Fitness goals using soylent


#1

I see a lot of posts here and elsewhere on the internet about people using Soylent for weight loss, which is my big drive to try it out. The whole good nutrition and calorie counting side of it. But I’ve only seen posts about people like bulking up or people who are obese or really overweight giving it a shot and their experiences. Which is great and all but I want to know the effects of Soylent on someone like me who wants to lose some fat percentage and has been trying to eat right and exercise for years now. So I figured hey maybe I could be that guy that documents that sorta stuff in case anyone else is interested like me. So here goes.

I’ve been using Soylent for a month now. Just received my second month supply Saturday and started it Sunday. It arrived right on time which was pretty lucky so I didn’t have to substitute something else for a day or two. Anyway, I’ve been on basically a powder/liquid diet for a month now. My diet now consists of a pouch/pitcher of Soylent a day, preworkout stuff (C4 green apple), protein drink (Syntha-6 stuff), and occasionally post-workout stuff (essential Amino Energy). And of course plenty of water.

When i started a month ago I was 186-188 lbs. Weighed myself this afternoon and I was 176 lbs. That’s just a month so far so I’m not sure how much fat loss that really is since my digestive tract contents should be lighter, right? But I plan to use only Soylent until September 1st. After that date I’m going to really assess where I got with this experiment and if it was beneficial or not.

Before starting Soylent my diet strictly consisted of fresh occasionally frozen vegetables and meat. Usually chicken or fish. Usually salmon, tuna, and the occasional swordfish or whatever was on sale and sounded good at the time. I also had a cup or two of oatmeal in the morning with a couple of tbs of peanut butter mixed in. I had no processed foods and absolutely no added sugar. Not even fruit because I am a compulsive eater and try as I might when I allowed fruit I would end up eating an entire bag of apples in one sitting. Not good. So no fruit, just lots of veggies and some meat. Had broccoli, brussel sprouts, eggplant, spinach, kale, collard greens, etc. I would use some mustards or hot sauces to liven the taste and various sugar-free spice blends and what have you to keep things lively. I only drank water and the pre/post workout stuff when applicable.

My workout routine is changed up every couple of months but they consist of compound weight exercises targeting different muscles and cardio.

I worked out hard and I ate plenty. But I wasn’t seeing results I desired. I’ve been on this road of fitness for 6 years now and have changed and learned a lot. I cut out processed sugars last April and fruit last November. I still feel I have a ways to go to reach my goals. The only solutions I can think of are a calorie intake issue, I just need surgery, or I need to stop eating all together. Those last two are expensive and dangerous, respectively. So it’s super calorie counting time, but I’ve tried that before and it didn’t work, maybe I wasn’t counting right or something was going wrong. Soylent takes the error out of the equation. I hope.

Here’s additional information below. If anyone’s interested then ask me some questions or maybe you can help give me some advice?

6’2’'
28 years old
Male
186-188 lbs starting Soylent
176 lbs as of posting (1 month Soylent-“only” diet)

According to those BMI calculators they say on average I need around 1800 calories a day. Given I workout 6 times a week the even 2000 calories pouch of Soylent should be good, right? Plus the additional 250 calroies from the pre/post workout supplement and protein. Or am I mistaken? Should I cut out that extra stuff entirely? Should I lower my Soylent consumption? Any other tips or comment or anything? Please and thank you.


#2

I don’t put that much stock in BMI, but it really does depend on how much you are burning in your workouts. I’d recommend using something like fitbit (even without any of the gizmos) to get a estimate of what your actual burn is. I suppose if you are literally just trying to lose weight it doesn’t matter as much; but if you’re trying to preserve muscle mass (which I would assume), I would guess you don’t want too big of a deficit.

/stating the obvious


#3

Judging by your pre-Soylent diet it sounds like you are not opposed to making your own meals. With that in mind I am highly biased towards going DIY when it comes to getting workout results. You can hit any calorie count, macronutrient ratio, and protein level you want. According to my research people looking to put on muscle need a minimum of 0.8g of protein per pound of body weight. So for you it would be about 140g of protein broken up into 6 meals 2-3 hours apart (a thermos and blender bottle are your friend).

I believe you mean BMR when you mention estimated calories. BMI is a meaningless measure of fitness. Those calorie estimators will just give you an educated guess of your needs. You will have to experiment to find the right number that works for you.


#4

Bodybuilding.com has a good article that supports most everything @horsfield says. Their suggestion comes closer to 0.7g/pound, assuming multiple (five or six) meals and intensive weightlifting.

You seem focussed on more fitness and cardio, less bulking up, if I read correctly. If so, you would require less protein.


#5

Your right.


#6

You want to lose some body fat but other than that I don’t know what your goals are. Are you trying to hit a specific weight? Or a specific body fat percentage? Or just to look/feel better? I don’t know if we can offer much useful advice without knowing your specific goals.

