Soylent Subterfuge: When a Bad Joke Turns into a Business

Soylent - A real food replacement?

Can this white sludge safely replace your diet? We analyze and explain below

We may consume food, but food consumes us even more.  Not only does it cost time to grow, but it’s expensive, and when abused, it subjects us to deadly diseases that includes cardiovascular conditions, diabetes and cancer.

Yet, the availability and healthfulness of food has never been better nor more abundant. Recent movements to bring natural fats and leafy green vegetables (of all things) back into Western diets have yielded phenomenal yet unsurprising results over the past decade.

The replacement of whole food

But for some, this “real food movement” is not satisfying. It’s just too hard and too time-consuming to buy and prepare healthy meals. So people like Rob Rhinehart want a food alternative. Heck, if a single product could be cheap and instantaneous, and better for you than anything you have ever eaten, then what is there to argue with?

Rhinehart, a 24 year old software engineer, believes he’s solved the befuddling food conundrum, and has named his product Soylent. It is intended to replace your entire diet — one food to solve it all.

Before you cringe at the name, Rhinehart has stated that his sandy sustenance has no relation to human parts or remains. We can infer that the name was merely a polarizing attempt at a clever marketing ploy – and a successful one at that.

Soylent-rob rinehart

Who needs food when you’ve got Soylent?

Though he has absolutely no background in biology or nutrition, spare-time reading made Rhinehart decide that food should be simpler, and that he was capable of accomplishing that goal by creating a placidly beige concoction filled with ingredients he regarded as the nutritional groundwork for basic human health.

Aside from arguing for food for its own sake (an art and hedonic pleasure, if you like), Rhinehart’s “solution” is paltry in many respects, and starkly contrasts with our current understanding of optimal nutrition. While he may have good intentions (however self-deceptive they may be), his actions to physically sell it may have extremely negative consequences.

What’s in Soylent?

Below is a rundown, with criticism, of Rhinehart’s (incessantly claimed) appetizing food alternative.

Remember though, every moderately informed person must know that the subject of nutrition is incomplete. It is no different than any other subject of science – we simply do not know everything, and to assume we do is dangerous and disregardful.

This is a partial list of Rhinehart’s Soylent, tailored for himself. Everything written by Rob Rhinehart is in italics:

400g of Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates (400g): “Any molecule consisting only of Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen. Flour, corn, bread, rice, pasta, your cells don’t care. What you need is D-Glucose.”

Right off the bat, we see signs of misapprehension in the “sales pitch” for this substance:

Like many diabetics, Rhinehart does not appreciate the fact that carbohydrates metabolize variably in the body. Furthermore, he is simply wrong: the human body can use many other monosaccharaides besides glucose, such as galactose, for the citric acid cycle.

Maltodextrin

What is his solution? “Maltodextrin, for carbohydrates,” which can be absorbed as rapidly as glucose! Both untrue and irrelevant.

Rhinehart then ignorantly claims “the brain can only use glucose for energy.”

The maltodextrin production process

Soylent users: This is how your primary carb source — and calorie source — is made. Seems legit?

In fact, the brain happens to like using ketone bodies for energy also, and ketones created by omega-3 fatty acids may reduce cognitive decline with age.[1] Furthermore, research suggests that human and animal neurons prefer lactate over glucose as an energy source, and glial cells perform the duty of converting glucose into lactate.[2]

But those are small details. What is more concerning is the basic choice of such limited carbohydrate sources — and bad ones at that.

Your body does care about maltodextrin…

Claiming that “your cells don’t care” is a blatant and potentially criminal lie to the thousands of people who have read about Soylent.

A calorie isn’t just a calorie, and a carb isn’t just a carb. Things are never this simple — Different chemical compounds cause different biochemical reactions.

Some carbs cause a high TEF (thermic effect of food), which take time and effort to digest and process. Others, like maltodextrin, are metabolized very quickly, causing a fat-storing insulin spike[8], making your body scramble to act upon the hazardous onslaught of sugars in your bloodstream.[9]

Maltodextrin gives a bit too much of an insulin response for me

Maltodextrin’s fast insulin response. When improperly used, this translates to one thing: bodyfat storage.

Your body’s solution? Store it as fat! This of course leads to all sorts of other problems related to metabolic syndrome. It’s doubly true when you’re slogging down 400g of the stuff every day (and I’m assuming Soylent’s customers aren’t training for a decathlon anytime soon).

So, “calorie for calorie”, you’re going to gain more weight eating maltodextrin than a real food-based carb, such as that from brown rice, sweet potatoes, or yams.

Don’t get us wrong. You can get along all day long eating maltodextrin – it will provide caloric energy. But it will also bring bodyfat alongside it, and literally no nutrients to compensate for its wrongdoings.

This garbage is everywhere for one reason and one reason only: it’s cheap, profitable filler.

Don’t forget the Oat Flour

Soylent shares a primary ingredient with none other than... gruel!

Shut up and eat your Gruel Soylent, kid!

The other carb-based ingredient, oat flour, rates better but suffers from similar issues of malnourishment: it is practically devoid of any nutritional content.

If you want carbs for the sake of eating carbs, then by all means, have at it. After all, it was used in gruel for hundreds of years to keep the peasants just alive and well enough to work the fields – but not strong enough to stage a revolt.

But if you’re looking for nutrition and not just “macronutrition”, there are far better sources suggested elsewhere on this page.

Enough Protein for a…. grown boy.

Protein (80g): “Protein is a very general term. What your body needs is nine ‘essential’ (meaning the body cannot produce it itself), amino acids.”

Increased dietary protein leads to less bodyfat... this really shouldn't be news anymore

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s done a lick of research: “Whey Protein but Not Soy Protein Supplementation Alters Body Weight and Composition in Free-Living Overweight and Obese Adults”[15]
Love that high carbohydrate control!

Not much to quarrel with here, though he makes no attempt to explain the source of protein, which determines whether the “essential” amino acid ratio is optimal. Some protein sources are complete, others are not.

The formula sorely misses the mark though. 80g is a paltry amount of protein for a grown boy. As of yet, the Soylent formulation is relying on rice protein, which is a relatively incomplete protein due to its lack of the amino acids, leucine and lysine.

Why only 80g? Because protein is expensive, and it’s a lot cheaper to throw in the aforementioned maltodextrin.

But “energy is just energy”, right?

Wrong. You can expect any muscle tone you may have had to whither away on this formulation. Don’t be surprised to find yourself absolutely craving a juicy steak, a chicken breast, or some eggs. Your body will likely be begging for it.

Fat has gotten a bad rap

Fat (65g): “Fat has gotten a bad rap.”

Agreed, and it’s so misunderstood. Rhinehart’s main source of fat is olive oil. While throwing in some 750mg of omega-3 fatty acids for good measure, he claims the olive oil is “in nearly perfect proportion of saturated and unsaturated” fats.

But once again, this explanation is right while still being completely wrong.

