I’ve written about and regularly consume Ensure, I don’t care that I’m not the target audience.
When Soylent started out (and when I first began consuming it) it was a powder which one mixed with water and then added some bottled oils to. It only took two or three minutes to make a days worth and I thought it tasted decent – much less grainy than either RAW Meal or Shakeology – but much more grainy than Ensure.
I Try 2.0
Recently Soylent announced and then began shipping Soylent 2.0 – which comes bottled similar to Ensure. Now there is no prep time, just take a bottle out of the fridge. I purchased my first twelve pack and have consumed them all. I’ve now upped my order to 24 monthly, which will cover almost one meal a day. I expect, if I continue to like it, I will up my order to perhaps 48 bottles/mo., which would make almost two a day.
While I didn’t have a problem with the old Soylent’s taste, the new Soylent is significantly better. It tastes and has the texture of almond milk.
At first I thought I would need to mix something with it to drink it with great consistency and I tried some chocolate syrup as well as some V8 juice – the latter worked rather well. But as I have continued to drink it I find my taste buds developing more and more of a liking for it and I don’t see myself needing to mix anything else into it.
Why Else I Like Soylent
Besides Soylent providing me an alternative to meals there are a number of other techie reasons I like them.
First, their recipe is open source and this has resulted in a cottage industry producing similar products. I’m a huge fan of open source.
Second, they provide release notes with each version as well as providing detailed blog posts about why they do what they do and when problems arise. I am especially fond of the latter.
Third, they are constantly iterating on Soylent. 2.0 is great, but I’m sure 2.1 will be better!
“But Dave, this can’t be as good for you as eating real, organic food for meals.”
You are absolutely correct – thing is, I don’t eat real, organic food for meals. Soylent is a healthier alternative to a lot of the standard American diet / standard Dave diet. So, while not perfection, it is a step in the right direction…
And I won’t stop eating real food altogether. In fact, I may eat healthier the rest of the time b/c I am drinking Soylent. I always feel so time constricted – so much more I want to accomplish in a day than I can – if I feel a little less time constricted I may be more willing to invest in a meal (no promises, but hey, it’s possible!).
On June 27th, 2013 I began anticipating Soylent, talking about Soylent, impatiently waiting for Soylent to become available. I signed up for a week’s supply of Soylent on June 10th and it arrived on July 22nd.
Inside was a long sheet with instructions…I’m not a fan of the big sheet…What am I supposed to do with this? Unless I hang it on my way there is no easy way to store it.
You can click on the above image to see how long the instructions really where, but it would have consumed too much space on the page for me to embed the image here.
Next we had the bags of Soylent and the bottles of oil. You can see a picture below.
Theoretically, I should have received a package before this one with my welcome pack – which was to include a stainless steel measuring cup and an airtight pitcher as pictured below:
But I hadn’t and I didn’t for quite some time. I attempted using some of my own implements to make Soylent but had mixed successes. If this was what Soylent tasted like, I wasn’t going to stick with it. After a few tries I decided I would just wait until my welcome package came.
Ohh, and yes, I sent an email reporting the missing welcome package on the 23rd and of course received the usual automated reply the same day. It would be August 9th before I would receive a reply from Soylent and then to be informed that “I have forwarded your concern to our shipping department…” Then silence. Finally, on August 18th I received an email informing me that my starter kit was on its way.
Okay, that is a pretty ridiculous wait…the organizational side of Soylent has been extremely underwhelming…I’m not sure all of what happened behind the scenes, but, honestly, I don’t care that much if Soylent is good and works and if they learn from their mistakes – which, it seems (I hope), they are doing.
On a side note, the disorganization worked out to my advantage as I received a second shipment of Soylent by accident and when I asked what I should do with it they told me to keep it. I was pretty happy about that (though I feel bad for folks who ordered far before me and way more and still have not received their Soylent).
But How About It, Is It Good?
