Soylent too high in fat


Yes every day. 22.8.


Have you done ANY research on the effects of carbs on insulin resistance?!? Seems we are much better off with unsaturated fats.

I’ve been on 60-90% Soylent for 4 years now and not only have I lost 20lb but my LDL has dropped from 81 to 67 and my HDL is up from 85 to 113 (although that’s probably more exercise than diet). I’m 52 years old and just yesterday ran a half marathon in 1:34… I’d say Soylent is working just fine for me as is. Please don’t change it.


Yes, the research shows carbs do not cause insulin resistance, fat causes insulin resistance. Fat accumulates in the cells and this “intramyocellular fat” blocks the insulin from working. Rural societies that live on a low-fat grain-based diet don’t get type 2 diabetes. I provided a starting point link above, which leads to other papers.

Congrats on running your marathon. Be aware, Dr. Esselstyn, head of the cardiovascular prevention program at the Cleveland Clinic wellness institute has said that unless your total cholesterol is under 150, you are at risk of a heart attack. That is why he also advocates a diet with around 10% calories from fat for preventing coronary heart disease. My total cholesterol on a diet of primary soylent is probably in the same ballpark as yours, but I am not satisfied with that and want to do better. As a runner, you might be interested in checking out Dr. Garth Davis who advises a lot of marathon and triathalon athletes and bodybuilders on the benefits of high-carb, low-fat, low-protein diets.

There’s no question that Soylent is better than the standard American diet, but I want to do even better. Lower fat, higher carbs would help protect against both type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The best argument against modifying Soylent would be that all the studies showing benefit of low fat diet are in the context of unprocessed plant-based foods. It’s not entirely clear that the same benefit would be found with the kind of processed carbs that Soylent uses like maltodextrin and isomaltulose. But for the most part, Soylent drinkers buy into the philosophy that there’s nothing magical about whole foods you can’t replicate with the right ingredients. If you aren’t willing to consume processed ingredients, you wouldn’t be drinking Soylent anyway. With that in mind, it would be great to see a version of Soylent where the macronutrient profile reflects the research on preventing diabetes and heart disease.


Yes having excessive body fat can cause insulin resistance. As a healthy average weight individual I’m not really concerned about insulin resistance personally. But the bigger question for societal health is what causes body fat accumulation in the first place? From all I’ve read over the last few years it’s not from consuming fat. If anything it’s from excess carb consumption (or perhaps excessive carb and saturated fat consumption… as typifies the S.A.D.)

I’m sure there are other (lowercase) soylent products out there that more closely match your desired macronutrient profile…


To be clear, I’m not personally a nutrition expert, I’m just a guy who has researched this to the best of my ability. If you have evidence and information to the contrary, I’m always open to further reading.

I also don’t have excessive body fat and am relatively lean, and yet I have evidence that fat is accumulating in the cells of my body, for example, I have evidence of fatty liver. Perhaps it is a quirk of my genetics or metabolism that makes me especially vulnerable, but this is consistent with what I’ve read that high dietary fat can lead to an accumulation of fat in your cells, even if you are not visibly overweight.

I have read that carbs are incredibly difficult for the body to convert into fat, and that there have been studies where they force-fed people massive amounts of carbs and only a very tiny fraction of those carbs were converted to fat. I can imagine that if you consume high-levels of both carbs and fat, the readily available carb energy will cause your body to sock away all that fat. But if you don’t eat fat, it’s extremely hard to accumulate body fat.

I haven’t found alternative soylent products that match my desired macronutrient profile. Super body fuel probably comes the closest because you add oil separately, and can therefore omit it, but it’s relatively high in protein. I’m in the process of learning how to make my own homemade formulation, based on Soylent 1.3 which was the last version of Soylent in which you could control the level of fat.


VCsearch this forum for “carbs fat”… Plenty of discussions.

There are plenty of vegetarians / vegans out there that see low carb as the enemy… They of course equate high fat with animal products which obviously isn’t the only way to get lots of unsaturated fats.

Check YouTube for Peter Attia… Also lots of articles by Gary Taubes…

PS if you have fatty liver then you may be in a minority for whom a high fat diet might not be that smart…


I’m immediately wary of any clinic that has “wellness” in the name. Sure enough, they offer a number of non-medical services.



“Too often, however, I find that those who choose veganism for philosophic reasons want to find health reasons to support their diet and mix the bad science and philosophy into a bland evangelical stew they recommend for all.”

It’s like a religion…

I had heard some time back that certain fats and proteins (and vitamins and minerals) were required for survival… the one thing not required was carbs. I don’t recall the numbers but if you add up all the minimal daily fats and proteins you come up with well under 2000kcal which leaves the balance (for energy) to be supplied by fats or carbs depending on your daily energy needs. As a triathlete I typically consume 2800kcal or so a day.

If you went mostly carbs that’s fine I suppose as long as you burn all that you consume. Unused carbs are very easily turned into body fat.

Wouldn’t the ultra low fat diet this guy is promoting be dangerous?

