Will I lose weight on normal Soylent, or do I need a low carb version?


I am a pretty overweight guy, probably 75lbs over my ideal weight. One of the biggest reasons I am interested in Soylent is not just getting good nutrition easily, but also losing weight.

From everything I have read about weight loss, it appears that cutting carbs is the best way to achieve it. This, as I understand it, is the basis of the recently popular Keto Diet.

If normal Soylent contains the recommended amount of carbs, and I just consume Soylent or consume it for 2/3 of my daily meals, will I lose weight? Or do I need to get a low-carb version of Soylent?


From what I understand, we usually get way more carbs than is necessary from average meals. So Soylent probably will cause weight loss as is. Lower for faster loss I guess, with bit risk of energy loss maybe, depending on how much energy you need for work for example. Desk job you already eat more than necessary, while you may even need more if you work at very physical job like warehouse box shuffling type job.


Low-carb isn’t necessary but it is an option. Losing weight is as simple as calories in, calories out.

You can find your basal metabolic rate by using a calculator, and then also input other calories burned. You want to eat less than you burn to lose weight.

I recommend this one: http://nutritiondata.self.com/tools/calories-burned

Good luck; I’m doing soylent in part to lose weight myself. :smile:


crapguitarist is right on the money. They key to weight control (up, down, maintain) is calories. Carbs are an easy thing to axe if you need to cut calories, but in practice I feel plenty full from ~2200 calories of soylent per day, I suspect you would too.


Oh another thing. It’s the most prominent thing I’ve experienced the first three days: there is a difference between sated and stuffed. I was a frequent overeater, and recognizing this made me realize what I was feeling wasn’t hunger but rather just that I’m not overeating.


This is actually a Very Dangerous myth to perpetuate, and frankly just really bad science. If this were the case, myself, and millions of other skinny and sedentary office drones would be a whole lot fatter. It is not that simple. And calorie restriction itself can cause a stress response that will do more damage by consuming muscle first, instead of fat, or even liver damage.

Our bodies do not all work similarly. This assumption does not apply to all, let alone many.

Here’s a pretty decent article on the subject, and another from The Atlantic on the subject.

This is a terrible and frustratingly pervasive myth, and there is a lot of science that shows its assumption can cause more harm than good.


Mrob, I think you’re talking about a different level of abstraction than crapguitarist and I.

The energy balance model does not imply calorie restriction, nor does it specify how the calories come out. If your normal body temperature is ever so slightly higher than the next guy’s you’ll end up burning more calories doing the same things, and there are ten thousand little variations like that, but the variations are all variations of how and how many calories come out.

It becomes an important distinction when you start talking about individuals and changes an individual can make. Since there’s no practical way to measure some quantities (BMR for example), and there are practical ways to measure other quantities (eg weight) it becomes very useful to have a well justified tool for converting between the various units, and the energy balance model is one such tool.


The point is the processes in the body that result in the loss of weight in a particular way. The only way it works is calories in, calories out. What’s in dispute is not that simple fact, but the fact that our bodies process things differently.

A calorie is a measure of energy. Other people’s bodies burn calories different than mine. If I consumed 50 ml of canola oil, I might get 350 calories out of it, where mrob might get 400. His metabolism would be more efficient. That means I would underutilize the food I’m eating, require more food to get the same amount of energy, and get more unused “wasted” macronutrients in my system. Which would get stored as fat, putting me in a vicious cycle.

The only solution to this seems obvious to me: tailor your diet to your personal metabolism. Calculate the weight of your bones and muscle mass and body fat, then optimize your diet to maintain muscle mass, have healthy bones, and lose fat. I guess you would need to adjust your macros to get the most efficient source of calories needed through the day? How would you estimate caloric intake? Obviously a deficit is required, but what type of deficit. Do micronutrients and their ratios affect weight loss?

It boils down to calories in, calories out, but that’s like saying particle physics boils down to E=MC^2. It’s a handy reference but doesn’t do much good without filling in the variables, which end up being complex equations of themselves.


I wasn’t suggesting anyone should eat at a 90% deficit and I don’t think the original reader took it as such. That article just covers the extreme version of ci/co.

You’re right that it isn’t JUST ci/co, but if you’re intelligent about it it’s a good starting point-- even moreso if you’ve spent the majority of your life ignoring your biology.

