What are the differences between Soylent and Ensure (Not a troll)

So, in other threads, people have suggested that Soylent is simply a glorified version of Ensure, which I take it is a meal replacement drink. Personally, I believe that Soylent is better, but I’d like to be able to respond to those criticisms by arming myself with responses to the critics. My belief is worth exactly 0 to a skeptic. Science-based evidence, on the other hand, is harder to reject or ignore.

So, what makes Soylent different from the standard meal replacement drink? Presumably the manufacturers of those drinks are attempting to accomplish the same thing as Soylent is. Why should they be any less competent at it, given the state of nutritional science?

Please–no strawman arguments, though. I can tear those to pieces on my own.

In my case, my reasons for going to Soylent and believing it’ll improve my waistline is that it doesn’t contain all that much sugar. Some, certainly, you can’t use vegetable matter with introducing some.

During the long wait for Soylent, I did do a lot of poking around for substitutes and everything on the grocery and pharmacy shelves failed the sugar test. It also all had these weird flavours to disguise the taste which I don’t need. I dislike chocolate, vanilla and caramel more than bland.

As to DIY, it was impossible to easily get the recipe ingredients shipped to Canada and Amazon.ca didn’t seem to have most of them. And I’m lazy which is a big reason for the Soylent.

(I’m on my second day and so far my back passage is fine.)

Macronutrient balance is the obvious thing to point to.

Ensure contains 6g fat, 33g carbohydrate, and 9g protein for one 220 calorie serving (or 18g, 99g, 27g for 660 calories, which nearly equivalent to a serving of Soylent 1.0) (2:11:3)

Soylent contains 24g fat, 84g carbohydrate, and 38g protein for one 670 calorie serving (2:7:3.16 because I’m bad at ratios)

Just at a glance it’s clear that Ensure is unbalanced towards carbohydrate and it wouldn’t be difficult to make a case for lowering the ratio of carbohydrate in Soylent. That’s not even looking at the source of the macronutrients or any of the micronutrients, which I’ll leave to someone who is smarter than I am (there are plenty of you on this forum, come help).

EDIT: Also, SUPER preliminary research shows that Ensure is more expensive than buying Soylent in bulk, coming out to about $12.24 per day (at a price of $0.17 per fl oz at Walmart and an approximate 72 fl oz required to hit 2000 calories) compared to Soylent’s cost of, what, a little over $9 for monthly subscribers? Obviously this is subject to the specific retailer, since the cost of Ensure is undoubtedly more flexible currently than the cost of Soylent.

I’ve actually wondered this myself… Why am I buying Soylent (or trying to :frowning: ) when Ensure and whatnot is already available?

I think it comes down to the idea of “everything your body needs, nothing it doesn’t” which for me is less sugar. Does Soylent have less sugar? Maybe? I never really checked. I hope so.

I’m not diabetic, but I love sweet things (grabs a handful of jelly beans) so I try to keep my “food” free from sugar, as much as possible. Same with carbs.

Plus when I have my soylent in a blender bottle it just looks like I have a protein shake while I’m on the way to the gym, not some old guy that can’t chew food anymore, let alone go lift.

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It takes 9 servings of Ensure to equal 2000 calories. Ensure has 15g of sugar per serving so that works out to 136g of sugar for an entire day. Soylent on the other hand has 6g. Ensure has less than 1 gram of fiber per serving for a grand total of less than 9g per day. Humans need somewhere in the high 20g of fiber for a day, Soylent has 27g.

According to this site one serving of ensure has about 25% of all the vitamins and minerals. So 9 servings would get you double the RDA. This is not necessarily a bad thing. A days worth of Ensure only has 837mg of omega 3 when you really should get over a full gram.

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Less sugar than what? Most likely the answer is “Yes” but it depends on what you’re referring to as “Sugar.”

Soylent’s carbohydrate comes from maltodextrin (a complex carbohydrate made up of variable-length glucose chains) and oat flour. The only sweetener comes from the vanillin flavor and a small amount of sucralose.

