Success metrics


#1

I am trying to articulate “success” for my experimentation with Soylent. My 1st order of a single week’s supply of 1.5 is sitting on my doorstep at home waiting on me. I will begin a subscription if the first couple of days do not cause undue disgust/discomfort. I’ve read extensively here, so have realistic expectations for the experience.

Background:
I am a 43 year old male, tilting in at 300lbs @ 6’. Sedentary job with occasional/irregular exercise (cardio). My child (who will not be an active part of this) is with me alternating weeks. A marginal cook at best, but only do so when the kid is around. Otherwise it is fast food or single dish/ingredient meals. (Most complicated meal would be a fruit/spinach smoothie.)

Objectives:
Increase nutrition/balance in my diet
Reduce/maintain current lack of food preparations (for self)
Increase ability to determine/modify caloric intake
Do no harm

Additionally, I would like to:
Reduce food costs
Lose weight

I am set to have blood work done next week to baseline “health”.

I am struggling with how to measure anything other than cost or gross weight loss. While I (obviously) enjoy eating, I have no particular emotional attachment to consumption. I find myself at a loss when trying to articulate how I’ll know if this experiment works.

So, I’ll throw myself to the hordes here and crowdsource my argument (and faults in it).


#2

Just to state the obvious, to know whether you’ve succeeded, you have to know what you’re trying to achieve.

Looking at your objectives, your last two look (reduced food costs and lower weight) like the ones that are most obviously measurable. As for the others:

For this I guess you’d have to record the nutritional content of everything you eat before starting on Soylent, and then continue when on Soylent.

I’m not quite clear what you mean by this. Do you mean you want to spend the same amount of time or less preparing food? In that case, measure how much time you spend preparing food, before starting on Soylent, and continue once you’ve started.

Have you been trying to determine/modify your caloric intake already? If so, continue doing so, and see if you feel more able to do it, I guess? Again, this sounds like recording how many calories you eat before starting Soylent, and then continuing to do so once you’ve started.

Look out for signs of harm I guess?


#3

My Fitness Pal

You may want to check out the link above. It will enable you to list all the foods you eat and keep track of the calories as well as other fitness/nutritional information.

If Soylent works out for you it should help to "Increase nutrition/balance in my diet"
If you’re making it by the pitcher I would think that should help to "Reduce/maintain current lack of food preparations (for self)"
If you use Soylent for 2 or more meals a day, that should help to “Increase ability to determine/modify caloric intake” ( also check out the link above)

Reducing food costs is hard to guess at. One thing I found was that once I started eating Soylent for more than 2 meals per day, I had to go to the grocery store less often. I found that when I was going to the store to buy food, I often ended up buying more food and/or other items that I only bought because I happened to see them while shopping. Not going to the store as often has reduced the amount I spend on extra stuff.

Weight loss is also hard to predict, but if you’re counting calories this is easy to do with Soylent.


#4

As far as losing weight, most people mean they want to lose body fat. When you first start losing (scale) weight it will track pretty well with losing body fat, but if you also do strength training to build muscle, the two numbers can diverge quite bit. A better metric is to measure your body fat % with calipers (which I’ve never done!) or simply measure your waistline (or other parts) or even just see how clothes fit you.

If you feel better and your clothes fit better (or, like, start to not fit because you are so much smaller), that’s a better metric than a number on a scale.


#5

You can track BMI, blood metrics like cholesterol, and more subjective feelings of energy, mental alertness, wellbeing.

But I would not recommending jumping into a 100% Soylent diet right away, most users have better success at slowing increasing consumption from 1 meal a day.


#6

Weight/BMI is good to track, but body fat percentage is really what you want to use to figure out what success is. And even then, success might be a simpler “I want to tie my shoes without wheezing” (which was one of my goals).

And I’ll throw in my experience with weight loss on Soylent: add protein. If you’re restricting calories, you’re going to need more protein than Soylent can provide, even if you don’t add strength training.


#7

Thanks for the feedback everybody.

I’m getting blood work done next week. Will use that as a baseline for the nutrition improvement/no harm aspect. I’ll check in to a body fat scale, too. Looking at my past food expenses will let me compare before/after. I’ll still have food expenses for the kid, but overall expenditures should go down.

I had been tracking my workouts w/mapmyride, and then later connected that to myfitnesspal. Previous calorie tracking was inconsistent because it was too much hassle to weigh everything before I ate it. (Not to mention individual donuts at Dunken Donuts don’t have barcodes for easy input…) With Soylent being more deterministic in how much goes in (if that makes sense), this should greatly help measurement. I believe my nutrition will improve with just moving to Soylent (see Dunken Donuts comment).

@pauldwaite - What I meant by “reduce/maintain current lack of food preparations” was that I am a lazy/crap cook now. I don’t foresee this turning me into a DIY’er. The prospect of mix, shake, and go of Soylent is more attractive than turning my kitchen into a chemistry set.

@DesertWarGod - I’ll check into protein requirements for my weight and see what I need to add. Realistically, I know I won’t do too much tweaking, as then effort would be on par with cooking. :frowning:

@wezaleff - one of the my anecdotal measurements will be that I stop kneeing myself in the gut whenever I ride my bicycle… :slight_smile:

Putting all of this in this forum is making me face that fact that I really am a cheap, fat, lazy, self-indulgent bastard. You are my tribe. LOL

I’ll update the 1.5 and weight loss threads as we go along.


#8

Gotcha. I know what you mean about calorie tracking, although putting in rough estimates (i.e. without weighing) might be better than no tracking at all, if you’re interesting in seeing what effect your food intake has on your weight/body fat %.

I use Withings’ Smart Body Analyzer for daily fat % measurement. The measurements do have a fair bit of variance, but it seems to be enough to track long-term trends — they have an iOS app which does nice graphs. (The scale is fairly expensive though.)

Here’s my own post about what metrics I’ll be tracking when I try Soylent.

There’s your real problem. That brat needs to start paying their own way.


#9

I assume you’re planning to check your blood work after doing Soylent for a few months? Depending on what fast food you’re eating, you can probably expect to see your cholesterol readings improve.

Have you checked your blood pressure lately? It may be high, and the amount of sodium in Soylent should help that.

Seconding @DesertWarGod – if you’re trying to lose weight, you should supplement the protein. At your weight and height you’re going to need at least a couple hundred more calories anyway (assuming you’re exercising at all, and you said you ride a bike), and protein powder is an easy addition to Soylent.