Dr. wants me to lose weight by cutting Soylent portion in half

I had been consuming Soylent for ~one month (2 “meals”/day- lunch and dinner - 5 days/week. Breakfast is a small bowl of cold or hot, whole grain cereal with almond milk and a glass of OJ. Saturday & Sunday I eat a healthy, vegetarian diet). I went in for a routine doctor visit and presented the Soylent nutrition information printout to my PCP. She looked it over and told me it was nutritionally complete albiet quite high in calories. I am a 6"1" 198 lbs. 64 YO male with a 26.5 BMI (overweight). I do ~50-60 minutes of cardio exercise 5-6 days a week on an eliptical trainer at a gym. (Computer on machine shows I consume ~600-650 calories after a workout.)

My doctor wants me to lose 8-10 pounds over the next few months and recommended cutting the Soylent “dosage” in half. I’m wondering if I will still get enough protein and other nutrients on this lower portion size. I also take high potency vitamin & mineral supplements daily.

Do I need a protein (or other) supplement?

Hmm wonder if 2/3 would do it better?

I do 1.5 servings a day (generally breakfast and lunch) and a sensible third meal. Generally the third meal makes up for the rest of the nutrients. Another bonus is that one bag of soylent lasts two days.

Cutting Soylent in HALF to lose less than 10 pounds in a few MONTHS?!

Pardon my tone but that’s just nuts to me. Losing so little weight should take almost no changes whatsoever, let alone cutting a primary calorie source in half. Heck if you did nothing but remove orange juice you might see that much change over a couple months. Also “whole grain cereals” can still be quite calorie dense, so speaking as someone who really likes his whole grains… you might want to examine that as well.

Also you didn’t say how large your Soylent portions are. What are you considering a “meal” of Soylent? I suppose if it’s 30 ounces then yes cutting in half is probably not too outrageous an idea.

In my experience (my own body and observing others) 10 pounds could easily just be “water weight” and should shed quite quickly. Have you looked into taking a diuretic (if your personal health would allow for it) such as dandelion? You already do what seems to me like quite a bit of regular physical activity, so I don’t see inactivity as an issue for you.

I also find it interesting (though perhaps not surprising) that she suggested reducing Soylent but not any of the other things you’re consuming. What about just overall consuming slightly less of everything? Reduce all portions of all foods by say 10%? I for one have found that having Soylent for the bulk of my meals has lead to a bit of a “I can eat any amount of whatever I want the rest of the time” attitude, which I think is a problem and I need to keep in check.

I wonder how exactly she thinks Soylent is “high” in calories anyway, since the total calorie amount is determined solely by how much one drinks. I actually don’t think it’s very high at all considering what all it contains. Now, if one were to use it as a drink along with a meal… then heck yes it’s high calorie. But it doesn’t sound like you’re doing that anyway.

Anyway, sorry for the rant, I hope it’s constructive. :slight_smile:


I should have stated that a full serving of Soylent is what is stated on the package, (I.e., one pouch + ~1.8L of water + the contents of the oil container = 3 servings). Thus, ~660mL of prepared Soylent is a single, full serving. My doctor suggested cutting this in half. I have cut this down to ~475-500mL for a single serving for the last week or so. A pouch of Soylent now gives me about 5 meals.

I will take your advice and reduce the amount of cereal and juice for breakfast. That should help as weil.

My question, however, is about the nutrition I am receiving. Am I getting adequate amounts of proteins, carbs, vitamins and minerals with the consumption of smaller portions?

Thank you!

I hate to sound like an advertisement but I’ve been tracking my calories with an iPhone app (free) called LoseIt and have lost about 40 pounds at a safe rate merely by counting calories. They also have a website. It’s a LOT of work to enter in everything I consume everyday but I’ve been doing it for so long now (years actually) that it’s become a habit.

The cool thing is that you enter in the amount you weigh now, the amount you want to weigh and it will give you options on safe rates of weight loss. It subtracts calories for exercise and various activities too. It also tracks nutrition if you want. It basically tells you how many calories you can have in a day to lose X amount of weight in X days.