Now that you have heard about the nightmare of procuring my Soylent, lets talk about Soylent itself. It is a very fine mix and comes in bags that each contain three meals. I found trying to make Soylent in smaller portions to be a hassle – not only because of measurements and so on but because the powder is so fine that it puffs up into the air and lands everywhere while scooping.
In any case, I moved to making a whole packet at a time and it was so much easier. Okay, I know for those of you who cook, you are rolling your eyes – and yes, in the distant past I did sometimes cook – but the whole point of Soylent is to save time and improve nutrition.
Making Soylent was now simple – pour in the powder, add a bottle of oil, and then fill the rest of the pitcher with water. Screw on the air-tight cap and shake for around sixty seconds. Place in the refrigerator, remove when ready to consume, shake for five to ten seconds, then pour yourself a glass and enjoy.
Soylent tastes a bit like a milk shake. It has a pleasant flavor, though one I can’t place. Compared to any other powdered drink (Shakeology, RAW Meal), the “graininess” is almost non-existent.
It tastes good, the texture is good, and its easy to make – sweet! Another surprising and positive note is that it uses water not milk or a milk substitute and yet tastes better than Shakeology with (in my case) almond milk! Seriously, if you didn’t see the batch mixed, you’d swear it had to have a dairy base.
So, I like my Soylent and I intend on continuing to consume it. Right now I average two meals a day of Soylent and one meal elsewise. I allow myself to eat whatever I desire for that third meal – but my cravings for unhealthy foods seem to have lessened somewhat (not completely).
Should you get Soylent? Sure. Just be prepared to wait a bit. I think organizationally they are getting there, but with the delays initially as well as the huge demand, and then the ongoing demand for resupplies, it is going to be a while before Soylent is working smoothly.
A Few Importantish Notes
It Goes Bad
One of the great things about Soylent is that it lasts forever (hyperbole) in powder form. Something I didn’t realize until I received my Soylent is that once it has been mixed with water it needs to be consumed within two days. Apparently due to the nutrient richness of the drink, even while being refrigerated bacteria multiply quickly. I would like to know more about the health implications of this.
I oftentimes eat food far past its expiration date – especially dairy alternatives (almond milk, soy milk) and don’t have any problem…so I’d probably ignore this warning except after posting on the forums I learned that the bacteria make the taste go bad quickly – so its not just filled with bacteria, it tastes nasty too.
Still, I’ve been consuming Soylent over a two to may three day period and haven’t experienced issues thus far…and making it in this size batch saves me from measuring, etc.
Don’t Forget The Oils!
Each time you use a bag of Soylent you are supposed to add the oils as well – which provide some important aspects of Soylent’s nutrition. Being ADD, I have on occasion forgotten to put the bottles into the Soylent. This doesn’t bother me, but it is a dilemma – what am I supposed to do with these bottles of oil?
There was a lot of discussion of increased flatulence when using Soylent which, it is hypothesized, is caused by the bacteria in our stomachs not knowing how to handle nutritional food and the replacement of some of these bacteria with better bacteria that do consume this food.
I had no intention of mentioning flatulence, b/c I really don’t like talking about it. I was never a fart guy joker…but I must mention it, b/c it radically increases flatulence and it smells horrific.
This goes away after a few days – but my recommendation – start Soylent when you aren’t spending a lot of time with people…and please, give your spouse a break and sleep on the couch…or at least let them sleep on the couch.
My plan at this juncture is to continue Soylent 2x daily long-term. We’ll see if I grow sick of the taste…which is very possible.
I haven’t noticed any huge changes in my health, but that may come with time. I also am hoping to get my blood drawn and analyzed every quarter by WellnessFX so I can monitor my health, especially vitamin levels, but that hasn’t happened yet.
Wrapping It Up
Soylent is great – I’m exceptionally pleased with the product itself. The company has some work to do – and seems to be doing it. I haven’t noticed any amazing positive health effects, but I’m hoping over time it works positively. I’ll provide future updates as I’ve been on it longer and can analyze how I respond to the taste with continued consumption and whether I see any health changes positive or negative.
