Author Topic: Soylent  (Read 2823 times)

bayescraft

  • Stubble
  • *
  • Posts: 11
Soylent
« on: May 05, 2013, 06:34:37 PM »
Name comes from the book, not the movie. In the book, it's not... well, no spoilers, but this is a good idea, as opposed to the other one.

http://robrhinehart.com/?p=298

The basic idea is, you take all the macronutrients and micronutrients you need, mix them together with water. Turns out this is really healthy, which isn't really news. Interesting part is you can use some basic chemistry to make sure you don't OD or get heavy metal poisoning, and source the nutrients on amazon for an amortized ~$150/mo per person. Since physical manufacture typically requires 5-10x markup on costs to be profitable in a traditional retail environment, typical consumerism doesn't seem able to produce something like this that's both high quality and low cost.

The author of the above blog post has been doing this for 3 months, as well as running trials with others in the SF area. Suffice it to say, I find this very interesting.

plantingourpennies

  • Magnum
  • ****
  • Posts: 359
  • None.
    • Money, Kittens, Happiness
Re: Soylent
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2013, 07:07:06 PM »

Quote
"I feel like the six million dollar man. My physique has noticeably improved, my skin is clearer, my teeth whiter, my hair thicker and my dandruff gone. My resting heart rate is lower, I haven't felt the least bit sickly, rare for me this time of year. I've had a common skin condition called Keratosis Pilaris since birth. That was gone by day 9. I used to run less than a mile at the gym, now I can run 7. I have more energy than I know what to do with. On day 4 I caught myself balancing on the curb and jumping on and off the sidewalk when crossing the street like I used to do when I was a kid. People gave me strange looks but I just smiled back. Even my scars look better.

My mental performance is also higher. My inbox and to-do list quickly emptied. I 'get' new concepts in my reading faster than before and can read my textbooks twice as long without mental fatigue. I read a book on Number Theory in one sitting, a Differential Geometry book in a weekend, filling up a notebook in the process. Mathematical notation that used to look obtuse is now beautiful. My working memory is noticeably better. I can grasp larger software projects and longer and more complex scientific papers more effectively. My awareness is higher. I find music more enjoyable. I notice beauty and art around me that I never did before. The people around me seem sluggish. There are fewer 'ums' and pauses in my spoken sentences. My reflexes are improved. I walk faster, feel lighter on my feet, spend less time analyzing and performing basic tasks and rely on my phone less for navigation. I sleep better, wake up more refreshed and alert and never feel drowsy during the day. I still drink coffee occasionally, but I no longer need it, which is nice."
[/i]

tl;dr- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudoscience
PlantingOurPennies- Our experience with personal finance.

bayescraft

  • Stubble
  • *
  • Posts: 11
Re: Soylent
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2013, 07:24:28 PM »
No one is claiming his particularly detailed experience is any more than a combination of illusion and reversion to the mean after a particularly bad diet. That being said, it does seem to be healthy, based on the bloodwork of him and others, and if you take a moment to think about it, you'll notice that in the absence of data, you'd assume that a focus on nutritional elements would be reasonably healthy. Data trumps all opinion or hyperbole, of course, which is why he's collecting the bloodwork of others in his area.

On the larger subject of analysis of pseudoscience -- it's complicated. See: http://www.gwern.net/Drug%20heuristics#algernons-law

I.P. Daley

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 2185
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
    • Technical Meshugana
Re: Soylent
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2013, 07:42:49 PM »
Oh look, some guy re-invented prescription-level nutrient paste for people with gastric feeding tubes.

tl;dr- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudoscience

QFT. It's amazing what a few trace minerals that you're not normally getting and a load of placebo effect built from personal bias can do. How healthy can a diet that allows the gastric system's muscles to atrophy long term and has no effective waste cleansing mechanisms through various plant fibers really be? Tell you what... if he lives on this more than 10 years without developing colon cancer (or any other major GI involved ailments) and dying, then we'll talk about this being anything more than pseudo-science and a bad idea that's typically only reserved for feeding people who can't eat real food to keep them alive.