I was one of their early early users and I’ve been logging my food daily ever since. The rather neat side-effect of this is once you log food and their calories long enough you begin to get a sense of how many calories are in foods just by looking at them. It’s almost like a super-power.

It may be worth checking out. I’m not part of the company at all and like I said it’s free and was the silent coach I needed to lose weight. I’m now at my ideal weight and trying to maintain it which believe it or not, is harder for me than loosing weight. Maintaining my weight with precise calories is one of the reasons I started to try Soylent.

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I did the same - tracking calories with the help of a Jawbone Up (which is a very poorly made product btw - I don’t recommend them) and a fitness app (MyFitnessPal). Doing nothing else - i.e. no exercise at all and leading a horrifically sedentary life - I was able to drop 35+ pounds in less than a year. My step counts (according to the Up) were terribly low, yet I was still able to drop weight that took me 10 years to gain, in a comparatively short amount of time.

So yeah, consider this a +1 for simple calorie tracking. I was shocked at how many extra calories I was consuming only because I didn’t pay a little more attention to my food choices.

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You have to keep in mind, also, that many doctors don’t actually have that much training in nutrition. It’s a very small part of the training. But they do expect their advice to be taken for granted.

I’m at work so can’t get cites, but for older folk a few extra pounds are considered actually good for you. I’m not talking about massive obesity where movement is difficult.

Tries to avoid discussion of BMI, but I read at least one long article that detailed one journalist (who runs marathons most weekends) whose doctor would lecture him about BMI even though (a) the BMI was near normal, and (b) there were absolutely no negative indicators including the fact that the he carried very little fat.

Excuse my lack of reverence for the medical trades, but I work with doctors.



So the goal is to lose 8-10 pounds over “next few months”. Perhaps about 1 pound a week weight loss?

Running a 500 calorie daily deficit should be enough I think?

What is your current daily calorie intake and what’s the daily requirement to maintain?

Actually, you could go even simpler than that. Since you’ve been doing this for one month what has happened over the last month? Did you gain weight, lose weight, stay the same? Assuming stay the same, you could reduce Soylent by 500 calories a day. The benefit on reducing Soylent is it’s easy to measure and you know you did it right because the bags last the right number of servings. Whereas with cereal or what not unless you measure everything you eat it’s more of a guess that you reduced it by the amount you wanted to.

Perhaps that’s why the Dr. recommends such a large reduction. Probably most people when told to cut their food consumption in half put less on their plate to what they think amounts to half but end up not reducing it that much or they cheat too often. In which case tell them to reduce it by more than they need to and hope they end up near where they need to might make sense.

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For me I was usually limiting my caloric intake to between 1000-1300 calories a day. At first it was a major struggle because I had no concept of how many calories I was consuming in a day. That quick muffin for breakfast 630+ calories. WHAT‽

After I got used to limiting my calories I found out something even harder is once I’m at my ideal weight I’m now supposed to consume about 2050 calories a day just to maintain my weight. That combined with daily exercise and my caloric need jumps to almost 2500 per day! I was losing about 2 pounds a week at my highest rate. I would weigh myself naked before any meals in the morning because even a bottle of water can add a pound and a half.

The problem being that that seems like a HUGE amount of food to me now. I figure drinking a whole pitcher of soylent plus various other things on days I exercise will be about 2500. But 2500 calories now after going so long on low-calories seems like an impossible amount of food to consume.

So my problem is the opposite, instead of trying to not eat too much I have to try and not eat too little :wink:

So you eat Soylent for about 2/3 of your daily food, and the doctor suggests you cut that in half - thus, reducing your calories by about 1/3. That’s a reasonable basis for a temporary weight-loss diet. If you’re going to reduce your other meals, as well, you should probably reduce all your meals by 1/3 (instead of reducing the Soylent by 1/2 each, reduce them by 1/3 each.)

