Through the Internet grapevine, I learned about a lovely man named Rob Rhinehart. He had created a genius food substitute invention called ‘Soylent’, inspired by the soya-lentil hybrid in the book Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison. Being an intrepid adventurer in the realm of unusual foods, I immediately wanted to try it, and began to research anything and everything about the strange little drink. I soon discovered a recipe called ‘The Beginners DIY Soylent’, which was an independent version of Rhinehart’s formula. After cross referencing the ingredients and amounts, and tweaking them according to my needs (age, gender, dietary requirements, ect.) I felt I was ready.
As Rhinehart firmly advises, and I also agree, anyone who wants to partake of this concoction should get blood testing every week that they consume it. In my case, I ended up extending my experience for a month, and chose to forgo blood testing for reasons that I reveal in the daily account that I kept. However, again, I do not recommend this as everyone’s body is different and you could easily overdose on something.
As my accounts of Soylent came to be quite a bit more extended than I had earlier anticipated, I have cut it them up into four sections, and will be releasing them over the next few days. If you have any interest in learning more about Soylent, I recommend you check out the team’s fundraising page.
So there I was, standing at the kitchen counter with a myriad of supplement bottles and jars and an ingredients list that I had researched longer and more thoroughly than the recesses of my own mind. My end goal: Soylent – a brilliant innovation brought to the world by Rob Rhineheart, an articulate young man from San Francisco who is impartial to mastication. I was very precise as I began mixing and blending the drink, double and triple checking my sources, even though I was positive that my list was correct.
I had been suffering from a migraine for several days previously, and as I measured the ingredients out on the little food scale, my stomach was thrashing with nausea as if I had swallowed the old man, the sea, and any other toxic sludge that happened to be polluting the ocean floor. Even still, headaches were a petty annoyance I had dealt with for years, and I certainly wasn’t going to let one prevent me from the commencement of Soylent consumption on my predetermined date.
I put my last scoop of white, nutrient laden substance into the blender, popped on the lid and turned it on. The color was a rich, warm yellow tone, and I immediately began to associate it with pleasant and non-nauseating things, like daffodils and lemon bars. As I poured a serving, however, it did not smell like any of those things – instead, an extremely sweet, custard-like aroma filled my nose, which may have been inviting on another day, but at that particular moment did not appease me. Sucking in a deep breath, I lifted the cup and began to chug.
I was halfway through before I tried to start assimilating it with other textures and tastes. The first thing that came to mind was an oatmeal milkshake – the thickness of the drink walked the line between liquid and solid – yet I was able to get it down smoothly. I exhaled and lingered over the sink for a few minutes, waiting for the swell of nausea to pass. For a few minutes, it didn’t – in fact, it got worse, and in that short span of time, as my head hovered near the water spigot, I cursed myself for not waiting until I felt better. Then, something began to happen.
In a sudden release, like someone had flicked a switch, my nausea suddenly subsided, and a felt a small, subtle rush throughout my body as it thanked me. I wrote it off as placebo, but didn’t care – relief is relief. I went to take a nap, and wait to see what would happen.
Day 2: I managed to get down another cup of Soylent before bed yesterday. It was difficult – my head had not let up, thought the nausea had lessened a bit. This morning it was receded, at least down to a 15%, but still begrudgingly present. Even so, I chugged down another cup of thick, yellow goodness (by goodness, I mean, in its own little way) and proceeded with my day. I certainly felt a boost in energy, constantly having the urge to move around, and was even able to think clearer than usual (which during a migraine is pretty much unheard
By this afternoon, my headache finally subsided, and then I was truly able to start to feel the benefits of Soylent. I also started a nootropic, and the mental lucidity and clarity is astonishing. I feel limber and sharp, but the greatest part is the emotions. Like most humans, I obviously have emotions, but they usually reside at a subdued, calm plane. This is nice because I hardly get phased, but there are times when I would really like to feel something. Today, Soylent completely hooked this up for me. Every conversation, observation and contemplation has been backed by some sort of response in me, and I find myself bewildered and awestruck by it.
Tonight I went to a friend’s house, where burgers were being grilled. I wasn’t hungry, but I was eager to see how my body would respond to solid food. I ate half of a meat patty with onions, taking half an hour to finish it a small glass of wine. It was indescribable. I could taste every tiny nuance of the flavors, and since my body was already satisfied, there was no mammalian impulse to inhale it as quickly as possible. Food can now become a hobby. I am delighted.
Day 3: Energy, energy, energy! I have so much of it that my mouth is talking faster than my brain. I bound around outside today like a kid, and there is no pain anywhere in my body, and I am marvelously enthusiastic about everything, everywhere. Soylent still isn’t my favorite tasting thing, but the results are instantaneous. I’m staying with some friends at a cabin this weekend, and I can’t wait to run around in the woods.