It’s all about the ratios

Whether you perform better on a high fat / low carb diet or a low fat / high carb diet depends on your personal situation. Regardless of the amount, however, one of the most important things for optimal health are proper ratios of fats.

AA/EPA Benefits

“Subjects that did not take omega-3 supplements and suffered from allergic, neurodegenerative, skin and inflammatory diseases had higher values for AA:EPA ratios than those with the other diseases (heart, metabolic, cancer).”[14]

Legitimate research suggests that the optimal ratio of fats Rhinehart happens to oversee, omega-6 and omega-3, should be 1-to-1. Western diets, with our excessive omega-6 consumption, clock around 15-to-1, but numbers of 30-to-1 aren’t unheard of.[10]

Olive oil averages a 10-to-1 omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. Not awful, but certainly not ideal. In other blog posts, Rhinehart claimes his fat sources arise primarily from grape seed oil, which would put his ratio closer to a brutally dangerous 30 to 40-to-1.

A plethora of scientific research lay blame on our negligence of omega-3 fatty acids for countless health problems. Rhinehart’s Soylent sludge appears to be yet another culprit of this disregard.[5]

The Cholesterol Dilemma

Cholesterol(X): As per the x, Soylent contains no cholesterol because “even though the IOM [Institute of Medicine] mentions it I feel it’s more of a maximum than a recommendation.”

Emphasis ours.

Dietary Cholesterol has little effect on Serum Cholesterol - Our bodies compensate

Serum Cholesterol when dietary cholesterol is added at different baseline levels. In short… your body knows to compensate production and excretion accordingly.

Glad to know you feel that way, Rob. I wonder if human biology really cares how you feel about nutrients. Dietary cholesterol seems to have little effect on free blood cholesterol levels, anyhow. Rather, saturated fats are the perpetrator behind increases in cholesterol levels.[6]

Nobody is arguing the importance of cholesterol in the body. It’s vital.

The bigger question is about dietary need. Admittedly, when researching these ingredients, the following question has been the most difficult to answer: Why would we need dietary cholesterol, when our bodies can synthesize it themselves?

Update – July 26, 2013: We have found some new information on the subject. The original text remains (in strikethrough), with a new explanation below that

While there have been multiple recent studies questioning the US’s low dietary cholesterol recommendations[11,12], and Canada completely removed any restrictions on recommended dietary cholesterol intake[13]…
…the best answer we can to our specific question is this:

Nobody f’ing knows.

This happens a lot in science, and we touch upon that a lot later on in this post.

So in the case of our collective ignorance on the subject, what do we do? We turn to what’s evolutionarily natural to maintain prime function. And as much as it pains vegans to read… we function best as omnivores who consume at least some amounts of meat, and thus, cholesterol.

Updated Section: It turns out that the answer was right there before our very eyes, in the HMG-CoA reductase enzyme that is the target of nearly every modern cholesterol drug.

When you completely deprive yourself of cholesterol, the hormone insulin activates an enzyme in your liver that produces excess cholesterol from glucose, which comes from the carbohydrates you eat. The trouble is, when this enzyme (called HMG Co-A Reductase) is in force, it`s not unusual for the liver to overproduce cholesterol, resulting in high blood serum levels. Eating cholesterol is a signal to the liver to stop producing it in excess.[16]

In short, knocking your body out of its natural equilibrium state of ingesting/digesting/synthesizing/excreting cholesterol may swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction.

So while your body can get along with a cholesterol-free diet, it is unlikely be be ideal for peak function, and the “gut decision” to disinclude a vital compound will likely prove to be short-sighted sometime down the road.

Pathway of the entire human metabolic process as currently understood

Human Biology: Slightly more complicated than tossing 12 cheap ingredients into a bag.
(this is the pathway of the entire human metabolic process as currently understood, minus part two, which shows minor metabolites and secondary processes)

What has Soylent overlooked?

After the above macronutrients, the remainder of Soylent consists of vitamins (and other arbitrary ingredients), which I will not waste my time criticizing because even the scientific community doesn’t really know the optimal amount of  vitamins we should consume.

We do have a general minimum cutoff limit, at which point diseases caused by malnourishment arise, such as scurvy. We also know that a bright and diversified diet will give you everything you need to ward off such rudimentary ailments. But in creating Soylent, Rhinehart and his team have neglected some essential biological principles, ones that can only be satisfied by food — not Soylent.

Hormesis

This seemingly paradoxical principle was discovered when a German pharmacologist observed that adding small amounts of a toxin can stimulate the growth of yeast. Simply put, this is the biological equivalent of Nietzsche’s aphorism: What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.

For example, we know that exercise damages the body and elevates reactive oxygen species (ROS), or oxidative stress. But maintaining moderate exercise prolongs our lifespan and reduces susceptibility to disease.[7] Rhinehart claims that one of the strengths of Soylent is its purity, but bereaving his body of minute toxins present in unprocessed foods may actually weaken his body. His immune system and endogenous antioxidant systems may downregulate, leaving him unprepared for real world immunotoxins.

Furthermore, many phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables are actually mildly toxic to humans. Instead of antioxidants in their own right, these toxins stimulate a hormetic response that leads to an upregulation of endogenous enzymes that produce antioxidants in the body. Rhinehart includes lycopene, found in tomatoes, for example. Soylent, however, will never reach the diversity of beneficial compounds present in natural foods, mainly because we have yet to discover all of them!

What don’t we know? We don’t know.

The Food Pyramid... Assassin of Millions of Americans

Because we’re just so all-knowing, aren’t we?

This little scam here has murdered millions of humans, and continues to do so to this day. What else have we gotten wrong?

Consider this: In the 1970s, the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids were discovered.* It took far longer for us to preach these benefits, and we still fall short. Yet, the “all-knowing” FDA already had their official dietary fat recommendations (which sadly, still haven’t changed much).
* Ironically, by studying the Greenland Inuit Tribe which eats nothing but real, naturally-found food!

So, our question to you is this: What don’t we know that we don’t know now?

It took us 30 years to figure out and apply something relatively simple like fatty acid ratios. So what are we missing today? What else is in that bunch of spinach that isn’t a standard “B vitamin” that should be included? What undiscovered “phytonutrient” is in those leaves that makes us real food eaters feel so much better – and get sick so less often – than people who eat shit out of a box or bag all day long?

At the end of the day, we don’t know what we don’t know. But time, history, and human evolution does: 30 years from now, we will be laughing our faces off at this formula – even moreso than today.

Vitamin Supplementation

Introducing vitamins into your diet will probably not hurt you, but evidence suggests that the human body does not eagerly absorb them. Vitamins present themselves in many forms, and in countless cases, they’re absorbed better when naturally bound within the cell walls of food. This is a natural synergy our bodies have evolved with.

High dose vitamin E had a substantially higher mortality rate!