My quest to go higher fat stems mostly from endurance sports… I’d like to be a better fat metabolizer as it would give me substantially more energy for endurance events. The body is much more eager to burn sugar (ie carbs) than fat so it needs to be trained to do so. Anyone who’s ever done endurance sports solely on sugar (Gatorade, gels etc) knows that will only get you so far…


The skeptical cardiologist ignores the many lines of converging evidence.

That particular Esselstyn study was interesting because it demonstrated an effect on extraordinarily high-risk patients. Yes it was small size, but it followed patients over 12 years, which is significant. And there have been other related studies before and since.

And if you are skeptical of Esselstyn himself, he’s certainly not the only one advocating this diet. So far in my research, I have found this is the recommendation of nearly every institute whose focus is to prevent disease through nutirition. Ornish and McDougall are other prominent nutritionist physicians who have been advocating this for decades. Consider Kempner, who was the very first doctor to every show that heart disease could be addressed through diet. His research was revolutionary, as up until that point, no one believed diet was relevant to heart disease. Know what diet he used? A strict diet of white rice and fruit juice. These days, doctors advocate a wider range of low-fat whole plant foods, but it says a lot that the earliest most conclusive results came from an extreme high carb diet.


I would question your claim that “Unused carbs are very easily turned into body fat.” My readings on de novo lipogenesis (conversion of carbs to fat) consistently say that carbs are initially converted to glycogen and only after massive amounts of unused carbs are consumed are they converted to fat, and the process itself is energy expensive and so only a small percentage would end up being converted. So, extremely difficult to get body fat from unused carbs.

The claim I consistently see is that the amount of fat occurring naturally in whole plant foods is sufficient, so not dangerous to eat such a low-fat diet. In a processed product like Soylent, they’d need to intentionally add some oil, but it appears only a very small amount is necessary. In a high-carb low-fat formulation, it seems plausible that just like the famous highly processed “rice and fruit juice diet”, Soylent would be able to reverse heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Wouldn’t that be amazing?


Fruit juice?!? You might as well just drink soda. It’s the same stuff.

Yes, carbs turn to glycogen (sugar). Then the blood sugar is regulated by insulin to turn excess sugar into fat.

FWIW I’m not a nutritionist either… I’m an engineer. Have you scanned this forum for the many fat vs carb discussions?


I have scanned the forums. I mostly see people advocating keto because they are interested in the short-term weight loss, or high protein because they think it helps with bodybuilding. I don’t see a lot of info here talking about what is the diet that is going to contribute to the longest life and greatest health, which is why I posted this topic, because it seems to me that the community of physicians looking at nutrition from that perspective have a very strong consensus towards low-fat high-carb.


Very strong consensus? This is the amazing thing about the internet… if you go down the right rabbit hole you might conclude climate change is a hoax or vaccines cause autism.

Start here:


This movie review does a nice job of breaking down what they all missed (or ignored?)

There’s also the problem that with such low fat and protein, most people won’t be able to follow the diet – or will be eating endlessly while following it.


I’m not an expert and this discussion is getting pretty technical. But I did have a conversation with a doctor not long ago about such matters, and he believes that people are all unique and do not react in the same way to various diets. So 37% fat might be just what you need, but not the right thing for me.

Personally I think that the fat content in Soylent is higher than it should be. Both the World Health Organization and the US government advocate for a lower percentage. But they are not evaluating Soylent; they are looking at average folks’ fats. However I also believe that a person with a healthy system should be able to adjust to Soylent’s formulation. I have been able to without any difficulties arising. My intake is in the 25-30% range. I am a satisfied customer but eating only Soylent strikes me as unwise.


OK, I read the movie review you linked to, although some of the finer points are hard to have an opinion on since I’ve never seen the movie Forks Over Knives.

The position of the movie reviewer seems to be, “I believe that this diet makes people healthier, but not necessarily for the reasons given in the film. Possibly these doctors just stumbled on to an effective diet by accident that happens to work, but for other reasons, like ditching processed foods and cutting back on omega 6. I’m not convinced you can’t get the same benefits while eating some meat, dairy and fish.”

The doctors in the film apparently all recommend the same basic diet for maximum health: whole-food, plant-based diet. If you’re eating a whole-food plant-based diet, the macronutrient ratio that naturally occurs in such a diet would be about 80% carbs, 10% fat, 10% protein. So indirectly, they are endorsing such a macronutrient profile.

Let’s think about this in the context of Soylent.

These doctors advocate vegan. Soylent is already vegan. No need to argue about that point, and whether it is necessary for great health.

These doctors advocate whole foods. Soylent is not whole food, it is highly processed. But there is no way it could ever not be highly processed, so again, no need to argue about this point. If you believe processed foods are inherently harmful, you shouldn’t be drinking Soylent.

So the remaining issue is macronutrients. Soylent is plant-based, but it isn’t a whole food. Nevertheless, it is certainly possibly for Soylent to do better at mimicking the macronutrient profile of a whole-food plant-based diet that is known to have such positive outcomes. Even if you think the 10% fat level recommendation by these doctors is too extreme, Soylent’s fat level is too high for all current mainstream recommendations as well (isn’t that why they got into trouble in Canada, because the Canadian govt felt the fat was too dangerously high to be called a meal replacement?), and it’s too low to satisfy the keto people. So who is Rosa Labs making happy? What science backs up this particular formulation?

