Rob Rhinehart, a 24-year-old software engineer from Atlanta, has been living on a liquid diet for the past three months and says he has never felt better. He has combined all the nutrients he needs in a shake-like drink named Soylent which allegedly contains just a third of the calories and no toxins or cancer-causing substances.
You might be tempted to believe that Rob switched from solid foods to Soylent to lose weight, but that’s only one of his reasons. After realizing he was spending around 2 hours every day cooking food, the young software engineer decided something had to be done to make eating and all the work it involves less time-consuming. Conventional food was also affecting his finances and physical strength, so being the experimental person he is he started looking for a better alternative to common food. Reading biology books made him think that the cells of the human body don’t really know the difference between nutrients from a carrot and those from a powder, so he started scouring the Internet for every essential nutrient in powdered form. Soon, his kitchen looked more like a chemistry lab in which he experimented with various quantities of powders until he found the mix that worked for him. For the past three months he has lived on Soylent alone, and says he has noticed a massive boost to my focus, stamina, physique, and free time.
Photo: Julio Miles
But was is that beige drink that turned Rob’s life around? “Everything the body needs—that we know of, anyway—vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients like essential amino acids, carbohydrates, and fat. For the fat, I just use olive oil and add fish oil. The carbs are an oligosaccharide, which is like sugar, but the molecules are longer, meaning it takes longer to metabolize and gives you a steady flow of energy for a longer period of time rather than a sugar rush from something like fructose or table sugar. I also add some nonessentials like antioxidants and probiotics and lately have been experimenting with nootropics,” Rhinehart told VICE.com. Speaking about the taste of his Soylent, the food drinker said it’s rather delicious, and sweater than most of the foods he had tried in the past. So far he hasn’t gotten tired of it’s taste.
Photo: Julio Miles
Regarding the benefits of his Soylent diet, Rob says not having to worry about eating is simply fantastic – “Eating to me is a leisure activity, like going to the movies, but I don’t want to go to the movies three times a day”. Not having to decide what to eat every day, not having to buy groceries and wash dirty dishes has really taken a huge load off his daily routine. He has also been saving a lot of money, as he only spends $154 a month on Soylent and power and water bills are much lower. The biggest improvement has been sleep, with which he had always struggled in the past, but improved skin, memory and teeth are also on his list. In addition, the 24-year-old has discovered that losing and gaining precise amounts of weight is as easy as adding or taking out varying proportions of ingredients in his drink.
Photo: Julio Miles
Unfortunately, living on Soylent has its drawbacks. Obviously, the idea of living on liquid may not appeal to people who actually enjoy regular food, but that was never a problem in Rob’s case. Also, the drink doesn’t last very long mixed with water, so he has to make some every day, although it doesn’t take nearly as long as preparing a regular meal. But the biggest downside to the nutritious shake is that one has to precisely measure all the ingredients, as too much of anything can make you feel sick. But obviously, Rob believes the benefits of Soylent greatly outweigh the disadvantages.
Soylent is definitely not the only liquid food out there. Companies like Abbott or Nestle have been making products used to keep patients going for many years, but they cost significantly more than Rheinhart’s wonder drink. He spends just over $150 a month on his “food”, while a monthly supply of Jevity 1.5cal, a high caloric density product sold by Abbott would set you back $450. They are however FDA regulated, and most likely safer to consume than combining a bunch of powders in your kitchen. Soylent seems to work for Rob, although he admits that if he had any money and a girlfriend he would probably eat out more often, instead of drinking his food or wasting time to prepare it.
If you’re curious about Soylent, or if you just want to follow Rob Rheinhart ‘s experiment, you can check out his blog.