Trying “Soylent”

This entry is part 1 of 41 in the series DIY Future Foods

I’m giving DIY “Soylent” a try. Mostly as a simple way to manage calories and eat better nutrients. I’ll assume you have no idea what “Soylent” is (hereafter I’m going to omit the quotes) so in a terribly brief summary: It’s all the essential Macro and Micro nutrients a human needs to be healthy, mixed together in powdered form and consumed as a drink.

ince then he did a Kickstarter campaign and they have been moving steadily towards shipping out a product. There is an excellent write-up that gives you (way) more info than you could want: ArsTechnica does Soylent for a week (using the pre-release of the official one). Honestly this series is worth a read just for the hilarity that ensues, especially when he starts tinting it green and red. There’s another good write-up on

I have seriously considered buying a month’s worth but $255 is a little steep, especially when the ship date is indeterminate and keeps slipping. Along with more time and better health one of the other consistent results seems to be weight loss since people are eating the right number of calories; and I’m anxious to do something about that.


So, since the official version isn’t available yet and the official site downright encourages people to try building their own soylent that fits their own specific needs and tastes… I decided to try DIY soylent. After a few days of research I quickly homed in on “People Chow” (because “SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!”) as the most popular DIY recipe, it’s also around $129 a month if you buy it all from Amazon, less if you can find the stuff locally for less. The creator is very active on Reddit and the comments section of that recipe. As of right now he’s updated it to version 2.3.0 with an update to 2.4 coming in the next day or so.

So with all that in mind I went shopping on Jan 1st to see if I could get all the ingredients. I would have gotten away with it if not for those kids if not for most stores being closed for the holiday. So I got what I could and then ordered the rest from Amazon. Then the “polar vortex” shut down the midwest and my order sat on the loading dock waiting for UPS for nearly a week. I finally got it all on Jan 13th.

By |2019-02-10T01:15:46-07:00January 13th, 2014|Categories: Future Foods, Weight Loss|1 Comment

Soylent Day 1

This entry is part 2 of 41 in the series DIY Future Foods

So On Monday I got all my ingredients (finally – I ordered it all on Jan 1st). I mixed up three batches Monday night and concluded that I need a better scale. The one I have has .1 g increments, I need one that has .01 increments.

Trying Soylent Day 1 - Ingredients for Mixing

All the stuff I’ll be eating. I have enough of everything for 45 days, some stuff I have 110 days worth.

I didn’t see specific guidance for how much powder to mix with how much water so I split up the powder between the three BlenderBottles I got from Sams-Club. The mix ended up about as thick as a milk shake (yeah, this was WAY too thick, more on that later).

BlenderBottles ready to go - that's 2000 calories for 1 day.

BlenderBottles ready to go – that’s 2000 calories for 1 day.

It didn’t taste like I anticipated at all. Because it has 45 g of ground almond it has a distinctive nutty flavor that I actually like quite a bit. But because I mixed it up too thick  I was taking a mouthful and kinda chewing at it (“mmmm almonds!”) but I had some almond stopping at the back of my throat giving me heartburn/acid reflux. This proved to be the biggest hurdle for me and didn’t really go away until I ate half a slice of bread followed by some Tums. Aside from the almond issue it was really nice to not feel hungry at all. I commented on my experience with the almond and hypothesized that it might be due to my choice of “Simply Right” instead of “Bob’s Red Mill” brand. So I bought some of the Bobs and mixed up a new batch for Wednesday.

By |2019-02-10T01:32:29-07:00January 14th, 2014|Categories: Future Foods, Weight Loss|0 Comments

Soylent Day 2

This entry is part 3 of 41 in the series DIY Future Foods

So my biggest problem so far has been the acid reflux/heartburn from the bits of almond sticking to the back of my throat. I thought it might be the brand of almond meal so I got the stuff that was officially recommended and tried that out.

Somebody also noted that I was using WAY too little water. At their direction I put 8 (volume) ounces of powder into the bottle, then after shaking it a bit got it up to 24 fluid ounces (up to the top). It was much better. I tried chugging it instead of sipping it and I don’t have the acid reflux nearly as bad, it’s barely noticeable. While not a ringing endorsement =) it’s a significant improvement. It’s also possible that the change to Bob’s red mill almond meal has helped too. I’ll have to try the old stuff tomorrow (since I still have 2 days mixed up in baggies). Scientific method-ish you know?