To reiterate, I went down the path of researching this because I wanted to answer the question of why my own health markers were trending worse since I started drinking Soylent for the majority of my caloric intake. The nutrition science that correctly predicts the outcome I’ve personally seen says that excessive fat intake increases insulin resistance and raises cholesterol (see for more info about this).


My impression is that you’ve rediscovered the anti-fat perspective that was so popular for so long and let food makers get rich for so long with labels such as “low in fat!!” that did nothing to help health and in fact presided over a massive increase in obesity.

Now, the perspective is changing, as reflected in the “Big Fat Lie” NY Times article that Greg linked, but still, if you incorporate the old perspective that fat is evil, you will naturally get the impression that fat is evil.

There was also a video posted several times in which a doctor expressed the newer, more pro-fat perspective. I wonder if you watched that video as you carefully scanned the fat discussions?


I’ve long been interested in nutrition, so I read the Taubes article when it came out in 2002, and read the many articles debunking it in the 16+ years since, and watched with great interest as it came out that prior to his death, Atkins suffered from a heart attack, congestive heart failure, and hypertension (

Nevertheless, I have an open mind, and I personally tried “Soylent plus only no-carb foods” diet for a year. My A1C and cholesterol skyrocketed, unfortunately, just as mainstream nutrition science predicts.

I don’t think it’s accurate to say that the “old perspective” is low-fat, and “new perspective” is low-carb. The most accurate summary would probably be that the core nutritional recommendations have remained unchanged for many many decades: as Michael Pollan summarized “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Most doctors I’ve spoken with seem to think of the Atkins/paleo/keto diet as a fad from the early 2000’s that demonstrated some interesting short-term weight-loss effects, but is unlikely to be safe in the long-term.

I remember running across the Sarah Hallberg TED talk a few years ago. I was watching it on YouTube and the next video that autoplayed was another TED talk by Neal Barnard about reversing type 2 diabetes through a whole food plant-based diet. Check it out:

What was going on? I wondered. How is it possible that two doctors in a row on TED talks could argue directly opposing points about what reverses type 2 diabetes? Is the correct diet low-carb or low-fat?

This launched my investigation into the question of diet and type 2 diabetes, and it turned out that in a sense, both were correct. The underlying science is that fat causes insulin resistance. So you have two choices:
Choice 1: You can eat all fat and virtually no carbs. You’ll become insulin resistant, but it won’t matter, because you won’t be eating carbs, so no need for insulin. Once you go down this road, you have to be really careful to avoid carbs because your natural insulin won’t work properly and your blood sugar will spike extremely high in the presence of carbs.
Choice 2: You can eat all carbs and virtually no fat. Your cells will regain their insulin sensitivity, your type 2 diabetes disappears, and your body can handle the carbs with aplomb provided you stay away from fat.

It would appear that the solution to diabetes lies in the extremes, either extreme. Fats plus carbs is the problem.

Either seems to work in the short-term, but epidemiology tells us that eating high fat and virtually no carbs is likely to harm us in the long run, with a higher risk of heart disease and cancer. Simply put, there aren’t any societies / cultures we can point to that live a long time on such a high fat diet, whereas all the “blue zone” cultures where people live the longest eat copious amounts of whole plant foods with low caloric density. If you’re going to bet on one of the two extremes, it seems pretty clear to me which way I want to bet.

Let’s bring this discussion back to Soylent. The problem with Soylent in its current formulation is that its macronutrient profile seems to be one of the worst possible combinations. The fat is so high as to trigger insulin resistance in vulnerable individuals, but then the carbs are also high enough to cause blood sugar spikes in those who are insulin resistant as a consequence of the high fat. My “soylent+high fat foods” diet failed because when I was eating so much fat, the carbs in Soylent were enough to send my blood sugar sky high. Soylent was insufficiently keto for that approach to work.

Soylent also makes it difficult to pull off the other extreme of eating low-fat. Pursuing that approach to reversing diabetes, the level of fat in a single Soylent is about the max you’d want to get in a day.

But lets say you don’t want Soylent to be an “extreme diet” macro profile, i.e., neither aggressively low-carb nor aggressively low-fat. I think that’s reasonable, as Soylent is primarily catering to healthy individuals. Well, then you’d want to look at current mainstream recommendations. Recommendations from the Institute of Medicine and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for healthy individuals are that 20% to 35% of total calories should come from fat. I think the evidence favors going closer to 20%, but anything in that range would be an improvement. There’s no mainstream organization out there that I’m aware of suggesting that for long-term health, the percentage of calories from fat should be as high as Soylent’s (47%). That’s crazy high, unless you’re going to go to full extreme of eliminating carbs altogether.



Another source you might enjoy talking about fat as probable cause for extra calories and obesity in America.