Soylent; Is This The “Future of Food?”
Listen here now:
Click the play button to start the call:
Is Soylent the Food of the Future?
- Why you’ll probably hear about this new product that calls itself the
“future of food.”
- The one REAL food you could probably live on (and which takes no time to
- Why they’ll never make a shake that contains everything the body needs.
- The real future of nutrition…how to get as much nutrition as you can in no time!
- My exact recipe for the very best, most nutritious green smoothie that I
eat EVERY day.
- What Frederic and I eat when we travel and spend time at airports.
Kevin: Renegade Health Radio. This is Kevin Gianni and Frederic Patenaude.
Fredric: Hey, Kevin. Hi, everybody.
Kevin: [sings] “It’s podcast. It’s podcast time.”
Fredric: Good. That’s an obscure reference for the listeners. I’m not sure they’ll totally get that.
Kevin: If you get that reference, post it on our blog, www.renegade.health.com, on this particular podcast post, and if we see it there we’ll send you something special. How about that?
Fredric: So they get a gift if they know what is the…can you do it again?
Kevin: Oh man. This is going to hit the bloopers. “It’s podcast –” Oh I did a key change. “It’s podcast time.”
Fredric: Yeah, I think you went in the minor key or something.
Kevin: Yeah. I definitely went up in the key change. I don’t know if I went a full note or what. What’s going on? What are we talking about today?
Fredric: I kind of had an interesting topic, something I’ve heard about recently and maybe some of you guys have already heard about this. But you know, you live in…pretty close to Silicon Valley, Kevin, so there’s all these crazy startups and it’s always interesting to see what new startup is becoming hot right now. And there’s this new company called Soylent. There’s this guy, this young guy—Rob Rinehart—and he was obsessed with this idea of having a food that is made by science, essentially. So a powder that takes care of all of your needs so you don’t have to worry about food. And he sees it in a very kind of futuristic kind of way.
You know, I don’t know if you guys have seen the movie, “The Matrix.” Hopefully you have, but not too many times. In the movie…do you remember, Kevin? There’s like this part where, you know, Keanu Reeves is like fed for the first time, whatever they eat outside of the matrix, and then the black guy is like, “It’s a complete mixture of amino acids and it takes care of all your nutritional needs.” And I’m thinking at that time, you know there’s…yes, amino acids, but there’s a lot more than amino acids for proper nutrition.
Anyway, these meal replacement things have been popular for a while. But the difference with Soylent is…which doesn’t contain any soy, which is kind of weird, but—
Kevin: That’s weird.
Kevin: Did it start with soy, maybe?
Fredric: I don’t know. It’s a weird kind of scientific name, almost. But these products have been marketed mostly in the weight loss department. So this is kind of the first… somebody is coming up with the idea of selling a product to young, busy guys, so that they can save time and not have to worry about eating. And having sort of a long-term view where they could export this product to, let’s say, countries that have famines and so on. And it would solve the entire problem.
And almost sees it…in one of the videos that I saw, like, he almost sees it in a very utopian way, where you get your running water, and then you get your running Soylent. So you can take care of your body’s food needs at any time, because society is providing it for you, or something.
But anyhow, it’s a powder that you mix it with water…of course, I haven’t tasted it, but from the videos and so on, it doesn’t look like it’s super tasty? But like…apparently taste is the last of their concerns. But I’m sure it tastes decent enough to those of us who’ve tried all kinds of plant protein powders. So it’s made with rice protein and fats and maltodextrin and all kinds of stuff that essentially takes care of all of your basic nutritional needs, or all of your known nutritional needs, at least.
So the guy, Rob, the CEO of this company…and it’s really a startup, I need to emphasize that. So they—
Kevin: Yes, so it hasn’t…the idea has not taken off yet, ladies and gentlemen!
Fredric: They’ve raised 2 million dollars on one of those Kickstarter campaigns out of the goal of only $100,000. So it was pretty popular for one of those campaigns. And I think you are going to hear about this. I think it’s going to be successful. That’s my gut feeling, because it’s fulfilling a niche that really no one else has tapped in this sort of marketing kind of way. And hopefully they’ll make the product taste better and so on.