Long-term effects matter too, and short term bloodwork read by lab techs who often have far too wide a range to define "normal and healthy" with blood chemistry means squat.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2013, 07:48:47 PM by I.P. Daley »
Hi, I'm Daley, the Howard Cosell of MVNOs and the Technical Meshugana. I'm also the author of the Frugal Communications Guide and our own Superguide.

Russ

  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 1910
  • Age: 23
  • Location: Madison, WI
    • AROUSE OSU
Re: Soylent
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2013, 07:56:53 PM »
you mean this guy?

bayescraft

  • Stubble
  • *
  • Posts: 11
Re: Soylent
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2013, 08:05:56 PM »
[Yep, same guy, did a search, didn't realize there was another thread.]

The long term effects are precisely what are of interest here. As a side note, these people consume more fiber than most Americans do already, but in the first version they didn't. Your feedback is precisely why this approach seems to have merit: problems can be fixed rapidly and without infrastructure costs. I find this idea interesting primarily because that's not true with modern American/English/German diets -- their problems persist for years after discovery, not days.

Conversely, my interest is not because I think this is the best diet. Quite the opposite -- as you indicate, there are reasons to eat real food. But to draw an allusion to The Art of Money-Getting, probably the best book on personal finance, written in the 1800s, too, because the basics don't change:

Take your expenses, and sort them into three categories, one labelled Needs, one Wants, one Luxuries. You will not be able to tell the difference between Needs and Wants. This is because you are human. The difference is irrelevant, as well, as punishment isn't the goal. Instead, try to limit luxuries to control your budget.

Nutrients are a need. But a lot of the MMM ethos is in drawing the line between luxury and wants differently. Having a professional cleaner is not described by my coworkers as a luxury, to them it's a want. High quality food, if the alternative supplies the same nutritional value, from my perspective, could be described as a luxury. That's the conversation this should be about. Everything else is execution.

DocCyane

  • Magnum
  • ****
  • Posts: 348
  • Age: 46
  • Location: California
  • Keep going. You're doing just fine.
Re: Soylent
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2013, 08:11:19 PM »
I am more comfortable eating a variety of wholesome, healthy foods. I follow the "don't mess with Mother Nature" philosophy about most everything.
Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end.

I.P. Daley

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 2185
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
    • Technical Meshugana
Re: Soylent
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2013, 09:12:27 PM »
[Yep, same guy, did a search, didn't realize there was another thread.]

The long term effects are precisely what are of interest here. As a side note, these people consume more fiber than most Americans do already, but in the first version they didn't. Your feedback is precisely why this approach seems to have merit: problems can be fixed rapidly and without infrastructure costs. I find this idea interesting primarily because that's not true with modern American/English/German diets -- their problems persist for years after discovery, not days.

Conversely, my interest is not because I think this is the best diet. Quite the opposite -- as you indicate, there are reasons to eat real food. But to draw an allusion to The Art of Money-Getting, probably the best book on personal finance, written in the 1800s, too, because the basics don't change:

Take your expenses, and sort them into three categories, one labelled Needs, one Wants, one Luxuries. You will not be able to tell the difference between Needs and Wants. This is because you are human. The difference is irrelevant, as well, as punishment isn't the goal. Instead, try to limit luxuries to control your budget.

Nutrients are a need. But a lot of the MMM ethos is in drawing the line between luxury and wants differently. Having a professional cleaner is not described by my coworkers as a luxury, to them it's a want. High quality food, if the alternative supplies the same nutritional value, from my perspective, could be described as a luxury. That's the conversation this should be about. Everything else is execution.

And you're missing my point. Man's greatest folly is his hubris in thinking that he better understands the whole of creation and can somehow improve on G-d's design. Refine all you want with this method, but eventually with enough wisdom, you'll eventually go back to eating real food. Most wise doctors and scientists already know and corroborate this conclusion. The fix to best improve this method for all its shortcomings will eventually be reduced to blending real food into a slurry until they realize that their not using their teeth has a potential negative impact as well, leading back to just eating like a sane person. Laziness with the human condition will always result in ruin, one only has to look at what we're doing with our out of control power consumption as a shining example. This is not science, this is biological ignorance wrapped in pure liquid sloth.

