Soylent Cost vs Others


I was having a conversation with a friend regarding Soylent and one of the things that came up was the cost of Soylent. I have used other meal replacements, primarily slim fast, not to lose weight but just when I am really busy and don’t have time to eat.

One of the themes that I keep hearing is that Soylent is incredibly cost effective, however, when compared to the other products on the market, Soylent is almost 2x as expensive - even when you factor in the cost of milk. Slim fast comes in at around 1.60-1.75 a shake, ensure is the same. Soylent on the other hand is almost twice this amount.

I am wondering what the justification for this is and if this is just something that is related to scale.


Soylent has a complete nutritional profile and you probably wouldn’t need anything more to conduct a 100% healthy diet.

On the other hand, cheaper meal-replacement products still require you to buy other meals and supplements to even get close to be able living on them. You should add up those products cost too.


The go-to response to “Soylent vs Others” is that almost every time, if you run the math on “others”, you end up with a massive price and potentially dangerous doses of some ingredients.

This isn’t saying that “others” are bad – but most of them aren’t meant as a 100% replacement. This means that when you eat enough servings to get 2000 calories/day, you end up spending WAY more, and the nutrient ratios go way out of whack, because you’re eating a lot more than one shake/serving/powder/etc per meal to satisfy your body’s energy needs.

Case in point.


Here is the directions for Slim fast

“The Slim-Fast plan involves six small meals/snacks every day. You are advised to use Slim-Fast products for two meals and one snack daily.”

So they expect you to drink no more than 3 cans a day which comes out to only 570 calories (190 calories a can was the most I could find.)
On slim fast it expects you to have no more than 1200 calories a day total. For a healthy active person that is not even close to the amount of calories you need. Slim fast is meant for you to lose weight not to be a lifelong diet. And certainly not meant to be your only source of food. Slim fast is a temporary meal replacement for overweight people.


You know, this has come up enough times that I think it really deserves a place in some FAQ list, alongside “but what if I want to eat real food too”, “how many calories”, and “are specialized blends planned later”. Because these are all legitimate questions, and get asked on a pretty regular basis.

@JulioMiles, any chance of a global sticky FAQ thread, and/or an update to the main site FAQ?



I am going to play the devil’s advocate here and say that the “the others don’t have enough calories” is a horrible defense, and here is why. Calories are cheap. All I would need to do to Slim Fast to solve the calorie issue is add dextrose which is incredibly inexpensive.

So the justification for Soylent being twice as expensive as other products on the market is that it has more sugar and some extra benefits? That doesn’t really bode well for the long-term prospects of this product. I have a friend who was over weight and he was put on a 30 day diet of only ensure, and this is some what a common practice. It is some what difficult for me to justify purchasing Soylent as a sporadic food replacement.

That said, I do embrace the fact that Soylent has less preservatives but I am not sure that justifies the $3/meal price tag. I would totally do it at $1.50.


The calorie-check is really just a quick way to look at the balances… adding sugar to make up the calories is also a terrible solution. Fats, carbs, protein, etc also come into play, and most of the ensure/slimfast/etc just don’t have the balance of everything necessary to just “easily” supplement it with some quick carbs. I’ll concede that it would almost certainly be possible to base a DIY soylent off of something like Ensure, using an already-nutrient-rich substance as your starting point, but I’d expect that you could make it cheaper using other things.

But don’t take my word on that – if you’re interested, go run the numbers, figure out what it takes to put together a (balanced) DIY soylent starting from an existing supplement. As far as convenience, it does make sense as an option.


why dont you go ahead and live off slimfast and dextrose for a while and let us know how that goes?


Even slim fast doesnt recommend living solely off of their product.
Here are some more problems with Slimfast.

Soylent is low glycemic and slimfast and most of the others are high glycemic. I hope you know the lower the GI the better.

"Sugar Alcohols
According to the manufacturers, a number of Slim-Fast products are formulated with sugar alcohols. Sugar alcohols are a type of food additive that some manufacturers use as a sweetener. Sugar alcohols are not easily absorbed by the small intestine. This can result in flatulence, bloating, diarrhea and a laxative effect in those who are susceptible or in those who consume excessive quantities.

Poor Glycemic Profile
In 2008, the American Dietetic Association published research showing that Slim-Fast and certain other meal replacement drinks do not have favorite glycemic profiles for diabetics. This means that these products release glucose rapidly into the blood stream. This can be dangerous for diabetics, but this news is also relevant for those without diabetes. Obesity plus elevated glucose levels are both risk factors for that disease. Additionally, when glucose levels are out of balance, the body stores fat tissue more readily, potentially thwarting the efforts of Slim-Fast dieters. There is too much sugar in these shakes and so little fiber, that your blood sugar levels are going to go through the roof. It’s pretty dangerous if you happen to be hypoglycemic or hyperinsulinemic. Thanks to the sugar levels high/low jumps be ready for constant mood swings, fatigue, unproductivity, intense cravings and cravings again.
Many Slim-Fast products are heavily laden with sugar. That may be an effective ways to tempt dieters into consuming the product, but sugar has detriments beyond that of supplying extra empty calories. According to Lick the Sugar Habit by Nancy Appleton, sugar can upset the mineral balance of the body, suppress the immune system, cause copper deficiencies, and even weaken the eyesight. Constant exposure to the concentrated taste of sugar also does nothing to train the taste buds to enjoy the more subtle sweet tastes of healthy snacks like apples and berries."