Hey everyone, axcho of Super Body Fuel (and previously, Custom Body Fuel) here. Since I live in SF, I had a chance to meet up with Connor, the creator of an upcoming Paleo-ish meal shake called Ample, which is currently being crowdfunded for a full production run till… Wednesday (tomorrow). He gave me a free sample, so here’s my review!
The taste is hard to describe, because it’s not based on familiar grains like oats. The closest thing I could describe it to would be cake batter, subtly sweet with hint of fruitiness and savoriness and something almost like vanilla. It was a lot better than I expected, honestly! (I may have to start experimenting with pumpkin seed protein and sweet potato flour myself!)
The only complaint I have about the taste is the hint of pea protein that I could detect, which was… most unwelcome. Not to mention my allergy to pea protein! However, they’ll be removing pea protein entirely from the final formula, so that won’t be a problem in the future!
The powder mixed and dissolved quickly when I added water and shook the bottle, again better than I expected. No clumps. The texture was pretty smooth, without any grit catching in the back of the throat, and no chalky sensation, even immediately after mixing. With the amount of water I added, following the instructions to not-quite-fill the bottle before shaking, the consistency was thicker than milk but not too thick - pretty much just right.
Particle suspension was also quite good, with no separation of contents even after several hours in the fridge. This surprised me, given the absence of xanthan gum. I suspect the fiber blend and the collagen (gelatin) gave it that stable suspension, along with the sunflower lecithin. No significant increase in thickness after several hours either.
I had half of my 400-calorie Ample sample for breakfast (so, maybe 200 calories) before heading out to a three-hour parkour practice, and didn’t eat for at least five hours after that one half-meal. So, I’d say that’s pretty good - way better than Soylent 1.x or any other higher-carb or lower-protein products out there, at least for me.
Admittedly, I had eaten a big meal pretty late the night before, so I wasn’t too hungry in the morning, and exercise has a tendency to suppress my appetite, so I’m not saying that 200 calories of Ample is going to last you five hours every time. But that’s still impressive.
This is my favorite part. There are so many times when I’ve wished that I had a bottle of powder in my backpack, ready to fill with water and shake at a moment’s notice when I need a quick (but healthy) meal. But I’m allergic to the soy in 100%FOOD and Soylent 2.0, and we don’t currently have any “just add water” products that could be packaged this way at my own company, Super Body Fuel.
So Ample is my first chance to actually make this a reality in my life. I would totally keep at least two of these bottles on me at all times, just in case. The shape and size of the bottle is very easy to hold and shake. I also like that they’re light (just powder) but almost just as easy as a ready-to-drink liquid meal, no pitcher or cleaning or refrigeration required.
Ample is very well aligned with my own understanding of nutrition, after two years of delving into DIY soylent and many years of experimenting with my own diet thanks to allergies and other health problems. That is, Ample follows the “scientific, Paleo-ish” approach of, say, The Perfect Health Diet, or even, to an extent, The 4-Hour Body.
The current label does not include the full Nutrition Facts for every micronutrient, annoyingly, so I had to do some digging to find that data. However, it does seem that they’ve found a way to make it nutritionally complete after all, with just those green powders (wheatgrass, barley grass, spirulina, chlorella, cacao) and no supplemental vitamins or minerals. Definitely saves some time trying to pin down a custom vitamin mix with a manufacturer, at least!
Their biggest unique strength, though, is in choosing the specifics of their macronutrients. They blend several protein sources (whey, pumpkin seed, collagen) to reach their targeted, optimal amino acid profile. They blend several fat sources (macadamia, coconut, chia, algae, sunflower lecithin) to achieve a specific blend of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (omega-6 and omega-3, further broken down into ALA, DHA, EPA) fatty acids. And they blend several carb and fiber sources (tapioca, sweet potato, green banana, chicory root, acacia, psyllium) to get the right amount of starch, resistant starch, insoluble and prebiotic soluble fiber that they’re shooting for. And they add specific probiotics on top of that. I’ve never seen that kind of attention to detail in any of the other products out there, Soylent or otherwise.
In other words, it’s the most impressive recipe I’ve seen yet.
Ample is not cheap. It’s about twice as expensive as Soylent 2.0, and half as expensive as Ambronite (the first “whole foods only” soylent clone). So if you like Soylent, you’ll probably be happier sticking to what you’ve already got. But if you’re the sort of person who shops at Whole Foods (and I’ll admit, I do from time to time), then the convenience and ingredients list of Ample will probably win out.
I’ve seen a lot of hate for Ample lately in the online soylent community. This is not too surprising, given that Ample comes to this “convenient, complete meal” idea from a different paradigm than does Soylent (and Soylent’s many imitators).
But it’s a shame, because (and Rosa Labs has known this from the beginning) this emerging market has much to gain from expanding diversity, and little to lose from the emergence of newcomers like Ample. There are entire market segments of people in the world who will never buy Soylent (Whole Foods shoppers, for example). But some of those people will buy Ample. And that’s a good thing for all of us.
I’m glad to see an alternative like Ample rise up from the Paleo perspective. To put it bluntly, Rosa Labs’ Soylent does not work for me, and never has. As an original crowdfunding backer, I gave up after five bags of Soylent 1.0 and all the symptoms, and sold the rest of my one-month pre-order at cost to people on the forum. I’ve had several more bags of Soylent 1.4 and 1.5 since and while there’s been some improvement, they treat me much less well than my own recipes or a typical home-cooked meal. And Soylent 2.0 gives me some scary allergic reactions. I haven’t had more than three sips.
Soylent does a great job of appealing to people who would otherwise waste money and time only to eat poorly, and it does a great service to those people. I’m not one of those people. My body starts freaking out if I am not very careful about what I eat, and Soylent is not an improvement on the diet that I’ve had to discover for myself.
And I’m not alone. The kind of people who have a vested interest in practical, results-based health and fitness, like coaches and trainers, have already been evolving a consensus on what an effective diet looks like. And it doesn’t look like Soylent. It looks a lot like Ample.
Ample is the first product I’ve seen that can bridge the gap between soylent and the existing health and fitness community. It doesn’t speak the language of Soylent, because it’s not trying to. It’s speaking to the people who eat Paleo, or do CrossFit, or follow Tim Ferriss or any of the other thought leaders out there in the field of personal health and fitness. And like it or not, that’s a much bigger group of people than the current Soylent customer base. Bringing them in is a good thing.
Soylent is an idea whose time has come, and letting that idea expand and evolve and diversify will only make it stronger.
Anyway, I believe in this enough that I’ve just bought a lifetime supply of Ample on their campaign page (which ends tomorrow, by the way). Yes, a lifetime supply of a competing product. You can read more about my decision here.
If you’ve read all this and you know that Ample is not for you, that’s great, no problem! Soylent is probably going to make the most sense for most of the people here right now. But some people are going to like Ample better, higher price point and foodie buzzwords and all - and that’s great too! Let’s welcome them to our community. The more the merrier. Diversity is strength. Respect.
Let’s just keep that in mind, yeah?