Some Factors that Are Keeping Me Away From Soylent


First of all I would like to say that this “Soylent” movement definitely stems from a noble cause. And I do hope it works out for everyone involved and trying it out for themselves, but I would also like to point out some concerns I have that are probably keeping me from using Soylent on a long-term basis.

One of the biggest things that I would like to point out is that a liquid-based food is not going to be processed the same as real food. Real food has a thermic effect, meaning that your body raises it’s metabolism to be able to break down the food, thus your body burns more calories in the long run. A food that has already been liquefied eliminates a lot of the digestion process, which who knows what kind of effect that can have on your metabolism for the long-term.

Another aspect of soylent that isn’t very attractive to me is the level of “chemistry” involved, so to speak, and the amount of processing that required to extract the nutrients from their original sources to create the powder form of it. When extracting these nutrients, they usually require extremely high heat, which unfortunately denatures the product. To help paint a picture of why I think denaturing is bad, let’s look at where one would “naturally” get protein from. Most likely from an animal source, in this case let’s say steak. So the steak is of course going to have the protein, and in addition it will also include a healthy amount of fat, saturated fat, and fat soluble vitamins that enables the body to properly use the macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients that you are ingesting. And who knows, maybe there are some other nutrients that we haven’t even discovered yet! By not eating the whole steak, you are missing out on a lot of naturally occurring properties of the steak that help you utilize the nutrition better.

I think the bottom line is that if you place too much faith in the science of Soylent, it is possible that you may in fact be doing your body a disservice. Humans have thrived from being able to consume a variety of food. Our bodies were created from the naturally occurring profiles of these foods, and the foods are going to have properties that compliment each other in regards to our body’s ability to process them. These are the very processes that evolved us to what we are today.


[quote=“doncecil, post:1, topic:3855, full:true”]Humans have thrived from being able to consume a variety of food. Our bodies were created from the naturally occurring profiles of these foods, and the foods are going to have properties that compliment each other in regards to our body’s ability to process them. These are the very processes that evolved us to what we are today.
I’m not actually sure this is true. Natural humans may have thrived for a few years, but were all dead by forty (assuming they survived childbirth). I don’t call that “thriving” relative to the life expectancy of about eighty. And many humans don’t consume a variety of food (Rob himself said something along the lines of “I only ate burgers” - I forget the exact quote, though).
Evolution is stupid - it’s done a reasonable job, but there’s no particular reason to think we can’t do better. Of course, you may decide that there’s insufficient evidence to suggest that Soylent is in fact “doing better” - this may turn out to have been a sensible view in ten years, if we’ve missed out some vital long-term nutrient.


This may not be true either, because when looking at statistics such as this, most studies or whatever aren’t taking into account the fact that a lot of people died relatively young–I think younger than twenty or twenty-five–but if you made it past that, you usually lived to get pretty old.


Fair enough - let’s up that to 60, then it becomes “I don’t call that thriving, to lose twenty years of life expectancy”.


I enjoy fresh fruit in addition to my DIY Soylent diet. If you’re worried about burning fewer calories due to the difference in digestion you can simply reduce the number of calories you’re consuming. I’m at about 1800 calories a day which for my activity level and age is pretty optimal. I’m losing some of my chub (I was about 15 pounds overweight when I started). I’ve been on it for sixteen days now and feel wonderful.

I see what you’re saying but I don’t understand how you believe that will have a negative impact on my well being. I could eat a steak (but get more saturated fat in the process) or I can consume the correct amount of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats from other sources that are actually better for my body. Of course, if I eat a steak I run the risk of ingesting hormones and other elements that could be in the meat.


We can argue longevity statistics all day long- what is the right food? Should it be the freshest? The most organic? Paleo? Atkins? How many milligrams of potassium is optimal for a 150lb female?

The great thing about Soylent is that it is forcing people to finally pay attention to the base components of what they’re eating. Before reading about Soylent, gun to my head, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you how many grams of carbohydrates I was supposed to eat in a day. The amount of fiber, iron… none of it. I just… ate.

I think a lot of people balk at the fact that the idea of eating only Soylent means no traditional food, but it’s so much more than that. It is critiquing and paying close attention to the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that you are trying to absorb each day, and how it affects your body as a machine.

People who are not concerned with Soylent- can you say the same? Can you eat lunch and know how many milligrams of magnesium you have had? No. People right now pay zero attention to the nutritional value of what they eat- even people who are trying to eat healthy just try to eat sensibly, perhaps pay attention to calories, and that’s it. At least people concerned with Soylent are trying to quantify their nutrition- because frankly, no one else is. We just eat.


And here we go again with the conceited notion that humans can outsmart millions of years of nature’s evolution in a matter of a few years or months.


That’s not how I interpreted his comment. Evolutionary changes account for the makeup of our body and how we process things. To imply that using science to identify the raw elements of what our body actually uses and optimize those for our benefits is “conceited” is short sighted. There is no outsmarting being attempted from what I’ve observed.


It’s not really “years or months”, either - the field of nutritional science arguably goes back to the Egyptians or (even more arguably) to the hunter-gatherers, although it’s only now that we’ve had the technology to extend it in the logical way.

Precisely, that’s pretty much how I meant it - though to take “outsmarting” seriously, three possible ways of thinking about this occur to me:
a) We’re interrupting a computation that Nature is performing that has thus far taken millions of years but is surely not yet “complete”, and making some rather large short-cuts (but ultimately we may be headed along the same road as Nature intended, to use a horrific anthropomorphisation);
b) Evolution by natural selection is really, really stupid - it’s essentially the stupidest way that any computation can be performed short of random chance without selection, so it shouldn’t be horribly surprising if we managed to beat it in some domain (like the domain of life expectancy or quality of life, at which we’ve already soundly defeated evolution’s solution);
c) How can we know whether we’re capable of “outsmarting” natural selection in this domain without trying? It’s like an ancient Egyptian saying, “It’s ridiculous to suppose that we might eventually be routinely able to live until the age of eighty - after all, that’s not what Nature made us to do!” And yet we’ve managed (even if we’re being horribly slow to ensure that everyone gets it).