The reason I wanted to do smaller servings was b/c Soylent goes bad after it is made and I wasn’t sure I could consume an entire package of Soylent quickly enough.↩
I discovered it isn’t really, really, really air-tight. I didn’t have room to put the pitcher standing up in my refrigerator (it is a mini) so I put it on its side – this worked a few times, but eventually it began to leak.↩
I began using Shakeology around the 8th of November, 2013. It is now the 8th of March, 2014 – four months later. It seems an appropriate time to provide everyone with an update on how my use of Shakeology is going. Do I still like it? Have I experienced further health benefits? Have some benefits dissipated, etc.?
To sum up, Shakeology is a super healthy shake with tons of ingredients meant to replace one meal each day. It comes in a 30-day supply bag (some other options are available) for around $130. There are several different flavors (vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry) – some are vegan, others not. Soon after beginning Shakeology an ailment with my legs that had limited me significantly for the past two years evaporated (though I can’t draw a clear cause/effect relationship between the two) and an issue with urinary hesitancy also disappeared.
Since then I have continued to experience almost no issues with my legs, but the urinary hesitancy has returned to some extent…however, I have not been faithful in utilizing Shakeology every day due to a number of factors – some relating to Shakeology and others due to moving, a busted blender, and so on which made making shakes a little more difficult.
I started off with Shakeology’s vegan Strawberry – which is good except the milling process appears not to be as fine as for its non-vegan options – and thus it can have a bit of a sandy taste. By the end of one month drinking it every day, drinking more of it on a daily basis made me feel nauseous.
For my next month’s shipment I switch to Vanilla. At first I loved Vanilla – it was non-vegan and thus didn’t have the grainy taste to it like vegan strawberry…but after a few servings I started getting a nasty aftertaste. I eventually returned the package, which they accepted without issues, though I have yet to receive a refund for the package…Hmm, I’ll need to follow up with them on that.
As an aside, I’ve also been frustrated with their phone system (specifically the “auto-attendant”, that is the computer system that asks questions and directs you to the correct department). I’ve had to call multiple times before getting a real person, the wait times appear to be totally inaccurate, and I suspect I am occasionally dropped into some black hole from which I would never emerge if I didn’t eventually hang up and try again. I don’t think this is intentional – but it is REALLY annoying.
Around the time I returned the Vanilla, Shakeology released a non-vegan Strawberry and I decided to give that a try. I thought maybe the issue with the Vanilla was the batch – but rather than take a chance, I figured I’d try Strawberry and I could always go back to vanilla. Strawberry is my preferred flavor anyways – I had just shifted away from it b/c of the grainy taste.
I received the Strawberry and it has been okay – but I have some vegan Strawberry left over and I actually like it more. Why? Well, the non-vegan Strawberry isn’t grainy (which I like) but it does have that same aftertaste as the Vanilla (which indicates to me that it probably isn’t a batch issue), and I prefer the grainy taste over the aftertaste.
That said, I’m still using both. I’ve been experimenting a bit with different ways to make the shakes taste better – frozen fruits, yogurt, ice cream, honey. The direction that has shown the most promise for me recently is using 12 oz of almond milk and no other ingredients besides the Shakeology mix. This provides a more “shake” and less “smoothie” drink which I can consume more quickly and thus either the graininess or aftertaste is not as big of a deal.
I’ve canceled my Shakeology auto-subscription for the moment – until I catch up on consuming the Strawberry (vegan and non-vegan) I currently have…but once I do, I expect to pick up the product again.
