Question on how the body processes Soylent and burns energy


I’d like to ask the group a couple of questions.

I commute almost exclusively by bike. I have a 7.5 mile commute to work. Soylent is the majority of my meals, 75% to 80%.

I’d like to consider and understand what difference, if any, there is in the way the body processes Soylent (particularly the carbs) and burns energy in the follow two scenarios in the morning.

Scenario 1:

  1. 5:00 am, get up
  2. 6:00 am, bike to work
  3. 6:30 am, arrive at work, take shower, etc.
  4. 6:45 am, drink 500 calories of Soylent

Scenario 2:

  1. 5:00 am, get up
  2. 5:45 am, drink 500 calories of Soylent
  3. 6:00 am, bike to work
  4. 6:30 am, arrive at work

In other words, what are the likely differences in my body’s processing of Soylent between drinking before my commute vs. after? And, what are the likely differences in the way my body burns energy during my ride?

Note, in either case, Soylent is my first meal of the day.

I don’t know if any of this is relevant, but here it is: 51 years old, 5’9" tall, 170 lbs, no health issues (that I’m aware of).


From my understanding of the docs, the carbs are for quick energy and the fats are for long-term energy. So when you consume Soylent before the bike ride, the carbs should give you a boost. That’s my impression.


I’m no expert, but I also would thing that drinking before the bike ride would be better than after. After your body would be more likely to try and store it (I think). Also, I noticed you drink 500 calories only 15 minutes before you ride your bike. Have you considered trying to drink the 500 calories closer to when you wake up so the calories have time to get into your body before your bike ride? Just a thought.

If you have a 7.5 mile bike ride to work and then a 7.5 mile bike ride, you’re probably burning around 750 calories right there, which means that you may very well need more than 2000 calories in a day. I don’t know what else you do or how hard your job is, but that’s just another thought.

NOTE: If someone says something that contradicts what I said, listen to them.


This study seems relevant to the this discussion. It seems eating before cardio enhances fat burning.

This study says it doesn’t matter if you eat before or after cardio.


Interesting… I would have said doing the cardio in a semi-fasting state would enhance fat burning as you are probably already more fat adapted in the semi-fasting state after a normal night’s sleep. If you had the Soylent after the work out you would then be using the carbs to replace the glycogen that had been used up from your muscles and liver during the workout without substantially altering your ability to oxidize lipids.

Edit: oops, sorry @horsfield, should have read the studies first… Too bad they didn’t capture RER/RQ on the 2nd study and it would be cool to see all the data (including macronutrient profiles) in the first…


Do you… shower at work?



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You work at a gym? Or perhaps a dangerous part of the CDC? lol


How do you feel when you get to work? If your bike ride is intense and leaves you exhausted, then a meal before the ride would probably be best to give you the energy you need to arrive at work in a useful state.

I’m a big proponent of doing what feels good. What works best for you may not work well for someone else. I like to run in the morning on an empty stomach. Other people I know would keel over if they ran without eating before.


The body does what it does, to say that one process is better than the other implies a particular goal. My goals change from one day to the next and over time. I’m interested in understanding the difference in the way the body uses energy so that I can adjust what I do in a more informed way.

My assumption is that these processes can be generalized. I expect that particular details can vary from person to person.

To be clear, the times were pulled out of thin air to give something concrete to compare, but that’s a good point. Maybe we should consider the differences between varies times of eating before and after,


Going by how I feel is what I’ve been doing, Sometimes I eat before, sometimes after. Depends how I feel.

I’d like to add some understanding to it.

If anyone has a book to suggest that might cover some of this kind of stuff, I’d be interested. I’m not looking for a book that advocates anything though. Just, how does the body work in these kind of scenarios,


If you’re generally eating maintenance calories, it probably doesn’t matter whether you take your Soylent before or after the ride.

If your exercise is any more intense than a moderate walk, then your body will shift into a carb-preferential mode, and if you have not recently eaten any easily accessible carbs, it will be burning glycogen stores in your muscles, and releasing glucose from the glycogen stored in your liver. After the ride, those stores will be replenished from the Soylent.

If you take the Soylent first, the carb digestion will be putting glucose into your bloodstream, and you will be burning that. The end result is roughly the same.

Now… some more info.

There is a lot of research prompted by the “fasted cardio” question which is categorized under “nutrient timing” studies. There is some evidence to support the idea of enhanced fat burning when doing fasted cardio, but this generally only holds for relatively lean people on an overall calorie deficit or people who are otherwise glycogen-depleted, not merely fasted. Getting glycogen depleted requires several days of extreme low carb, or fairly intense drawn-out exercise to purposely burn off the glycogen the day before. If the preceeding are not all true - already lean, on a restricted diet, and glycogen-depleted, then the pre versus postprandial exercise is likely to amount to no meaningful difference.

If the preceeding paragraph turns you on, I strongly suggest subscribing to AARR, Alan Aragon’s Research Review, and reading through the back issues. Here’s the index to give you a taste; search the page for “timing.”

On the other hand, if that paragraph made your eyes glaze over, let me rephrase it this way: it probably makes no difference, and you should do whatever you enjoy. If you like your bike ride better one way versus the other, the way that keeps you riding your bike to work is probably the best choice.


See especially November 2013 -


The last two London offices I’ve worked in have showers, mainly for people who combine exercise and commuting like this fellow.


That’s pretty cool. I don’t think America is densely populated enough for this to become a common work feature, but it would be nice to have anyway…


Also you guys seem to be somewhat under the cosh at work in general. Only two weeks holiday? How does one negotiate the cricket season?



Sorry, I’m an American worker, I’m not really sure what that word means…


Here it’s March Madness, where everyone pretty much sits around TVs all day and moan about their busted brackets…


I live in Lexington, KY, which isn’t exactly an urban metropolis or the progressive capitol of the country.

Showers are a benefit that are relatively low-cost to the employer and provide employees with a lot of value. In this day of epidemic obesity, which is due in no small part to the shear lack of physical activity, showers are one step in getting their workforce more active. Showers allow for multiple activities from commuting, morning runners, lunchtime workouts, or afternoon yoga classes.

In this day and age, in 2015, if a modern professional company doesn’t have showers or easy access to showers nearby, I’d have to wonder what kind of neanderthals are running the place. They’re out there but I’m not likely to be working for them.


So I think what we’re all saying is: we could all use a shower.