Apparently, it is vegan except for some fish oil or something that’s being used in some of their formulations. So it’s a startup. And the guy Rob Rinehart lived on it for 30 days or three months just to prove a point, so other journalists have done the same. And of course you can live on this stuff, right?
But it kind of prompted me to think about…my reaction was like, hey, we already have something like that, and it’s called a green smoothie, right? You own a Vitamix, you make a smoothie. But since I’ve been thinking about this lately, I’m not so sure, because I’ve been making a lot of green smoothies lately. And it is a lot of work in the sense that you have to shop for the food and then you have to cut it and then you have to discard all the peels, and it takes a certain level of preparation. Not the same as preparing a gourmet meal, but it takes some time. So this is something like, for people really don’t want to spend any time for some of their meals, at least, if not many and many meals.
I can imagine a lot of guys working in Silicon Valley trying to crank 100 hours a week just living on this stuff, because they…it’s easy and it’s probably a lot healthier than living on pizza and so on.
Kevin: Yeah, pizza, caffeine, beer, all these other things that maybe that young professional dude is actually eating. I mean, I think one of the biggest questions here, kind of in the Renegade Health world of diet and eating and figuring out what works for you. The biggest question for me is…and the biggest theory or kind of principle that I work on is that, yeah, you can eat whatever you want, but does it actually stand up to the sniff test, you know? Can you actually prove that what you are eating, using science, is actually going to be healthy for you?
So for instance…look, I don’t…you can eat the vegan diet, and if you’re healthy, and your blood tests—and that’s the kind of like the marker that I like to use—and if your blood tests are cool and all your…your iron is great and your cholesterol is great and your folate—or your folate would be great if you are eating a vegan diet because that comes a lot from leafy greens—and all your markers are fantastic, your hormones are fantastic, then you know what? You continue on the vegan diet until it starts to show that things aren’t working for you.
And I feel the same with the Paleo diet, or I feel the same way with the raw food diet. And Fred and I talk about raw food diets and sometimes we’ve had our…sometimes we might talk negatively about them long-term, because we’ve had our own experiences, but in the short-term or medium-term, maybe they’re actually really beneficial for some people. But how do you know?
Well, you use your blood test. So I would want to know…you know, I would want to talk to Rob, and maybe we can get Rob on the podcast one day. But I’d like to talk to Rob and say, “All right, Rob, you know you did this for three months. Anyone can do any diet for three months, besides the breatharian diet, and…maybe not a water fast…and come out okay.” And so for me, that’s not enough evidence for me to say, “All right, let’s go Soylent for a year and see what happens,” because I would want to know what’s going on with someone’s blood for a longer period of time.
And granted, you know, this stuff will probably come out in the market, and it will probably be used by enough people to actually have some sort of sample data. And then we look at it. And then we say, “All right, well maybe as a guy who doesn’t like to go and prepare food that much and would rather just have it put in front of me and drink it no matter what it takes like. That sounds somewhat reasonable. How about that?
Fredric: Exactly. It would be cool to get raw…because he seemed like a very Cartesian kind of, totally outside of the hippy movement kind of guy. Just thinking in terms of science fiction, almost. Like, yeah, we can create a food from science, and it’s going to be better than a food from nature if we know enough about it, because other things that we create are obviously better. I mean, modes of transportation, communication, and so on, then what we’d get in nature. So he has very kind of utopian kind of mindset and way of looking at things.
Kevin: But then we start to argue, you know, doesn’t nature know best for us, anyway? Then it gets into this…what’s better? Is science better or nature better? I mean, a lot of people think that…you know, a lot of people in the science world think that altering the genes of plants and animals to make these kind of Frankenstein foods, or “Franken foods,” as some people call them—GMO—is better than what nature had provided already. And I tend to agree that nature does provide what we need. And we just need to get back to our own true nature to be able to determine what’s good for us, and maybe not use science in terms of a fully formed food based on our assumptions of what’s working, when we might not even understand our physiologies as completely as we think we do.