Overall, I think Shakeology has a great product which seems to provide significant health benefits. I would like to see a better milling process for the vegan products and the removal of the aftertaste from the non-vegan products. I also hope they will do something about their phone system. If they want, I’m sure I could fix the problem – I do IT consulting on the side and have worked with Inter-Tel, NEC, and cloud-based PBX systems. 😉
First off, don’t buy the Strawberry! I know I said it isn’t that bad, but I received my shipment of Vanilla a few days ago and I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to go back to Strawberry. In comparison to Vanilla, Strawberry tastes like sand! I have no clue why this is – the ingredients seem fairly similar – my only guess is that for some unknown reason Shakeology is using a finer milling process for Vanilla than for Strawberry (if this is the case, PLEASE Shakeology, make Strawberry more finely milled).
Secondly, I’ve been looking at what my other options are as fall as meal replacements. Shakeology is a bit pricey. It runs around $4/shake plus the cost of Almond Milk and Frozen Fruit. I’m guessing this adds another $1/shake – so $5/shake. This isn’t horrible – but it isn’t great either. I looked at IdealShape, but most of its ingredients seemed artificial (like Ensure) and I don’t think I’m going to be able to go back to that sort of synthetic meal replacement. I also looked at Garden of Life RAW Meal (Vanilla). I had tried RAW Meal perhaps a year ago and found its taste to be quite sandy (I couldn’t finish the container I’d purchased), I’m not sure if this again can be attributed to milling process and/or whether their flavored versions would taste better (I purchased the original, unflavored). I’ve included below a comparison of the ingredients in Shakeology Vanilla and Garden of Life RAW Meal Vanilla. Note, if you really want to compare apples to apples, you should double the Shakeology numbers – as their serving size is half that of Garden of Life’s (but then you’d be spending $10/shake!).
I also continue to look at Soylent, which is really taking shape – but they haven’t released their 1.0 spec so I am unable to provide include them in this comparison – but I hope that will change and I can update this chart within the next few weeks.
For ingredients the numbers indicate the order of the ingredients on the packaging – which is supposed to be in descending order of quantity (e.g. the first ingredient, should be the ingredient there is the most of). Please let me know if I made any mistakes or if some ingredients are the same but the two companies use different names and I’ll adjust the chart accordingly.
One final comment – Shakeology powder costs around $125 for 30 servings. Garden of Life powder costs around $70 for 28 servings. It can be a little tricky at first – you have to note that while you get more powder with Garden of Life, there are only 14 servings in a container – so you’ll need two containers to roughly equivocate Shakeology. In other words, Shakeology is around $1.50 per serving more than Garden of Life.
I’ve been using Shakeology on an (almost) daily basis since November 8th. By the 11th I had experienced relief from an annoying health problem that had plagued me for two years, but I waited till the 13th to share this – worried that the effect might wear off. As of the 3rd of December (today) I can report that the issue has remained absent.
That said, I have skipped a few days of Shakeology b/c I simply couldn’t stomach another strawberry shake. Sure, I could have added in different ingredients to change the flavor – but that is getting beyond my desired complexity. I called Shakeology today and had them change my order from Strawberry to Vanilla. From what I have seen across the web – chocolate is the best flavor, vanilla second, and strawberry a distant third. I figured I’d start with the least favored first.
I don’t think it was the taste per say that got to me – but rather the same flavor over and over. I remember Rob Rhinehart (Soylent) talking somewhere about the need for a certain taste neutrality in these sort of meal replacements – so that the body doesn’t grow sick of it. I’m hoping the vanilla will provide this – b/c otherwise, I’m going to get sick of the taste!
So, I’m still all for Shakeology, it fills me up, helps with at least one health problems, seems extremely nutritious, and so on – but all that won’t do a hill of beans if I can’t stomach it. So, here’s hoping on vanilla. 🙂 (I’m not a big fan of chocolate, though I’ll probably give it a try if vanilla doesn’t work out).
One other minor annoyance. I called in to Shakeology this past Saturday (I’m not sure if they are open on Saturdays) to change my order to vanilla and was told by the auto attendant that I had about a five minute wait time. I waited for ten minutes and when no one answered, gave up. Either their wait times are incorrect or they don’t change their auto attendant to reflect that they are closed on the weekends – either is bad, the latter is worse.