Nutrition and health are fundamental needs, but eating high-quality food is not a luxury as you so claim but a necessity, because lower quality, man-made refined "foods" simply will not provide what they do. It is a necessity towards better health. By your logic, eating a fortified peanut butter paste with enough clean water should be healthy enough to pass as fulfilling dietary needs because it contains all the requirements that science has defined as man needing to survive and could be put together really cheap and it's even one of the preferred solutions to trying to ease starvation in African countries... but that optimal word is survive, not live or thrive, which are core components to remaining healthy and productive long term. I mean, we've had people demonstrate short term that they can survive and stay "healthy" eating nothing but McDonald's short term so long as they stay within their calorie needs fercripesake! However, anyone with a lick of sense is going to realize how insane eating their grub from Ray Kroc's tiny empire for the rest of their lives really is. This is no different.

The real kicker is that $150/person/month buys a lot of high-quality food when it isn't processed or pushed through a majority of the industrial food chain.
Hi, I'm Daley, the Howard Cosell of MVNOs and the Technical Meshugana. I'm also the author of the Frugal Communications Guide and our own Superguide.

Jamesqf

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 4055
Re: Soylent
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2013, 10:01:58 PM »
High quality food, if the alternative supplies the same nutritional value...

There's the rub: does that alternative diet supply the same nutritional value?  I doubt it.  We have a long history - from scurvy to modern fast food - of diets that were thought to be perfectly fine.  People who ate them didn't starve, but after months or years started suffering from mysterious diseases.

We've got a digestive system that's been fine-tuned by hundreds of millions of years of evolution to process natural foods.  I think anyone claiming to know every dietary requirement and how to put them in one artificial "meal" is either a liar or a fool.

And that's before we even wonder what other non-natural manufacturing/processing byproducts made it into those artificial supplements as well.

grantmeaname

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 3703
  • Age: 22
  • Location: London, UK
  • Pseudoscience is alive and well...in YOUR hometown
    • The MMM Blogger Community
Re: Soylent
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2013, 02:25:35 PM »
Bayes, you should check out In Defense of Food. It's a quick, easy read that we've covered before in the MMM Book Club, and it largely discusses what the author terms "nutritional reductionism". It was popular enough when it came out a couple of years back that your library probably has a free copy.

arebelspy

  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 11367
  • Age: -999
  • Location: Las Vegas
Re: Soylent
« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2013, 10:11:13 PM »
Original link: http://robrhinehart.com/?p=298

They raised ~700k through a kick starter type fundraiser on their site.. Supposed to be shipping v1 of the product in August: https://campaign.soylent.me/soylent-free-your-body

Forbes Journalist tries it for a week: http://www.forbes.com/sites/calebmelby/2013/06/10/a-week-without-real-food-i-survived-and-learned-to-enjoy-soylent/

Eventually recipe will be open source here: http://blog.soylent.me/

I'm hoping it's real, not a viral marketing thing for a remake of the soylent green movie or something...

I'd replace at least breakfast and lunch with it, if real.
A silent voice is as powerless as a silenced one.

-------------------------------------------------------

  The Cheat is a millionaire!

Dr.Vibrissae

  • Magnum
  • ****
  • Posts: 327
Re: Soylent
« Reply #11 on: July 04, 2013, 10:51:57 PM »
I could pick apart a lot of the points in his article, so suffice it to say, I think it's bunk.  I will stick to a few that really bugged me though:

1.  Claims to have researched everything the body needs to survive.  Two days in, *forehead slap* "I forgot iron!".  Three months in *facepalm*, "I forgot sulfur!"
2.  Speaking of iron, he claims he realized his problem two days in because "low hemoglobin" which I'm presuming translates to low energy. Since the lifespan of an red blood cell is over 100 days, two days without iron would not give you low hemoglobin/too little oxygen unless you are also actively bleeding (into his gut...eh maybe). 
3.  The type of blood work he had done is pretty insensitive at detecting dietary insufficiencies.  THe body is designed to keep those numbers in a relatively narrow range, even if it has to canabalize other tissues to do it.  As I.P. Daley pointed out, there are several studies showing that bloodwork will remain pretty normal  even on what most everyone would agree are not good quality long term diets (the nutrition scientist who ate nothing but snack cakes for 3 months comes to mind)
4.  Aren't there already meal replacement formulas out there?  Maybe it would be faster to have someone wiki leak the Ensure formula than to let this guy tweak it out by trial and error.