As far as your body weight relating to body fat percentage, they are two totally different things. The contents of your digestive tract will affect your body weight; although to be honest I’ve never considered it before. Another factor is excess body water or dehydration (e.g., after exercise), which can have a large effect on your body weight. Weighing yourself in the morning before eating breakfast or drinking would eliminate as much variation as possible.


#7

For what its worth, I just finished a two week run of Soylent with nothing else save flavoring with two tablespoons of Hershey’s Dark Cocoa powder (litttle or no sugar) and went from 232 lbs. to 213! And no exercise regimen, just being up and moving around as much as possible as limited by severe back/neck/arm pain. My goal was to reduce my weight significantly to ease the stress on my back. I intend to go full time on the Soylent for several months or until some other factor intervenes…god luck and make sure to drink plenty of water! That’s one of the keys to weight loss especially.


#8

If you are having back problems I would suggest getting your posture checked at some point. I had crappy core strength, a swayback posture and rolled shoulders. The swayback posture was tilting my hips to far forward putting all kinds of strain on my lower back.


#10

Ah, yes! How could I forget: my goal is to definitely feel better. To get rid of the flab left on my body so I suppose lower my body fat percentage closer to 10 or 12% where (based on comparing to different graphs) I’m currently around 15 to 20%. I would like to maybe see at least one ab at some point in my lifetime.

And yeah I don’t want to get large and bulky but I do want enough muscle that I can get it toned and have a more symmetrical appearance. My body type without exercise naturally defaults into an hourglass sorta shape if the top portion didn’t extend out. So more of a I Dream of Jeanie bottle. I don’t care for that look and how it makes me feel.

A milestone goal is to be able to bend over to like pick something up without my, like, stomach flab dangling everywhere. When that’s gone I know I’m on the right track.

With the posture thing I’ve read how even maintaining good posture while sitting can seriously help your core strengthen. But it’s really difficult to remember to do all the time. It’s easier and more comfortable to slouch in your computer chair, for instance. The true battle is remembering you should try and maintain good posture.


#11

I’m not an expert but you may look into what bodybuilders call “cutting,” where their goal is to lose body fat without losing muscle. The basic idea seems to be restricting calories overall but ingesting sufficient protein so that your body will break down fat rather than muscle tissue for energy. You can see benefits from 0.61 g/lb up to 0.82 g/lb a day. So 107-144 g of protein per day at your body weight of 176 lbs, whereas Soylent 1.4 only has 84 g of protein if you eat 2000 calories a day. If I’m reading that article correctly, 84 g per day of protein would work, it just wouldn’t be as efficient as a higher protein diet. An easier workaround than DIY is to lower your Soylent consumption to cut calories but then supplement with a protein powder or other high-protein food to increase your protein intake. For example, if you did 3 servings of Soylent + 2 servings of a whey protein powder, you could consume 1740 calories a day and get most of your micronutrients from Soylent, while still getting 111 g of protein a day (63 g from Soylent and 48 g from the protein powder). You’d really have to experiment and see how your body feels at different ratios.

I’m also not an expert here, but if I’m reading that correctly strength training your upper body (arms, shoulders, chest, back) is the easiest way to improve your body shape. It isn’t a fast process; it takes time to build muscle. Also note that this is completely separate from losing body fat %. You can build muscle while gaining or losing body fat, and actually it’s a lot easier to build muscle while gaining fat as well.


#12

Having good core muscles makes it easier. They kinda force you to sit right. I also recommend a kneeling chair. You kinda have to sit up and use your back muscles. Just a word of warning. Keep your standard chair handy till you build up enough strength and stamina in your back. The first month my back was very angry with me. I was using muscles I didn’t know I had. But once my back adjusted and got stronger my pain went away.


#13

Continuing the discussion from Fitness goals using soylent:

Yeah, I’m okay taking the time to prepare food and all but one attractive feature of Soylent compared to the DIY solution is accuracy. To take the guess work out of it with my human error which is why I’ve decided to go away from normal food and try Soylent so I know exactly what I should be getting every day. Even if I measured things out one piece of chicken isn’t the exact size and shape or has as rich of nutrients as another. I wouldn’t want to take the risk of messing up DIY measurements. Pre-packaged Soylent hopefully fixes that.

I’ve read that the more muscle you have the better your metabolism. So I do want to gain muscle but lean muscle like the cutting folks do. Though you have to bulk to cut, if I remember correctly, and I think I have enough bulk to turn into cut maybe?

With the protein I use I am getting 200 calories and 22g of protein per scoop. With Soylent’s already 84g of protein you suggest something more in the area of increasing that protein to 2 or 3 scoops instead making it closer to 150g of protein? Which would be 600 extra calories so I need to take out some Soylent… now it’s starting to defeat the purpose of using Soylent as a more sure-fire means of calorie count. Guess I should invest in a gram scale.


