So I’ve been on DIY “soylent” (People Chow 3.0.1) for 2 weeks now, let’s see how it’s going:
So I’ve been eating (mostly) just soylent for a month. Unequivocally I’d say it’s been great. I’ve learned some things (don’t go calcium deficient, my original harbor freight scale stunk), lost some things (almost 1 “stone”), and likely saved a bunch of money though it’s hard to tell since I still have to buy food for the rest of the family. It’s excessively convenient to have all my food for the day in a ziploc bag that just needs water.
I’m losing weight again. I slowed quite a bit. It turns out if you bow to social pressure and eat muggle food (ok fine, it’s Asparagus season and there is Nacho Cheese) but also finish that day’s soylent because you don’t want to have fun with deficiencies again…. well you end up over the 2000 calorie mark. Crazy stuff. It wasn’t from being hungry, that only happens if I don’t drink my soylent.
So last week I had just ordered another 5 pound bottle of NOW foods Whey Protein Isolate. I started looking at the wildly variable price of the Choline bitartrate and was searching around for some that cost less when I found some by a company called Hard Rhino. It was less but wasn’t free shipping, they do a fixed shipping cost for all orders on Amazon. So I started looking at the other stuff they sold and discovered they had Whey Protein Isolate for crazy low prices. I found their web site and found larger sizes available and free shipping on orders over $100. The original prices turned out to be an error and they raised them, though they are still less than NOW and the additional smaller sizes give people who just want to try people-chow/soylent an opportunity to not spend as much money. I cancelled my 5lb NOW order and ordered 10 kg of Hard Rhino. (more…)
(I originally posted this at the Soylent Discourse Forum and forgot to post it here on my own blog, so here it is)
I started on DIY (People Chow) in early January. Didn’t get blood tests to start (I know, very unscientific of me). Looks like I need to increase my Vitamin D.
Update: There’s a new version here, now with 100% less math errors!
In 4 days I’ll have been doing DIY soylent (specifically People Chow) for 6 months. Time to share some tips! One major change in how I mix up and prepare my soylent started when I bought a 50lb bag of masa and needed to store it somehow. I ended up using the large Utz Cheese Puff bottles.
One day when I had just emptied one of the bottles I wondered if I could use it as a mixing container. Up until that point I was mixing the ingredients for each day individually (first in quart mason jars, then gallon zip-loc bags, then rubbermaid containers and back to the bags) and often I would get a blender bottle that was rather bitter (too much of calcium or potassium that time) or too sweet (to much Mega Man) and I also was mixing the stevia into each bottle when I added water as a tiny amount (grain of rice sized was enough for the bottle) which was another hassle. Initially I tried mixing 3 days of dry ingredients at a time in the cheese puff bottle and that worked extremely well. So I moved up to 5 and then 7, then 10… which didn’t work. Although the math is easier when you multiply by 10 there isn’t enough space in the big bottle to shake up the powder. So I’ve standardized on 7 along with 1/4 teaspoon of stevia for the seven days. The stevia is the real mark of how well the mixing works since it’s pretty evenly distributing the 1/4 teaspoon through the entire mixture and each meal tastes the same.
Here’s the video of how I do it:
As noted in the video I also use an old Mega Man canister to keep my daily powder in. There’s a 1/2 cup scoop in it and I just put two scoops into a blender bottle and shake it up. No more shaking 1/4 of a bag into the bottle. It’s easy food made even easier.
TLDNR: probably not, unless you like buying 9 months worth at a time.
So I ordered some stuff from bulksupplements.com through amazon (choline and potassium citrate) and was looking at some of the other stuff they sell. Among others, they have pure calcium citrate, magnesium citrate and vitamin D3. The one ingredient I go through faster than any other is the NOW foods Calcium & Magnesium – 8 oz. – the price on it tends to fluctuate a lot. I bought it last week for $12.27 including shipping, now it’s $10.17 including shipping and I think at one point I got it for $6, I started wondering if I could mix my own equivalent for less.
So I ran the numbers. The first thing to be aware of is this handy note from bulksupplements about the D3: “This supplement contains around one hundred thousand IU per gram and has no fillers of any kind present in it.” So 1g has 100,000 IU in it? holy crap! Check out the rest of the warnings on this page. Based on that, I’m thinking it’s prolly not worth doing the D3. Not when I can get caplets of whatever dose I want from Wal-mart for $0.06 a dose.
