Sunday, November 2, 2014

Soylent: First Two Weeks

I mentioned Soylent briefly back in May or June after we ordered it, and it just got here a few weeks ago! Yes, they were back ordered a lot and still are. If you order now it's supposed to take 2-3 months to ship but re-orders are only supposed to take 1-2 weeks. I haven't tested that yet to see how accurate it is.

But anyway, I'm sure you're wondering what Soylent is and why I would want to drink people. From their website:
Soylent™ was developed from a need for a simpler food source. Creator Robert Rhinehart and team developed Soylent after recognizing the disproportionate amount of time and money they spent creating nutritionally complete meals.

Soylent is a food product (classified as a food, not a supplement, by the FDA) designed for use as a staple meal by all adults. Each serving of Soylent provides maximum nutrition with minimum effort.
The reason I am interested is because with my health it is hard to get the nutrition I need. Basically I eat like crap. Most days (almost all) I don't feel up to doing any actual cooking so stick to things that merely require heating, like canned soup or popcorn. On the occasional day I do feel up to cooking I can't use fresh ingredients instead being stuck with canned or frozen. If I were to go grocery shopping in order to get fresh things I would no longer have the spoons to cook! On good days I eat a lot of carbs and processed food, and bad days are even worse. I know when you eat better you feel better, but I'm stuck in a catch 22: I can't eat better in an attempt to feel better unless I already feel better. Plus I know a lot of my problems simply will not be solved by dietary choices anyway. In short this is much better nutritionally than I already eat and also less work, without being crazy expensive ($9-12 a day depending on type of order).

There are a lot of nutritional drinks out there, what makes this one better? Several months ago I started keeping around some store brand Ensure, and it's the nutritional drink I have the most experience with. Soylent has at least 100% DV of the micronutrients you need, with only a few going higher than that - the most 171%. If you were to drink 2000 calories of the store brand ensure, you would get a wide range of micronutrients from 64-480% DV! Soylent has a 50/30/20 carb/fat/protein ratio while the store brand ensure is more like 72/10/16 (I know that doesn't equal 100, I rounded down). Carbs are a problem for me with PCOS so if there is an easy way to eat less of them I'll take it. Soylent only has 6g of sugar per day with 27g fiber whereas ensure has 176g sugar and 0g fiber! Plus soylent is dairy free and the ensure is not. I haven't done all the math for other nutritional drinks but at a glance none of them have been as nutritionally complete as soylent. The only issue nutritionally is sodium as it doesn't have quite enough, but it's fixed by just adding some table salt when you mix it.

Okay now that the introduction (that I meant to post about separately months ago) is over let's talk about my experiences. After I got it I made the pitcher seen above out of one pouch and one oil blend as directed. If you eat nothing else this pitcher would be one day's worth of nutrition. My first impression was mixed. The taste was not bad at all but the grainy texture was quite problematic. I will warn you though I am quite a picky eater and have texture issues with other foods as well. I read online that if you let the powder blend "soak" overnight, add some salt, and don't add the oil blend until it's soaked the texture is better. There was nothing I could do about the oil blend at that point but I added the salt and didn't have any more until it had soaked.

The texture definitely improved the next day, but it was still off-putting enough that I couldn't see drinking quite a bit of it on a regular basis. I added some of the ensure I keep around to my cup of soylent and the texture improved tremendously. So I took out a blender bottle and added one carton (8oz) of ensure to 8oz of soylent and shook it up, which was definitely drinkable. For reference that is 494 calories. For that first pitcher I had one blender bottle a day for a few days, with some family and friends trying some as well. I ended up pouring out some of the pitcher as it says it's only supposed to sit for a few days and I wasn't sure I'd know if it started to go bad. From then on I only made half a pitcher at a time.

With the next (half) pitcher I upped it to 10oz soylent/8oz ensure, and either I could have done that the whole time or I had acclimated to the texture a bit as that was fine as well. For reference that is 555 calories. I had between 1-1 1/2 bottles a day for the rest of the week. It seems satiating enough and I didn't feel exceptionally hungry, but I don't get normal hunger cues anyway so YMMV. I didn't really notice any changes in, well, anything that week but I wasn't really drinking that much either. At the end of the week I weighed myself and lost 0.8 pounds, anything less than a pound I generally believe to be within the margin of error and not a real loss/gain unless it is sustained.

Around the end of the first week I injured my knee which I wrote about before. Unfortunately it still isn't better more than a week later. This was, however, a perfect test for soylent! Something like this is really needed when I'm even less mobile and have even fewer spoons than normal. I stayed at the 10/8oz ratio for a few days, then went up to 12/8oz (as much as my blender bottle will hold and 615 calories), then went back down to 10/8oz. The 12/8oz was perfectly drinkable and I didn't notice much difference so that's not why I went back down. Store brand ensure is actually cheaper than soylent at $8/day and with my recent healthcare costs that we can't afford I figured this was a good compromise between nutrition and cost. I was drinking about two bottles a day and thus getting about 2/3 of my calories from the blend, with one meal or a few snacks of solid food. I did notice a small digestive change but it's kinda TMI and not a big deal.

I weighed myself yesterday and lost another 2.7 pounds. That's not much, but with my PCOS, thyroid issues, lack of mobility, etc any loss is a big deal. It also means that my previous 0.8 pound loss probably wasn't a margin of error thing as I've actually lost 3.5 pounds in the last two weeks. I think there are a few things that could explain this:

  1. It's just water weight/bloat. Maybe I'm ingesting less salt (even though I am adding the recommended amount to my soylent now), or ingesting less gluten as I know gluten can affect endo bloat. The mix I've been drinking is mostly gluten free with some cross contamination as far as I can tell. I don't feel like I have a gluten allergy/insensitivity but it could still affect weight.
  2. I'm definitely eating less carbs, and it is well known carbs affect weight when you have PCOS. 
  3. Because I've been stuck in bed/on the couch for a week I'm not snacking as much and thus not eating as many calories. 
Chances are it's a combination of all three. Let's give it a few more weeks before celebrating to see if it goes back up, as historically it almost always has. Plus I know it's bad but I'm going to get some half-price Halloween candy today. =P Other than the weight loss and the small digestive thing I haven't noticed any changes. I don't feel any better or worse that I can tell. My clothes don't seem to fit any different. I'm not sleeping better or worse. 

It definitely passed my test as a spoonie solution as long as you have something to cut it with. I feel like I could drink 2/3 soylent to 1/3 ensure now without any texture problems as long as I had some water to drink afterwards. I think eventually I could get so used to it I could drink it straight. It has been sooo incredibly convenient to have when stuck in bed. Unlike previous times I haven't sat here starving because I didn't have the spoons to make any food and no one else was around/awake to help me. So in that case it has met my expectations. I plan to keep some around and would recommend it to others with chronic health problems that keep them from eating the way they might like. 

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