The energy paradox


The thread Another Official Soylent Experience segued into a topic I spend some thoughts on as well and which i like to share. Im looking forward to yours.

[FYI: I am a dutch, enthusiastic DIY-soylenteer for about a year now. About half of my nutrition I get out of soylent. Other meals are all enjoyable, social and healthy :smile:
My DIY-recipe:]

@miscjunk summoned it very well in this other thread:

The debate, from what I understand, is if the additional nutrition required can be gained from just having more soylent, or is the nutrition ratio in soylent not suitable for certain types of activity? I would assume the later. One may want to have a chug of honey or some other type of high carb food just before a sprint, or something like that. We should treat soylent for what it is - basic, hassle free, healthy nutrition for a normal routine lifestyle. If one works out in the morning, or exercises in the evening - you can imagine that biasing the amount of soylent consumed around your activities would make sense.

After my following experience I started to think about this topic:

I work in the theatre field in the Netherlands. Not as an actor, but, to keep it short, as a supportive trooper. Now and then I have to ‘perform’ as a moderator in a live-interview / Q&A / debate after the show. In this circumstances you want to be sharp. Its not only about asking questions. Also about the questions that delve deeper, about making use of what has been said, and to be able to throw in a lighthearted joke now and then. In this circumstance you really wish you have a lot of, as the French say: esprit (spiritedness/chirpiness).

One time I tried such on soylent and it didn’t went very well. Partly due to an incidental lack of good preparation on my side, but mainly because I just couldn’t grab any focus during the talk. I blamed it on the nutrition I had had; my energy levels were too low for this. But I also had a strong impression it was to blame to the fact that my mind never had a good rest a few hours earlier, around dinner time.

Line of thinking: If you drink soylent, you just are good to go. So you go. But sometimes, when you want to be able to ‘peak’ later, you have to cool your jets some hours before. A regular dinner can be a perfect catalyst for ‘calming’ the nerve system.

In the same fashion I don’t think soylent would be suitable food for actors before rehearsals or performing on stage. Because then they need to be able to spend lots of energy.

My hypothesis: it is easier to build up a big pool of ready-to-spend energy with traditional food, then with soylent. Not only the food/nutrition that sets the metabolic system to work, but also the nerve system is playing a part here.

Soylent is, I think, much better for truck-drivers, writers, coders and whatever white-collar-workers - like myself on an average day. And, off course, soylent is bound to become the #1-food for buddhistic monks.

All above is anecdotal.


This would seem to make sense from a systems point of view. Soylent appears to be extremely efficient in terms of delivering on a set baseline of nutrition. Most highly efficient systems are not resilient - that is there is not a lot of “slop” or inefficiencies in the system, which in this case might translate to extra carbs for strenuous exercise.

It seems to me that Soylent can be equated to lean manufacturing principles. Lean works great when your just-in-time logistics system is working well, but when there is a rail strike or natural disaster, there is not an “inefficient” warehouse that you can turn to.

Interesting speculation and thanks for sharing. That is something I’ll pay attention to when I finally get my Soylent delivered some time in the coming… weeks?


There is always something to be said for a little “recharging” now and then. If that’s a meal, great. If it’s meditation, going for a walk, a brief nap, or playing with your cats (my personal favorite!) then that’s all equally valid. =)

Humans definitely need a bit of down time every now & then, some more than others.


Just had my first day on soylent.
I can see what you are referencing. Just went on a 1.5 hour ride on my bike with just water. But also my intent for something like cycling is to have a diluted soylent bottle, though I haven’t an idea for running yet. For office situations, or interviews, you may keep a bottle near by.

As to a thought why food allows peaking, perhaps on vintage food you are at a lower level of performance, but on soylent your constantly near peak so your brain winds down because you don’t always need it. Similar to how a droning sound that seems loud when you walk into a room will fade away once you focus on something else like conversation.


What you all are describing is the difference between the bodies short medium and long term energy needs. There are different types of carbohydrates, and any athlete or long distance runner would attest to the variety of hearts that they take before running a marathon for example. The complexity of the carbohydrate you’re taking in relates directly to the time frame in which the body consumes it. More complex carbohydrates take longer for the body to break down and thus can be considered as a delayed or slow release form of energy which lasts longer.

Soylent has a particular carbohydrate profile with some ratio of simple to complex carbohydrates. Now obviously that would not be optimal for every type of activity proceeding the consumption of soylent. If we all have that much common sense in the way we approach Soylent it would truly be the hassle free form of baseline nutrition that it really is supposed to be.