*Soylent is an easy pack when you’re taking a trip (pictured)
Skipped a few days of writing because creating memories got in the way of documenting my life on a computer screen. Also, the presented cuisine over the weekend was filled with some of my favorite foods (seafood, Spanish omelettes, ceviche, ect), so I had to make a decision on eating. I ended up drinking a glass of Soylent before every meal, so I could enjoy the food for taste, not quantity. It worked beautifully; I was able to eat everything in small samples and ended up satisfied every time. I plan on resuming to nothing but Soylent tomorrow.
Today I consumed nothing but Soylent. The consistency is still a tad on the thick side, so I have been working on blending the oat bran into a fine powder before adding other ingredients, and have increased the water amount. This has helped immensely.
I have been relishing my large increase in energy, however, my work has me mostly inside sitting through the duration of the day. All this morning I was getting particularly squirmy, so I thought I would do a little experiment and go for a run.
This is where another piece of the puzzle comes into play, and hopefully one that will help some of you who are reading this. I have had a rather nasty case of helicobacter pylori since I was a child (though it was sadly misdiagnosed several times up until last year), so hard exercise – particularly running – has always been an extremely painful activity. However, with my new-found Soylent buzz, I decided to take a break from work and take a stab at running to the store.
As I jogged along, expected things, like burning leg muscles and shortness of breath were present (as they are in anyone who hasn’t run in a long time), but the usual cramps that pop up in my ribs/stomach never came. I was able to make it a mile fairly fluidly, which for me, is pretty unheard of. I also expected to be drained by the time I got back home, but on the contrary, I still had lots of energy that lasted until my next glass of Soylent.
I think I will go for another run tomorrow and see how I fare pushing further.
This morning, I had just polished off a glass of delicious yellow fake food (I am really taking a liking to the taste now), and was about to take my nootropics, when I paused. Along with Soylent, I had started on a nootropic I had never taken before – Noopept – and I realized that it very well may be changing my actual experience. For the next few days, I want to take Soylent by itself to see if the results are still the same.
I went for a run again – I made it just past a mile, but had to stop as I was starting to get lightheaded. This worried me, so I went back home and triple checked my ingredients to see if I had missed anything. I have all of my containers lined up in a row, and when I use each one, I scoot it forward on the counter when I am finished using it, then back with the next batch. This keeps all of my nutrients in a straight line, so if I forget one, it will be obvious. Upon returning home, nothing was out of place. However, as I stood there scratching my head next to the sink, it dawned on me. Water.
Since I started drinking Soylent, I had felt so good that I had completely neglected to drink water beyond what my batches contained, which equated to about 4-5 cups a day. I gave myself a good scolding, then retrieved my favorite water bottle from the cupboard and made it my best friend.
Day 10: Things have been good – I have enjoyed solely Soylent for the past three days, and it has been going well – despite my ridiculous error with lack of water consumption, which I have now fixed. I haven’t felt much a difference without nootropics. My emotions are still balanced, and I feel my cognition is pretty sharp, though I have noticed that my writing and calculations (I practice algebra as hobby) are a bit slower. Even so, I feel calm, clear and happy.
I have also wanted to try an experiment, and yesterday morning I cut down my fat and carbohydrate content in my Soylent batches by 25%. Fat was a no brainer – if you have excess, cut a little intake down and burn what you have. Carbs, of course, are transformed into energy, but since every fad diet on the planet seems to encourage carb cutting, I thought I would see if, on a balanced diet, they really mattered. As it turns out, yes, they really do.
The first glass of my fat/carb reduced Soylent was much thinner tasting, and a little less sweet, which I liked. However, within a few hours of drinking it it, I found myself quickly running out of energy. I drank another glass, got a boost, but after another few hours, I was back to zero again. That night I measured my carbs back in, and felt fine until I went to bed.
Today, I was back to normal. I haven’t taken a run in a few days since I’ve been so swamped with work, so I decided to try it again. I ran two miles, and found the physical strain I felt was no different than that of light hiking, so it was completely manageable. I still have my fat cut down 25%, so I will be interested what that does for weight loss, if anything. With my little bacteria friend h.pylori, losing fat is exceedingly difficult, but I feel with a balanced body, maybe it will help. I also purchased some mastic gum today, as I heard that it works wonders on killing off the bacteria. My fingers are crossed.
Day 13: It’s been a busy week, but things have been great. I have had steady energy and moods, and exercise still isn’t as painful as it once was. The mastic gum seems to be working – the usual discomfort in my intestines has eased up a noticeable degree, though again, I cannot tell how much is placebo. I haven’t been able to run as much, but I am doing something to break a sweat everyday.
I am leaving NYC in a few days to attend GF 2045 – I am going to have to eat real food for my trip, but I am really looking forward to this. I love the experience of food, and I love that I have total control over it. Yesterday, I ‘cheated’ and I had a slice of pizza – it was sensational, and took me a long time to eat. I am extremely optimistic about the future of nutrient consumption, for me, and for other people. I sincerely think that inventions like Soylent could be used for so many positive changes. The results are infectious – like a meme. I really hope that this one goes viral.