Let’s ignore the D3 then and talk about the calcium and magnesium. Based off the labels, I’d need 2.66g of Magnesium citrate and 1.92g of Calcium Citrate to get the 400&400mg of actual Magnesium and Calcium that’s in the NOW which has 50 doses per bottle. If I buy 500g bags of both and make 500 doses it’s going to cost me $9.69 in bulk ingredients. If it get all nuts and buy the 1KG bags, each group of 50 doses will cost me $7.43 (both figures assume free shipping). It would result in using 3.54g of Magnesium Citrate and 2.54g of Calcium Citrate daily to equal the 6g of NOW that’s in People Chow 3.0.1.
End result: yes buying the bulk powders and mixing your own *would* save you money. But you’ll need to buy it in 1kg bags (which would last 282 days for the magnesium and 393 days for the calcium) in order for it to be cost effective. You also would need to either get a scale that can measure 2.438mg of D3 for a day or use a capsule supplement.
More fun facts: getting the 1kg each of the bulk powders would cost you $63.92. To get 282 days worth of NOW Cal/Mag/D3 would be 8 bottles, and at today’s rate of $10.17 that’s $81.36
Over on the Soylent discussion forum, Nicole Goodkind asked for people’s thought on Soylent. I emailed her and decided I might as well put it up here too.
Some people on the forum and reddit get uppity if you call the DIY soylent “Soylent” with a capital S and I’m not cool enough to have gotten the real stuff.
I saw the kickstarter campaign back when it first happened and initially thought it was a joke campaign somebody put together with a relabeled energy bar labeled “Soylent” as a play on the movie. I though “dangit – I should have thought of that!.” It was nearly 2 weeks later that I realized that it was an actual thing with a real product that wasn’t a joke. I talked with some friends at work about it and I got pretty excited when I saw the Ars Technica series on it. I wanted to order some but didn’t want to pay $250 for a month and didn’t want to wait.
New Years Day 2014 I finally decided I was going to DIY it, mostly as a way to control calories and lose weight. I researched a bit and arrived on the most popular recipe “People Chow” as the one I would go with. I drove around to vitamin stores in my local area trying to find all the ingredients but being a holiday I was stymied in my efforts. I ordered what I hadn’t been able to buy locally off Amazon and waited a few days for the stuff to arrive.
My family has been supportive, mostly because I’m not drinking soylent 100% of the time. I did that at first and still try to stick to it as much as possible to lose weight; but it’s hard to pass up a really nice dinner that I’ve cooked for the wife and kids. When we have a big get together I don’t even worry about it; why would I eat soylent when there’s bbq chicken or broccoli covered in nacho cheese?
The convenience of mixing up a cup of powder in a blender bottle is the nicest part (see my post at http://www.people-chow.com/tile-is-done-its-soylent-timetm/ or my post at http://discourse.soylent.me/t/soylent-at-delicate-arch/12948 ). For counting calories it’s ideal – I put in my exercise, add “Low Cal People Chow” for breakfast, lunch and (usually) dinner and I’m done. I recently changed my method for measuring the ingredients and now I’m doing a week’s worth of meals in 15 minutes. I feel better than I did before I started and my blood work was rather good last check (http://discourse.soylent.me/t/2-months-lab-results-most-looks-good-except-vitamin-d/11820) except for a vitamin D deficiency that’s easily fixed with a supplement. I’m planning on continuing on DIY soylent for quite a while (years or longer). Back in March I bought a bunch of bulk ingredients and computed that I had spent $500 so far on the endeavor but had enough ingredients to last me until early June (yep, still true – it’ll be time to reorder some stuff in about 2 weeks) and $100 a month for food is a pretty good figure.
Recently I’ve been investigating Keytogenic DIY soylent. I first heard of the concept when my son was having seizures and going on a keytogenic diet was one of the proposed treatments. Trying to manage that kind of diet (little to no carbs, all fats and protein – think Atkins-ish) sounded like a nightmare and we were able to control his seizures with medication that he’s since grown out of. But with soylent, the prospect of doing a major and radical diet change like that is more about picking a recipe, modifying it a bit for my requirements and buying the new ingredients I don’t have already. It’s a complete paradigm shift in the way *I* look at food. This is, however, one area the current official Soylent falls short: the customizability. You’re on a sodium restricted diet? Soy Allergy? Vegan? Wheat intolerant? I’ve seen recipes for all of them. Rob and the rest of the Rosa Labs crew has, however, talked about the possibility of different formulations in the future.