'I can't complain, but sometimes I still do/Life's been good to me so far.' Joe Walsh

Hamster

  • Magnum
  • ****
  • Posts: 488
Re: Soylent
« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2013, 02:39:28 AM »
1.  Claims to have researched everything the body needs to survive.  Two days in, *forehead slap* "I forgot iron!".  Three months in *facepalm*, "I forgot sulfur!"
2.  Speaking of iron, he claims he realized his problem two days in because "low hemoglobin" which I'm presuming translates to low energy. Since the lifespan of an red blood cell is over 100 days, two days without iron would not give you low hemoglobin/too little oxygen unless you are also actively bleeding (into his gut...eh maybe). 
I had the exact same thoughts... Not to be a judgmental jerk, but: If someone is dumb enough to not think of iron as an important micronutrient, and also dumb enough to think he could deplete his iron stores and start lowering his hemoglobin in 3 days... then he's too dumb to entrust my health to his synthetic meal replacement.

As someone who admittedly tries to manipulate nutrition to try to improve my fitness (carb/protein mix after exercise, etc), I don't understand why we feel the need to find such complex solutions to such simple problems. I prefer Pollan's advice to "Eat Food, Mostly Plants, not too much". If people took that to heart, and added in "put down the remote control" and "get off your ass", we could greatly improve our collective health without drinking the "oops I forgot the iron" snake oil.

arebelspy

  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 11367
  • Age: -999
  • Location: Las Vegas
Re: Soylent
« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2013, 08:15:39 AM »
I don't understand why we feel the need to find such complex solutions to such simple problems. I prefer Pollan's advice to "Eat Food, Mostly Plants, not too much".

Because something like this would eliminate many hassles - planning, shopping, cooking, etc.

I really don't like eating.  :)
A silent voice is as powerless as a silenced one.

-------------------------------------------------------

  The Cheat is a millionaire!

Jamesqf

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 4055
Re: Soylent
« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2013, 10:54:40 AM »
I really don't like eating.  :)

Got to wonder about you.  I admit I could do without grocery shopping, but eating good food is one of the great pleasures of life, and cooking beats the heck out of watching TV.

Marmot

  • Bristles
  • **
  • Posts: 57
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Near Chicago, IL USA
Re: Soylent
« Reply #15 on: July 05, 2013, 01:28:42 PM »
This thread made me think of the mush they ate in the first Matrix movie...

Because something like this would eliminate many hassles - planning, shopping, cooking, etc.

I really don't like eating.  :)

Plus the need for much less land to make food!  For those that like to eat, we could just put on a vr headset, attach a clip to our tongue that stimulated our taste buds, and pretend to eat fancy food (all the air you would accidentally swallow would be a challenge though). =)

As an aside, is that movie from the '70s "Soylent Green" worth seeing?

Rural

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 1875
Re: Soylent
« Reply #16 on: July 05, 2013, 02:14:00 PM »


As an aside, is that movie from the '70s "Soylent Green" worth seeing?

Gasp! Don't do that to us old folks; our hearts can't take the shock. Go find the movie.

arebelspy

  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 11367
  • Age: -999
  • Location: Las Vegas
Re: Soylent
« Reply #17 on: July 08, 2013, 11:02:49 AM »
I really don't like eating.  :)

Got to wonder about you.  I admit I could do without grocery shopping, but eating good food is one of the great pleasures of life, and cooking beats the heck out of watching TV.

Well sure, but I don't really watch TV either.

I've debated with people the idea of never eating again versus keep it like now.  I'm on the fence on that debate.  Ideally I'd just be able to eat a few times a month, for pleasure and eliminate all other meals.  It's a close call giving that up (those few times of pleasure per month, say 3 out of 90 meals) to not have to eat the other 95% of the time.

I just don't enjoy food that much.  Maybe I have less sensitive taste buds or something.