I called again today (Tuesday) and was told I had a three minute wait. I was then dropped into some sort of hellish queue in which the same two “announcements” where made over and over in quick succession. When I was about to go crazy after 8 minutes of this craziness, I hung up.
I tried again a minute later but chose a different option (I think it may have been the option which dropped me into auto attendant hell – yes, it is a real place – Verizon once dropped me there for thirty or forty-five minutes, then abruptly said, “We’re sorry, we can’t take your call right now” and hung up on me!!) and this time I was able to get through to a real person. The estimated wait time was wrong again – one minute and I probably waited four…which isn’t horrible – I wouldn’t have even noticed if I hadn’t been placed in permanent hold twice before.
When I did finally reach a customer service rep they had trouble looking up my record b/c I gave my name as “Dave” instead of “David” (which is what the record said). This isn’t a big deal either, but whatever software they are using should have the simple fuzzy logic to check for variations of spelling in names to overcome this problem.
In the end they did find my record and I did get my order switched, and the customer service rep was polite and helpful. The call lasted less than ten minutes including hold time – which really isn’t bad….these are just a few minor annoyances I hope Shakeology will take the time to iron out. 🙂
Warning: This post may contain a little TMI (too much information) for some readers. It regards the effects of Shakeology on one of my health conditions. I decided to share it b/c I think it may be useful to others who may have the same issue. It really isn’t anything that bad, but if you walk around saying “TMI” to others on a frequent basis, you should probably skip this post.
You’ve Been Warned
Well over a year ago – maybe even two years ago – I began to experience a new health issue. One side of this health issue was that at night I always felt like I needed to urinate (very annoying) if I drank even the least bit of water. The other side was hesitancy when attempting to urinate (that is, I’d feel like I’d need to go, and would have to go – but it could take 30-60 seconds before I could start going…which to an ADD’er feels like FOREVER). I saw my family doctor and also a urologist – but neither came up with anything. No enlarged prostrate, nada. So, I’ve been living with it – uncomfortably.
Within a day or two of starting Shakeology I realized my issues with hesitancy had decreased by around 90%. I still have the issue with feeling the need to urinate at night (still annoying) but the hesitancy has almost disappeared.
It is possible that this is coincidental – but seeing that this issue has been continuous for well over a year now, that seems unlikely. So, I’m not sure what was wrong or what is right now – but something seems to have changed my ability to urinate…and I haven’t changed anything else that I am aware of – my diet has not changed otherwise and I haven’t changed the amount or intensity of exercise I partake in….nor am I under less stress than in the past, in fact this is probably one of (or the) highest stress stages in my life to date.
I still plan on trying IdealShape and Garden of Life’s shakes as well – but if this is something unique to Shakeology it is a huge bonus to their account…and if it sustains itself over the upcoming weeks and disappears when I try another shake – I’ll be coming back to Shakeology.
I’ve been drinking a lot of Ensure nutrition shakes recently. Andrew Vogel suggested that I try Shakeology. It is fairly expensive – $130 for 30 servings ($4.33/serving). Ensure is less than half this expensive – but Shakeology has a good reputation, its ingredients are certainly exponentially superior to Ensure, and home-made meals aren’t as cheap as one would think. So, I jumped and gave it a try…
I ordered it last week and received it on Friday. I started consuming it for breakfast on Saturday and have consumed it each day since then (Saturday, Sunday, Monday). I chose the tropical strawberry flavor. I’m not a huge fan of chocolate and while vanilla is okay, I prefer strawberry.
I had read that chocolate and vanilla the best flavors with tropical strawberry coming in third, but I saw their money-back guarantee which states that they’ll refund me even if I use the entire thing and don’t like it…so I figured why not start out with the least-tasty one and then move to more more-tasty ones if that one didn’t do it for me.
