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Is Soylent Healthy?

Updated on August 12, 2021
Written by
Adam Andrewjeski
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Soylent is one of the first total meal replacement shakes to reach mainstream success. And Rob Rhinehart, its inventor, envisioned it as an option that could completely replace eating if someone wanted to.

Throughout its many revisions, Soylent has strived for a product that fuels the human body with exactly what it needs to thrive and be healthy. Their product line includes mixable powder (the original soylent), convenient ready-to-drink bottles, and even portable meal squares (soylent squared). 

I’m going to explain the only 3 reasons why Soylent IS truly healthy. But my explanation may shake up what your idea of “healthy” really means.

Before I explain the 3 key reasons, we first need to understand what Soylent contains and where it came from.

Why Trust My Review?

My name is Adam Andrewjeski. I was what someone in the tech world would call an "early adopter.” I've been using soylent since its very early stages. The first time I saw a true meal replacement product was when I read about it in the first VICE soylent article back in 2013.

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My first thoughts were...that's a crazy idea. Why would someone want to replace their food with a drink? But I let the idea simmer in my head. Eating and finding optimal nutrition was a daily source of anxiety for me. I spent too much time going out to find fast food and it was pretty clear it had to change.

Since my first soylent order in 2014, I've tried just about every brand of meal shake that you could think of. Everyone has their own personal tastes, preferences, and nutritional needs. 

I've done a lot of research to figure out what works best and what is high quality in this market. On average, over the last ten years, I've had about 1 shake a day.

 At the beginning of this year, my weight loss started to slow. I had lost over 100 pounds using the shakes occasionally but I still had more to lose. I hit the dreaded weight loss plateau.

So I did something crazy. I decided that for 1 month I would only drink meal replacements. I tried all the brands I could get my hands on, consuming 1500-1600 calories a day. 

In the end, I lost another 20 pounds and lived off the shakes for almost 2 months. I felt great, if not a little bored, so I returned to mixing my diet with solid food.

You can count on me to give you solid advice about what meal replacements work best. I’m experimenting every day and am always trying new brands. I try to make my biases clear, and I want to help you reach your nutrition goals just like I have.

Nutrition and Soylent's Ingredients

Before we ask what makes Soylent healthy - we have to decide what makes ANY food healthy. And yes, Soylent is a food. You can consume Soylent drinks, Soylent Powder, or Soylent Squared and have a healthy diet. It contains all the macronutrients and micronutrients like vitamins and minerals that you need to survive. 

Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts:

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[[[Soylent Nutrition Facts for Chocolate Flavor (similar to salted caramel, mint chocolate, citrus berry, etc]]]

These are nutritious meals that just happen to come in the form of a powder...or ready to drink shake.

Soylent has been in product development since 2014 and has undergone many changes. The first flavors added to the line were Soylent Cafe Drinks, Berry, and Chocolate.

Soylent was designed to be a complete food that mimics some of the healthiest vegetarian/vegan meals you could possibly find in nature. The soylent formula is high in protein, high quality carbs, and fats that are actually good for you.

3 Reasons Why Soylent is Healthy

1. Soylent Drinks are full of Healthy Fat

As we just mentioned, soylent is a meal replacement shake that attempts to mimic the macronutrients found in many of the "normal meals" you consume on a daily basis.  In their current iterations, both soylent meal replacement drinks and soylent powder contain roughly the same nutrition.

Recent health studies show that some fats are better than others. Some increase heart disease. If you drink Soylent, you aren’t eating a high fat diet and getting many saturated fats. 

It doesn’t contain any trans fat and is low in saturated fat. It’s full of healthy monounsaturated fatty acid and polyunsaturated fats that you would find in regular food.

High Oleic Sunflower Oil and Canola Oil contain oleic acid and are considered healthy oils and make up the majority of fat intake you get from Soylent Powder. High oleic sunflower oil and canola oil contain plenty of omega 3s and omega 6. 

Soylent is full of oleic acid and other types of healthy fatty acids and none of the trans fat found in unhealthy, ready-to-eat junk food.

Check out what makes fats like sunflower oil and canola oil healthy on the Soylent Blog.

2. Soylent Drinks Contain a TON of Protein: Soy Protein Isolate is healthy!

The plant based protein in the main soylent meal replacement drink is provided by 20g of healthy soy protein isolate and given soybeans. It’s a complete protein. Contrary to popular belief, balanced consumption of soy protein isolate is NOT shown to increase estrogen levels. Soybeans are one of the few plant protein sources of a complete amino acid profile containing all essential amino acids. 

