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It’s beyond me why someone would rather drink their food—via smoothies, meal replacement shakes, juice cleanses—instead of, you know, actually chewing and enjoying it.
And yet, that’s the premise behind Soylent, a meal replacement drink created in 2013 by former Silicon Valley tech guy Rob Reinhart, to curb his unhealthy diet of “frozen corn dogs and ramen,” according to the drink’s website.
Because of this, Soylent is also often looked at as a weight-loss option—an easy way to keep track of calorie intake while still getting at least some nutrients (it is a meal replacement, after all).
So what’s the deal? Is it possible to fuel yourself (and lose weight) on Soylent—and would you even want to?
What is Soylent?
Soylent claims to be a complete meal, and provides 20 percent of your daily nutritional needs per 400-calorie serving. The drink does a pretty good job of covering near-equal amounts of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins—37 grams, 21 grams, and 20 grams, respectively—and is vegan, and lactose- and nut-free.
According to the drink’s website, it’s considered legal and safe by the Food and Drug Administration, since none of the ingredients are necessarily new to the market (think: soy protein, sunflower oil, and canola oil).
Though Soylent is meant to be a meal replacement, Rhinehart’s original intention wasn’t exactly to replace all food. Rather, he wanted Soylent to be a nutritious option for all those times when you should eat but feel like you don’t have time, or when, due to a lack of time, you opt for unhealthy, nutritionally empty foods (sorry, pizza bites).
Okay, but can Soylent help me lose weight?
Soylent’s not meant to be used as a weight-loss plan, explains Alissa Rumsey, R.D., but if you’re only consuming Soylent for your meals, you could lose weight.
That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea though.
When you severely restrict calories, it can lead to weight loss—but it’s not sustainable or healthy, says Rumsey. “Dieting, including food or calorie restriction, doesn’t work for long-term health and weight management,” she says. “What it does do is increase cravings and preoccupation with food and can lead to feelings of guilt associated with food, binge eating, weight fluctuations, and more.”
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