This week, myself and Kotaku editor Mark Serrels are eating nothing but bottled Aussielent; a liquid substance that contains all the nutrients and minerals needed to sustain life. This means no solid meals, no snacks and — horrifyingly — no coffee or porridge for a whole week. Today, our taste buds give their verdict on Aussielent's texture and flavour.
For those who missed yesterday's post, Aussielent is a local version of the open source meal-replacement beverage “Soylent”. Aussielent meets all the nutritional requirements for an average adult with one bottle roughly equaling a staple meal. A single serve contains 1989kJ of energy, 25g of protein, 40g of low-GI carbohydrates, 25% recommended daily intake (RDI) of 27 vitamins and minerals and the recommended intakes of omegas 3 & 6. (For a full overview of what's inside the bottle, check out Part 1.)
Whether you're buying Aussielent to make energy consumption more efficient or in a bid to lose weight, taste is the most important factor here: it needs to be reasonably flavoursome if you hope to stick with it for the long haul; especially if you're replacing every meal. Generally, when you chuck a crapload of vitamins into a single beverage, the taste is compromised.
Without further ado, here are our taste verdicts after imbibing our maiden bottle, along with our thoughts on the challenge so far:
The good news: I don't mind the taste! I'm used to eating protein shakes as meal replacements, so this is fine. The bad news: I came home last night and my wife had (unknowingly) ordered Indian food for dinner. That was a tough couple of hours, but I fought through it. Stayed the course.
So far the most difficult part of this Soylent thing is this: you consume a remarkably small amount of food that accounts for a surprisingly high amount of KJs. I'm feeling hungry. A lot. But I don't really feel like I could snack on anything without putting weight on. I'm sustaining myself solely on these Aussielent drinks and it's not really been a good time so far.
My main issue: this Aussielent is tailor-made to suit all the nutritional needs of YOUR BOG-STANDARD AUSSIE BLOKE. It provides roughly 8000kjs of energy and 100% of all your minerals and vitamins, etc.
The problem: I'm 175 cms. I weight 68 kgs. I exercise a lot. I typically eat at a kj-deficit. Most likely, if I eat the amount of soylent I'm supposed to eat, I'm gonna put on weight, which I really, really don't want to do.
So what do I do? Do I eat less? Maybe. But that will result in me not eating enough vitamins and minerals. That's bad, right? Should I just eat the "correct" amount? Maybe, but that will probably result in the aforementioned weight gain.
So yeah, I've been feeling a small amount of anxiety with this soylent situation. Also: I'm farting a lot.
Unlike Mark, I've never had a protein shake or liquid meal in my life, so I really had no idea what to expect. On first whiff, I couldn't detect anything objectionable. It smelled very faintly like a milkshake — you can just make out the scent of vanilla but without any sugary tones. Remember Grimace from McDonald's? I imagine this is what his ghost must smell like.
I was pleasantly surprised by my first taste of Aussielent — at least at first. The texture is thick yet smooth; almost like runny yogurt. This sounds off-putting on paper, but it's actually a big plus: it means you can sort of chew on it between each swig, which helps to trick your brain into thinking it's getting a solid meal.
As you'd expect from an all-in-one "liquid nutrition" drink, there's a bit of a synthetic, chalky aftertaste due to all the competing ingredients. The dominant flavour is pleasant enough, although it does begin to grate after multiple serves in a row. (Mind you, I suppose the same thing could be said about most foodstuffs. Bacon excepted, natch.)
So far, I haven't experienced much in the way of hunger pangs. It fills a hole well enough, and is almost certainly providing me with more vitamins and healthy fats than my body is used to. On the downside, the caffeine withdrawals are starting to loom on the horizon like an ominous storm cloud — only mild headaches so far, but I can tell it's going to be a bumpy road ahead.
If you missed yesterday's virgin taste test on Facebook Live, you can catch it below. (Apologies for the video quality.)