You’re not reducing calories too drastically, and with a target of 8-10 pounds lost over a few months, you’re not looking for a massive change in weight, either. Consequently, I wouldn’t be worried about “needing” a protein supplement, and your multivitamin/mineral will probably give you what you need to go with the diet, if it’s any decent formulation.

That being said, if you want to ensure that you lose as little lean tissue as possible, you might consider adding a little bit of protein to your diet, and you should strongly consider adding some weight-bearing exercise, as opposed to just cardio. If you don’t want to hit the weight room, adding a simple regimen of pushups, chinups, and dips will do a lot - your gym probably has a chin/dip assist machine which will help if you can’t do chins/dips with your bodyweight.

Doing the weight-bearing work will help build/preserve muscle, and will also help the fat loss - the weight work, assuming you actually work hard, will stimulate catecholamine release, which will help prompt your fat cells to release fats into the bloodstream, which can then be burned while you do the cardio.

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My thoughts exactly @EveB i was about to say the same thing until i saw your post. :smiley:

And @alfoders, did you happen to tell her what makes up the rest of your diet (including coffees,sodas if any?)

Wow! Thanks everyone for all the great feedback. I especially like the idea of reducing all “meals” by 1/3 (rather than just reducing the Soylent intake by 1/2). The Soylent intake is much easier to measure and control than my other foods.

Also, @MentalNomad I have NOT been doing any strength training at the gym, which is a pity as they have so much quality equipment avaiilable (machines and weights). I have been focusing on the cardio because I wear a Fitbit which records motion. Well, that is going to change today! From here on, I will be doing 30-40 minutes of cardio and 15-20 minutes of strength training. I’ll just have to make up the 10,000 steps for my Fitbit elsewhere throughout the day. This should not be too difficult.

@inod3 - I did notice a quick 6-8 lb weight loss when I first went on Soylent. However, I think this was just water loss, not what I need which is fat loss. I have made it a habit to only weigh myself once a month, as I know my weight can vary almost daily. I have weighed 195 (+/- 5) pounds for almost 20 years. At September’s weigh-in I was 192, October had me at 198. This is when my doctor took notice. These swings are probably the water loss/gain.

@vanclute - I don’t think I want to try a diuretic. Water weight loss is temporary, I really need to burn off the fat to get to my ideal weight. I will take your advice and try to reduce the portion sizes of my other foods, however. And, you’re right, inactivity has never been an issue for me. I’ve been a “gym bum” for over 2 decades now.

@MentalNomad - please let me know if you think I would benefit from doing cardio before resistance in my training regimen, or should I do the weights prior to cardio. I had personal fitness training some 20 years ago which taught me to do the cardio as “warm up” and then move on to the weights. From what you say, this could be wrong. I tend to sweat profusely and would prefer to use the weights as a “cool down” from the cardio.

@BitBucket & @vanclute - My Fitbit app has both a weight and food tracker in it which i have not been using. That will also change today as well!

Thanks again one and all for the suggestions, they are most helpful.

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It sounds like your doctor doesn’t realize that Soylent is intended as a complete meal replacement not a supplement or part of a meal.



According to the FDA a guy your age, size, and activity level looking to just maintain your weight should get around 3000 calories. So to lose weight 2500ish calories should do it. Granted this is just an estimate and should be used as a starting point only. I would show her the FDA site and see what she says.

Also BMI is not a valid measures of health % body fat is much better. Think about it would you consider someone you size with 15% body fat to be unhealthy? Would you consider someone your size with 50% body fat healthy? Both theoretical people would have the same BMI and be considered overweight and unhealthy. Considering how hard your hitting the elliptical your cardio vascular system should be in awesome shape.

Sounds like your doc is afraid of The Lent. He feels threatened by it. Doctors are terrible.

Whenever I have an ailment, I go see Maga’Rosham at the cleansing hut.

The old doctrine was to stretch as a warmup, too - but that’s out the window; you can injure yourself stretching too hard, and you don’t get the best benefits of stretching until after you’re thoroughly warm.