Ensure, on the other hand, contains much more carbohydrate which is derived from maltodextrin (the second ingredient) and sugar (the third ingredient), along with additional flavoring from “Sucromalt” which, according to promotional material from Xtend, is “a low glycemic syrup that is fully digestible and comprised of oligoglucose with unique linkages, fructose (fruit sugar), and leucrose (a natural analog of sucrose).”

Less than Ensure or other readily available meal-replacement drinks. Sorry, my post was mostly a comparison of Soylent to Ensure and why I just don’t buy that instead.

Got it! It should be noted that “Ensure” is marketed mostly as a meal replacement drink to provide balanced calories and micronutrition, but is not necessarily designed to be a complete alternative to food (I realize I might be at least partially wrong here but looking at the nutrition profile this is clearly the niche it should fill).

I think it’s important to point out, as well, that RL isn’t doing anything that big food companies can’t do, but that they’re doing something that big food companies aren’t doing. I have no doubt that a company with the resources of Nestle or Abbot (makers of Ensure) could do everything that RL has done just as well if not way better, but at the end of the day nobody’s bothered to invest in the idea. It could be that the risk of taking something like that to the market is too high to justify the cost, or that the demand hasn’t been demonstrated, or simply that there’s not enough profit margin to make it worthwhile. It could just be that the lofty claims of a nutritionally complete meal would bring too much scrutiny if they come from a large company and no one wants to get their hands dirty.

I think I agree; furthermore, I can only imagine the potential liability that a large company would expose themselves to, even assuming that the were to go the long, winding route towards certification from the FDA.

Still, in another of my posts, I mentioned how having x amount of nutrients isn’t necessarily the point. If I wanted to, I could eat a meal of half a bottle of multivitamins and say, technically speaking, that I’m getting more “nutrition” than anything else.

But obviously that’s crazy–not only is it dangerous due to exposing myself to toxicity/overdose from various substances, it’s also complete horse crap. I can eat 50g of vitamin C and I won’t derive the benefit from anything but a small fraction of it. It’s all about bioavailability. So in terms of bioavailability, does anyone know (presumably the manufacturers, since they know the exact recipe) how the compounds interact with each other? Presumably, Ensure just threw together a bunch of nutrients, added some flavour, and called it a day. Because that’s the cheapest way to put the product on the market. Furthermore, as an occasional meal replacement, they don’t even really have to claim that it will provide complete nutrition.

Soylent, however, is in a different ballpark. If it is indeed being marketed as a DIET replacement, ie, having the potential to constitute 100% of your nutritional intake, then that presents a significant barrier in the eyes of a skeptic–and that skeptic isn’t going to be satisfied by me quoting the sales brochure.

This forum seems to be full of people who are very knowledgeable about what nutrition they need and where they get it from. It is to that knowledge base that I am appealing so that I can essentially learn everything about it–cause I hate losing arguments :stuck_out_tongue:


They could still make it nutritionally complete or atleast nutritionally far better and skip the lofty claims part if they dont want to attract scrutiny., But they arent doing it anyway because i guess they are just not interested or i am wondering if there is some kind of ‘big food’ lobby (meat/sugar lobby) which they are scared of and if soylent will end up facing the same thing when they get big enough to attract said lobbies attention. It will be sad if it happens.

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My guess is that it’s largely the lack of a demonstrated market. Almost everyone I tell about Soylent turns their nose up at it. I’m sure the marketing arms of big companies are well aware of that. Those of us who make up the community here are not representative of society at large with regard to being attracted to a product like Soylent.

Big companies go for big markets. They aren’t interested in selling tens of thousands of something, they’re more interested in selling tens of millions of it or more.

On the other hand, it could be that the key word in ‘demonstrated market’ is ‘demonstrated’. Perhaps the market is bigger than any one thought and big companies have simply been too conservative to discover it.

