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, we offer our thoughts during the final leg of the journey.
Aussielent is a local version of the open source meal-replacement beverage “Soylent”. It 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 each bottle, check out Part 1.)
We began this challenge with a virgin taste taste on Facebook Live so it only seems fitting that we end in the same way. Click on the video below for our thoughts on an all-Aussielent diet.
Honest to christ this has been a rollercoaster.
On the Tuesday I felt broken. It's difficult to explain why.
I think it was a combination of my perception of soylent and my own anxieties surrounding food. I watch what I eat. I'm very careful about how much I eat. I was looking at the nutritional content of these bottles we've been skulling and stressing the hell out. I was worried that this feeling — this perennial aching hunger — was for nothing. I was consuming a large amount of calories but getting no benefit: no energy boost, no weight loss, no real convenience. On top of that I was enduring pure anguish: feeling tired, feeling angry, feeling frustrated. I've felt that way multiple times before during juice diets, sleep experiments, during stretches of difficult training — but with those there's the sense struggle is meaningful. I was losing weight, getting stronger, whatever.
Soylent felt different. Soylent felt flat-out pointless. That was the source of my frustration. Consuming nothing but Soylent is easier than you might think. Compared to a juice diet it's a walk in the park. A juice diet has its benefits, but it's pure endurance. Your stomach is empty, you're most likely under-nourished, it's kinda stupid on a number of levels. With Soylent that isn't quite the case. It's difficult, but mostly manageable. The struggle comes from missing food, missing flavour, missing the social experience of sitting down with family and friends and chewing on something for 15 minutes.
So most of my concerns were stress-related — what the fuck was this shit doing to my body?
But then I noticed something over the last couple of days: my stomach was a little tighter, my abs were coming back. I sort of looked and felt like I do when I'm sitting around my optimum climbing weight.
So I weighed myself.
Lo and behold I was at my optimum climbing weight! Or close to it at least!
As I mentioned before I'd recently put on a couple of kilos on holiday. I was sitting at around 69kgs where I should be at about 65-66kg. Part of my issue with doing this Soylent experiment was a delay in me buckling down and getting rid of that excess weight.
Turns out that won't be a problem. Weighed myself this morning: 66kgs on the button.
Well, that changes things a bit.
I'm feeling a bit better about this whole Soylent thing now. Sure, some of the lost weight will be water weight, but I was probably carrying a bit too much water anyway. I'm guessing it has a lot to do with the amount of salt I had been consuming over the past month or so, but who knows? Body weight is a weird thing at the best of times.
Either way, I feel pretty good. I feel pretty healthy and I'm losing weight. I can't complain too much.
Hey, we made it! I'm finally on the final day of this all-Soylent diet and it's been a challenging week to say the least. Like Mark, I've found the experience to be a rollercoaster of unpredictable ups and downs.
The second day of the challenge was absolutely brutal — but not for the same reasons as Mark. Before the challenge, I typically put away three to five heavily caffeinated beverages per day. As you can imagine, immediately going from that to zero caffeine probably wasn't the wisest course of action. I was legitimately struggling to maintain motor function, let alone do my job.
Once I'd zombie-walked through that horrendous hurdle, things got a lot easier. Aussielent does a good job of filling you up. I wouldn't call it enjoyable, but I didn't notice my stomach rumbling at weird times of the day. You never feel completely sated yet you're not hungry either. It's like a crap magician's trick: kind of neat but not particularly satisfying.
With that said, I definitely missed the flavour and texture of solid meals. This was made infinitely worse by having to write and edit stories like this, this and this. Especially the photo uploads. Goddammit.
On the plus side, I'm happy to report that I've managed to lose 2.5kg, just like Mark. This was not the intended purpose of our experiment but it's definitely something Aussielent is well suited for. Because this is the only thing you're eating and the RDI info is right there on the bottle, it's dead simple to calculate an energy deficit to shave some weight.
Would I go back to Aussielent after the end of this challenge? Possibly. While I could never give up "real" food completely, I can see how this stuff would be beneficial when you don't have time to make lunch or can't decide what to eat. It's certainly a better option than grabbing a cheap takeaway. If you're looking for fuss-free, futuristic human fuel it does the job well. Just don't give up caffeine at the same time.
Check in on us Monday where we discuss everything we learned — and everything we would do differently next time.