So with that: OP, please make sure you check with your doctor before beginning any exercise or diet plan. :smile:


Calories-in calories-out is a ridiculous oversimplification, and you don’t even have to look beyond simple arithmetic to see that it is so.

If it were true that our adiposity is determined by calories-in/
calories-out, then this is one implication: you only need to overeat,
on average, by twenty calories a day to gain fifty extra pounds of fat
in twenty years. You need only to rein yourself in by this amount—
undereat by twenty calories a day— to undo it.

Twenty calories is less than a single bite of a McDonald’s hamburger
or a croissant. It’s less than two ounces of Coke or Pepsi or the
typical beer. Less than three potato chips. Maybe three small bites of
an apple. In short, not very much at all.

Taubes, Gary (2010-12-28). Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It (Kindle Locations 920-930). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

This is a question that researchers asked in the first half of the
twentieth century with regard to this arithmetic, back before
calories-in/ calories-out became the conventional wisdom. In 1936,
Eugene Du Bois of Cornell University, then considered the leading U.S.
authority on nutrition and metabolism, calculated that a 165-pound man
who manages to maintain his weight for two decades— to gain no more
than two pounds during those twenty years— is matching his calories-in
to his calories-out to within a twentieth of 1 percent, “an
exactness,” Du Bois wrote, “which is equaled by few mechanical

Taubes, Gary (2010-12-28). Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It (Kindle Locations 943-944). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Yup I have turned into one of those people that just cites the same book over and over, oh well, I’m upfront about it.@Curtis2011 If you’re interested in losing weight (potentially with soylent) you may find several of my posts/topics valuable.


@chris, if I consume food that has a potential energy of 500 calories, and perform 600 calories of work, where do the extra 100 calories come from?

They come from the body consuming its own stores of energy. Calories in, calories out.

For the individual to be within a twentieth of 1 percent, or 0.0005% of burning the exact amount of calories he consumed isn’t that amazing when you consider that the output is not fixed, nor is the input, but that through natural metabolic processes, the body will burn energy more efficiently when fewer resources are available, and burn less efficiently during periods of abundance. The body is self regulating in normal circumstances. None of this is linear.

Excessive adiposity, or even being underweight, is caused by defects in diet, metabolism, or habits. All of these things can be seen as a function of calories in, calories out, but the underlying factors differ significantly when it comes to metabolism. An 18 year old 6’8" elite decathlete is going to easily consume 2800 calories per day and maintain his weight, whereas a 33 year old 5’6" sedentary network engineer consuming 2800 calories per day would quickly balloon to twice the athlete’s weight.

Metabolisms differ wildly based on personal circumstances, but the concept behind caloric reduction diets is that if you burn X amount of calories in a day, and you consume X-400 calories worth of food, then over time, you’ll average a 400 calorie per day deficit, resulting in weight loss. The effective caloric reduction may vary from person to person, but over a population of individuals with otherwise healthy metabolisms, you’re going to see an average approaching the 400 calorie deficit.

Obviously the form of those calories matter, your general nutrition, the proportions of macro nutrients, and your specific metabolism. Some people with inefficient metabolisms may only effectively consume 1800 calories of a 2000 calorie diet, with the difference being ineffectively turned into fat or excreted.

20 calories from cane sugar :candy: is entirely different than 20 calories of ethyl alcohol :beer:, which in turn is different from 20 calories of fructose :apple:. Or protein, or fat , or complex carbs, etc. The metabolic pathways for each are unique and need to be understood in terms of the overall diet and metabolic cycle.

So to sum up… ci/co is not a ridiculous oversimplification, it’s a useful convention when all the other factors have been accounted for.


I suspect part of the argument we’re having here is based in semantics. There’s “metabolism” the noun, which is more or less “the rate at which the body breaks down nutrients” and there’s “metabolism” the verb (“to metabolize”), which is more or less “how the body breaks down nutrients and then utilizes them throughout the body”.

This is logically inconsistent. In the first paragraph you’re saying that ‘x’ amount of calories differs in the effect it has on the body based on its source…and then you’re saying that ci/co is NOT a ridiculous oversimplification, which implies that all calories were created equally. Which you then account for by claiming that it’s only useful when all other factors have been accounted for – but I suspect you’re completely missing the biochemical factors that need to be accounted for, not just the varying caloric sources present in anyone’s diet [addressed below], and not considering those precise factors is likely going to be detrimental to any solid argument on nutrition and metabolism.

