Soylent too high in fat


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.


Ah yes… Some guy on the internet named Kevin disputes the science… In related news more people now believe the earth is flat because they saw a video on YouTube…


There are other studies that show less of a difference between low carb and low fat diets…

I would like to try Keto at some point but it sounds like a hassle.

I found the following account interesting even though I’m not diabetic. Namely how trying to stay in an ultra low carb or ultra low fat diet is fairly difficult… interesting how her blood sugar shot up with a bit of saturated fat while on the low fat diet as compared to her normal moderately low carb diet. Similarly I’ve heard a bit too much carbs can throw you out of ketosis for a few days(?) then you have to claw your way back in (Keto fog?)

Seems to me it’s the blood sugar spikes that cause the insulin response which creates the body fat (and insulin insensitivity in extreme cases).

The enemy would seem to be some combination of simple carbs and saturated fats… (as well as calorie imbalance… obviously) which seems to typify the modern American diet.

Soylent being fairly high in unsaturated fat and moderately complex carbs seems about right. Maybe more fiber would be good?

Not sure what the optimal level of carbs is… aside from high heart rate activities (like running a 5k) it seems to me the fewer the better.


He tends to back his data with scientific studies. That doesn’t make it true, since the data needs to be analysed accordingly and there is a lot of discussion as seen in t his thread in both end. Just put it there for people who might be interested.

i did not take any stands in either side.


More fiber would definitely be good.
As for soylent being moderately complex carbs… You have maltodextrin, complex carb which behaves like sugar; and you have isomaltulose a sugar that behaves like complex carb in term of absorption. Not sure if I would define it like that.


This medium post is in agreement with everything I have seen from experts who have reviewed Taubes’ claim. It makes no sense to say that low-fat dietary guidelines caused obesity, because the data is clear that people did not in fact lower their fat intake as a consequence of those guidelines.


Thanks for posting the link to the 23 studies.

These do not actually compare low carb to low fat, despite the headlines. If you drill into the studies, you’ll see that the “low fat” diets in these studies are 30% calories from fat. No one would really consider that low fat – it’s “moderate fat” at best. The studies that actually look at people with “whole food, plant-based, no added oil” diets, which average 10% calories from fat, show unequivocal benefits.

That said, even the results of these studies you linked to, which compare high-fat-very-low-carb to a moderate diet demonstrate results that you should find alarming. The studies you linked to with a longer timeframe showed no statistical difference in weight loss between the two groups, but the high-fat-very-low-carb groups had higher total cholesterol and higher LDL cholesterol, which is perhaps the biggest risk factor in heart disease. This is precisely why doctors advise against high-fat diet in the long-term.

Bringing this back to Soylent, if you are a believer in the benefits of the high-fat-very-low-carb approach and the rise in LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol doesn’t concern you, these studies looked at 60% fat along with less than 4% calories from carbs. Can you find a single study advocating 47% calories from fat and 33% calories from carbs? I can’t: those who advocate for high fat believe it is only safe if you heavily restrict carbs. High fat plus moderate carbs seems to be right in the sweet spot of awfulness that no dietician would recommend.


I’ve lost 15 pounds and 20pts of LDL in the last few years since I’ve been on mostly Soylent… I used to add extra oil to Soylent (and Schmoylent) to up the fat. I didn’t quit the practice for health reasons but rather just because it was a hassle. Like I said before, I would like to try Keto at some point just to experience it. Likely from a soylent type powder/oil combo.

On the most part though, I’d think a <10% carbs or <10% fat diet would be just too much of a pain in the ass.

Better just to minimize the simple carbs/sugars and saturated fats…

If you believe a <10% fat diet is right for you, Go for it! But please leave my Soylent alone. It’s working great for me as is.


As I said, I’m not really expecting Soylent to suddenly cater to the extremes and go either <10% carbs or <10% fat. But its current ratio doesn’t make any sense, and fat level is far above all recommendations (except for those who advocate extreme carb restriction, and Soylent shouldn’t be catering to those sorts of extremes).


At least we now have a lot of new posts on this old subject!


Lol. I guess you can find anything on the internet. Carbs are bad! Fat is bad! The earth is round!

This is kinda like religion here (or politics)… not changing any minds, just making lots of noise. Sigh.


Back when discourse was more active…


Latest US Dietary Guidelines


It sounds like, as usual, the answer isn’t to eliminate either fats or carbs, or reduce them to incredibly low amounts – just eat both of them in moderation.


The latest nail in the high-fat coffin:

It appears that a high-fat diet promotes hazardous gut bacteria. This is getting a lot of attention in the medical community because we know that so much of about health comes down to our gut bacteria, and the details are not yet well understood. This is groundbreaking as one of the first studies to look at the connection to a high-fat diet. Still a lot of unknowns and details for researchers to explore, but what is known so far doesn’t look good for the high-fat camp.


In the study you mention, they used Soybean oil which is high in saturated fat. Wonder if that is the reason they obtained the bad outcome. Here is an article that says that saturated fats are bad for gut bacteria:

Edit: Wait, I may be wrong about Soybean Oil being high in saturated. There are 2.1 grams per tablespoon.


This doesn’t prove anything, but it is interesting. Looks like society is changing its attitude on fat.

This recent article says the price of high fat items like avocados, olives, and butter is rising due to increasing demand.