I do apologise if all this has been argued here many times - say the word and I’ll stop! (I’ve not been here for very long, and it’s a bit of a hard thing to think up search terms to find.)


On the first point, the lack of mastication is a negligable effect and stomache muscles will churn with or without a solid, peristaltic gi movement also wouldnt be effected. Second point, in a roundabout way I think what you were getting at was a lack of what are called phytonutrients, we have a discussion in this regard on the board, its actually one of my main concerns, we can supplement known ones such as lycopiene but having possible unknown phytonutrients absent longterm…


I think you’re right, in that there’s no outsmarting happening here. But nutritional science is a very shaky field with no definite answers. Not to mention there’s going to be a lot of variance in each person’s optimal intake of nutrients. For that reason I think it’s almost dangerous to assume that the nutritional ratio of Soylent is going to work for everybody, and why I think people shouldn’t view Soylent as a “replacement” for food, but instead they should view it as a supplement.

I would also like to point out that in the Kickstarter video they allude to the idea that Soylent is more efficient on a storage and transport level, which may be true after the processing, but the processing itself still requires the natural product to be moved around, and then even more energy is used to process it.


This is why I make my own so its 100% tailored to my needs. I also supplement mine with probiotic sources and add fresh fruit to each day’s batch.


There is some unconscious anthropomorphization going on here. Since this is a science thing and not a religion or philosophy thing, it’s probably going to cloud the issues to do that.

There is no ‘goal’ and no ‘intention’, no ‘computation’ involved in the evolutionary adaptation of any species (human or whatever) to its food sources (and vice-versa). The metaphor of a program running is interesting but it’s actually pretty much a human interpretation of an ongoing, incredibly complex chemical process.

There is also no arrogance in the analysis of the process, and the determination of optimal ways to provide energy and nutrients to the components. From the scientific point of view, there is no ‘nature’ as a person and we are not offending against nature by analyzing what happens. There is also no arrogance in optimizing the fuel and nutrition inputs to our own organism, but there might be ignorance in doing so with insufficient facts. In that case, we’ve been doing the same thing blindly for as long as our species has existed.


We can and we have done on numerous occasions. Evolution is not an “intelligence”, it’s a series of randomly fortunate mutations that succeeded based on the competition of the animal kingdom.

If a predator animal is randomly born with sharper teeth, that creature lives, breeds &spreads its mutation, and we call it “evolution”. If it’s randomly born with shorter legs or a weaker heart, it dies without breeding and no-one notices a thing.

We are not “outsmarting nature”. We are just using our mutations (tools, society & ingenuity) to better ourselves. Nature doesn’t care, and if it did it would probably like Soylent better since it requires less exertion on the environment.


I may not agree with everything you’ve said, but this absolutely. I love the idea of Soylent on a personal level, but I’m not convinced that it’s better for the environment. Nor am I really onboard with Rob’s vision of the future fueled by Soylent. I don’t think this will be as great a social revolution as he has claimed.


No need to apologize, what’s a discussion without words?

The truth, though, is that technology has not been used in foods the way it is today until very recently. Engineered foods are very new and quite often studied for only months before deemed safe.

Evolution? Evolution provided us with optimal bodies to survive in the conditions of our environment, earth. It doesn’t get much better than that! Do you really think that we aren’t still evolving today?

I agree, though, we do have the science to adapt our nutrition to our bodies, rather than adapting our bodies to our nutrition. However, the only truly sustainable foods we can get are traditional and ancient foods…the ones our bodies are evolved to eat. I just don’t think it’s wise to become dependent on foods that are unnatural and unsustainable and claim that it is better for you or the environment. I’d rather be dependent on food I know I will always have access to. I know I can always grow vegetables and raise livestock… you can’t grow Soylent.


My macro-nutrients all come from these traditional and ancient foods you speak of. Maltodextrine from corn, my proteins from milk, eggs, rice, peas, and soy. My fats come from hempseed and olives. I think my recipe is pretty consistent with everyone else’s.


What’s a traditional food? The Native Americans created corn by breeding two different plants together than then selecting over generations for plants that produced the biggest ears. It became one of the key staples that allowed the Aztec Empire to grow.

Dairy is right out too. The gene that lets us digest lactose is very recent in evolutionary history, like 10,000 years.

That’s okay, we can still enjoy fresh vegetables like broccoli, right? Except broccoli is an even later invention, bred by humans about 2600 years ago.


I finished by saying foods I can grow on my own. Sustainable, meaning I have access to it if there is a time where we don’t have ability to use high-tech equipment to manufacture food in laboratories. The food you mentioned are sustainable, but the process to make them is not.

I’d say after thousands of years, those foods are considered traditional. When I said traditional, I meant foods prepared in a traditional manner. But you can’t argue our bodies have evolved to eat what I consider traditional foods. Not to say bodies can’t change over time like you mentioned. For example, dogs didn’t used to digest carbohydrates very well. When we began domesticating wild dogs, they developed the ability to eat “human” foods. Now, dogs thrive on human food and use carbohydrates in starchy foods very well.


I think there’s enough real depth to this discussion without bringing in Choose Your Own Apocalypse Adventures. Let’s assume that the modern technology doesn’t just vanish.

“Until such time as the world ends we will act as though it intends to spin on…” - Samuel Mother-Fucking Jackson