Fredric: So Kevin, what’s your Soylen preparation like, if you were to put together a liquid drink, not too complicated, what would it contain? Like, what is like the one food that you’d say, you know, you could live on this for quite a while.
Kevin: Yeah. I mean…so definitely it would have some sort of omega-3, whether it’s plant-based or fish oil. So for DHA and EPA. So that’s definitely something that would need to be in there, because that’s something that everyone…you know, not everyone, but a lot of people are deficient in. You know, there’s a lot of data from our omega-3 test, the omega test, that shows that people are deficient. Even myself. I was deficient, and I thought I was getting enough omega-3s. And ironically, Fred was not deficient, and wasn’t really actively taking any omega-3s, right? So I mean it’s just kind of a weird. You know, that probably goes back to genetics.
So for me…then another, maybe an amino-acid-based source of protein. So again, this could be plant, or this could be an animal-based protein. But definitely some sort of amino-acid-based, complete amino acid profile. A lot of the proteins out there, the plant-based proteins, are coming up with a pretty good amino acid profile. So these are…you know, they are coming up with…by blending pea and rice and a few other ones, are coming up pretty good. Just make sure you listen to one of our past podcasts about heavy metal contamination in rice protein. Not all rice proteins have heavy metal contamination, but some do, so you want to check that out. You can also check out www.labs.naturalnews.com.
And then definitely, you know, a whole spectrum of micronutrients. So absorbable minerals, plant, you know, plant powders that actually have some of the micronutrients already in them. Antioxidants. All that sorts of stuff. I mean, I haven’t really fully thought about this, but I’m sure there’s some more—
Fredric: What’s your energy source like? Calories, you know?
Kevin: Well, that’s true. You need your calories. So where does…you know, does it come from sugar? Does it come from some sort of green powder or fat? It’s really interesting. I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know. So how…how many calories…so if you drink three Soylent shakes, do you know how many calories you’d get?
Fredric: I must say the information is pretty scarce on what’s actually in this stuff, because it’s not out yet, right? So people have committed to buying it, but they are…not many people have it. So I’ve looked up the ingredients. It looks like…I would imagine that it covers your basic 2000-calories a day needs. So maybe, I would say 500 calories per shake, from what I saw. You know, it’s a combination of sugars and fats for calories, essentially. There’s like some olive oil or something like that that they use. I don’t know, exactly, how it all works out, but—
Kevin: You’re not making it that much more appealing!
Fredric: I don’t know. That was the original formula. I’m not sure exactly what’s in it. But obviously, I mean, the problem you’d come…the problem with making those foods is getting enough calories. And I mean, I know everybody saw like old movies where they come up with this idea of like, in the future, you’re going to take a pill and it’s going to cover all your nutritional needs. But there’s just no way, I mean, a pill can contain not only all the micronutrients, but all the calories you need. I mean, the most concentrated form of energy for a human being is oil. And that’s what…well it’s 150 or 120 per tablespoon. So I mean, you need like—
Kevin: Per gram? Per gram of oil it’s nine calories.
Fredric: Yes, yes, but…so you need like, you need like 12-15 tablespoons of olive oil to meet your basic needs for energy for most people, right? So that’s…I mean, think about it.
So if food…I mean, we need to eat food. We need to eat a certain amount of food for energy. And anybody who’s tried to live on a raw food diet or just smoothies, you realize, I mean, it takes a lot of produce to get you through the day. Like smoothie with a few fruits and some kale or whatever, is pretty far in your stomach by the time you reach lunch, right? So it’s just a question of calories.
So I think it’s the problem with those…with finding a food like that, is that, how you are going to concentrate it enough without using like a huge amount of fat and simple sugars? Because that’s probably what they are using, simple sugars. So it’s a backup solution. And you know what? Pretty much anything is better than the standard American diet. So I wouldn’t be surprised if people did actually do pretty well on this compared to a standard American diet.
Kevin: That’s true, very true. What I think was really valuable though, that you brought up earlier, is the fact that if you know, if this is like a time-saving thing. I mean, yeah, green smoothie isn’t as time saving, but man, is a green smoothie a time saver. And liquid nutrition, I think, is really where it’s at in terms of getting as much nutrition as you can in a shorter period of time.
