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I feel like some kind of powder dealer

This is my second day in the arena of smoothies, and I thought I’d answer the big question – how are the shakes and what do they taste like? But to understand the answer for me, I’ll put it in context.

Keen to save space in the brain, I gave a DIY Soylent recipe a whirl. Space in the brain? I know it’s supposed to save time in the kitchen. I know it’s designed with consideration to macro nutrient and micro nutrient balances. I know it’s supposed to make meals on the go a breeze, but these are not my key reasons for plunging into the shakesphere.

I need more space in my brain, by which I mean I get decision fatigue very easily -perhaps I have too much freedom and choice. Well certainly in the food arena. This manifests itself when choosing what to eat, and decisions get worse later in the day. This coincides with when I’m eating with my kids, which often leads to some poor decisions when left with two plates of uneaten pizza.

I can always do abstinence more easily than I can implement moderation. So it’s easier for me to know that I don’t eat leftover pizza rather than to say that “some” leftover pizza is okay. Taken to extreme, this has led me to DIY Soylent. The theory was that I wouldn’t have to decide what to eat or how much. I’d just chug a third of my daily powder at evenly spaced intervals.

So does it have to taste good for me? Not really, at least not in the short term. Which is lucky, as the batch I’ve signed up for, despite being a branch of the Liquid Cake recipe, tastes bland in the extreme. Bland in a vanilla kind of way. Kind of whey really – as that’s the source of the flavourings for the shake – coming courtesy of Bulk Powders. I figure once my palate is cleansed, I can switch in other flavoured protein powders – I have some chocolate waiting in the wings – and also add a few other things like peanut butter.

What’s the texture like? It’s drinkable – I add about 500ml of water and 12g of oil to my powders. Without the oil it is too watery. I use a blender to add some excitement to the drink – a few bubbles go a long way. The oat powder I use is somewhat of a grainy dust, and the psyllium husks leave particles no matter how much my Tesco value blender twirls, and the result does line my throat. Not to the point of suffocation, I just like to wash it all down with fresh water after I’ve finished. The texture is just like a smoothie really, but not as creamy.

How do you feel on DIY Soylent? Well, I was hoping to feel satiated so that I didn’t think about food or mealtimes and could drone along like a zombie in the hive. But so far it’s been a different story. I get hungry, and a little cranky. I’m getting around 89 grams of carbohydrates a day, and that doesn’t seem too low – though I have suspicions that this is responsible for my crankiness. Being hungry makes me cranky – I used to have a fairly high metabolism.

I don’t always feel full after a shake, which is a little disappointing. It takes a while for the food to settle and calm me down. I haven’t continued with my couch to 10k training yet – I’ll see how that feels later today when I run 4km.

Last night I was so cranky I had a handful of cashews at the end of the day to keep me level enough for the kids’ bedtime routine. And went to bed shortly afterwards.

Also, the gurgling. It’s enough to wake me up and night, but bearable.

What scares me? I’m concerned about my mood, and how it will affect my relationships. I also have this faint idea that my brain works best on a diet of simple sugars, and I don’t feel particularly coherent as I type this.

Am I going to continue? It’s definitely not plain sailing, and I’m curious to see if that’s just the post-birthday cake comedown transition period I’m in, or if it’s an adjustment period. After all, it’s good not to feel full all the time, and natural to be hungry if you’re eating less. I imagine my stomach will shrink a little, and I’ll pepper in a few real meals in a few days time. For now, I want to see how I respond to the change in food source. I ate vegan for 7 months last year (should that be veganly?) and the first few weeks saw an enormous amount of bloating and confusion. Which reminds me – I think I’ll go and take a probiotic to see if the gurgling will curtail. I’ll probably experiment with chocolate flavour and peanut butter and up the carbohydrates a little too.


First Batch of Soylent

I’m using the DIY Soylent approach to avoiding cooking, heating, deciding, chewing and all those other verbs associated with my former inefficient ingestion process. I figure that to make things easy, and because the protein comes in 1kg bags, I’ll mix up two days of powder to start with. A big plunge considering I’ve never made any of it before – six meals worth.