I also did break ranks a bit and had 1 slice of pizza during lunch. I decided I would finish my second bottle of soylent before having any, mostly so I would be full and not want much. I stopped at 1 because I was full already but also I noticed that my stomach didn’t seem to like the pizza very much. It has to be psychosomatic or something because, while I did take 5 minutes to eat a single slice, I don’t thing it could have reacted to it that fast. Plus I’ve only been on this for like 30 hours and my gall bladder still has plenty of bile. Regardless; the pizza, while tasting yummy and salty, didn’t sit well.

My wife decided to try a swig during dinner. Her response: “Well… it’s not horrible…” I laughed pretty hard.

I discovered that the recipe/formulation has been revised: People Chow 3.0 is here! The official changelog:

CHANGELOG 3.0.0 – “Tortilla Perfection!”

  • Replaced Harina P.A.N. with masa harina
  • Added 30g carbohydrate base (masa harina)
  • Removed the almond meal
  • Added 7g whey protein isolate
  • Added 14g soybean oil

Too bad I still have 2 days mixed up of the old formulation. I’m going to go ahead with the prepared stuff for days 3 and 4 and switch to the new formulation on Saturday. I’m conflicted though since I really like the almond taste but won’t miss the stuff in the back of my throat.

By |2019-02-10T01:35:52-07:00January 15th, 2014|Categories: Future Foods, Weight Loss|1 Comment

Soylent Day 3

This entry is part 4 of 41 in the series DIY Future Foods

Well, I’m back to the original Almond meal and there’s not a noticeable difference, guess that was a wasted $12. Seriously this is so much better when I put in the right amount of water!

Speaking of water, I’m apparently extremely dehydrated – that or something in the formulation is tinting my pee yellow, and there’s the 4 pound weight loss since I started. Regardless I’m happy with how it’s going so far. Entering my daily meal into is stupid easy: “let’s see… what did I eat today? Oh that’s right +peoplechow2.3” and DONE. It was also nice to be able to sit and talk to my kids during dinner while they ate, normally I’m chowing down on a salad or something.

Chug! Chug! Chug!

I’m going to be in this for the long haul. I’m not picky about repetitive foods, quite the opposite. For the last 7 years I’ve eaten instant oatmeal for lunch at work probably 90+% of the time. Probably helped my cholesterol and stuff a lot, especially since my previous lunch regimen was heating up a can of chili or putting a frozen pizza in the toaster oven (my blood pressure used to be CRAZY high!).

As for my state of being on soylent: this is actually rather nice thus far. I’m not hungry all the time, quite the opposite. it’s sort of like how I don’t get hungry when I have a stomach bug. I also learned from Lee Hutchinson’s experience when he tried Soylent for a week for Ars Technica: if you’re not hungry, you don’t have to gag it down =).

By |2019-02-10T01:37:57-07:00January 16th, 2014|Categories: Future Foods, Weight Loss|0 Comments

Soylent Day 4

This entry is part 5 of 41 in the series DIY Future Foods

So I did eventually get hungry. Right around 21:00 last night, my stomach felt empty and I wanted to eat. I thought that it might just be that I was thirsty since my mouth felt dry. So I drank a bunch and it (mostly) went away. The odd thing was when I woke up today I wasn’t hungry at all, which is kinda odd. So I guess I wasn’t hungry last night… or something. I also had made it a point to only consume soylent for the entire day, for better or for worse. I made it: for Day 3 for Day 3

My wife forgot and tried to give me some Chicken in a Biscuit crackers and I came really close to eating some chocolate – even had it written down in mynetdiary – but I decided to do it right. Anyhow…

One of the big questions a lot of people have is: so how will this affect my gastrointestinal tract? Lee Hutchinson did his own hilarious write up on his second day of Soylent but here is my “plumbing” experience:

  • On Day 1 I mixed the stuff way too thick and had a lot of heartburn and burping (although correlation != causation) – there is a slight possibility some of this was due to a short stomach bug that gave me the runs and the desire not to eat the day before I started all this (Day -1? Day 0? I don’t know!) – though it only lasted until noon and I was feeling perfectly fine by dinner.
  • Since day 1 I haven’t had a problem with gas… from either end. I’d go so far as to say there is substantially *less* than a week ago. From what I understand this is likely due to the use of Corn as the primary carbohydrate source, as opposed to the oat flour that is used in the official Soylent.
  • If you really want to know, I’d say this morning was about a 4.5 on the Bristol scale and there’s far less volume. Also it was lighter, like #FFDB4A.
  • I said it earlier but I have noticed that my mouth feels dry a lot. I’m not sure if it’s dehydration (which honestly seems unlikely right now – there’s no way I’ve been running fluid through my kidneys at that rate and been dehydrated) or some sort of after-taste from the vitamin powder but drinking does make it go away for quite a while… until it comes back =)
  • Speaking of dehydration. It was pointed out to me that “The extra b vitamins will make bright colors when they come out” – and that makes sense given the bright yellow tint. I guess I should be happy it isn’t red.

One other fun thing: the trend is looking good so farJanuary2014

By |2019-02-10T01:40:40-07:00January 17th, 2014|Categories: Future Foods, Weight Loss|0 Comments

Measuring out People Chow 3.0.1

This entry is part 6 of 41 in the series DIY Future Foods

So I finally finished off the last of my pre-mixed 2.3.0 and can now move on to the new formulation. As I said earlier, the big change in the new formulation was the removal of the almond meal; along with new corn flour and some tweaked amounts of the protein and other stuff. Allegedly the new mix tastes like tortilla chips since it’s made from the same flour you use for corn tortillas/tortilla chips. I haven’t had a chance to taste it (that will be tomorrow) but it certainly smells like tortilla chips!

I thought I would document mixing up a batch of 3 days worth. According to the time stamps on the photos this took around 30 minutes. I suspect I could do it in far less time (10-15 minutes) if I was using a better scale and containers that had larger openings… and I wasn’t taking photos or doing stuff with the kids the whole time. I don’t want to champion this being best practices, in fact I anxiously anticipate many from the DIY soylent community to say “why are you doing x when it’s so much easier to do y?” – I’ll likely do a followup or two with MOAR BETTER-ER methods.

Starting to measure

Starting to measure

So I use my harbor freight scale with quart bottles. I’m doing 3 days at a time so I can kinda do it like an assembly line.

  1. Put a bottle on the scale
  2. hit the “tare” button to zero the weight measurement
  3. dump ingredient into the bottle until I hit the desired weight
  4. swap bottle, goto step 1
Adding Protein

Adding Protein

For the bulky ingredients (the corn and whey protein isolate) this is super easy, aside from messing up and dumping powder over the side. This is why it would be nice to have a larger opening. If I put too much it’s *usually* easy to just spoon out the excess, though this gets tricky for some of the ingredients that are in smaller quantities (like 4 or 2 grams). With the smaller ones it becomes difficult to get *just* the one I want out without getting some of the last one, adding it in piles makes this a little easier. Also: get a good scale with 0.01 g resolution. Mine tends to stick at a particular weight. I’ll add a bunch of salt and it will hold at 1.2 g (or something) and then suddenly jump up to 5.3. Eventually it settles down and shows the right weight (I think) but it’s annoying and slows me down a lot.

Bottles Full

Bottles Full – so nice and stratified!

The old formulation had denser almond meal so this new one takes up more volume, almost exactly 1 US quart, aka 4 cups, aka 32 fluid ounces, aka 0.946353 liters (you can call it 1 liter if you like). The last one gave me 1/2 cup less – so this new one will fill 4 of the larger Blenderbottles with what appears to be a best practice: 1 cup/8 oz of powder mixed with water up to the top after shaking.

1 day ready to go

1 day ready to go

I suppose I could leave the powder in the quart jars and put lids on them but the zip-lock bags fit in the cupboard better. As of yet I haven’t figured out a decent way to mix the oil in with the powder that doesn’t just coat the inside of the bag with oil and have the powder stick to it. Maybe others have suggestions. For now I’m just adding the oil to the mixture after I add the water, usually right about the time I’ve been adding some vanilla. I’ll have to see what 3.0.1 tastes like without vanilla, I tried adding some taco seasoning to 2.3.0 and while it was actually quite good, it’s not the sort of thing I could handle more than a test shot glass of.