Additionally, supplementing certain vitamins may actually be detrimental your health. Vitamin E, an ingredient in Soylent, does not reduce human mortality. And researchers once abandoned a study because a group receiving high dose vitamin E had a substantially higher mortality rate![3] Recent research suggests that vitamin E may contribute to osteoporosis.[4]

Note that we proudly say this as a company that makes money selling certain vitamins. It is a simple fact that experts often sorely disagree on a lot of this subject matter. But a young engineer just so happens to have
all the answers.

Clinical Trials

This is the holy grail of medical legitimacy. The Soylent team is relying on just a few blood tests and a whole lot of anecdotal blather. Rhinehart incessantly states that he feels “sharper” and “more energetic” since starting Soylent, but nutritional science has no room for confirmation bias.

The placebo effect is ubiquitous. People routinely claim drug side effects even when they are told that the pill they ingested is inert! Soylent has not undergone clinical trials, so every statement made regarding the food substitute is conjecture and anecdotal.

Where’s the research?

When looking for the truth behind some supplement on this website, we look at the research behind it. The gold standard in a quality research study is the trifecta of:

  • Double-blinded
  • Placebo-controlled
  • Peer-reviewed

Soylent's Research is akin to this

This is effectively the research behind your new food replacement.
Credit: Genetic Cuckoo

Furthermore, we like our studies to be done on healthy men and women, not the elderly and preferably not diabetic patients. This is undoubtedly difficult to obtain, as the pharmaceutical industry (and thus, the government) has little reason to fund research on healthy individuals. It also goes without saying that it’s important to see who is ultimately behind the research as well.

Rhinehart and his crew are doubtlessly flying high as a kite since their crowdfunding campaign has reached nearly $800K. They promise to begin distributing their product somewhere towards the end of September, 2013, after multiple delays. Although Soylent may not be original — food substitutes are often used for relief aid and hospitalized persons regularly use food substitutes as sustenance — what is praiseworthy is that it has struck a chord in many Americans.

Nutritional science has no room for confirmation bias.

We want instantaneous victuals that are also healthy. But this is not ideal nutrition. The beauty of science is that it can provide answers, but these answers are never infallible. We do not yet have the wherewithal to conclude exactly what the human body requires for optimal function.

This entire situation reads like a bad joke that so many people took seriously, it eventually became real.

Oprah doesn’t know nutrition – and neither do most engineers

We find it unnerving (but not surprising) that somebody with zero background in health, fitness, or nutrition is leading a cadre of lemmings to near-certain long-term trouble. This doesn’t mean we hang by everything that the FDA or doctors typically say – it’s actually quite often the opposite.

Our attitude is this: When looking to improve ourselves, we look at the experts who actually walk the walk (and remove those who are clearly cheating or are genetic freaks). We steal a few pages from their playbooks, and make it work in the real world.

So, in the example of lowering bodyfat without sacrificing too much muscle tissue (we hate the phrase “weight loss”), whose advice do you follow? Is it Oprah?

While Oprah is clearly brilliant when it comes to media, she sure as shit isn’t when it comes to health and nutrition. And guess what – neither is a group of untrained engineers who quite frankly… don’t look that healthy.

You don’t ask a poor man how to be wealthy, do you?

The Bad Advice Mallard on Diet Help

Where do you get your diet advice?

If food is too hard… you’re doing it wrong

The funniest part of this whole ordeal is that this really isn’t necessary. Here’s two words for people who haven’t yet figured it out: BULK COOKING.

You own a refrigerator, an oven (or a grill), and a microwave, right? Then here’s what you do:

  1. Buy chicken, brown rice, and a variety of vegetables (including yams)
  2. Cook the brown rice, chicken, and select vegetables in large quantities
  3. Put them in the refrigerator. Use good tupperware.

There, now you’re 95% done. Add various spices (which add their own unique nutritional benefits not found in Soylent) and you have a healthier, better tasting diet to boot.

Seriously people, how hard is this?! If you can’t figure these 3 steps out, then you are just not doing it right.

Good luck…

These fools are going to hurt themselves and others in the process.

Rhinehart has made some revisions from the original, first claiming the modified diet made his heart race. He promptly solved his apparent “hemoglobin issue” with iron. But it won’t be so easy for him to know whether his bones are deteriorating, his kidneys waning, or his tissues slowly inflaming.

Here lies the pernicious truth: the Soylent scandal will forever require unremitting revisions, and these fools are going to hurt themselves and others in the process.

References

  1. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids; Omega-3 fatty acids, energy substrates, and brain function during aging; Freemantle, Erika, 2006
  2. Auburn University, Lactate metabolism: a new paradigm for the third millennium, Department of Health and Human Performance, 2004
  3. The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Meta-analysis: high-dosage vitamin E supplementation may increase all-cause mortality, Miller, ER 3rd, 2005
  4. Nature Medicine, Vitamin E decreases bone mass by stimulating osteoclast fusion, Koji Fujita, 2012
  5. The Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health, The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids, Simopoulos AP, 2002
  6. American Heart Association, Effect of dietary fatty acids on serum lipids and lipoproteins. A meta-analysis of 27 trials, R P Mensink, M B Katan, 1992
  7. University of Manitoba Department of Human Nutritional Sciences, How increased oxidative stress promotes longevity and metabolic health: The concept of mitochondrial hormesis (mitohormesis), Ristow M, Zarse K, 2010
  8. ISSA, The Glycemic Index, 2003
  9. Ludwig, DS. The glycemic index: Physiological mechanism relating to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. JAMA 2002; 287:2414–24.
  10. The Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health, The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids, 2002
  11. University of Connecticut Department of Nutritional Sciences, , Fernandez ML, 2012
  12. University of Connecticut Department of Nutritional Sciences, Rethinking dietary cholesterol, Fernandez ML, Calle M, 2012
  13. University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Department of Human Nutritional Sciences, The Canadian experience: why Canada decided against an upper limit for cholesterol, McDonald BE, 2004
  14. Dipartimento di Scienze Molecolari Applicate ai Biosistemi, Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy, A rapid method for determining arachidonic:eicosapentaenoic acid ratios in whole blood lipids: correlation with erythrocyte membrane ratios and validation in a large Italian population of various ages and pathologies, Rizzo AM, 2010
  15. USDA Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, Whey Protein but Not Soy Protein Supplementation Alters Body Weight and Composition in Free-Living Overweight and Obese Adults, Baer DJ, Stote KS, Paul DR, 2011
  16. NaturalNews.com, Dispel the Myths: Why You Should Eat Cholesterol, Walling, Elizabeth, 2009.

You can get more information about Soylent from Rhinehart’s blog.

Co-authored by Mike Roberto

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Posted in , , by Neil Bateman | Tagged , , , | 78 Comments
  • Julio

    As a member of the Soylent team, I’m obligated to point out that the “What’s in Soylent” post is from several months ago, and applies only to Rob’s original prototype, not the near-final version we are working on currently. Once Soylent 1.0 is finalized, we will be releasing the ingredients and full nutritional breakdown, at which time we encourage you to take another look.

