Telling people you are about to give up food completely can get you some strange looks. It doesn’t help that almost everyone has a pseudo-scientific opinion to share on why it’s so bad for you to do it.
But when you go into more detail keeping their attention whilst discussing calorie deficits, macro-nutrient profiles, supplements, vitamins and 70’s film can be tricky as well.
My reasons are varied but often overlapping, and giving up food for a suitable alternative was one of the only ways I could see to easily achieve multiple goals and in an affordable way. I will be documenting my progress in these Soylent Diaries. So why exactly am I giving it all up.
In order to best treat my depression and anxiety I need to rule out nutritional deficiencies. I don’t suspect a particular nutrient to be lacking, but what is certain is that my current diet does not allow for regular, reliable quantities of essential foods, vitamins and nutrients. Because I can’t guarantee that I will get everything my brain needs with food I wanted a method where I could regulate the intake of all essential chemicals.
There is a body-image problem too, and whilst most would tackle the psychological aspects of this – I genuinely feel that getting physically healthier would in turn improve my perception of my body too – and it may even prolong my life so there’s a few reasons to tackle the physical problems instead of adjusting my mindset.
I weigh approximately 220lbs – I will add an accurate measurement on the Day 1 entry. My scales predict a body fat percentage of around 34% and my BMI is 30.7 – the NHS classify that as obese. My maximum run distance is measured in meters, not miles and I get out of breath doing any physical exercise. I have COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) which was caused in part by 10 years of smoking (which I no longer do.)
I’m a little bit tubby with a beer belly and a spare tire around my waist. I’m not fat but self-conscious enough to want to suck my stomach in all the time in public which is very tiring. I used to lift weight, and had quite a toned body but that disappeared around 10 years ago and its been slipping ever since. My first goal is to shed some weight, which I am hoping this plan will help with. The second goal here is to build muscle and improve my personal body image / perception.
Food is expensive, and its often cheaper to get food that is bad for you and tastes better. As an example a frozen pizza costs just £1 – the same price as a bag of spinach. I know which I would prefer to grab when I am tired, hungry and craving carbohydrates. I have tried healthy eating before with a strict ketogenic diet that lasted for about three weeks, but quickly became cost prohibitive – it doubled our food bill. Whatever plan I was going to come up with had to be cheap, quick and ideally cost less than £3 a day.
So whats the plan?
Meal replacements have existed for some time, from war rations to space rations – with military through to sports application. Whilst these are often used to subsidize a regular deal or to replace only certain meals the concept of living entirely off a single liquid food has existed for a long time as well. Myriads of science fiction shows, stories and books have shown the idea of a ‘meal in a pill’ or a single uniform sludge that everyone eats in order to survive. There are also plenty of case studies of people who have lived or are living entirely on meal replacements.
Food has been engineered since the beginning of agriculture, nowadays it is often a more refined and high tech process performed in factories, or even at a genetic level in crops. Adjusting food to be more flavorful, colorful, attractive, filling, addictive, healthier or bigger is quite accepted as the normal thing to do with our food, so its only fair that engineering food to be more practical, nutritional and helpful be accepted too – its simply a shift in priorities.
I will be using a DIY soylent.
Keeping the cost to under £3 a day was achieved by purchasing ingredients and designing a ‘Soylent’ which would provide me with my entire nutritional profile using only ingredients I could source from Amazon or online. There are commercial ‘Soylents’ available which would ease the process but to be honest I wanted complete flexibility on flavour, sourcing and nutrition which I jut couldn’t achieve with any of the off-the-shelf suppliers.
The other consideration was wanting to keep to a fairly strict ketogenic diet. This meant high fat and practically no carbohydrates. The only slight modification is an increase in protein amounts for reasons I will get into later. The base of this mixture is a Soy Protein, but I may switch this out for whey.
3 Meals A Day
The mixture will be divided into three equal portions, and be consumed three times a day mixed with water. This means my nutrients and minerals etc will be delivered fairly evenly throughout the day. To assist with my Lithium symptoms I will be consuming an additional gallon of water a day with Electrolyte Powder added to it.
Results / Soylent Diaries
Below I will add links to each day of the Soylent Diaries which will cover my feelings, my stats, my progress, any issues I come across as well as any tips I can think of for anyone else brave enough to say goodbye to food. This initial experiment will last 12 weeks – but I am hoping it will continue for longer.
Introduction (You are here)
Day 1 – 219.8lbs – The cookie hurdle
Day 2 – 218.3lbs – The craving continues
Day 3 – 215.3lbs – The warm sludge
Day 4 – 218.5lbs – The BBQ Conundrum
Day 5 – 216.1lbs – The guilty feelings
Day 6 – 216.5lbs – The ingredients of sludge
Day 7 – 218.4lbs – The first week