Anyhow that’s it! Tomorrow I’ll actually mix it up and see how the new formulation goes.

By |2019-02-10T01:44:22-07:00January 17th, 2014|Categories: Future Foods, Weight Loss|1 Comment

Day 5 – mmmm, 3.0.1 TAMALES!

This entry is part 7 of 41 in the series DIY Future Foods
Today's soylent, ready for water

Today’s soylent, ready for water

As I said in my earlier post: although Max says it tastes like tortillas, personally I think the new 3.0.1 formulation tastes like Tamales. I really like tamales (and tortilla chips). The texture of the corn flour as I drink it reminds me quite a lot of eating tamales too. Seriously: if you were to make a corn tamale without any meat filling and take a bite it would be really similar to 3.0.1. I thought that I was OK with 2.3 but the new flavor and texture without the almond meal is so much better it’s silly. I also was adding about 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla to 2.3 to make it taste better, I think I’m going to just consume 3.0.1 straight up – as God intended…. wait…

So a few things of note from today: My mouth hasn’t felt as dry all day which is different since I think I actually drank *less* water today. I also haven’t had the weird taste in my mouth, the “I chewed a flinstones vitamin 20 minutes ago and I think I need something to make it go down” taste. As for the plumbing: most decidedly a 5 on the Bristol scale if you are wondering.

This entire week on soylent I’ve woken to my 05:10 alarm clear headed and ready to go, it’s been rather remarkable. I have been less tired with more energy.

I’ve been helping one of my daughters with her 5th grade science project, we went to Sams-Club to get the ingredients to make ice-cream and it was sample day, I ate a few things. Turns out that my stomach is already starting to revolt against other foods “wait, what is *this* crap? I thought we stopped eating this!” At the rate this is going I’ll soon stop even wanting other food.

By |2019-02-10T01:46:58-07:00January 18th, 2014|Categories: Future Foods, Weight Loss|0 Comments

People Chow Experience – Days 6 and 7

This entry is part 8 of 41 in the series DIY Future Foods

Nothing much to note, and that’s a very good thing – I think. I ate a little bit of normal food yesterday, but for the most part am happily subsisting almost entirely on People Chow DIY soylent.

OK, one thing to note is that yesterday and today I was sated enough drinking 1/4 of the stuff at my regular meals that I only imbibed 3/4 of my days worth of powder each of the days. It’s possible that my “set point” is already moving down thanks to the soylent and I’m becoming less hungry. It’s also possible that the biscuit and 4 table spoons of gravy I ended up eating during dinner helped too. Apparently that is my Achilles Heel. I expect to do a 1 week on soylent summary tomorrow.

By |2019-02-10T02:16:21-07:00January 20th, 2014|Categories: Future Foods, Weight Loss|0 Comments

DIY soylent – Week 1

This entry is part 9 of 41 in the series DIY Future Foods

So I completed 1 week of drinking soylent all week, I did have some other food (a piece of pizza, a little soup, some biscuits and gravy) which combined are about 750 calories for the week. While not insubstantial, it was less than 5% of what I ate. I wanted to log my results so that others could benefit from my experiences. Rather like the “Stuff I’ve learned through sad and painful experience (you’re welcome)” section I put in a tech conference class I taught about Amazon Web Services.

So how do I feel about the soylent? I think the stuff is simply awesome. I’ve gotten to where I can mix up 3 days worth in about 6 minutes, preparing a meal involves dumping 2 half cups of powder into a blender bottle and adding water. I’m not having any of the heartburn issues that I had the first few days now that I’m adding the right amount of water and the almond meal was removed from the formulation. The recipe that I’m using right now (People Chow 3.0.1) is really good; superb, in fact. I suspect the only reason I would change anything is if Max (the creator) comes up with another tweak that makes it even better. The main complaint people have about the recipe (and just about all of the recipes) is the grittiness of the flour. Yes, it is a bit gritty; though far less so than the previous iteration. I find it very drinkable and usually just shake up my bottle, chug about a third of it, and then repeat again when I feel like it. Twice last week I only consumed 3/4 of my daily soylent, mostly because I wasn’t hungry, partly because of eating some “muggle” food. Still – I agree with most of the experiences I’ve read from others: no you aren’t hungry all the time. For that matter I’m rarely hungry and when I do feel hungry I drink some soylent and some water and I’m OK. On the topic of muggle/normal food: Earlier on I had some rather severe reactions to eating stuff besides soylent. I don’t know if that was because of the 2.3.0 version or what but the last two days what little I have eaten hasn’t caused me any discomfort or problems of any kind.

