Has anyone done a side by side comparison between soylent and commercial meal replacements?
Not a detailed one. But I did scour the local commercial meal replacement shelves looking for a stopgap. What I found was that the bottles included 200 calories (I’d need 7 per day minimum) but more importantly they had a lot of sugar and other additives. And their vitamin / mineral count wasn’t designed to provide a reasonable level if you did a full day replacement (there were a few that would go way way over). None of the products recommend that you consume only them as your diet.
I don’t recall seeing an exact side-by-side comparison here, but if you search this site for “Ensure” I’m sure you’ll find plenty of related threads. Basically, Ensure is only slightly better for you than a can of soda.
Someone did mention a special high-protein version of Ensure that is not available in grocery stores (but maybe on Amazon?) that more closely matched the nutrient profile of Soylent, but it wasn’t 100% complete and trying to live off it would be more expensive than Soylent.
There are other “complete nutrition” liquid drinks that are produced by companies like Nestlé. They’re intended for coma patients who have to be fed through a tube, aren’t readily available for purchase by individuals, and are ridiculously expensive. I’m also willing to bet that they didn’t give any thought to the palatability of a food-slurry intended for coma patients.
I think you’ll find that, while it’s not a completely unique idea, Soylent is currently the most complete and affordable meal replacement drink short of rolling your own on http://diy.soylent.me.
Here’s the nutritional breakdown for a 2000 calorie diet of just Ensure:
The drinks are very short on Protein and Omega-3’s, contain absolutely zero fiber, and have serious deficiencies for the following vitamins and minerals:
Not to mention that the carbohydrate source is exclusively sugars. If you drank nothing but Ensure—and I’m going to copy/paste off Reddit here—you’d eventually experience some combination of the following symptoms:
Dermatitis in the form of a scaly, red rash around the eyes, nose, mouth, and genital area.
Neurological symptoms in adults, such as depression, lethargy, hallucination, and numbness and tingling of the extremities
Heavy sweating, as large amounts of sodium and chloride can be lost in perspiration
Excessive fluid loss due to prolonged diarrhea or vomiting, or overuse of coffee or laxatives or diuretics
Congestive heart failure
Certain kidney disorders
Severely impaired glucose tolerance
A loss of weight
Hypothyroidism, symptoms of which are extreme fatigue, goiter, mental slowing, depression, weight gain, and low basal body temperatures
Jaundice, nausea, and fatigue Potassium deficiency
Weakness, tiredness, or cramping in arm or leg muscles, sometimes severe enough to cause inability to move arms or legs due to weakness (much like a paralysis)
Tingling or numbness
Nausea or vomiting
Abdominal cramping, bloating
Palpitations (feeling your heart beat irregularly)
Passing large amounts of urine or feeling very thirsty most of the time
Fainting due to low blood pressure
Depression, psychosis, delirium, confusion, or hallucinations.
Why, at only $24 per day (2.6x Soylent’s cost, after shipping), you too can experience horrific side-effects by drinking nothing but Ensure!
P.S. Don’t forget about the obscene constipation you’ll experience by consuming zero fiber.
Fantastic, thanks! Arming myself with info for when people go “why not just buy ensure?”
Slight caveat - constipation is unlikely on an all-liquid diet. With Ensure, you’re much more likely to have newborn like liquid poops due to the absence of fiber - nothing to provide bulk to your stools.
When Soylent gets mentioned in a forum, some people will almost immediately say “it’s old hat, there are many of these products already, for example Ensure.”
Wanting to investigate this, I made a little spreadsheet and spent a couple of hours gathering info from Amazon, Ensure.com, and some other websites to pull together basic cost and nutritional info for several “meal replacement” products. For each I calculated the approximate cost for an 1800-kCal day’s ration, and the principal components of that day’s ration by weight. I also noted the first three ingredients (after water, for the liquids).
This is a summary, ordered from least expensive to most. Edit: my original post reflected a persistent error in a spreadsheet formula, resulting in quite wrong costs for several products. The following has been corrected. Although who knows, could still have mistakes. Also adding Ensure High Protein Powder.
If you are comatose and being fed long-term through a tube, you get 40oz (5 cans) of this, for which your medical insurance will pay $8.82. Fats 60g; Protein 77g; Carbs 259g (27 g fiber). (Water,) Corn Maltodextrin, Corn Syrup Solids, Sodium & Calcium Caseinates.
15oz (plus water and bottle of oil) costs $10.38 (if you buy a 28-day supply one time). Fats: 14.5g; Protein 110g; Carbs 244g (26g fiber). Maltodextrin, Rice Protein, Oat Flour.
Ensure Original Powder
14.4 oz (plus water) for 1800cal, costs $11.31. Fat 65g; Protein 65g, Carbs 245g (zero grams fiber). Corn Syrup, Corn Maltodextrin, Sugar (Sucrose).
Myoplex Original Powder
17oz (6 or 7 of the 2.7oz packets mixed with water) to get to 1800cal, at $12.41. Fats: 28g; Protein 261g; Carbs 136 (18.6 fiber). Whey Protein Concentrate (Whey Protein Concentrate, Soy Lecithin), Calcium Caseinate, Corn Maltodextrin,
Ensure High Protein Powder
Takes 18oz (plus water) to make 1800cal, costing $16.66. Fats 25.7g; Protein 257g; Carbs 193g (77g fiber). Whey Protein Concentrate (Whey Protein Concentrate, Soy Lecithin), Polydextrose, Micellar Casein
You must consume 65.5oz, or 8 of the little 8-oz bottles, to get 1800 calories. That will cost you $22.59. (This is the Ensure most people are familiar with and it is clearly more expensive than Soylent.) You get 50g Fat, 74g Protein, 270g Carbs (only 8g fiber). Ingredients after water: Corn Maltodextrin, Sugar, Milk Protein Concentrate.