    • john

      Fuck your joke of a product.

      • john’s dad

        Needlessly aggressive dissent only serves to create noise where there could be dialogue. Make a point to the best of your ability and maybe you’ll find your time better served.

      • econik

        You’re comment is refreshing to read. I constantly share this message on comment sections and to see others do the same is great. We need to quit encouraging this very low level mentality. Sorry for getting off topic!

    • ch3burashka

      Prototype or no, the article makes a good point that “real” food is the ideal, especially when it comes to understanding the body and the way it processes food. I’ve had misgivings about an all liquid diet, but I’m more concerned about things like various components of food that we simply don’t understand or appreciate that isn’t even considered by Soylent (different meat cofactors, etc). On paper, you seem to be checking off the boxes, and your anecdotal personal experience is positive, but while I was excited when I first heard of it, mostly because the idiot-proof practicality, I’ve had enough experience with medicine of my own to know natural is simply best, mostly because we don’t understand it.

      • MWR

        @ lakawak, you are an idiot.

        If people don’t agree with the product then they shouldn’t use it… I don’t think anyone who is supporting this campaign believes that Soylent will completely replace food, it is simply an alternative for those interested in that type of thing. This product should not be a threat to anyone, so just keep eating your big macs and shut your mouth.Leave a message..

      • http://tropix-blue.blogspot.com/ John Wong

        MWR are an idiot calling another an idiot? Note it’s only a question & I am not actually calling you an idiot. If idiots don’t agree with an opinion, should they call another an idiot just because they have other ideas or preferences which may be idiotic? Anyway, I am having such fun in this laughable discussion even if it verges on the idiotic.

      • MWR

        I wasn’t disagreeing with an opinion…not sure where you got that idea. Apparently, lakawak deleted their comment regarding having to “pay for the Soylent company’s food stamps when it goes out of business”, which is clearly an idiot thing to state.

      • Руслан Рубашкин

        No, natural is not best. Natural is a buzzword.
        Basically what we see in this article is not as much science as mudslinging. Why, 90% of all “healthy food movement” constitute of this: large food companies smearing the opponents. The knowledge of effects of individual substances is vast, and with selective approach you can prove whatever. Meat is poison. Vegetarians lose sex drive. GMO causes cancer. GMO is best. Cheese diet prolongs your life. Cheese diet ruins your metabolism. Whatever, really.
        But Soylent is special. It’s an attempt on complex and effective chemical composition. So it’s criticised with equal complexity. But, does natural food get this kind of criticism? Of course not (there’s way more than 12 components even in the crappiest real diet). You’re not going to see that pretty human metabolism chart with natural, because “vegetables” (conveniently not specified) somehow just, you know, work! The more documented a product is, the worse it appears, due to the very nature of such critic. Therefore unspecified vegetables (“ones you feel are right for you”) will seem the best choice regardless of facts.
        This is just hiding from proper discussion.

    • lakawak

      I sure hope you are not counting on this being your financial future. Because I don’t want to pay for your food stamps any longer than I have to.

    • http://tropix-blue.blogspot.com/ John Wong

      As a member of the human race, I am obligated to point out that no matter “What is in Soylent” (prototype, 1.0 or subsequent versions), as a “food” to completely replace our natural foods, is about the most idiotic proposition I have ever heard. Are you, as a member of the Soylent team, also obligated to live entirely on the diet once its “perfected?” Please announce to us, poor deprived natural food consumers, once you have lived past the first year entirely on Soylent. We will be more than encouraged to look at how wonderfully you have fared.. but I would still use my money to buy and eat natural. By the way, would one still be solvent after paying for Soylent?

  • Joshua Johnson

    You bring up many valid points. Seriously, this is a fantastic read.

    But why do you completely disregard the strengths and applicable scenarios presented by Rob and the Soylent team? While the main goal of Soylent is to bring in money (who am I to argue?), it really does offer a new direction to a large humanitarian issue, or namely, the logistics of world hunger. It isn’t an encompassing solution, but it sure as heck has the potential for other companies to expand, correct?

    You are completely right in the biggest weakness of Soylent is “that which we do not know”. It’s the gaping hole in the hot air balloon. But it’s still your opinion that it is unnecessary. Space travel is looming ever closer and with that comes the daunting task of efficient foods both logistically and nutritionally during long “flights”.

    The fact of the matter is, this isn’t perfect. While I disagree with the rhetoric hype pulled by the Soylent team, it’s still a wonderful and applicable concept for the human race. No, I don’t believe this is an end-all for hunger or real food. In fact, I don’t even think people should use it more than once a day.

    It sure beats meal replacement bars/shakes that are already widely accepted, no?

    • http://www.priceplow.com/ Mike at PricePlow

      Thanks Joshua.

      We’re a site focused mainly on nutrition and supplementation. It’s not our duty — nor our expertise — to comment on their civics or any humanitarian issues.

      I’m a business owner and I see another business taking a dump in my backyard. I don’t care if you’re trying to fertilize it – it still stinks.

      Either bring me something good or stop making ridiculous claims like “we’ve nailed nutrition” and I’ll flip the script. In every aspect (marketing, technology, nutrition), we’re not upset about the goals. We’re upset about the execution.

      Regarding your meal replacement bars/shakes comment – you’re mostly right. There’s a few good products out there, but they’re just expensive (as they should be), and aren’t used for a total nutrition solution.

      In our soon-to-be-updated price comparison system, anything we really disagree with strongly will get bumped to the bottom of the list – trust me, we won’t discriminate.

      Also, this won’t have much to do with space travel as is. It’s a cool shot though (I’m all for privatizing space travel and have personally worked extensively with SpaceX).
      NASA’s gone far beyond any of this stuff, and have much more dense solutions that work surprisingly well. One interesting one we’ve stumbled upon is known as triacetin – check it out. We found it because it was recently put into a pre workout supplement (and labeled quite improperly)… *sigh*

      • Joshua Johnson

        I will be checking out Triacetin. Thanks for the info!

        I agree with you, Soylent will forever require scrutiny and skepticism.

        But until they publicly release a product, I don’t think it’s fair to pick anything of theirs apart because we only have rhetoric and tidbits of information.

        They were a garage-rank start-up. As much as I hate to admit this, and don’t get me wrong, it isn’t how it should work, but the hype they created, look what it’s done for them. They went from a personally funded interest hobby into the early formation of a decent start-up company. They will be able to fund the research, the testing, and take the correct route as a newly found nutritional company (if they choose and that remains to be seen but I always give the benefit of doubt).

        Let’s face it, the goals they have are ambitious, logical, and quite applicable to many folks in all societies. They are nothing short of lofty. Aside from NASA and some private companies, I don’t see anyone else pursuing efficiency and miniaturization of nutritional logistics.