#14

You don’t have to but it is my understanding that is what bodybuilders commonly do, so I would imagine it is a more efficient method. Note that “efficient” doesn’t mean “easy.” My brother is more into that stuff than I am and he works out like crazy and seems to live mostly on chicken breast. His body fat % is ridiculously low and he looks ripped, but I think I have similar or even more strength/endurance. My body is just covered in a nice cushioning layer of fat. :joy:

It depends on how hard you want to go. 84 g seems like it would work if I am reading that article correctly. If you want to build more muscle, you can realize gains up to 144 g or so. Another huge factor is how much muscle you already have and how much training you are doing, but I’m already out of my depth here. Consuming excess protein can cause gastric distress; if you experiment, I would back off if you reach that level of consumption until your body is digesting all of the protein rather than feeding the bacteria in your intestines, which will produce gas.

Best $10 I ever spent! Weighing things is fun. Of course now I want a 0.01 gram scale too.


#15

Thanks for all the feedback!


#16

First, (former anthropology and biology major here talking) the BMI system is really designed to be used for populations. It’s great at making a generalization about whether or not a group of people is unhealthy. If you have a group of 100 people and a majority of them have a high BMI, you can assume that they are probably eating unhealthily or have too much body fat. At the individual level, the BMI system really starts to fall apart because of it’s simplicity. Weight and height can easily mean very little in terms of individual health since as individuals we vary so much. Our “weight” can consist of many things and BMI doesn’t take that into account. A body builder or someone with a lot of muscle mass, for instance, according to the BMI would likely show up as overweight/unhealthy. In fact, he or she may be a model of good health because they eat well, exercise, and have a body fat percentage that’s within a good range. Or take myself, for instance. I have always shown up as underweight/unhealthy according to the BMI. But this isn’t the case because my body fat percentage is within a good range and I eat plenty. I just happen to have very small bones and lean muscle mass that contribute making me weigh so little. So, don’t place that much emphasis on it. I know that you see BMI charts in doctor’s offices everywhere, so it makes people think that BMI is the gold standard for measuring their health, and it’s not. Even doctor’s misuse it.

As such, any calorie-measuring system you use that is based off of BMI or your weight, is probably going to be a bit flawed and is not going to suit you exactly or tell you the correct amount you need to eat. It can give you maybe some idea, but that’s about it. Unfortunately, there’s no perfect formula for seeing how much you need to eat unless you go through a lot of weird testing and you don’t need to do all of that. The last thing you or anyone needs to do is become strict at calorie counting. Work off of a generalization, and eat more or less based off of your needs, eat well.

What you will want to do instead is buy a pair of body fat calipers. You don’t need expensive metal ones (only researchers and doctors and people like really that need these). You can find cheap and functional plastic ones at health food stores or online that should be good enough for your goals. These will be the best way to tell whether or not you are losing or gaining fat and whether or not you are any closer to your target. Ignore the scale, for the most part, as it really can’t tell you much since it can’t differentiate between muscle mass, fat, water weight, food, etc. You might have to spend some time figuring out how to use the calipers properly, but there are plenty of instructions online. You’ll get the hang of it.

You will also want to get some flexible, roll-up style measuring tape. This, along with the body fat calipers, will tell you if you are gaining muscle mass in the places you want it. Measure yourself. If you find that the circumference of your thighs have expanded or that the width of your shoulders has grown, and your body fat percentage is the same or less, then you’ve either gained muscle mass in that area or lost some fat.

These two tools will be the most effective and inexpensive way of letting you assess your progress.
From what I understand, it sounds like you’re a normal, maybe lightweight-looking guy with posture issues who wants to get rid of some stubborn body fat somewhere and who wants to tone up and look fit but not bulky, but it’s not quite happening.

That said, one pouch of Soylent plus one protein drink is a lot. Many people go into the gym or try to do some muscle-building and think they need a lot of protein since it’s super important for building muscles. The common idea is the more protein I consume, the more muscles I can build, so they go into protein overload: protein drinks, protein, powder, extra meat, etc. However, the importance of protein doesn’t mean you need a lot of it. It actually takes very little protein to build and maintain and build muscle mass (much less than what people assume it takes). The excess is just that - excess. You may just be getting a lot of extra calories and protein you don’t need from that drink. That may be contributing some to your stubborn body fat issue.

Keep in mind, too, that you can’t really spot treat with fat either. You may store more fat in a certain area, and as you decrease your body fat, you will see that go down, but along with everywhere else there’s fat.