Day 18: Back from New York, and it has been glorious to be on Soylent. Of course, I took what vitamins I could to NYC, including mastic gum, and all of the food that I ate there was enjoyed immensely. I hadn’t realized how much I had missed food until I started eating it again. However, within two days I was already craving Soylent again, as nothing that I ate seemed to give me quite the same energy boost, though the nootropics did maintain my clarity.
I enjoyed a cupful of the thick substance this morning, and starting thinking about little ways that I could improve the recipe even further. I have been using vanilla flavored protein powder, and a liquid vitamin that is citrus flavored (this is very important. The unflavored liquid multi-vitamins are actually quite appalling, and could probably ruin the taste of Soylent). They pair fairly well, but I wanted to try other flavors, so I went and purchased some protein powder in chocolate flavor. I also chose to water my batches down quite a bit more than previously, and drink them four times a day instead of two. This all helped immensely – the mixture now reminds me of a subtle butterscotch, and when blended with ice water, it has a smoothie-like texture. Delicious – almost good enough to pair with a burger. Almost.
Image Source: Flickr
Day 21: I was reading other individual’s accounts of experimenting with Soylent, and one suggested that it could be baked in the oven at 375 degrees for 15 minutes to create a sort of bread. I tried this, and I have to report that it was disgusting. The ingredients were solidified into a mealy, mushy texture, and somehow it managed to gain a severely bitter aftertaste. Perhaps there are other ways of doing this, but in the meantime, I will stick to the blended version.
I’ve been thinking about blood tests lately. I haven’t gotten any until now, because outside of the brief dizzy spell while running (which turned out to be dehydration) I haven’t felt anything but wonderful in all aspects of my mental and physical being. The way I see it, we are already fairly reckless when it comes to our diets and vitamins. Generally, we eat with only a vague inclination as to the amounts of vitamins and nutrients that are going into our bodies. Granted, directly using Soylent ingredients is different in the fact that you are using the pure raw materials, so chances of an ingredient overdose could be higher.
Yet, I believe if one is extremely careful and thorough in their research and measuring with Soylent, it is actually far more responsible than eating normal food based on vague inclinations of nutrient content. These food consumption practices tend to be coupled with intakes of vitamins that are generally dosed and consumed with the same degree of abandon. I am generally speaking here of course, and this could be an utterly foolish point of view, but to me it makes sense. Therefore, I chose to forgo a blood test unless I gain some severely negative symptoms, at my own risk. I would not advise this for anyone else, though. Just because I have declined this option does not mean that it is wise for others to do the same, and in some cases, I believe it could be dangerous.
Day 23: Still going well. I missed food quite a bit today, and treated myself to a nice dinner and a beer. With h. pylori, my body has never processed alcohol well, so I only brave it once in a great while as a special treat. However, the beer I consumed tonight went down smooth as silk, and my stomach was not bothered by it in the least. I am elated, and in some ways, feel like I’ve gotten my life back again.
Day 25: A lightbulb went off today in my head when I was about to pour my oat bran into the blender. People all across the world eat oat bran as a breakfast. How would it taste if I blended the liquid vitamin and oil separately, and mixed the powders into the hot cereal? I thought about this more, knowing that texture-wise, 300g of maltodextrin to 100g of oat was probably not going to have a very good consistency, and taste wise, it may be even worse. Thus, I decided to cook up 200g of oat bran, and added in 200g of maltodextrin along with the other powders and capsules, mixing my oil with my multi-vitamin and drinking it on the side.
The results were something like a cheesy romance film meets the Food Channel – love at first taste. Within the first few bites I knew I had hit the jackpot, and by the time I finished the bowl I was dreaming of all the lovely years that my new-found ‘super porridge’ and I were going to spend together.
Day 27: Bliss. I have began to slowly eat on a regular basis again – just a light dinner in the evening, and it is wonderful. The ‘super porridge’ keeps me filled up all day, and since I don’t want to overdose on anything, I have cut down on the protein, liquid vitamins, and oil in the batches. To spice things up, I have added cinnamon and sunflower seeds. Exercise has been wonderful as well – my body is far more responsive, though I have been very careful to only implement light cardio and have mostly focused on isometrics. Unfortunately, the weight loss hasn’t been as significant as I would have liked (I lost about three inches), but I am aware that my h. pylori issue has not been eradicated, though it seems to be improving slowly. I am going hiking tomorrow, and I’m eager to see how this meatbag performs.
Day 28: 12 miles, piece of cake. Somehow, I still have a good amount of energy and am not incredibly sore (though I imagine that will hit me in a few days). I realized today that I’m almost at the month mark, and that surprises me. Time certainly has flown.
All in all, I am extremely glad that I tried Soylent. It has become a part of my life, changing my mentality and physicality for the better. I am happier and healthier. It’s amazing to think about what will happen with Soylent in the future, and the positive effect that it will have on humanity. So many lives changed…all because one man got too busy to eat.
Thanks, Mr. Rhinehart. We owe you.
Future Implications: The Soylent team is working hard to make this super-drink available to the world. Please give them feedback and support, and help make this dream a reality.
For all of you who are interested in what ingredients I used, I present ‘Serious Wonder’s Soylent Mix’.