        Thanks for replying, by they way!
        (I’ve also bookmarked this site, Examine.com is currently my source for nutrition studies and research, I honestly haven’t heard of this until today :) )

      • http://www.priceplow.com/ Mike at PricePlow

        Thank you sir! Your comment is valid – they haven’t truly SHIPPED anything yet. Glad we can agree.

        Regarding this site.. yeah we’ve been flying under the radar because I got carried away working on some other side projects for over 2 years (bad entrepreneur!) The projects were successful, but now it’s time to focus on the brand.

        So we’re not going to be marketing heavily until the redesign is up and technology is a bit more sound.

        Our writing team is expanding, and we’re building up some good content on our favorite products and categories (the new site has over 900 product categories and growing).

        Examine is incredible, no doubt, and we hope that someday they can use our engine to make a bit of money in an ethical way by showing people where the best deals are on the good stuff.

        Some of our new pages are similar to Examine’s, but geared more towards human readability / searchability and are slightly less scientifically intense.

        All coming soon, so thanks for the bookmark.

      • amy laird

        Totally agree!

      • http://tropix-blue.blogspot.com/ John Wong

        I marvel at your empathy, optimism, idealism and futuristic outlook while attempting a rational discussion of the Soylent issue. However, some things do not need that much of an analysis to arrive at a conclusion. Here’s a 24 year old software engineer who has set out to solve the world’s nutritional problems (or is it a money making scheme disguised in that ideal?). So he engineers a concoction based on err… what? And starts making unverified claims, then retreats to revise his formula .. and so the story goes on until he perfects his bid for wealth in the lemming consumer trend market. Oops! Sorry! I mean’t until he perfects his “food” for the world’s malnourished if they can afford it. Maybe he’ll get endorsements by movie stars and become the Soylent, solvent millionaire. So in conclusion, please let us not get confused about the difference between what constitutes good nutrition and what entrepreneurship and marketing is about.

      • calamond23

        haha I love how the morons downvoted you, as if anything you said was wrong or unfair!

  • Mike

    it’s ironic you misspell “Rhinehart” in a sentence where you are talking about his ignorance.

    • http://www.priceplow.com/ Mike at PricePlow

      Fixed. Thank you.

    • Callum

      That’s not ironic, or even interesting. It’s more of a typo.

  • George Hahn

    Rather than tear it apart, perhaps you could suggest some additional components for the formula? Personally, I haven’t tried it or put much time into researching its nutritional completeness, but I’d love to see it become a viable single food source one day.

    To a better future, cheers! George.

    • http://www.priceplow.com/ Mike at PricePlow

      No, I really can’t because we’re all different people doing different things and our body of knowledge is too small.

      Even my personal nutrition depends on what I’m doing. Am I training for a long distance swim race, am I doing some winter bulking up for fun, or am I leaning out for volleyball season? All different situations that demand different macronutrient breakdowns. Note that the site you’re on mainly deals with sports nutrition, so we see things differently than a lot of people.

      What I can say is that I’d remove the maltodextrin and opt for something based on yams. The mere sight of malto makes me put on fat, but I know some guys who get yoked beyond belief eating that garbage. So what do I really know?

      I’d also multiply the protein by at least 2.5X, and get a more diverse array of sources, which of course becomes expensive (and unprofitable). But what to do with the vegetables…. there’s a good saying: “If your food can go bad, it’s good for you. If your food can’t go bad, it’s not good for you.” Oversimplified, but not too far from what I personally believe is true.

      But there’s no way I’d “perjure” myself and say I’ve got the magic formula, only to find out in 5 years that XYZ dosage was completely wrong or missing because we had absolutely no clue about the existence of some crazy metabolic pathway.

      The best we can do with our current nutritional knowledge is to make seriously controlled studies on statistically significant numbers of individuals and keep all things equal, then change variables and assess. That’s basically how we know that getting 1g+ of protein per pound of bodyweight will result in more lean muscle mass (which may or may not be your goal). But even then, the community won’t agree on what type of protein is best.

      We are simultaneously far too stupid and too complex to think that one size fits all will work anytime soon.

      But we are getting better, and if something is learned from this and nobody is seriously harmed, I’ll consider that a victory.

      • Jon Hughes

        I appreciate the thoroughness of your article, but I will have to echo others here — soylent, whatever its shortcomings, is bound to be far healthier than the *average* person’s diet.

        My question for you is, if you are unable to give any suggestions for how to improve soylent because we are all different, how is it that you feel fine suggesting a diet of brown rice, chicken and vegetables? Why is a cookie-cutter soylent solution not possible the meet the needs of various individuals, while that diet is?

      • http://www.priceplow.com/ Mike at PricePlow

        I was intentionally vague. “Vegetables” means everything and nothing all at once. You use what works for you. I’m a huge fan of spinach and kale. You might prefer radishes and romaine. That, and hundreds of other foods, falls within the definition.

        I also prefer grass-fed beef and eggs from pastured chickens when I’m really “getting after it”, but yes, they are expensive.

        My point was nearly to counter-example the idea that “getting protein is too hard”. Bulk cooking on Sundays is how successful non-pro athletes make it work.

    • lakawak

      Why bother trying to improve an idea that is so stupid that it is not worth saving?

      • Thomas Landvogt

        I can’t help but imagine a prehistorical version of you, arguing that stuff like fire, tools, wheels and farming are stupid ideas and we should just go on collecting our berries…

  • https://larrysalibra.com/ Larry Salibra
    • http://www.priceplow.com/ Mike at PricePlow

      Thanks Larry. Looks like they slightly upped their game, as they addressed our exact concerns. Hopefully it helps someone.

      • Eric MOULOT

        So will you update your article to reflect these changes, their pros and cons?

  • andrea chen

    Sure, you have the right to say you’re better than your competitors, but your hatchet-job language really undermines the article.

    • http://www.priceplow.com/ Mike at PricePlow

      See response to Aaron. This isn’t exactly competitor – we are product-neutral. If Soylent were to get listed at any store we sell it at, it’d get listed on our new site.

      Would love honest feedback on Hatchet-job – We are technologists, athletic junkies, and then writers. Yet, from my point of view, you read all 3700+ words and went out of your way to find the comment box, so it couldn’t have been that bad.

      • andrea chen

        Given this piece, your claim of product-neutrality is entirely false. If your intention was to make a product comparison, your emotions are totally in the way. I read the first entirely ax-grinding half before deciding it was *all* ax-grinding and spinning down here to comment.

        Since you are appearing to be naive about this, I’ll bite and point out the first three things that jumped out at me.
        The title of the piece itself.
        “White sludge” to describe a photo of something that looks like aioili, or pudding. It actually looks rather yummy.
        “Software engineer” underlined and italicized, which points out your incredulity that an engineer could understand nutrition.

      • http://www.priceplow.com/ Mike at PricePlow

        Fair enough, thanks a lot. I have no problem admitting that emotions are in the way.

        Once things started getting aggressive in our writing, this likely should have been published on my personal blog.