The first thing I don’t like about Shakeology is that it is a powder. An Ensure I can remove from the fridge and drink at a moment’s notice – Shakeology I have to put in a blender, mix a fluid and ice, and spend 5-10 minutes in preparation/cleanup. Bahh, humbug. This is on the upper limit of my tolerance for meal preparation (I know, I don’t have much tolerance at all!), but I’m making the sacrifice. I also realize that when Soylent is released I’ll face the same dilemma.
The next challenge I faced was figuring out how large a scoop was. The package said to use one scoop of Shakeology for each shake I made – but how big is a scoop? 42 grams? Great, that doesn’t really help me! I googled it and discovered I wasn’t the only one struggling to appropriately measure Shakeology. Thankfully, I also discovered there was an easy remedy – a pre-measured scoop inside the bag! Unfortunately, the scoop was buried so I had to fish around a bit (wasting powder which floated into the air and clung to my hand) – but at least they included a scoop. Still, I have to wonder – why include other materials in the box (e.g. instruction booklets) outside of the bag and not include the scoop outside of the bag? This would prevent A LOT of confusion (especially for less tech savvy users who might not use Google to quickly find the answer) and also would avoid unnecessary waste.
Nope, I’m not done complaining. I want to let you know all the bad stuff before I talk about the good. The next issue was using the scoop. First off, it is really tall and it doesn’t have any external numbering on it. It has a line that divides the scoop in half – is that saying that 42 grams is to the halfway mark or is to filling it to the top? I still don’t know the answer – I’ve been too lazy to google it and am currently just filling it to the very top – assuming that when they say “one scoop” they mean “one scoop.”
The scoop is also inferior. Because of its depth it doesn’t usually get a full scoop – there are air pockets. Try as I might I can’t get it to fill entirely with Shakeology powder. So how many powder am I getting? Did they account for this so I’m still getting around 42 grams? Or am I getting 32 grams?
Again, this is an easy fix. Make a regular sized scoop and tell us to make our shakes with two scoops. This should resolve the air bubble problem and doesn’t significantly increase our labor.
The first day I dumped in my powder then 12 ounces of almond milk followed by some ice. I learned that putting the powder in first isn’t the best idea – it doesn’t seem to mix as well and it makes it more difficult to measure out 12 ounces.
I also was frustrated that there wasn’t any indication of how much ice to add – just add ice. Unfortunately, I added too much and ended up with sludge instead of a shake…but I still drank it.
On my second day I used Lactaid fat-free milk (12 oz.) then added the shakeology powder and finally some (less than before) ice. This shake turned out fine.
Today I used Lactaid fat-free milk, the powder, and a bunch of frozen mixed berries. Again, the shake came out fine.
So how does it taste? Hmmm….Sandy? I thought at first the issue might be that I hadn’t added any other ingredients besides the liquid to the powder – and so today I tried adding the berries (a significant number), but the taste was still sandy. I feel the powder granules getting stuck between my teeth, in front of my gums, under my tongue. For somebody with OCD this is a quite unpleasant experience.
I’m using a normal, run-of-the-mill blender by Hamilton Beach – so I’m not sure if it just doesn’t do a good job or completely mixing the ingredients (I doubt it) or if the sandy composition is just inevitable. It doesn’t make it undrinkable – but it certainly isn’t as tasty or pleasant as Ensure.
So my thoughts overall? Well, I’m going to keep mixing and see if I can find anything out about reducing the graininess of the shakes. If I can’t, I’ll probably return it and try vanilla. If I don’t find vanilla to be better flavored, then I’ll likely continue with some sort of nutritional shake – but not Shakeology.
P.S. One other thing I don’t like is that Shakeology is somehow associated with Team Beach Body. Ummm…I’m not looking to form a beach body – just want to be healthy. I don’t really want to go about talking about “beachbody.” I know, I know – not that big of a deal…I’m just saying, not everyone who is using this product is looking to get their “beach body” on.