And so for instance, I’ll tell you. My green smoothie is pretty much the same every day. So you know, you guys are going to look at me and be like, “Wow, don’t you get bored with that?” Well no, not really. I just make it and I just do it. But my green smoothie every morning is either romaine lettuce or spinach. I put like a whole head of romaine lettuce with…a nice big old head of romaine lettuce. Sometimes I’ll switch up. Sometimes I’ll get red leaf lettuce or, you know, sometimes I’ll get green lettuce. Whatever is in the grocery store. Whichever is on special and organic, or at the farmer’s market.
And so I pop it in there. And then I take two scoops of protein, a pea-based protein. I use The Sun Warrior protein, the Warrior blend. And then I put, you know, about half a bag to a full bag, depending on the sweetness of the fruit, maybe a bag and a half. And I’ll pick between…and usually I’ll either use frozen or fresh fruit, all organic. And then I’ll blend that up. And then I drink 32 to 40 ounces of that just in a couple of minutes, and then it’s done.
If I was to sit down and eat all that lettuce and all the fruit, because I’ve done it before, and Fred, you have too. If I was to sit down and eat that and chew it and fletcherise it, you know, there’s like 30-40 chews per bite, it would take 45-50 minutes to get that all down. And to have it down in three minutes and then I’m off to brush my teeth and floss them and then, like we mentioned the last podcast, I’ll brush my teeth, floss them, and then head off to work. I am golden!
And then even with juices, you know, we’ll do…so we do a smoothie every morning. And then with juices…we actually have our nanny, we’ve taught her how to make this green juice that has romaine and then it has celery and has cucumber and it has phenol, it has a little bit of apple and a little bit of parsley and kale. And so we kind of just rotate through some of these ingredients. Again, to think about how much produce is in that juice container! And again, remember, drinking juice is on top of eating fresh fruits and vegetables. I hope we all understand that. But to think about the amount of nutrition that’s in that 32 to 48 ounce juice is pretty intense. And man, you just drink it down.
I can come home from work and the juice is in the fridge and I drink down the whole thing and that’s 32 ounces of green juice, of plant nutrition, right there available at my fingertips. I mean, it’s so easy and it’s such an easy way…obviously, it’s easier when someone makes it for you…but it’s so easy to get that into your body and not have to think about it anymore, and just know that you have your bases covered.
Fredric: And the smoothie you mentioned is…I mean, that’s a serious smoothie, right? I mean, in terms of like an entire head of lettuce. And you told me about the lettuce, because I was more like, using like spinach and so on. And so you told me, “Hey, I put an entire head of lettuce in my green smoothie.” So I started doing it recently.
And I put different fruits. Like you…like, I have been using mangoes, I’ve been using…sometimes I use bananas, or I love ripe pears and so on. And fresh strawberries. Anyway, I throw the water or almond milk, sometimes protein powder, sometimes, or sometimes not. But then when you blend in a Vitamix, when you blend that entire head of lettuce, I mean, it is obliterated in so little time. I look at it and I’m like, “What? It’s already gone and processed and everything?” By the time I pour it in a mason jar, I mean, that’s pretty concentrated, right? And like you said, like, sitting down to an entire head of a romaine lettuce, and I can drink like two of those in a day, right? So you’re getting your greens. I mean, you are definitely getting your four to five vegetables a day.
Kevin: Yeah. And get this, all you parents or grandparents out there. So today what I did was, I made my smoothie. And I have the juice in the fridge. I didn’t feel like drinking the juice in the morning. So instead of using water, I just poured the juice in the smoothie, blended it up. Hudson love smoothies. He calls them “booties,” which is kind of funny, but he loves these smoothies. And so I gave him about…he had about ten ounces of smoothie made out of lettuce, all this fruit, a little bit of great protein powder, and full on green juice. And he loved it.
Fredric: Kids love it. Everybody loves green smoothies. I mean, not everybody, but you can get used to the idea much better than Soylent, I think. I mean, it is a time saving tool. I mean, not only do you save time by eating all this stuff in a concentrated form, but also, I think it gives you more energy, because your body is not using up that energy digesting and so on.