        But please realize that we see a LOT of companies “turn the marketing up to 11″ (as someone else has stated about Soylent’s efforts), then rake in tens of millions of dollars, all while leaving their customers worse off than they were before. It’s a shameless industry, and it’s tough to stay partial when you see it happening again and again.

        As a brand, deciding where to draw the line on impartialness has been difficult. There’s some GREAT supplements and resources out there that get overshadowed by a lot of the nonsense you see on Dr. Oz (or in Thursday’s USA Today article). It gets to the point that you need to work very hard — and shout pretty loud — to get over the commercialized noise.

        That said, Soylent’s target demographic is not ours. Clearly, we’re into sports nutrition. 80g of protein is “paltry” because we’re athletes. We didn’t properly define our angle, so it was yet another mistake.

        Anyway, the discussion has been good, and I appreciate your comments. Next time, the aggression will stay on my personal blog, and the data will stay on the brand’s.

      • andrea chen

        I appreciate your keeping it civil.

      • http://tropix-blue.blogspot.com/ John Wong

        I appreciate Mike being human enough to express some emotion about what he figures is someone is trying to pass off as nutrition some money making sludge. When you decided it was “all axe grinding” did you also consider that there were actually some facts? You said he had “the right to say… ” but he doesn’t have the right to write in this style? Any discerning reader can separate the grain from the chaff so why complain about his “hatchet job language”? If you want a totally “objective” dissertation, maybe you should read a scientific journal. I do hope Mike doesn’t take the cutting edge of sarcasm, humor or just plain disgust when he writes about stuff like Soylene and the people behind it.

      • Eric MOULOT

        Nice suggestion for a name: SOYLENE. ^__^

  • aaronmhamilton

    I don’t like the alarmist tone of this article, nor the fact that it’s spurred by the commercial interests of the author, if he were a neutral third party, I wouldn’t have the reservations I do for listening.

    • http://www.priceplow.com/ Mike at PricePlow

      Our commercial interests have next to do nothing to do with this. We run a site that will lists all sorts of products – lots of them bad.

      After we release our next version of this site, if Soylent were to get onto the shelves and sold at any store we work with, it’d get listed here as well — right alongside the rest of the crappy meal replacements. We’d then make money off of its sales through those stores. I’m not hiding that.

      It’s about as third-party as you will get in this business. We do not create our own products and we don’t particularly care for anything in this “category”.

      Speaking to the oat powder, that argues our point. I’ll take my carb sources with nutrition, and with all other things considered equal, I will outperform those who do not.

      The quality of the current version of this product is abysmal, and marketing it like it’s anything but that is the true crime.

      • econik

        I’m not trying to be rude but how do you know that the current version is abysmal? No one knows what’s in it. Judging it by the first version is fine as long as you make that clear. However, the current version is not the first version.

      • James

        Also Mike you may want to reconsider your position on oats considering there is not much nutritional difference from brown rice; and oat flour is just shredded oats. Yes, you no longer have the presence of the intact germ layer but it’s not removed before processing, so essentially it’s just doing some of the chewing for us. Clearly you have a bias and that is great because brown rice works for you, but don’t hypocritically pretend it is significantly better or really that much different.

        Side note, what about blending whole veggies with the mixture or creating vegetable smoothies on the side. Why has this not been suggested? Remember…constructive not destructive

  • ajb

    And you think a western diet of fast food, poisoned meat (example: arsenic in chicken), and highly processed EVERYTHING will yield a healthier body? Your diet must be perfect. Or you must be an overweight ignorant fool.

    • Neil B

      It’s somewhat patronising that you’re suggesting I cannot visit my local farmer’s market or farm to buy food not tainted by large corporations.

    • ch3burashka

      A very balanced and well though-out comment – either you’re with us or against us; there’s no middle ground.

      Neil’s right; there’s plenty of alternative.

    • lakawak

      ajb…just realize how ignorant you came off in your comment.

  • Dave

    This reads like nothing but an attack from a worried competitor. If you want people to take you seriously, act like an adult. At least wait until the product is finished and shipped. You should be ashamed of yourself for this fear mongering.

    • http://www.priceplow.com/ Mike at PricePlow

      Not a competitor. Read above comments on that.

      Why should we wait if they (team Soylent) aren’t either? If they weren’t already marketing and selling an unfinished product, we wouldn’t have to warn our readers.

    • lakawak

      This comment paid for by the moron creator of this product.
      Oh…Soylent will never be a competitor to anyone. It will never get bought by anyone. It is a joke.

  • Issa

    This article is ridiculous. I can’t believe you took the time to write it in a country where what is served at McDonald’s is considered “food”.

    • http://www.priceplow.com/ Mike at PricePlow

      Recall right from the beginning of the write-up: “Recent movements to bring natural fats and leafy green vegetables (of all things) back into Western diets have yielded phenomenal yet unsurprising results over the past decade.”

      Never lump all Americans together. There is a massive movement going on in the other direction. It’s pretty clear what side of that movement we’re on.

  • ass

    Wow, an article that aims to debunk the errors in Soylent’s pitch also claims that maltodextrin is literally not a nutrient!

  • Neil B

    Great article. For the last two years I’ve been removing processed food and low-nutritional-value food from my diet, and it’s been a real eye-opener regarding the claims of “food” companies I otherwise thought were credible.

    One thing I’ve found hugely important is that nutritional claims are presented with references and sources which can be traced back to non-subsidised research.

    Finally, it’s always worth mentioning the Weston A Price foundation on articles such as this. Whilst they can seem a little fanatical at times, they back up all their claims with references from unbiased studies.

    I hope the Soylent product marketing literature contains as many references as this article.

  • MDBritt

    *Great* piece! My only quibble is with the “saturated fat raises cholesterol” point. It is true that sat fat raises total cholesterol but it does *not* make the key lipid ratios (triglycerides : HDL, LDL:HDL) worse nor does it increase the levels of oxidized LDL. These are far more predictive of cardiovascular heart disease than total cholesterol so there is little reason to worry about sat fat other than from a pure caloric density standpoint. Even there, there is reason to eat satiating foods that last a long time than trying to count on pure willpower to resist the temptation to graze lower calorie foods all day.

  • Anony Mous

    “Soylent”, from the original (and truly excellent) SF novel “Make Room, Make Room”, by Harry Harrison, had nothing at all to do with body parts. That particular bit of distasteful nonsense came from Hollywood, as it methodically destroyed another fine book in the process of turning it into on screen trash with little resemblance to the original work.

  • Tyler

    To be clear Rhinehart does recommend having two of these a day so 80 X 2 = 160. 160g of protein a day is quite fine, and heads up, you’re allowed to have as much as you like. Yes you may not get everything you need from this drink, and some of what you do get may be assembled in a shoddy fashion but Soylent is immensely better than the typical diet consumed around the globe. I expect the formula to change as the newly formed company grows. I expect spinoffs and different forms/formulas to arise in order to fit many different body types and needs.

