The Soylent Adventure Continues!


It's been about two weeks since HowStuffWorks' own Jonathan Strickland started gulping down Soylent for breakfast and lunch. We checked in to see how he was faring. Dylan Fagan/HowStuffWorks
It's been about two weeks since HowStuffWorks' own Jonathan Strickland started gulping down Soylent for breakfast and lunch. We checked in to see how he was faring. Dylan Fagan/HowStuffWorks

Two weeks ago, I wrote about my decision to replace two meals a day with Soylent 2.0, a meal replacement drink. If you haven't already read that post, go check it out.

So how are things going? Here's the tl/dr version:

  • Sixteen days into the experiment, I've replaced 15 breakfasts and 13 lunches with the drink. I missed one breakfast and three lunches due to not having enough Soylent 2.0. When it became clear I wasn't going to have enough for the weekend, I decided to switch drinks to breakfast and eat a "real" lunch.
  • The first week was tough because I would get hungry and feel a bit off between lunch and dinner.
  • Halfway through the second week I really began to adjust to the new schedule and started feeling pretty good.
  • I haven't grown tired of the taste yet.
  • I have lost more than 7 pounds (3 kilograms) so far, but much of that's water weight. I am consuming less sodium per day, so my body retains less water. From this point forward, I expect weight loss to continue at a less dramatic pace.
  • On the subject of toots: no unusual increase in activity.

Want to know more details? Let's go!

First, on the physiological front: I feel fine. I don't think I feel particularly better or worse than I did before starting on Soylent. It hasn't negatively affected my health from what I can tell. Perhaps the most dramatic physical effect has been that I feel the need to pee more frequently (my guess is this is because of the decrease in the amount of sodium I'm eating — I retain less water).

One of the big reasons I decided to try Soylent 2.0 was for weight loss. It's easy to count your calories if you know your breakfast and lunch amount to 800 each day. My goal was to stay below 2,000 calories while also trying to make sure I received the appropriate amount of nutrients and fiber. To that end, most of my dinners consisted of salad with some sort of protein added. That's OK. I like a good salad.

I definitely struggled with hunger that first week. I found mornings to be easiest. This is probably because before the experiment I rarely ate breakfast. I would eat lunch early, at around 11 a.m. With Soylent, I didn't feel the need for lunch until noon or a bit later.

The afternoons were a different story. I'd start feeling hungry by three o'clock. Drinking a serving doesn't give me the same feeling as eating a satisfying meal. And since I was trying to keep a cap on my caloric intake, I wanted to be careful with snacking.

That proved to be quite challenging that first week. Perhaps Loki, god of mischief and failed diets, took an interest in me. On Thursday, Aug. 4, a local pizza restaurant delivered about a dozen different pizzas to our office. I wasn't terribly enthusiastic.

It didn't stop there. The following Friday, our office received an enormous shipment of various snack foods. The snacks range from healthy to decadent. I will not lie — I did have a snack once or twice. But I tried to pick out things that had 100 or fewer calories. (My go-to is cheddar corn puffs at only 70 calories per bag!).

I mentioned there were exceptions to switching out breakfast and lunch with Soylent. The first two times were days I had Soylent for breakfast and then something else for lunch. I wasn't falling off the wagon but rather running out and my next shipment wouldn't arrive in time to stay on schedule. I decided to split one day's Soylent over two days, using it as breakfast both times.

The third time was this past Sunday, Aug. 14. I was completely out of Soylent -- a shipment would arrive later in the day. I ended up having a very late breakfast. I also ate dinner late and indulged in a very rich dish from an amazing Mexican restaurant here in Atlanta. I had no third meal that day.

That turned out to be a very poor decision on my part. I suffered indigestion. The food I had for dinner was too rich, and I ate it too late at night. I slept poorly and came to work on Monday morning feeling tired and uncomfortable. But the show must go on and I pushed forward, shooting two episodes of the video series Fw:Thinking and appearing on a live video broadcast later in the day. I had learned a pair of valuable lessons: Don't go crazy with the rich foods and don't eat so late in the day.

I feel much better now and plan to make sure I don't have any gaps in Soylent supply for the rest of the month. Overall, I'm not discouraged by my experience. I hope to finish out August relying on Soylent for breakfast and lunch each day. After that, I might switch to using Soylent just for breakfast. That way I can change up lunch a bit while still concentrating on healthy options. I'll write another update at the end of the month to summarize my experience.

See you then!