If Soylent, and products like it, do take off, I anticipate eventually a lot of political scrutiny. Somebody somewhere will misuse the product and the lions will be released from their pen. That’s just the way politics works.

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Malachi: I think the market for us is going to grow exponentially. Assuming that Soylent survives not only prolonged use without a significant risk of side effect (ie, more than a few months–more than a few years) and has a anecdotal trial population followed by a clinical trial population…

All that’s left to see after that point is how long it takes us to realize that our current eating habits are unsustainable, and that food prices will continue to rise.

I VERY STRONGLY HOPE that Soylent either reduces (in the short term) or maintains their pricing (in the face of those rising food prices), however. I have a monthly budget of $500 for 2 people for food. Spending $340 of it one one of those people on a more or less untested product just doesn’t make sense–and spending even more/unit for a “test run” for myself makes even less.

I was attracted to Soylent because of all the rest of the plusses like not having to spend time cooking/eating (I really just don’t like eating, it’s very annoying and time-consuming). But another MAJOR factor was the presumed price point. I should have realized once it made its way into product form instead of “pilot project” form it was gonna get stupid.

I didnt want to mean ‘soylent like’ in my comment. Every person whom i have heard who took ensure said it has a bit more sugar/sweetness than they would like, so decreasing the sugar a little bit wont hit the target market of ensure (i am assuming) and make it relatively more healthy at the same time and more likely widen its market. Or they could have made something like ‘Ensure light’ with slightly less sugar and carbs for people who like the idea of ensure as a product but want it less sweet, if ensure people dint want to modify the standard ensure. But they didnt. Thats what made me curious in the first place.

This guy breaks it down, plus other options.

There are many posts about these comparisons. It’d be nice to have one definitive, stickied thread.

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Here’s my take:

Ensure was originally designed for people having difficulty taking in enough calories, especially the elderly and those with a gastro-intestinal conditions. As a result, it has a lot of easily-absorbed sugars.

Ensure has almost no fiber. Some of these conditions require extra fiber, which is dosed separately, while others need to avoid extra fiber.

While ensure has some vitamins and minerals, it’s intended to be a complement to a deficient system; it assumes specific deficiencies are being treated separately, and it assumes it’s not the sole food source.

And ensure is shipped pre-mixed, so that a frail or sick person can easily feed themselves. While this makes it easier, it means that you’re paying to ship a lot of water, and the formulation has to take into account shelf-storability for a wet item.

Soylent, on the other hand, is designed as a complete food for healthy people - so it has a better balance of protein/fat/carbs, it has less simple sugars, it has a lot more fiber, and it has a full complement of vitamins/minerals/other nutrients.

Also, unlike Ensure, Soylent is marketed as a normal food product, not a “health food” or a “medical adjunct.” As a result, it gets to the consumer at a lower price. Since it ships dry, you have mix the water and oil yourself - after which it will quickly spoil if you leave it out, like other fresh foods without preservatives.

Ensure is introducing new variants, and we expect them to compete with Soylent in the future - but it will be hard to compete on price unless they start shipping dry.


In the words of Family Feud, MentalNomad: Good answer, Good answer!

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That link I posted includes an Ensure powder. It costs more per day even then.

About 50% of your daily nutrients: http://diy.soylent.me/recipes/ensure-w-fibre

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I am allergic to Ensure.
I am not allergic to Soylent.

I cannot afford Ensure.
I can afford Soylent.

Ensure is supplement to food.
Soylent is food.


One of the major negatives about Ensure is the amount of table sugar it contains. Plus the Maltodextrin is derived from corn. I am not sure if that means anything but I have read on these forums that Soylents Maltodextrin is somehow better? I dunno.

I am sure that Ensure and other companies are going to follow sometime in the future. Powdered food isn’t a trend. It is part of today’s technology which enables many to gain good nutrition without it being a problem because eating right everyday is difficult to many for many different reasons.

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