As an aside, is that movie from the '70s "Soylent Green" worth seeing?

Gasp! Don't do that to us old folks; our hearts can't take the shock. Go find the movie.

With already knowing the big spoiler ending, is there still a point?
A silent voice is as powerless as a silenced one.

-------------------------------------------------------

  The Cheat is a millionaire!

Rural

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 1875
Re: Soylent
« Reply #18 on: July 08, 2013, 05:06:06 PM »



As an aside, is that movie from the '70s "Soylent Green" worth seeing?

Gasp! Don't do that to us old folks; our hearts can't take the shock. Go find the movie.

With already knowing the big spoiler ending, is there still a point?

Sigh. I don't know. It still had a surprise ending first time I watched it, though it wasn't brand new - it's more famous now. It is quite good.

kit

  • Stubble
  • *
  • Posts: 23
  • Location: Sydney
Re: Soylent
« Reply #19 on: July 09, 2013, 08:16:36 AM »
I think a lot of the kneejerk reaction ignores most people's nutritional reality. It's easy to say that eating a healthy balanced diet is better, but what proportion of the population is doing that? Fries, chicken fingers, and coke? I think a Soylent diet would be better than that, by a long shot.

It's a lot like the breastfeeding debate. There's a lot of emotion involved but then there are people like my mother who admitted they didn't have the money or the time or inclination to make it through the month making good diet choices that would ensure a supply that would be nutritionally adequate. Her choice was valid and sensible because she admitted she wasn't anywhere near perfect and that there's a good alternative that can be taken in this case.

As much as I love food and making food, I'm intrigued by Soylent because it presents a good option that you don't have to think about. Typically if I don't think about my food I'll end up eating cheese slices covered in habanero hot sauce or popcorn (the last 3 nights' dinners) and just try to compensate later. I love the idea of having a real bachelor chow option that is 95% of the way to a balanced diet.

madgeylou

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 719
Re: Soylent
« Reply #20 on: July 09, 2013, 08:29:14 AM »



As an aside, is that movie from the '70s "Soylent Green" worth seeing?

Gasp! Don't do that to us old folks; our hearts can't take the shock. Go find the movie.

With already knowing the big spoiler ending, is there still a point?

Sigh. I don't know. It still had a surprise ending first time I watched it, though it wasn't brand new - it's more famous now. It is quite good.

i think there is still a point, even with the big spoiler ending. to me, it's really cool to see recent-past depictions of a dystopian near-future. plus edward g. robinson is amazing in it, and his big scene toward the end is a heartbreaker. definitely worth watching!
Be Less Crazy:  the blog, the column, the book

Jamesqf

  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 4055
Re: Soylent
« Reply #21 on: July 09, 2013, 11:37:56 AM »
I think a lot of the kneejerk reaction ignores most people's nutritional reality. It's easy to say that eating a healthy balanced diet is better, but what proportion of the population is doing that? Fries, chicken fingers, and coke? I think a Soylent diet would be better than that, by a long shot.

Maybe, IF it does in fact supply complete nutrition (which seems unlikely), and IF the human body copes well with an unvarying diet.  But replacing one unhealthy diet for a different one doesn't seem to gain much.

kit

  • Stubble
  • *
  • Posts: 23
  • Location: Sydney
Re: Soylent
« Reply #22 on: July 09, 2013, 08:01:19 PM »
I think a lot of the kneejerk reaction ignores most people's nutritional reality. It's easy to say that eating a healthy balanced diet is better, but what proportion of the population is doing that? Fries, chicken fingers, and coke? I think a Soylent diet would be better than that, by a long shot.

Maybe, IF it does in fact supply complete nutrition (which seems unlikely), and IF the human body copes well with an unvarying diet.  But replacing one unhealthy diet for a different one doesn't seem to gain much.

Point taken. A lot of people and animals have already been living on an unwavering diet, though. Almost every captive animal does and even a lot of adult humans with digestive or other issues live on Ensure either orally or through a feeding tube. There's really no nutritional worry if they do it for years because there's a great deal of confidence in the formulation. So in this way, soylent has already been done but it's just too expensive for non-medical use.