Soylent Ingredient Breakdown from a Food Scientist

Are we sure he’s a real food scientist? At first glance, he seems to think isomaltulose is identical to table sugar. I’m not a food scientist and I know that’s wrong. Actually, the entire article seems superficial.


1.5 is old news, it’s not even on the market anymore. :slight_smile:


It always interests me that people think we started as one massive highly organized marketing scheme. He is right about the beets though. Sadly we could not source a good image of a sugar beet to use.


I’m always annoyed by people who try to say that Ensure and all those did it first. They did – but unless they’ve changed a lot in the last couple of years, they all seem to be pretty nutritionally unbalanced; hardly something I’d want to use for 100% of my calories. Otoh, I think the Atkins drink may come closest to a decent non-medical predecessor of Soylent, and I never see it mentioned. (I could be misremembering on that though, it’s been years since I even glanced at anything Atkinds.)


As a kid, I daydreamed about living on Metri-cal, maybe plus Tang, the new powdered orange drink. Maybe I was already looking for Soylent.


I posted a correction which he upvoted, but didn’t edit his article. Strange. Anyway now I have two cents from that website so I have finally literally acquired my two cents.


He also incorrectly believes maltodextrin makes drinks sweet.


Couldn’t you just buy a sugar beet and take a picture of it?


Not for sale in many areas.

If you’re in the right farming country, sure, or if people bring it in for baiting deer… But I don’t see them at groceries.

(Also, they’re ugly compared to regular red beets.)

You can’t take a photo of a dude getting a beet-stash, so it’s against hipster union rules.

That’s what the Internet is for.

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Here ya go. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


The article has all the hallmarks of being written by someone that is philosophically opposed to the concept of Soylent. I’ve seen it many times before. In his profile he says he’s into cooking new things. He talks about GMOs and organic as foodies often do even though it’s not relevant to the topic at hand. At the end he says real food is more fun. He’s not going to feel positively towards Soylent no matter what. That leads to some spinning to try to denigrate Soylent as well as to some plain old errors (I’m assuming their errors instead of more denigrating). Here are some I noticed.

Several times he says Soylent is classified as a meal replacement, which it isn’t.

On Jully 31 he reviews Soylent 1.5 even though it went extinct on June 23.

He says the amino acid score is something he’d ask about if consuming it daily, as if that’s a concern. But it didn’t take too much research for me to learn that the amino acid score (PCDAAS score) of Soylebnt 1.6 is a perfect score of 1. (Then again, he was reviewing 1.5 but should have been reviewing 1.6).

Calling it a pile of white sugar because it comes from a sugar beet instead of a table beet is pretty egregious. The implication is that it’s as bad as white sugar whereas the sugar beet is used because it has a low glycemic index.

When talking about the maltodextrin in Soylent he says :“This is one of the cheapest food ingredients available.” Why would he say this? Because there is a significant segment of people for whom any inexpensive food ingredient is bad IN PRINCIPLE. It’s not bad because of X, Y and Z, rather it’s bad because it’s inexpensive.

He says “Rice Starch - A source of carbohydrates. Rice based protein beverages and meal replacements have sometimes flagged concerns for heavy metal (arsenic) content. I’d double check with the manufacturer that levels are controlled for if you plan on consuming soylent daily.” Is there some reason rice based protein beverages are more concerning re. arsenic than plain old rice? I doubt it. Arsenic can be in rice because rice comes from the ground. Is this guy going down to his local farmer’s market and preaching to everyone about arsenic in their foods? Or is his concern about arsenic related to the fact that he’s talking about Soylent?

The thing is, arsenic in the ground is an inherent problem for any food from the ground but if someone comes up with a way to produce the food without growing it out of the ground then arsenic will no longer be a problem for those foods. It’ll still be a problem for foods coming out of the ground though.

He says “Cellulose Gum - A processed cellulose product, often sourced from wood/paper.” He does that to make you think eating Soylent is akin to eating wood or paper. He could have accurately added “It’s completely harmless” to the end but that would have foiled his narrative.

And on top of all that he gets the price of Soylent wrong by a factor or 3 to 4

Okay, enough, it’s something we’ve seen before we’ll see again. People with a certain mindset are simply irate that Soylent exists and some people like it. I don’t know why. Nobody is going to make them eat it or take away whatever foods they like to eat.


To be fair, he might have started to write his article 6 weeks ago, when 1.5 was the latest and greatest of the powdered variety. He may have even finished it 6 weeks ago, and it’s been sitting in a queue all this time.

But I love the way you phrased that. Extinct. :smile:

Here is some basic advice on how to tell if someone actually knows what they are talking about: If they treat different kinds of sugar as comparable, they don’t know what they are talking about. I don’t care if they are food scientists, nutritionists, or what. Even high fructose corn syrup (touted as being equivalent to table sugar in commercials from, surprise, the Corn Growers of America) has a different glycemic index from table sugar.

Here are some differences:

  • Sweetness: Different sugars have different levels of sweetness. Sweeter sugars tend to be used in smaller quantities. Less sweet sugars may be used in larger quantities. Some very low sweetness sugars are used as fillers in artificial sweeteners and in other things.
  • Calorie density: Calorie density is mostly about the size of the molecules, but it rarely matters. A more calorie dense sugar that is also significantly sweeter may actually provide less calories in practice, because it is used in smaller amounts.
  • Glycemic index: This is the big one. When people say that all sugars are the same, this is the one thing that seriously makes them wrong. The bad thing about eating lots of sugar (aside from calories) is the effect on blood sugar. Drinking lots of soda will keep your blood sugar high, which wreaks havoc on many parts of the body. The thing is, not all sugars do that. High fructose corn syrup has a glycemic index in the 80s, meaning it causes blood sugar to rise very rapidly, which is bad. Sucrose (table sugar) has a glycemic index in the 50s or 60s, which makes it less bad than HFCS, but still dangerous if eaten regularly in large quantities. Fructose has a glycemic index in the high teens, meaning it has a very small effect on blood sugar. Isomaltulose (I believe this is one of the primary sugars in Soylent) has a fairly low glycemic index as well (I forget the exact range, but maybe 20s or 30s).

The effect on blood sugar is the most important metric when it comes to sugars (and really any carb). Claiming that all sugars are the same ignores the most important point. Yes, all sugars provide empty calories (which only matters if you eat too much or are not getting other nutrition elsewhere). Yes, all sugars are ultimately converted to glucose. Both of these things are equally true of all purified starches though. The real difference is not calories or what they ultimately become, but how and how fast they are converted. A low glycemic index sugar (or starch) will take a long time to convert to glucose, keeping your blood sugar more stable and providing you with energy for longer. A high glycemic index sugar or starch will convert to glucose very quickly, raising your blood sugar dramatically (which will damage your blood vessels, overwork your pancreas, cause a spike in insulin, slow your blood flow by making it thicker, trigger your liver to start converting sugars to fats, and change how your cells react to insulin) and providing large amounts of energy for a very short period of time (and eventually give you Type 2 diabetes). Is the really “no difference?”

I learned most of this in a generals course when I went to college (I did my own research on glycemic indices and such though). No one who does not know this stuff deserves to be called a food scientist or a nutritionist.