Served Up: Soylent Meal Replacements Explained

It’s been touted as a “food of the future,” but what is Soylent?

What kind of nutrition is best for the human body? How much of it should you be consuming — and how do you go about preparing and cooking dishes that are optimal for health and fitness? These are the questions that have transfixed humanity since we became aware of what we were putting into our mouths and the effects things have on our health and our waistline. This has been increasingly the case since highly processed foods came along in the 1950s, with the appearance of TV dinners that you only had to heat up — delicious but not great for you.

Have we, as a collective species, become any wiser? Sadly no, it turns out most people don’t know what’s good for them, in terms of both the food they put on their plate, and into their mouths. The majority of people eat the wrong stuff and far too much of it. If you want proof of how wrong we’re going with our diets, all you have to do is take a look around and see the ballooning sizes we’ve become — and the problem is growing. 

Rates of obesity worldwide have tripled in recent decades, and now, almost 2 billion adults are overweight, and 650 million of them are obese, according to the most recent data. Our diets are literally killing us, and it seems there’s little many of us can do to take control. Nobody, if they’re honest with themselves, wants to be overweight, but what if there’s a simple solution to our excessive-eating woes? There might be — in the form of healthy meal replacements. These products from Soylent have become an incredibly popular way to get the nutrition you need while also shedding the pounds. 

What Is a Meal Replacement?

A meal replacement is exactly what it sounds like: a meal that takes the place of what you would normally eat. It’s usually in the form of protein shakes — so you’re having your meal in liquid form — and contains all the essential elements your body needs to support health and repair. A meal-replacement shake will have high levels of protein, along with the good carbohydrates and fats. They typically have some added “bonus” ingredients you might not get in your usual food: vitamins, minerals, and various trace elements required by the body. 

Meal replacements are popular because they’re quick and convenient — you don’t need to go shopping for the right ingredients and then spend ages cooking food. Can you feel full on liquid meals, you ask yourself? Sure, you can — because another important element of meal replacements is they’re high in fiber. Fiber, along with protein, creates a feeling of being full and satisfied, which helps to prevent unhealthy snacking throughout the day. So you can make meal replacements in a flash, and take them with you wherever you go. 

How Meal Replacements Can Help with Fitness and Health

Sticking to a healthy diet is not easy. There are all kinds of temptations that bombard each of us throughout the day. We come across them browsing the supermarket aisle and looking at all those delicious foods and tasty drinks that may not be the best for us or watching TV with its many ads urging us to devour pizza or burgers. Or, we come across them simply by seeing what our friends and family are eating every day. All of this can make a healthy diet that’s focused on wholefood difficult to adhere to. It’s so easy to cave in when you’re on a restricted diet, and your tummy is growling and demanding you fill it with all the goodies you love. 

This is also where meal replacements like Soylent come in. They contain everything you need to be healthy and are packed with protein and fiber, because of this you’re less likely to get hungry and reach for a sugary snack or drink. You’re also less likely to overeat because you’re avoiding all that junk food crammed with sugar, fat, and salt, which — although it may taste nice — tells the brain’s pleasure center it’s good, so you feel great and want more and more of it. 

Due to its highly processed nature, you’re not getting the nutrition you need from junk food. You’re going to feel hungry shortly after eating, and then have to eat more of something else to feel satisfied. It really is a vicious cycle of consumption and one that’s incredibly harmful to health, as we know all too well. But this cycle can be broken with meal replacements that can help you to shed weight while keeping you full with the right ingredients. 

Meal replacements also give you the energy you need to embark on a stringent fitness program and help you repair your muscles afterward. Protein is essential in making new muscle tissue. Having a protein shake before and after a workout will boost your intake and ensure your tissues are getting sufficient levels of protein and carbs for optimal recovery. This will help to prevent injury and allow you to get back to your workouts faster, improving your fitness and muscle growth. Simply get out your protein powder before your workouts, blend it up with anything you like — any fruit of your choice —  and you’re good to go. It’s everything you need in a bottle you can keep in your gym bag and drink from whenever you need a boost. 

How Did Soylent Come About?

Soylent is a combination of the words soya and lentil. The meal-replacement product is the brainchild of a bunch of guys who met in Silicon Valley in 2013 who noticed they were all eating the same, generally unhealthy, frozen meals at work. They figured there has to be a quicker and easier way to get the nutrition they needed, and together they developed a belief: “Food can be simplified for the better.” 

So the guys started with an experiment to see if they could come up with a meal replacement that would do the job of traditional, cooked meals — only better. What they devised was one mixable protein powder that has since expanded into a range of products — including drinks and bars — available online as well as in stores around the US, including Target, Walmart, and 7-Eleven. 

The venture that gave rise to Soylent Nutrition, Inc. owes its life to a crowdfunding campaign that raised $1.5 million for the budding enterprise.  In more recent times, the company has attracted $50 million in venture capital funding. This contributed to creating millions of dollars worth of products shipped to customers who wanted a convenient way to fuel up properly, without having to go to the trouble of shopping for basic ingredients and then cooking meals. 

Soylent is fast-capturing the American market and is expanding even further, entering Europe — increasing appetite for its meal-replacement offerings. As the company says, “We now have the backing of some of the most influential funders in tech and have become a household name synonymous with meal replacement.”

Is Soylent Vegan?

Soylent also operates on the principle of sustainability, and from the start, the company only wanted to use the most sustainable ingredients in its protein shakes. For protein, that turned out not to be whey protein, which is commonly used in protein powders and derived from milk, but soy protein isolate, which comes from the soybean. Following its’ research, the company found that “Soy protein contributes 50% less CO2 than whey protein and 25% less than a pea/rice protein combination.”

Since Soylent is made up of truly green ingredients and entirely of plant protein, it is not only super-healthy but also vegan. Its sustainability comes from the fact that plant proteins use far fewer land, water, and other resources compared to animal protein — and produce way more protein per acre of farmland, while also giving off fewer C02 emissions.

Does it worry the meat-eaters among you that your meal replacements might come from a plant protein? Have no fear, Soylent also chose soy protein isolate for its products making this a complete protein with an array of health benefits. This also gives it a far nicer taste than other types of plant protein. Plus, there’s ample soybean supply in the US to meet the company’s production needs. 

Is Soylent Expensive?

After reading all this and seeing all the effort that goes into Soylent, you might think it’s pretty expensive to buy its protein powders and readymade drinks and bars —  but you’d be wrong. Soylent is also designed to be highly affordable and works out to around $3 per meal, which is cheaper than dining out or heading to the supermarket to buy stuff for your own dishes. 

While you don’t have to worry about your pocket, your health is also taken care of. Each meal has the required amount of protein, carb, fats, and fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals — and no added sugars or equally unhealthy saturated fats — that your body needs. Each meal contains 400 calories and is made up of around 47% carbs, 27% fat, and 26% protein. 

Now you can swap out your usual meals for super-healthy Soylent, and be happy in the knowledge that you’re not only doing yourself a ton of good but also helping to look after the increasingly imperiled environment. It may well be the optimal food of the future that we all end up replacing our meals with. 

  • The Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated these statements. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult your medical practitioner before embarking on a diet or fitness program.

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Served Up: Soylent Meal Replacements Explained
It's been touted as a "food of the future," but what is Soylent?
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