3. The Carbs in Soylent are high quality

The carbohydrates in Soylent are slow-digesting, low glycemic index, and optimal for avoiding a crash. Instead of sugar, soylent utilizes an artificial sweetener called sucralose. They began to add allulose recently, which provides sweetness at only 1/10 of the calories in sugar. 

I do wish it contained more fiber and higher quality carbohydrates. But in an effort to make the product easier on the average stomach, it seems they have standardized its carb content.

It only contains 1g added sugar, which is something that the regular food industry abuses all the time.

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But How Can Soylent Be Healthy If It Isn’t Real Food?

Soylent is complete nutrition and a suitable meal replacement for everyday life, and also for purposes like weight loss and sports recovery. Compared to the average American diet in the U.S., it does an excellent job at addressing health concerns. 

Soylent products have a relatively low glycemic index thanks to low-sugar and slow-digesting carbs, helping you lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Instead of being sweetened by sugars, Soylent contains artificial flavors and sucralose.

A Healthy, GMO Diet

If you are turned off by the words "GMO" or "processed" then soylent is probably not for you. Soylent is the practical man's nutrition solution, and there is no evidence that GMO or processed food is anything but a boon to modern nutrition.

Some people have problems with the drinks because it is “unnatural”.  Think about something like a protein shake or almond milk. 

Are they "natural"? Something you would find ready to eat off of a tree? 

No...

But they are healthy, at least in the correct context, just like Soylent. For me, the most important ingredient is the one it leaves out: sugar.

Soylent Products and a Balanced Diet

Soylent helped me personally during my weight loss. It eliminated much of the unnecessary thinking around planning meals and keeping unhealthy food in the house.  A meal replacement drink is a tool to help you keep a healthy option inside your pantry or fridge. It's an alternative that reduces decision fatigue and to eat healthy without cooking.

The average American diet contains far too much sugar and a lack of important nutrients including micronutrients, essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and protein. 

Soylent makes good nutrition easily accessible. Meal replacement shakes are often also an easy way to eat a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Soylent and the Body: Energy, Mood, Hunger

In my own personal experience, the substitution of heavier foods in your diet with meal replacement shakes makes a huge difference in your body's energy level for the rest of the day. The data shows that the carbs used in their soylent drink do not spike blood sugar and cause a crash.

When I replace a meal with a shake I find that I don't feel the need to take a nap like I might after a normal lunch. Besides that, soylent keeps me about as full as a snack and a generic protein-enhanced drink combined.

Is Soylent suitable for a healthy diet to lose weight?

Some people, including myself, have used Soylent as a way to lose weight. It makes the calorie counting process during weight loss easier. Keeping a soylent drink in the house instead of snacks or ordering junk food is an excellent way to avoid cheating on a diet.

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As you can see, my personal data shows I lost a lot of weight. 

And part of what got me there is using at least one meal replacement shake per day to help me avoid eating fast-food or snacks during the day.

I even gave up whole foods and got my calories from NOTHING but other meal replacement drinks like Soylent for almost 2 months and felt great…

So I feel confident telling you that Soylent is healthy food, contains all the nutrition and that you can live and thrive on it while also losing weight.

Are Liquid Meal Replacements Healthy Food?

Yes. Many common misconceptions exist about food. The myth that food that isn't natural or organic isn't healthy is just that - a myth. All of a soylent drink's calories come from food. Soylent is food and the body will recognize it as such.

Does Soylent increase estrogen?

Soy protein is an excellent source of protein, but a myth has circulated that soy contains phytoestrogens that may contribute to your own hormone balance. I did my own research and found that with normal consumption, products with soy protein have no effect on the body.

Can you live off of Soylent Meal Replacement?

Yes! As far as meal replacements go, soylent drinks are some of the best you could find. In fact, I did an only soylent diet while dieting at the same time for almost 2 months. A soylent drink contains real foods, so you can get all your calories from soylent.

If you look around online, you will find many different types of experiments like mine with people pulling it off. Soylent contains enough macronutrients and vitamins for a human being to subsist on.

How many bottles of Soylent should I drink?

You can do what I did and try drinking only Soylent without eating whole foods, but that’s pretty extreme. Soylent recommends occasional meal replacement, 1-2 a day. But you can drink soylent as much as you want because it contains everything a healthy diet would. 

Is Soylent good as a regular meal? The answer is unequivocally yes.

Adam Andrewjeski
Content Contributor
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