minerals. So, I’d personally be concerned about using that and accidentally creating a nutrient deficiency.