So I think it’s a great tool during the day. At some point, I think most people later in the day want to sit down to an actual meal where they have to chew and maybe feel drowsy at the end. But during the day, I mean, it’s an incredible productivity, just energizing, tool.
Kevin: You know what else is interesting, too? It’s a great travel thing, too, because airports are now starting to have Jamba Juices in them. So there’s a few airports that I know of that have these Jamba Juices. One is the Las Vegas airport, I believe in the C gate, and then Denver Airport—I believe also in the C gate—and so like, if you can kind of…and again Jamba Juice isn’t organic, but what Jamba Juice started to do is, they actually have like more of the green smoothie type thing.
Used to be…you’d go to Jamba Juice and you’d have to navigate the menu. And you’d have to be like, “All right, well I want this berry smoothie, but I don’t want you to put yogurt in it. I want you to put either water…or if they’re like, we don’t put water, then can you put orange juice in there or something instead of using yogurt or milk or anything like that?” But now Jamba Juice has got a little bit hip to this, and now they are actually doing green smoothies.
So it’s actually a good travel tool to like, think about, you know, if you know, if you are going to be in a connecting flight or you’re going to be an airport, to think about where you’re going to be at, and can you find a Jamba Juice that will make you a smoothie? I wouldn’t get it at any other smoothie place, because a lot of these are like these machines that just like, it’s almost just like, you know, switch out the margarita mix with, who knows what? And all the sugary syrup stuff.
But Jamba Juice, again, it’s not tier-1 option. Obviously, tier-1 option would be at your house or at the health food shop that makes this stuff. And even Whole Foods can make some good smoothies now. Some of the places around the country will make smoothies for you.
But it’s another travel tool that I use. So when I was walking…when I was traveling to Orlando, I had to stop over in Las Vegas. And I was walking through the C gate, and I just knew that that Jamba Juice would be right there. And I didn’t know that they now had moved into this like green smoothie type model. And I was so thrilled because I didn’t want to have to go to the girl and just be like, “Okay, so I’m a crazy health guy. Here are all the things that I want in my smoothie. I’m going to make you inconvenienced, but it’s what I want and let’s deal with it,” kind of conversation, which usually happens. You guys have had it before. And it just went…I was like “Ooo, that one works.” And it was perfect.
Fredric: That’s good when you can find it. Otherwise, I mean, I don’t know about you, but I often buy the super expensive cups of fruit and whole bananas. And people…it’s funny, because a lot of people into health foods, they’re like, “There’s nothing to eat in an airport. A banana is a dollar.” Well think about it. Like, you can buy a few pieces of fruit for a lot less than pretty much anything else that’s being sold as a meal in an airport. So you’re coming ahead. I mean, it’s obviously overpriced because you are in an airport. But everything is overpriced. So I kind of…you know, if you just shift your thinking and you realize, you know, I can allow a $15 budget to buy a bunch of fruits and a salad or something like that while I’m traveling, and I’m coming ahead, because you know, I’ll be healthier. Everything will be easier. And I mean, it’s not a lot of money if you think about it compared to sitting down to a restaurant and ordering like a burger and fries, right?
Kevin: Yeah. And fruits are so good for traveling, particularly high antioxidant fruits, but also just high water content fruits, because you are going on a plane. You are going up to 35-, 36-, 37,000 feet. You are in this space that’s extremely dehydrating. And if you can eat some high water fruits, high water content fruits—we usually bring some oranges or some tangerines or things like that, even apples. Bananas are great. They are not the best in terms of like, your travel [crosstalk] induced constipation, you know. But as you…because usually what happens to a lot of people who travel, they’ll get constipated. And so if you can eat some high-water-rich vegetables, or not vegetables…well if you bring vegetables, too, you can bring celery and some other things if you want. But fruits, you know, when you get down and land and you get to the hotel, you have a higher chance of not having to deal with the travel type constipation.
Fredric: And on that note, I think our show is over.
Fredric: www.renegadehealth.com. Check out the old podcasts as well, and our wealth of contents. So thank you so much, and please leave a review on iTunes.