I don’t know if Soylent (or soylent) is THE future but I suspect it has enough traction that it’s going to be a food option for the future. I’d love to get my widower father-in-law on Soylent since he doesn’t cook much more than Mac and Cheese since his wife passed and rarely eats veggies. He’s a perfect case for it – I’m just not sure if he could handle the taste of the official (I’m certain he wouldn’t handle mixing up the DIY). One of my work buddies likes the idea of using Soylent for a shelf stable emergency food – sounds like a perfect application. I highly doubt “muggle” food is going anywhere but Soylent is great option for easy, convenient, unremarkable meals.
A few months ago I posted an image of me downing some DIY soylent at Delicate Arch. Now I present to you: DIY soylent at the dance recital.
I do the dance video for a local studio called Wasatch Arts Center, mainly because my kids are in it. We had to get there and set up and I was the only one that had time for dinner. I threw some People Chow into a blender bottle and DONE! Every once in a while when there wasn’t much action going on I could give it a (quiet) shake and drink my dinner. Score another for the sheer convenience of (s)oylent, be it the official or DIY.
Inevitably we’ll end up discussing it so: I usually record from the sound/lighting/projection booth because
- It’s a better angle
- No little kids are running around bumping stuff (including my own)
- No body is standing up blocking me
- No one is talking
- Power outlets!
I run to cameras and then cut between them in post. My main one is a HDV Canon XH-A1 that still records to tapes though whenever I’m stationary like this I hook it up directly to a laptop via firewire and record to disk instead. Secondary is a HF-100 that does a passable job ab being the fallback when the main camera footage is too shaky or (as has happened before) something goes wrong with the feed from the main camera and it’s the only source I have. The HF-100 does record AVCHD to SD cards so at least there’s no prolonged “press play and capture” going on. For editing I use Sony Vegas Pro and I’m currently a version or two behind because my plugins aren’t available on version 13 (I think, haven’t checked in a few months).
For the past few months I’ve been using olive oil in my DIY soylent “People Chow” because it’s supposed to be better for you than soybean oil and humans have been consuming it for a couple thousand (recorded) years. One thing that Soybean oil has that Olive oil doesn’t is vitamin K. Vitamin K does the exact opposite of rat poison (among other things) in that it helps blood that’s leaking out of you skin coagulate
and form wheaties. You can get vitamin K from green veggies and in particular from parsley.
Some people are wary of Soybean oil because of the phytoestrogen factor (does it mimic estrogen?) but everything I’ve read says that isn’t something you need to be concerned about. QuidNYC has a great write up in the notes of his Super Food recipe about oxidative stress in Canola and Soybean oil. And then there is the issue with vitamin K in soybean oil being destroyed by UV light. It’s not likely a container of oil is going to go out into the sun. But People on anti-coagulants like Warfarin need to watch their vitamin K intake. This site has a handy tip:
For those of you passionate for your soybean, canola and vegetable oils – there is good news. Exposure of oils to sunlight or fluorescent light destroys approximately 85% of the vitamin K. You must expose them to sunlight or fluorescent light for at least 48 hours.
Last time I bought oil at the grocery store it was on a shelf exposed to florescent light for probably a lot longer than 48 hours. So if you don’t want to bleed out you’ve got 2 choices:
- Get your oil from a bottle that wasn’t ever taken out of the original box or the container is opaque like metal
- Use a different oil and use a vitamin K supplement
I opted for number 2. To that end I found two vitamin K2 supplements. One is MK-4 and the other is MK-7. There is a lot of discussion as to which is better for you though most agree that the K2 variants are better than K1. So because I have two different supplements I’ve been taking one caplet on even days of the month and the other on odd days of the month. After my recent video on mixing 7 days at a time someone suggested I should just mix it in with the powder.
I have been hesitant to add it to the powder mix because the MK-4 supplement is made partly with alfalfa and I didn’t want it to affect the taste. Well, I tried it this morning.