How is my body reacting to a week on soylent? Very well, thank you. My gastrointestinal tract seems to like it just fine. The microbes that release foul smelling gas after feasting upon the insoluble sugars in bean skins appear to be rather sad though – since they appear to not be doing much of anything right now (meaning I’m not having a problem with gas, rather a vacation from it!). I’ve not had any issue with not enough or too much fiber (constipation or the runs). I feel like I have more energy, I wake up easier, don’t feel slow and bogged down after eating dinner. I’ve also gone from eating (far) too many calories to eating as much or even less than the 2000 calorie recommendation, especially when I add 30 minutes of elliptical. I was a little freaked out by the vitamins tinting my urine a bright neon yellow – though I was dehydrated; but others had the same issue and it’s apparently a well known reaction with certain vitamin supplements. I’ve found it easier to not eat junky snacks when (a) I’m already full from the soylent I drank a few hours ago (b) I can just mix up some more and (c) seriously? do I really want to eat that? If I do it might sit heavy in my stomach and I don’t even really want to – I just think I do.

I started this whole endeavor as a way to lose weight. Thus far it’s working quite well. I know that’s not the aim of creating soylent but I have no problem using it for my own nefarious purposes. Until now I’ve posted a few graphs without a Y-axis label since I wanted to have more results before telling teh Intrawebs how much I weigh. Well, here is the graph for January 2014 using the tools from The Hackers Diet to account for variations in water and other factors. I’ve been using this since 2006 and have the process down fairly well: weigh at same time every day just before showering (plus removing other variables I won’t go in to).


Weight log – January 2014

Yeah, that’s a VERY good trend =) It will be fun to see how it continues to go down over the next few months. I suppose if I really wanted to amp it up I could play around with the formulation or even go Shangri-la Diet on it and down the oil with my nose plugged but I’m content with how it’s going so far. In about a month or so I plan on getting some blood work done, mostly because my health insurance will pay me $50 to do a health assessment each year (cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, etc…) but it will be good to see how I’m doing.

Anyhow – I expect I’ll be doing a few weekly updates from here on out, now that the “exciting” or unknown is behind me.

By |2016-10-14T07:18:11-06:00January 22nd, 2014|Categories: Future Foods, Weight Loss|0 Comments

Video of mixing 3 days worth of Soylent

This entry is part 10 of 41 in the series DIY Future Foods

So I wanted to do a video of mixing up a few days batches of soylent – mostly because it’s the sort of thing that would have saved me a bunch of time and spilled powder when I was starting all this but also because I made the claim that “I’ve gotten to where I can mix up 3 days worth in about 6 minutes” and po2gdHaeKaYk called me out wanting to see it =)

So here it is. Turns out (at least in this video) that it takes me almost exactly 12 minutes from the time I start measuring the first ingredient (0:31) to the time I finish measuring the oil (12:34). So I was only off by half? I suspect mixing another days worth would only add an additional 3 minutes and so forth.


The biggest time saving tips (in my opinion)

  1. use a bowl large enough to hold your largest ingredient (in this formulation that’s 345 grams of corn flour)
  2. dump each ingredient into a container large enough to hold everything with an opening larger than your  bowl from tip #1
  3. measure each ingredient separately, don’t stack them up and “tare” or zero out the scale. In addition to it being hard to take out extra overage; many scales are less sensitive/accurate at higher weight loads
  4. I forgot to put this one the video: a new $0.05 nickel weighs exactly 5.000 grams – if your scale can be calibrated using a specific weight and you don’t have one to calibrate it with you can use a stack or two of nickels.
By |2016-10-14T07:18:11-06:00January 24th, 2014|Categories: Future Foods, Weight Loss|0 Comments