One of the most well-known meal replacement drinks on the market, Soylent began in the humble kitchen of current CEO and co-founder Rob Rhinehart with co-founders Matt Cauble, John Coogan, and David Renteln in 2013. They created this drink to curb their own desires for quick, healthy meals. Since then, this soy-based drink has taken the health food world by storm. Some customers have fully stocked up on the product, believing in its claim to be a complete meal substitution with robust vitamins and nutrients.

What Is Soylent?

At first glance, Soylent's ingredient list is a pretty complex chemical mixture. Looking closer, the list includes mainly soy protein, sunflower and canola oils, rice fiber, and vitamin/mineral additives. One thing to note is that despite being advertised as a meal-replacement online, the nutrition label on the bottles warns that Soylent is not meant to replace all meals. 

Is Soylent Healthy?

Soylent's website claims this soy protein drink has all the nutrients a human body needs in a meal, like carbohydrates and fiber, without "excess" sugar and fats. Alongside the fact that each bottle is only about $3 and saves time, Soylent seems like the food of the future. But how does it actually affect real human health?

According to the nutrition label, each Soylent drink contains 400 calories, 32% of the daily value of total fat, 20 grams of protein, and 9 grams of sugar. In order to fulfill the daily suggested intake of 2000 calories, drinking five bottles of Soylent would surpass the recommended daily total fat intake by over 60% and result in consuming 100 grams of protein in one day. The nutrition breakdown of Soylent explains the reason why it's not recommended to use Soylent as the only source of substance. 

Fellow Spoon University writer Becca Miller tried consuming only Soylent for three days. For her, the Soylent challenge proved torturous as she watched her friends eat "beastly" bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches while she quietly sipped her "ridiculously disgusting" Soylent shake. From her conclusions, it seemed like Soylent filled neither the nutritional needs nor the emotional needs that solid food provides.

For others, Soylent may prove to be a positive lifestyle change as it significantly cuts down on the time spent preparing and consuming meals. With new flavors and caffeinated options that have been released after Becca's Soylent diet, Soylent can now cater to more taste palates and lifestyles. 

The Science Behind Soylent

A team of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley led by Ryan Hsu conducted a study of a group's gut micro-bacteria before, during, and after Soylent consumption. From their qualitative data, all but one test subject had no trouble consuming the allotted amount of Soylent drink during the study. Some felt energized by the quick meal and felt that they had saved time while drinking Soylent. Others felt lethargic and were sad about missing food. As for the quantitative gut bacteria data, data analysis is in progress and no conclusions can be drawn yet on the effect of Soylent on gut bacteria.

Should you drink Soylent? There's no one straight answer to this question. It honestly depends on your lifestyle and whether or not you could benefit from a regimented diet. It's not recommended to go on the full Soylent diet, but if you choose to, remember to check with a doctor or dietitian nutritionist and be sure you won't miss ice cream or pizza.