If it isn’t obvious by now, the above discussion applies to other nutrients as well. for example you may need a little more potassium to boost your endurance for for a specific type of activity. Or you may need more electrolytes to compensate for sweating profusely.

Food, just like everything else in life, is accompanied with a lot of nuance. While we are all giving our own geek analogies, I’ll give my own. Soylent, in electrical engineering speak, removes the DC component out of food (the constant component) and allows us to focus on the AC signal (the fluctuating component).


One thing to consider:
Not everything is because of soylent.

People seem to be taking everything that happens after they start using soylent and automatically assuming that soylent is the cause. Some of it is, some of it isn’t. Soylent isn’t a magic potion, its just healthy food. People have off days, soylent won’t make those disappear, and when they do happen soylent isn’t always the cause. Most people have reported having more energy at a more consistent level while using soylent, so blaming soylent for a crash seems premature. If you were doing something physically strenuous, then wondering if soylent meets your needs would be appropriate, but not being as chipper as normal at an arbitrary time like that… I wouldn’t jump to conclusions.


'tis very true. But we at least seem to be discovering that having a truly complete, healthy diet for the first time in… well, ever… causes absolutely stupendous changes for the better. Soylent may not be the direct cause per se, but to me at least it seems directly responsible for the chain reaction of events inside my body that I’m currently reveling in. =)


I’m not disputing that a healthier diet is beneficial, I am just saying that everything that happens to someone after soylent isn’t caused by it.


I for one have had consistent energy, but it’s been pretty low energy. I still haven’t managed to figure out how to fix it. Although eating a traditional meal for dinner seems to help some.


I’m using Soylent for around 50% of my meal intake. I have had low energy issues for a long time and I haven’t noticed these being exacerbated by Soylent but neither have I noticed a significant increase in energy either. What I’m wondering is if folks (especially since a few months have passed) have found specific ways to supplement their energy while using Soylent?


As weird as it may be, my energy drastically increased when I increased the oil in my Soylent. I felt like crap for a small period of time, but since then I’ve had more energy than I’ve had in years.


When you say you increased the oil - do you mean beyond the standard measurement? I’ve been using one bottle per pouch, which I believe is what the instructions call for…?


That’s correct. I’ve been adding additional oil on top of the standard amount. The energy increase may be unique to my personal needs, though.


Are you somehow acquiring extra bottles of oil from Soylent or are you making your own mix? If your own mix, would you mind sharing?


I got some extra bottles from someone who ordered vegan, but received the oil bottles anyways. Once it runs out, I’ll have to make my own mix. Supposedly its not very complicated beyond canola oil + fish oil. But I don’t have to deal with that until my official blend runs out.


Got it. Right now I take in addition to the Soylent two packets of Coromega Omega3 Squeeze. Each packet is 2.5 mg, I was hoping to see how this translated into ml, since that is what the oil bottle is measured in, but apparently that doesn’t really work…

Anyways, point being:

(a) I’d suggest Coromega as a good fish oil source, I’ve been using them for years, its pretty tasty (yogurt like consistency) and comes in individual packets

(b) There are only forty calories in 5 mg of Coromega…this makes me think that canola oil must have a much higher caloric load?

BTW, a serving of Coromega provides 2000 mg of fish oil, 350 mg EPA, 230 DHA, and 650 mg long chain omega-3 fatty acids.

I take these supplements as a natural supplement to my medication for depression.


Canola oil has a significant amount of omega 9 fatty acids. Its mostly omega 9, actually. So that’s probably where you’re seeing the calorie difference from.

Does it help?


I would have agreed with you before day five. The first few days is a bit taxing, but I’m used to being extremely tired and just generally feeling like shit (undiagnosed medical problems, I assume). But then something clicked around day 4 or 5. I woke up not tired, like I haven’t felt in years. I had more energy than I knew what to do with (I’ve started running a tiny bit and doing some university courses).

Soylent really does have an adjustment period.


I wish I knew. There are always so many variables in my life I am unable to determine what works and what doesn’t. :stuck_out_tongue: I’m waiting for some new quantified self toys to come out that will let me keep better track of various factors which may help detangle some of the complexity - e.g. I seem to have a Vitamin D absorption issue, so I take supplements, but I really need a more regular way of testing what my levels are - b/c that can influence depression…

That said, my psychiatrist recommended the Omega-3 supplement and from what I’ve read it is acknowledged widely to be excellent for brain health as well as overall health.


I’ve noticed my mental faculties are greatly improved with supplementary omega 3, as well. I have ADHD, for the record. Interesting that it helps with other things as well.