Current thinking, based on modern research on what’s probably best:

  1. Warm up with light cardio for a few minutes; enough to raise your heart rate and breathing, gets the blood circulating and the joints. moving.
  2. Move on to your actual exercise.
  3. Stretch at the end for best stretch effect; can work it into a cool-down.

As far as where to fit the heavy work relative to the cardio - for fat loss, it’s best to do the heavy work first, because then you’ll burn more fat during the cardio. For muscle retention/gain, it’s best to do the heavy work first, because you’ll have better strength and safer form before you get tired from cardio. If you don’t care much about either effect, you can do the cardio first if that’s what you prefer - because in all honesty, the most important part is that you enjoy doing the workout the way you do it. You’re far better off doing the workout you enjoy than not doing one you don’t enjoy.

Putting it in a different perspective, for some who works out about twice a week - you’re getting about 100 workouts a year. If you don’t like the routine, maybe you’ll only do 90, but since you enjoy working out the way you do, you did 100. The extra 10 workouts are worth more than the sliiiiight improvement from doing it the “best” way… and if you try to make yourself do it in a way you really, really hate, and quit after three months, then you’ve only done 25 workouts.

The better exercise is the exercise you like enough to keep doing.


This is not an argument against doctors, for everything. Doctors treat ailments/illlnesses. A nutritionist or dietician is a better person to seek advice if a healthy person wants to lose weight, because half the time doctors dont even ask you about you your entire diet before they tell you to cut down on something.

@MentalNomad - Thanks for the training advice. I’ve had a couple of days using my new routine and I’m really feeling it deep in my muscles. It’s been almost a year since I did anything at the gym other than cardio.

I’m going to hold off on using a protein supplement for now. I had a bad experience with creatine some years ago and hurt my kidneys with overuse.

My new training program consists of 30-40 minutes of cardio on the elipitical trainer (burning ~350 calories) followed by 15 minutes of strength training on the machines focusing on upper body (arms, chest, abs, shoulders) on one day and lower body (thighs, calves, glutes) on the next day. I can usually get time on 4 machines daily and will try to hit all the machines in a week.

I’m not worried about losing interest in fitness training. As I mentioned, 5-6 mornings at the gym has been part of my daily routine for 20 years now. I am so hopelessly “addicted” to the endorphine “rush” I get in the shower after my workouts that if I miss a day, I feel “withdrawal” symptoms for the entire day!

Next week I am going to try out your idea of doing the strength training ahead of the cardio and see how that works out for me. I need to cool down because I perspire profusely. Without a cool down, I am wiping sweat off my brow long after my shower.

@horsfield - Thank you for the links to those charts, they are real eye-openers! I am going to ask one of the trainers at my gym if they can check my % of body fat with calipers and compare that with my calculated BMI. 3000 calories sounds like a HUGE number to me, however.

@EveB - I have been under the care of my current physician since 1995. She is quite knowledgeable of fitness and nutrition. She attended U of Connecticut on a basketball scholarship and made the women’s Olympic basketball team in 1980 (the year the US boycotted the Olympics). Like me, she trains daily and is in incredible shape. She truly “leads by example”!

@Tark - Every office visit to my doctor involves completing a questionnaire about my diet, exercise, sleep, supplements, etc. I really think she has the complete picture of me when I go in for a visit.

Thanks again, everyone, for the thoughtful comments!


I agree. I was a little shocked when the calculator spit out that number, but you still get the idea. There are ways to guesstimate your caloric needs.

As far as measuring your % body fat insist on using the calipers like you where thinking. The electronic devices aren’t exactly accurate. When in doubt measure directly. Who knows that extra weight your doctor was worried about could be muscle :wink:

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I look forward to hearing about the differences you found, and whether you enjoy, putting the resistance work ahead of the cardio - just remember, you still need to warm up before the resistance work.

Also, if you find you don’t enjoy putting things in that order, but you still want to get some fat-loss advantage, you can consider putting some high-intensity intervals at the top of your cardio segment. Similarly to resistance work, high-intensity cardio will stimulate a catecholamine response which will free up fats to burn during the lower-intensity cardio you do afterwards.