Why All the Chemistry


I find the Soylent idea very compelling. Part of the interest is nutritional and the other is the easy factor. But before I dive in I needed to determine if I could stay on a liquid diet. So I decided to use real food and a blender to make liquid eats. I checked the ingredients against nutrition.self.com to determine if I am getting a well rounded diet. Now that I have been doing this for a week, I don’t quite understand the need for all the chemistry type ingredients which appear to be hard to obtain. Is the Soylent concoction less expensive then using real food, does it taste better? I get why the Soylent founders are working on the formula, as it is a business proposition. But what is DYI crowd trying to accomplish. Why not use real food. I think I am missing something.


You should use whatever you find delivers all of the macro and micro nutrients you need and tastes okay. If you can do that cheaper with “real food” and be accurate then why not? My recipe has a banana in it but otherwise is made up of raw ingredients/powders.

It seems like it would be hard to get everything you need with real food in that form factor. How do you meet your daily needs for potassium, etc? What does your recipe look like?


@Gail_Severt, I think I agree with you. Perhaps the answer to your question is that there is an unspoken underlying techie assumption that chemistry is cooler. Remember that many of those who are attracted to soylent are singletons who hate to cook. I guess cooking for oneself can be a drag if you aren’t into it very much; I’m not that way, but I would like to have the option of not cooking when I don’t feel like it. I could approach that another way, I guess, by freezing down meals (and I do that also), but I too am intrigued by soylent and find the idea compelling.

FWIW I have watched on this forum as people have struggled with the chemical approach, and have observed that actual food ingredients gradually creep in more and more as people discover that their bodies react to pure chemical nutrients in various unpleasant ways, or merely find that it’s easier to balance out a formula if one has the option of food ingredients. Some of what the DIY crowd is doing is just monkey-see-monkey-do based on admiration of Rob’s initiative. That’s okay – they are learning things about nutrition in the best possible way, through actual practice and experience. It will all sort itself out over time, I think. Personally I’ve become firmly committed to a real-food approach as far more practical for an individual DIY soylent practitioner.


I use dates and banana for the potassium. Plus I do drink low-calorie Gatorade prior/during/after my training runs. I have high blood pressure, so I have to be careful that I don’t get too much potassium. I also take a Vitamin D capsule daily. What of the ingredients do you believe cannot effectively be obtains from “real food”?


My recipe varies because I get bored, but below are my basic ingredients. Not very scientific, I just try to use “power” food.

Almond Milk
Coconut Water
Dark Greens (Kale, Spinach or Chard) or Canned Pumpkin (depends if I want orange or green)
Fruit (I switch off fruits like apples, blueberry, pineapple, peaches, strawberry, etc)
Dates or Figs
Spiru-Lein Whey powder Vanilla (I don’t like the Rice Protein powder)
Flax seed
Tumeric (more for the antioxidant factor)
Sometimes - Walnuts, Cooked Beans, Peanut Butter Powder, avocado


What does it taste like? For me I really like the ability to dial in exactly what I’m consuming and playing with the numbers. I assume it would be harder to do that when you have a massive variety of sources for everything. What would .7 of a banana be? I also do it for convenience. Nothing requires refrigeration in my mix and it takes 5 minutes to mix it up each night. Shopping for supplies is infrequent. I guess for me a huge element is the convenience. If your recipe works for your needs then it sounds like you’ve found a winner.


It literally just comes down to - cost and convenience. I don’t much care if the nutrients are there where they come from :wink: - but things like preparation time / storage and cost are the factors.

The big plus (and it is a giant one for me) is that I can prepare in theory a weeks worth of meals (the powder part anyway) in one go, and this probably wont take more than half an hour. Then its just bung in the oil, put in a shaker, shake and drink, job done.

If I can use foods I get from the supermarket cheaply and it doesn’t impact much on the prep time, its better. (but I know things like protein, potassium, magnesium etc will be quite hard to rda on from foods).


It’s also easier to get all the nutrients in one meal than if you do it with normal food.

At the end of the day it’s easier to prepare, you have absolute control over what goes into it and it’s cheaper.


If you go look at robs blog, besides it just being awesome spaceman food, getting pure nutrition from the most bare bone chemicals allows for one to avoid contaminants such as pesticides.


I feel better than ever on my “fully chemical” Soylent, so that works for me.
This might be possible with very specific combinations of real food too, but that would be much more expensive, and wouldn’t keep as long.


Stuff don’t need refrigeration, and i don’t have to worry if i’m running low on food. I have stocked up for nearly a month. I don’t have to waste time going to the grocery store several times a week, and wait in line. I don’t have wash every item before use, like food. And it is easier to keep track of almost all nutrients you put in your body.

Also no pesticides!


Thanks all for your responses. I totally get the convenience, which it appears was the impetus for Rob starting down this path. Good points on the shelf life and lack of potential ingestion of pesticides.

I agree that the Food Based formulas may be missing some key micronutrients. However, for now, since I have to go to the grocery store anyway, I will keep to the real food based liquid diet. I don’t have the time or inclination to DYI Soylent. I will pre-order from the company and a wait my two week supply. Plus, I like supporting start-up enterprises.


I don’t think we’re completely avoiding pesticides. Our calories come mostly from maltodextrin (usually corn), MCT oil (usually coconuts) and maybe olive oil. Unless we’re buying organic brands, these crops were raised using pesticides.


Organic does not mean pesticide-free. It only means they use organic pesticides instead of synthetic. Just google “organic pesticides” and you’ll see links to news articles and even sponsored links of companies like Bayer selling organic pesticides.

This Globe and Mail article is particularly interesting : http://www.theglobeandmail.com/technology/science/organic-pesticides-can-be-worse-than-synthetic-study/article4322612/


@AndreM It USED TO depend entirely on what the local regulations are, defining Organic. In the US the feds have taken it over.

In Oregon, organic was more strictly defined than anywhere else, until the Feds got their act together, and now Oregon Tilth is the Oregon certification agency for organic foods and practices.


Organic pesticides have to follow particular rules for use and for application, and I don’t see any reason why Bayer shouldn’t be able to produce the pesticides as well as anyone else.