17oz (plus water) costs $27.08. Fats 22.5g; Protein 191g; Carbs 191g (65.5 fiber). Whey protein, Cacao, Pea Protein.
15oz (plus water) costs $27.66. Fats: 52.5g; Protein 165g; Carbs 165g (75g fiber). Protein blend (proprietary) lipid blend (proprietary), maltodextrin.
41oz (5, 8oz bottles) is $36.42 for a day’s feed. Fats: 57g; Protein 67g; Carbs 262g (15.4g fiber). (Water,) Corn Maltodextrin, Sugar, Canola Oil.
Ensure High Protein
You have to consume 120oz to get 1800 cal. Yes, really; it’s 210cal per serving and a serving is a 14oz bottle. You would need 8-1/2 of those per day which will set you back $58. Fats 21.g, Protein 214g, Carbs 197g (26g fiber). (Water,) Milk Protein Concentrate, Corn Maltodextrin, Calcium Caseinate.
Just saw packets of this at my grocery store checkout counter. Comes as a powder to mix with water. On the company website it is described as a supplement, but reviewers at amazon talk about it as a meal replacement. Needs 14.2oz for 1800cal, costing $19 (if you buy the 31-oz jars at Amazon). Fats only 7g (probably want to add some oil?), Protein 162g, Carbs 153g (54g fiber). First three ingredients are three proprietary “blends” based on veggie sources like oat bran, artichoke, amaranth, quinoa. (By cost this falls between Ensure HPP and Ensure Original, but I’m putting it at the end as an addition.)
The best most available carb source?
What are the differences between Soylent and Ensure (Not a troll)
I didn’t dig in and check the others, but I know Soylent is far cheaper than what you have listed. In fact it should be second on your list by cost, assuming your other figures are correct.
A one time purchase of 28 days costs $300, which is only $10.71/day at 2010kcal. So for the 1800kcal you are trying for it would only cost $9.59.
Yeah, that’s definitely wrong and I’ll fix it. My error in a spreadsheet formula.
I am delighted to see that Soylent is price-competitive with the Ensure powder, and clearly ahead in fiber and protein.
Thanks for updating your list. I would suggest adding Ambronite for completeness.
Ensure Plus definitely has biotin. I checked the nutrition info. Of the things you said, all will be met at 100%DV or more with 4 bottles, except choline at 60% and chloride at 32%.
Is it actually being sold yet? I took a quick look at its website and didn’t find FDA-type nutrition/ingredients info, nor did I see pricing. Makes it hard to compute ounces and dollars for 1800cal. If you know, do please post the comparable info to above.
What? Peculiar misinformation in this thread. Ensure Plus is “complete, balanced nutrition” (their marketing slogan, but it’s basically true). It is far more nutritious than soda pop. It has 350 calories per bottle; drinking 6 bottles per day will provide you with 2100 calories, 78 grams of protein, 66 grams of fat, 3000+ mg of potassium, 100% + RDA of every nutrient except choline (and also a bit short on sodium and/or choride, I supplemented with table salt when I was on it as sole source nutrition for 2 months).
Nutrition amounts vary slightly by flavor, I typed those out from an empty “dark chocolate” bottle that happened to be near at hand in the trash bin.
And it will cost you $9 per day, slightly less than Soylent’s current price.
Oh… your day’s worth of Ensure Plus will also include around 120g of sugar. This is the only major drawback I can identify.
77 grams of fiber… people complain about Soylent farts with only 25 grams of fiber, can you even imagine what 77 would be like?
That’s designed as a supplement, not sole-source nutrition. Compare to Ensure Plus, which has 0 fiber (except the chocolate flavors, which have a small amount, ~ 1 gram per serving).
Ensure Plus is designed to be suitable as, and marketed as, sole-source nutrition. Not all the other Ensure products are. For example, “regular” Ensure is marketed as a supplement, snack, or occasional meal replacement, and is lower in calories, higher in carbs, and lower in fat and protein than Ensure Plus.
Same with Boost, it’s designed to be a nutritional “boost,” not sole-source nutrition, and your nutritional intake profile would be sub-optimal if you tried to use it as sole-source.
I’ve added Ensure Plus Vanilla to the DIY site: http://diy.soylent.me/recipes/ensure-plus
Four in a day gives most vitamins and minerals, but it is a bit low on electrolytes and choline. The fiber is zero like you said, and I’m not are about what the omegas would be except that it has canola and corn oil.
Here’s a copy using 6 bottles/day to get 2100kcal. A bit closer to the standard target, something like 5.8 bottles will get you to 2000kcal, but in reality people will just drink 6.
It’s not complete nutrition, but a pretty good try. If it were someone’s new DIY I would say it was a good start, but this is not someone’s DIY, so… not so good. I see a few things that need to be supplemented, and a couple of concerns. Some of this had been stated before, but…
You may need to supplement:
Salt, for sodium and chloride.
Some of the items of concern are included above, but protein is low, fiber does not exist, neither do the PUFA’s. Vitamin A is high, and sugar is much higher than it needs to be.
The sugar will really kill it for many, otherwise it could be a good alternative. As it stands it’s probably not a good product for extended use.