Except it’s specifically this that doesn’t always happen.

This is not entirely true, especially in the context given.

For instance, noun-metabolism has been shown to vary by only about 200 calories/day in people with so-called “high” metabolism vs so-called “low” metabolism. [The source study is eluding me atm.]

And as a counter, verb-metabolism is, I believe, what you’re referencing when you say that metabolisms differ wildly based on personal circumstances (which I also assume you define as dietary circumstances and activity levels). The chemical process of breaking down calories is a very uniform process that takes place in a narrow band of parameters. However, what the body does with that energy and those nutrients after that is what varies wildly from person to person, and is largely influenced by the slew of other biochemical processes taking place in the body (everything from what genetics you’re endowed with in the first place, to prenatal environmental effects, to environment and epigenetics, to mood or thyroid or other health disorders/conditions). These other biochemical factors can be largely unaffected by the actual amount of calories consumed.

‘Brief’ example: the effects of prolonged stress and elevated cortisol levels in the body. This study indicates social isolation of a social animal (in the study, baboons, but also applies to humans, dogs, horses, etc.) is strongly correlated with hypercortisolism. This study indicates that men (and presumably women, though males were the only study subjects) with an elevated waist-to-hip ratio experience a decrease in the inhibition (i.e., less able to stop) of cortisol secretion by dexamethasone. It is suggested that this could explain or contribute to the elevated sensitivity of their hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. TL;DR: Increased stress response in the body (in this context due to social isolation) makes the HPA axis hypersensitive, and through the action of glucocorticoids, thus encouraging weight gain primarily through fat accumulation/retention.

More importantly, because of the nature of the glucocorticoid response cycle, weight gained in this manner is notoriously unresponsive to the ci/co approach of weight loss while elevated glucocorticoid levels are still present. Furthermore, caloric restriction placed upon an already stressed body can (in some cases) induce an additional stress response, thus causing a stressed, overweight person to gain weight on a restricted calorie diet.

Thus, it seems to me that the argument that ci/co is in fact a useful convention is in fact a ridiculous oversimplification for all of the above reasons, even WITH the caveat “when all other factors have been accounted for”. To simply relegate the entirety of any human’s genetic makeup, environment & epigenetics, and current psychosocial status to the category “all other factors” is at the very least poor science, and frankly borders on unethical.


That all caloric intake is equal regardless of its type, and that the caloric consumtion is constant is the simplistic interpretation of ci/co made by its detractors.

This strawman falacy is obviously false.

The ci/co theory don’t pretend to rule over the complete nutrition, its just the last step. After the actual caloric input and output is determined (taking into account whatever needs to be) one can calculate the net surplus or deficit of energy. If a net surplus the extra energy is stored in the body, if a net deficit the energy stored in the body is used.

It is true, NEEDS to be.

This don’t contradicts ci/co, because the calorie consumtion has been reduced even more than the intake.


@Teseracto does have a point here. Arguments can get confused when it seems like sides are arguing for or against “consuming more than expenditure” causing weight gain, but in reality no one is arguing that. Indeed “there is no getting around the laws of thermodynamics”.

Rather when those of us argue against ci/co we we are saying that the body’s expenditure does NOT correspond to a simple calories-in/calories-out as many dieters are encouraged to compute with nutritional labels and pedometer/calorie exercise tables.

And when we say it doesn’t correspond we don’t mean in a slight variable way that many would agree with but in a very large way that causes us to invoke words like “ridiculous” and “oversimplification”.

Anyway I don’t want to besmirch the beauty of these arguments with anecdote, but I will just briefly mention my experience for the benefit of readers, and then bow out. I lost ~2 pounds of fat a week over ~3 months without a lick of exercise paying absolutely zero attention to calories, simply keeping my carbohydrates < 50g/day to enter and adapt to nutritional ketosis. Lost almost 20 pounds, am now < 10% body fat. Began at about 16% body fat. I’m also not a one-off, introduced my friend to the same concepts and he has had the same results.