I bought some cheap digital salter scales to get me started – they have accuracy up to the closest gram, and here’s what I’m going to measure:

Two Day Soylent Mix Amounts

Amount Ingredient £ / day
2 pill Lactaid £0.23
498 g Pure Whey Protein (VANILLA) £2.85
72 g Rapeseed Oil £0.14
226 g Ultra Fine Scottish Oats £0.23
48 g Psyllium Husk Powder £0.32
2.68 g Choline bitartrate £0.04
21.4 g Potassium Gluconate £0.26
2 pill Kirkland Signature Daily Multi Vitamins & Minerals Tablets £0.03
2 pill Calcium + Vitamin D3 + Vitamin K1 Capsules £0.07
7.02 g Table Salt £0.00

This is just something for me to print to get things measured.

Well with all big plans come big adjustments when reality bites. I don’t have a big enough container to hand for the half kilogram of protein powder. So I made half a day’s powder. I’m loathe to use plastic bags for each meal, so now I’m going to split it up between three containers for three meals per day.

I’m halfway through day 1 so far, and I made a big miscalculation on how long my Jag would be in the shop, so after being awake for five hours, I’d only had a quarter of the day’s food. Now I’ve had half, but I’m still a little bit feral and hungry while it gets broken down.

So this is what I’m putting in each single meal serving (aside from the rapeseed and water which I’ll add when I make it:

Single Meal Soylent Recipe

Amount Ingredient
0.3 pill Lactaid
83 g Pure Whey Protein (VANILLA)
12 g Rapeseed Oil
36.6 g Ultra Fine Scottish Oats
8 g Psyllium Husk Powder
0.45 g Choline bitartrate
3.6 g Potassium Gluconate
0.33 pill Kirkland Signature Daily Multi Vitamins & Minerals Tablets
0.33 pill Calcium + Vitamin D3 + Vitamin K1 Capsules
1.1 g Table Salt

So I might just take the vitamin tablet. The lactase I’m going to split up though.


Recipes in the Post-Food Era


Food: I want that one. Image courtesy BBC

As a child, I thought that time spent eating was wasted. I wasn’t really very keen on eating or on food at all, and my palate was very particular – I would go through phases of only eating lemon curd sandwiches or coarse duck pâté on toast. So why sit and fail to eat food and wait at the table when I could be playing or reading or drying the chemicals for my own fireworks in the microwave?

Now I’m a parent I’m all for family meals – the chance to spend time with our children and feed them nourishing foods. Sometimes I feel that I can put love into the art of cooking, and that the time spent preparing food is used wisely. Sometimes. But every now and then a part of me remembers the vivid image of food as tiny tablets presented in Daleks Invasion Earth, and longs for the simplicity of nutritious pellets to be ingested with minimal fuss.

Now, after my waist has swollen by 5.5 inches in 28 months, I’m keen to get away the pressure of having to think about what to eat, what to cook, and how much time to set aside to do it. I want to eat Soylent. I’ve been buffeted along my way by ideas of eating high-glycemic foods after a workout, fasting some of the time, changing the size and frequency of my meals and I’ve had enough of floating aimlessly on the winds of dietary fashion. I’m going to drink smoothies.

To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art – François de La Rochefoucauld. To eat on the shoulders of giants while cutting and pasting recipes is time-saving.


Bulk Powders Delivers Next Day in the UK

This is the first recipe I’m going to try every day. Starting (as all good diets do) tomorrow.

  • 250g Whey Protein
  • 113g Scottish oats
  • 24g Psyllium Husk Powder
  • 1.34g choline bitartrate
  • 10.7g Potassium Gluconate
  • 3.5g Table Salt
  • 1 Multi vitamin
  • 1 Calcium, D3, K1 capsule
  • 36g rapeseed oil
  • 1 tablet Lactaid

I’d like to say that I’ve done a bunch of research and found the ideal mix of chemicals and nutrients for my body type, but in reality I just looked up “high protein” and “tasty” on the DIY Soylent web page and came up with Liquid Cake v1.3. And then I jiggled with it a bit. Bulk Powders delivered my order sharpish – I just need to go and get some scales so that I can measure 1.34g of Choline accurately. If you click on that last link, you get a fiver off.