    But unlike most other commentators on this article I will say, this is good for Soylent. They need to examine their formula as closely as possible. If the crew constructing Soylent are serious about getting this to children starving around the world then they need to make sure that it’s the best possible product that they can construct.

    I haven’t once seen them (and this may just be my own fault) try to sell this product as an after workout supplement. It is true that Rhinehart is advertising Soylent as an entire meal replacement all together, and though I hope for this to someday become a possibility, I understand the criticism. Just remember that there are people out there who get 0 meals a day. For multiple days on end. I would much rather see this shipped to India/Central Africa than McD’s, Muscle Milk, a box of Potatoes or really anything else(if we’re talking about only shipping one thing that is).

    They could probably use a chemist on staff, and I assume they eventually will have just that.

  • lakawak

    So if this idiot’s idea is so stupid…why bother talking about it at all? It is not like people were starting to buy his crap and they needed to be better educated before they endangered their health. This is a nobody that 99.999999999999% of the world has never heard of and never will. (Then again, that same percentage has never heard of this site, nor ever will.)

    • http://www.priceplow.com/ Mike at PricePlow

      Because it’s an incomplete food solution being MARKETED as a total food solution. That’s dangerous, and we didn’t want our normal readers to get involved.

      Our readers (sports and supplement junkies) are also prone to get a bit too much into supplementation side instead of real food, so we try to keep that reminder fresh.

      We obviously had no clue that the entire online tech incubator community would have latched onto this post… making for some interesting and unexpected discussion here.

      We honestly thought our readers (being supplement geeks) would have added comments talking about how they’d improve this for their specific sports (ie powerlifting/bodybuilding/strongman/crossfit). Clearly we were wrong there!!

  • lakawak

    Scary…it is like every single employee of this joke of a “company” was called to arms to astroturf the comments section.
    Guys…your time would be much better spent getting your resume in order so we don’t have to support you with food stamps longer than we already have.

    • MWR

      @lakawak. You are an idiot. Soylent won’t put McDonalds out of business, so don’t worry your fat-ass about it.

  • RayJ

    All actual nutritional data aside, doesn’t it seem like Soylent and PRISM and reality TV are kind of a disturbing trend? Its like there are people out who read or watch depictions of dystopian futures and think “I’m gonna go make the world more like that”.

  • Jim Dawkins

    Another over priced meal replacement I see.

  • johnseiferth

    Having come from the future, what everyone is failing to realize is that Rhinehart (or Sir Dr. Rhinehart, Esq III PhD, as we call him in 2313) is the inventor of the substance that will eventually (from your point of view) be used in every replicator, on every starship in Starfleet.

    In 2178, The United Federation of Planets bestowed the honorary rank of Admiral on Rhinehart for his lifelong work in the fields of nutrition, space travel and distributed database systems. His pioneering work in the latter field was actually credited by Zefram Cochrane, who in 2063 invented warp drive which caught the attention of the Vulcans and forever changed the course of humanity.

    This patriot, neigh hero, will forever be linked to the survival of humanity as it made that courageous and desperate leap from the shores of Earth into the sea of space. In fact, since that time of our first forays into the great unknown, at such time when a traveller becomes weary of replicated food and drink, and longs for the taste and satisfaction of a Pastrami on Rye with a real beer (synth ale is definitely no substitute for the real thing) it is said he has a Rhinehart-on for some real food.

    Be weary young citizens of Earth, for you know not what you so despise.

  • Dean Jones

    So you’re part of the problem, not part of the solution Mike? The reason for your aggressive tone is that you’re hoping it aids your bottom line at the expense of another? They maybe a for profit endeavor, but the goal of providing complete nutrition at penny’s a day should be applauded. Should we call you Perez Hilton of the nutrition world?

    • http://www.priceplow.com/ Mike at PricePlow

      Well, we’d never market an incomplete food solution as anything but, nor would we recommend that to our users.

      Even food supplements (like whey protein) are still just supplements, not diets. If someone wants to use this site to buy 100lbs of protein every month, by all means go for it (I’ll try to find you a better deal and send you a free shaker cup and t-shirt too). But I’m not gonna ever suggest it, nor will I call it nutritionally sound. That’s the difference. There’s an ethical way to operate.

      …Soylent doesn’t cost pennies a day…

      … and I have no clue what Perez Hilton does anymore.

  • http://www.priceplow.com/ Mike at PricePlow

    Yams have been a game-changer for me. This is a personal thing, but I feel that they’re vastly underrated.

    Since adding them to my diet, per Marc Lobliner’s advice, I’ve been able to add 15lbs of serious muscle without any nasty side effects that I’d get from grain-based carbs.

    http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2726/2

    • Leaf On the Wind

      Hi, Mike — just curious: Any science to back up yams being crucial, or at least not/not as harmful if consuming starches/grain-like carbs/moderate-carb?

      Also, did yams specificakky make a large differebce, and would sweet potatoes therefore differ significantly — or not?

  • MWR

    You might want to discontinue the use of words like’ “abysmal, crime, scandal, and fools” if you want people to believe that you are truly, “product-neutral”. Currently, this is hack-journalism at best. It is very simple. If people don’t agree with the product then they shouldn’t use it…

  • Moshe Saladin

    Maybe soylent will be the answer to feeding starving people in the 3rd world.

  • David Allen

    no doubt Nestlé will soon buy the Soylent company and people will be eating it in 50 years or less and it will have actual people in it shortly thereafter

  • Charles Richardson

    I’ve been in and around the supplement business for 40+ years, and if we went on rants about every product that we felt claimed to do more than we think it will, all we would be doing would be ranting.

    Looking around at the state of health of Americans, I’m fairly sure I’m not interested in the opinions of dietitians, nutritionists and physicians that have basically recommended the standard American diet that’s gotten us to where we are today with an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. “Avoid saturated fat and cholesterol (and eggs are evil),” they say, based initially on no research whatsoever, and now clearly the wrong advice based plenty of research and meta-analyses.

    So credentials, especially in the nutrition field, don’t particularly impress me. And if a software engineer, or anyone else for that matter, comes up with an interesting approach to nutrition, I’m more than willing to take a look. And as other comments have pointed out, if everyone now eating at McDonalds and Dunkin’ Donuts every day started eating Soylent instead, I can pretty much guarantee that most of them would be a hell of a lot healthier and leaner.

    For the rest of their life? Maybe not, but so what? Life, and personal nutrition, is a ongoing experiment. Everyone is different, and you need different things at different times. As far as I know, it isn’t claimed that Soylent is food for athletes in intensive training. But there have been some athletes I’ve worked with (and I’ve worked with world-caliber and Olympic athletes) who would be better off eating a bunch of Soylent than what they were eating.