Just FYI, I originally thought anything but calories-in/calories-out was pseudoscience, but actually there’s nothing of the sort here, there is very obvious and persuasive data of why/how elevated insulin would cause calories to be stored as fat regardless of the particular level of exercise/consumption. There’s nothing mysterious or pseudo-scientific about it, there really isn’t much “convincing” required for a major shift to occur, all that is required is adequate attention to be garnered, because the evidence is by far persuasive enough to “sell itself” so to speak. Also let’s be clear that it is equally foolhardy to adapt a “it’s purely about carbohydrates” stance, but I have to say that this statement is far far more accurate than anything we’ve yet settled on, and it’s in fact an entirely practical model to make choices by, as my weight loss attests to.


Can you clarify? I don’t understand what you’re saying here.


He said that a person can gain weight even on a hypocaloric diet. That means a net energy surplus (in form of fat stored) with a reduced energy intake.

The logical consequence of that is that the energy consumed (in the sense of spent, used) needs to have been lowered, even more that the intake.


Actually, excluding complete starvation, that’s exactly what can happen. The separation I’m trying to make is that the ci/co mantra does not relate to weight loss / weight gain. In fact, following this mantra (say by reducing your caloric intake to lose weight) can actually cause further stress and harm on the body, including weight gain. This is because of how the body changes where that energy is consumed or stored. My initial point was to break down these biochemical factors and note that variations in what the body DOES with calories (and of the varying types), that, again, the ci/co idea is too simplistic to compensate for.

There’s no violation of thermodynamics here: if suddenly an animal is rationing their meals, the body is going to be less concerned about running higher level brain functions, for example, and worry a little more about storing reserves in the event of a real crises when that food runs out.


@mrob Exactly. (You do know that you and I are agreeing right? Just checking.)

For a person to get larger there must be more in, than out, fundamentally, but the “out” has all sorts of internal variation depending on how/why/where the body stores or consumes it (just as you said) and these variations go way beyond exercise (which is where people usually get the “calories out”).

(Usually when people say calories-in, calories-out, they are talking about calories consumed vs. exercise, but occasionally they are trying to refer to the physical principle that in > out [tons of stuff going on here] = bigger, i.e. they’re talking about the entire internal process but that’s incredibly poor phraseology in my opinion and bound to lead to confusion.)

So, kind of a semantic confusion. I was just trying to point it out for anyone’s benefit. :smile:


It is bound to lead to confusion, and I believe it already has.

Yes, absolutely, in a perfect vacuum of physics, if you put more energy into a system than is being expended, there will be a stored surplus of energy. If you put less energy into a system than is being expended, then that surplus will be tapped into to make up the difference. This, I believe, is the point that no one is arguing about. Thermodynamics is in fact a constant.

The human body is not a perfect machine, however, and does not operate in a perfect vacuum of physics. Considering weight loss in the paradigm of “if you simply expend more calories than you eat, you’ll lose weight” is the point that is being argued as a fallacy. The human body does weird things, as has been cited above, several times.

I sincerely do not intend to claim that any one viewpoint is wholly right or wholly wrong, here. It seems that this discussion should serve, if nothing else, to point out that the Actual Peer-Reviewed Knowledge on this specific topic is flawed, at best. (The plural of anecdote is not data.)

Tangentially, we are in a board explicitly to discuss nutrition precisely because current accepted knowledge is so flawed, to the point that a software engineer figured out a method side stepping nearly Every Pillar of Nutrition Science that’s been established. I plead for an increase in peer-reviewed articles and links to studies on every side of the discussion.


@chris Agreed, and even @Teseracto also agreed to the point that those energy stores themselves don’t violate the ci/co idea, but at this point as @nc1701d notes, there’s just a bit of confusion / disagreement on what we’re trying to say in context to ci/co.

To bring it all home, and to give an answer to @Curtis2011 op: Soylent may or may not help you lose weight, but I think it is generally agreed to be a healthier diet than what most are on, and for cheaper.

I don’t think anyone here could recommend a low-carb version without a good bit of trepidation, but we are all experimenters here, so take what you will with that as well [weally]. Might be better off trying a ‘normal’ soylent diet for a couple weeks and see where things go, and then from there trying a carb-strict variant, to more easily pin point what has the greatest effect.

Remember kids, the only difference between screwing around and science, is writing it down.