Is it a good idea to use Soylent once/twice a day?

by adamzerner 3 min read8th Sep 201457 comments


Edit: Sorry, I didn't realize there has been so much discussion on this already! I thought I had just stumbled across some obscure product haha. Anyway, I've been reading through discussions here, on Hacker News, Tim Ferris' blog etc. There's been a lot of talk about whether or not this is truly a "replacement for eating" (or whatever the term is). I think the more interesting question is whether it's a good idea to:

  • Have Soylent once or twice a day.
  • Have whole food snacks throughout the day like cheerios, trail mix, fruits etc.
  • Have a nice big dinner each day.
  • Maybe focus more on whole foods on weekends when you have more time.
I don't think this particular question has been discussed enough. And it seems that it hasn't been discussed here for a while. So perhaps we should start a new conversation!

My initial impression is that it is a good idea to use it as a once or twice a day thing.

  1. It saves time. To me, this is huge.
  2. It saves money.
  3. It makes it easier to eat fewer calories, fat, sugar and salt. I'm surprised this health benefit isn't talked about more. Most american diets have way too much of these four things. I think Soylent helps in this area for two main reasons: a) It makes you full faster. b) It doesn't have as much calories/fat/sugar/salt as you a typical diet probably does.
  4. It is probably way more nutritious than the meal it's replacing. Typical diets probably are lacking in certain nutrients, and Soylent will probably help to "fill in these gaps". Again, another huge benefit that I'm surprised doesn't get talked about as much (although this doesn't apply for people who use multivitamins).
  5. There really don't seem to be anything unhealthy about having it once or twice a day. I'm not very confident about this claim because it hasn't been studied enough, but so far I haven't heard of anyone experiencing health problems from Soylent* as a once or twice a day thing, and meal replacement stuff like Soylent seems to have been around for a while and hasn't caused anyone any problems.
    *The two main problems (digestive issues and headaches) seem to be sufficiently addressed by 1. Adopting it slowly into your diet (over the course of 5 days or so) and 2. Making sure you get enough salt.
So what do you guys think about using Soylent once or twice a day as I describe?

Edit: I just found an informative article -


Original Post: you could ignore this if you're familiar with Soylent

I've just came across a meal replacement drink called Soylent -

It is...

  • Cheap (~$3/meal)
  • Fast (just add water to the powder, no cooking or cleaning)
  • I could work while I drink it (I'm a slow eater and don't like to work while I'm eating, so this would save me a lot of time)
  • Nutritious
  • Doesn't go bad for about 2 years
And thus it sounds amazing! I try to be healthy and cook my own meals but I find that I spend way too much time cooking, eating and cleaning (at least 2-3 hours a day). And despite my efforts to be healthy, I still think my diet has too much fat, sugar, salt, processed ingredients etc. (like most Americans).

The two downsides that come to mind are:
  1. It may be lacking certain essential nutrients.
  2. It may have detrimental effects on my health in the long-term.

1) It seems that they tried to create this drink to have all the macro and micronutrients you'd need. I'm not a nutritionist so I can't say, but I can't be sure that it is indeed comprehensive. However, I was just talking to a nutritionist and she mentioned that people in comas and stuff do survive on a formula similar to this that's injected into their stomach (or another part of their digestive system). So that does make me relatively confident that it's at least possible for humans to survive off a formula like this.

2) This is the biggest concern. This Stack Exchange answer seems reliable and said the long-term effects haven't been studied. And I recall hearing this before. I don't really see any reason to think there'd be detrimental long-term effects.
  • Tube feeding has been around for a while and doesn't seem to have any long-term effects (from what I know).
  • There doesn't seem to be anything odd about the ingredients that would be detrimental. When you eat food and digest it, it becomes something pretty similar to what's in the formula. In fact, it seems that the ingredients in the formula are simpler than the components of whole foods, and thus there should be less stress on your digestive system.
  • Meal replacement drinks have been around for a while and don't seem to have any long-term effects (from what I know).

However I really don't have enough information to make any reasonably strong conclusions. Those bullet points above are more vague suspicions than evidence backed knowledge.

So do any of you guys know anything about Soylent or meal replacement drinks/bars/etc.? Are they healthy? Are there things I haven't accounted for?

Also, I'm sorta surprised this isn't more popular. Most people I know hate cooking and cleaning and shopping and spending so much time and money on food. I think most people would be more than happy to have Soylent (or something similar) for a meal or two each day, and then have a big dinner or something. It would save a ton of money and time, and would reduce the amount of fat and sugar in the persons diet. And because you're spending less money on food and consuming less fat and sugar, you could justify eating out or ordering in a splurge meal more often! What do you guys think? Why isn't this more popular? Are people really that afraid of the health effects?

(I'm not being hypocritical. I know that *I've* been asking about the health effects and seem to be worried about them, but I wouldn't think most people would approach this the same way I am. If I lived on an island isolated from other people, was told about Soylent and asked what I think it's popularity is, I would guess it to be very high. I would think people would see that it's pretty nutritious, aren't really any known risks or reason to think there would be risks, and be eager to save time and money by using Soylent).