    As I said at the beginning, I’ve been around the nutritional supplement field for a few decades. And I’ve worked with athletes and non-athletes and had to come up with strategies that yielded practical results. I’ve been reasonably successful, through far from perfectly so. And I don’t feel at all threatened by some clearly smart kids who have come up with something that looks interesting, probably not harmful, and who want to change the world for the better. I don’t think that’s a bad approach, nor bad motivation.

    • Martin Chandler

      I agree with a lot of your points but surely the only real issue here is the marketing hype around the product? It is nothing more than a meal replacement formula…that’s it. You know there are a ton of those already and several are as good, or better, than this one. There is nothing remotely ground breaking here. The problem, for me, is the idea that this will solve any sort of nutritional “problem”. They talk about developing countries and how we can help solve their food issues…seriously? In a country that can’t afford seeds and famring implements – who is going to pay for this? What water are they going to use for it if they have no potable water to hand? To lead people into believeing that this “get healthy quick” product is the answer to their nutrition problems makes as much sense as telling people they can get truly fit by exercising for just 20 minutes a week. It is misleading at best and possibly dangerous at worst. They don’t want to change the world for the better – they want to make money. You do not change the world for the better by releasing a product that already exists.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/jfenton Jay Fenton

    Whilst I agree with large parts of this article (particularly the part where Soylent could be slightly more empirical / evidence-based in its research), it didn’t need to be written to be quite so confrontational.

    The fact is that there isn’t enough food to go around long-term, and perhaps this initiative, whilst not yet perfect in its approach, will ultimately give us some key insights about nutrition and metabolism. It’s an experiment. For science!

    Do you have a better source for ref 16? Using Naturalnews.com as a source of truth makes me question the validity of the rest of your article.

    Also what is that human metabolism map all about – it looks more like a subway map with a bunch of random stations on it. What do the dots mean?

  • Martin Chandler

    I’m confused. Lots of soylent supporters suggesting that this will solve the nutrition problems for huge proportions of the world’s population. SOmeone mentioned 80% of people having such a poor diet that this can only improve it. Where do these figures come from? Where is the evidence that so many people have such a poor diet it needs “fixing” with something like this? I mean hard evidence by the way, not supposition or media scaremongering. I agree that there is a lot wrong with the western diet, but this is not the way to fix it. It is most certainly not the way to fix the issue of malnutrition globally. A country where starvation is common needs farming solutions; not an expensive drink.
    Products like this fill a niche only for people who simply can’t be bothered attending to their own nutrition. It doesn’t solve any problem that isn’t created by the individual in the first place. It simply serves to bolster the quick-fix, ‘pill for every ill” mentality that, increasingly, is becoming the norm. That is the thing that needs fixing. Ultimately; this is just another meal replacement product and in that context I have no issue with it. I’m not about to buy it, but that doesn’t mean others’ shouldn’t. I think it completely ignores the crucial interplay of a vast array of trace elements that go well beyond mere macronutrients. On that basis alone, I think it’s a poor long-term solution. But as an occasional product it’s fine.
    What I do have a problem with, is the marketing. Selling the idea of moving away from real food and living on this stuff, or anything like it, is extremely poor. We should be teaching people the value of real healthy food, we should be showing people how easy (and cheap) it is to produce good quality meals yourself at home. I agree that many people have a poor diet…but that is just another argument for educating and empowering people to change that. It is not an argument for giving them a drink so they have to put even less thought and effort in. And as for the argument that people who suffer daily malnutrition can benefit from this. No. That does not empower them. That does not solve their problem. It merely makes them dependent on a commodity that will only get more expensive. If they can’t afford to farm their own food – how do they afford this? You solve that issue by education and empowerment.
    Soylent is just an MRP and frankly; compared to many existing ones on the market – it’s not a particularly great one. But they have their place. That place however, is not “solving nutrition problems” and to advertise it as such is misleading and damaging.

  • calamond23

    That’s a pretty big IF.

  • http://tropix-blue.blogspot.com/ John Wong

    Hold the commentary sludge slinging at each other guys. Rob Rhinehart is apparently laughing his way to the bank. He even has a salary now. I should invest in some Soylent stock or become Rob’s PR manager. I would probably do a better job at staging “interviews”. Take a look:at this bit of Rob’s media performance in collaboration with Vice. (Go to the VICE website article “THE MAN WHO THINKS HE NEVER HAS TO EAT AGAIN IS PROBABLY GOING TO BE A BILLIONAIRE SOON”.) Pretty good script that wouldn’t miss a beat if the interviewer wasn’t around at all. He was there merely to provide the “cues” for Rob’s brillaintly spontaneous monologue to put detractors to shame. Mind you, don’t be surprised he gets real rich.. so who cares if Soylent looks like dissolved pig brains never mind the taste? You would probably swallow that for a million bucks.

  • Mike Lee

    The really sad part is that this is the first real objection I’ve heard to soylent that was any better than the blind assertion that you can’t feed yourself raw chemicals and live a healthy life. It’s an understandable assumption, but I need more than cognitive dissonance to dismiss such an important possibility. You raise actual, scientifically verifiable objections, and I for one want to know if you’re on to something, but it appears you’re more interested in proving how much smarter you are than the rest of us than you are in helping us do something important.

    The only point you make that I disagree with is: Rob never has, and still does not, claim that this can completely replace food. He tried it because he wants to know if it’s possible, we all do. It would be a very important discovery if it could. Right now, I like it as a healthy alternative to a f**king big mac when I’m hungry, and nowhere near my refrigerator full of sealed power meals. But in the long run, the implication of this that really excites me is the idea of having a packet of powder that will be good for decades, and that can feed a third world nation full of starving people who don’t live near a Whole Foods Market. Last I checked, they don’t have a franchise in Rwanda. They’re also not big on refrigerators and Tupperware there, so there goes your plan.

    The reason YOU should care is: people haven’t been this interested in nutrition and fitness in a long time. I would never have heard your name if it weren’t for Rob Reinhardt, so maybe you can take a step off your high horse, look at the silver lining, and get your hands dirty actually helping us make some good stuff happen.

    You raise good points, and I’d like to hear more, but if it’s all the same to you, please drop the casually hostile superiority sh*t, It’s not constructive, it’s not impressive, and it’s not going to help anybody. If you really are concerned about the people who are going to be putting this stuff in their face, raise those concerns, and we’ll all be happy to read them and take them under advisement.

  • Mik

    10$/day ? huh? I eat decent food for 1/3 of that. and LOL @ 400g of carbohydrates cause unless you lift heavy sht or run intensely 2-3 times per week, chances are you’re going to get fat quickly (if you’re past 25)

    this is a meal replacement product for the desk jobs type of people who abuse cheetos and mountain dew, they weren’t going to start eating a primal diet and lift weights anyway.

  • James Fotherby

    This is such a ridiculous article with pathetic attempts to appear scientific and evidence based. I hate when people attempt to sound clever to gain trust from the reader. I must say, it was reasonably hilarious to read given I have a fairly solid scientific background!