What also may be contributing is how much you’re working out. I don’t know what type of workouts you’re doing, but if you’re doing muscle-building stuff 6x a week, you may be overdoing it. Even if you’re trying to build just some lean muscle, you still need to give your muscles time to heal and form scar tissue so they can grow and help burn additional calories and fat. Three times a week should be good enough for strength stuff. If you’re not noticing any changes, you may not be lifting enough.

Posture, as others have said as well, is truly fixed by building muscle, especially in your glutes. If you have weak glutes, your body tries to compensate in other ways to keep you erect like sliding your upper hips forward, which juts your stomach out, which builds weird lower back muscles, and so forth. Good glutes are really important for posture, but having a strong core will also help keep you straighter, fix your pelvic tilt, and keep your head from jutting forward. Having strong chest muscles and upper back muscles will keep your shoulders from caving in. You said maintaining good posture is hard, and it is. It’s hard because all of these muscles are probably weak, and you’re slowly crumpling in like a little old person, and that is becoming your default state, especially if you sit and are inactive for long periods of time. As you develop these muscles and get stronger, it won’t be as difficult to sit up straight in that chair, but realize sitting and standing right is only a very small part of the picture. Once you build strength, posture should follow. Not so much the other way around.

I’ve been using these sites a lot lately: http://bonytobeastly.com/ and http://bonytobombshell.com/. I’ve never found a more thouroghly vetted and informational site on anything health and workout related before. These guys are a bunch of nerds who do their research and base everything off of studies and medicine books. No sketchy workout myths that are all too common. I’ve found these sites to be very useful in my workout goals and mine sound a little similar to yours, so maybe this will help.


#17

Thank you very much for your post, it’s very informative!

Everyone I’ve talked to and most place I’ve researched say you need lots of protein based on a certain weight/height and goal percentage. You really think Soylent’s protein will be sufficient? I have no problem 86ing the extra protein! But what should I do for after a workout to refuel? Pack some Soylent instead?

Just yesterday I started a new workout routine here. But before that I was doing a M/W/F weight training thing with chest and back on Monday, Shoulders and Arms on Wednesday, and Legs and Core Friday with HIIT cardio treadmill or elliptical sessions on Tuesday and Thursday with Sunday as a rest day.I did that for about 3 months. Oh, I was doing medium intensity weights with 12 to 16 reps and 3 to 4 sets. Sometimes higher reps or increased weight if I’m not “feeling” it.

Thank you for those links, those really look like they could help. I don’t know if I fall into the “skinny-fat” area as I have a larger frame, but I’m not, like, a nice rounded out shape fat nor am I a well shaped inverted pyramid shape, more like the I Dream of Jeanie bottle I mentioned above. Those sites seem to be addressing that sort of issue.

Thank you for all the help!


#18

You’re welcome. I don’t know if the protein in Soylent will be sufficient for you, but I also know that protein drinks and things usually have a ton of protein and sugar and other things. I wanted to convey to be wary of going overboard, and that it may be good to start at a baseline, see if that is enough, and then work your way up if it’s not, especially if you’re not sure whether Soylent is already providing enough protein for you. This area isn’t something I’m very knowledgeable about, and I probably overstepped a bit, but I just thought since it sounded like you weren’t having much progress to consider it as a possibility. I know the sites I provided may not be for your body type, but they do provide some interesting facts and links to studies nonetheless that apply generally. I found this post really interesting as it talks some about things you’ve mentioned: http://bonytobeastly.com/carb-or-protein-diet-for-ectomorphs/


#19

Thank you to the folks on this thread for providing an informative conversation to follow.


#20

Pictures would be a huge help here, along with your training plan.

More muscle is never a bad thing to have. Muscle is more intensive to maintain than fat and so in a way it “raises” your metabolism. To figure out how many calories you need is an interesting process largely dependent on your weight and bodyfat percentage.
This: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=156380183is one of the best resources for doing that if you can get a reasonably accurate measure of your bodyfat (calipers are accurate enough).
The multipliers are a bit off. With no exercise I use the BMR number for loss with no exercise. With lifting only (no cardio) I use 1.07 (30/40/30 c/p/f) with cardio and lifting I use 1.17 at (35/35/30 c/p/f). I don’t track certain vegetables though so it keeps my carb counts skewed to the starchier ones which is on purpose.

Now what sort of place does this advice come from?
I used to be a very big guy. 6’4" 283lbs and 38%bf at my heaviest. I lost weight down to 15-17% with a “paleo” diet 80% of the time. Then I got down to around 13% using some macronutrient tracking and a dedicated strength program. Then when I decided to get serious I used DIY to get the elusive six-pack so I could track macros and micros with much more accuracy.

I had seriously good results using DIY. Got down to 6.5% bodyfat. Took the past 5 months off and went backup to around 11%. My goal is to be to 8% by the beginning of June and I don’t see a reason for it not to go pretty smoothly.