When it comes to getting in shape, pretty much everyone can agree that nutrition is at least half the battle.
“You can’t out-train a bad diet,” they say.
And they’re totally right.
Lately, I’ve been trying to lean down for the summer, and that means keeping a close eye on my calories and macros (macronutrients like protein, fat, and carbs).
But honestly, it can be really difficult to track when you’re busy whipping up delicious meals. Who’s to say exactly what you’re getting with a chicken breast, a sloppy scoop of rice, a handful of random veggies, and maybe a little something sweet from the pantry after dinner?
Soylent aims to make all of that a lot more simple. But is Soylent a good choice for weight loss or bodybuilding?
Soylent can be a good choice for weight loss because it’s relatively low-calorie, nutrient rich, and perfeclty portioned. It helps to know exactly what you’re getting when counting calories for weight loss! However, you’ll find drinking Soylent relatively unsatisfying, and it probably won’t keep you full as long as real food, which could hinder your adherence to your diet.
Soylent for bodybuilding, however, is a slightly different story. You’ll probably find the rich variety of nutrients in each bottle, not to mention the convenience, a serious plus when building a bodybuilding or bulking meal plan. The flavor and overall tasting experience still isn’t great, but Soylent can be a key piece of your nutrition if you’re short on meal prep time.
Let’s dive in to a little more detail on the pros and cons of drinking Soylent.
What is Soylent?
Simply put, Soylent is a liquid meal replacement in a bottle.
For a couple of bucks per bottle, you allegedly get a perfectly nutritionally-balanced meal; everything your body needs to thrive.
Specifically, a bottle of Soylent’s flagship product, aptly named Drink, offers 400 calories, 20 grams of protein, 37 grams of carbs, 2 grams saturated fat, and a whole host of vitamins and minerals.
There’s no wiggle room here. That’s exactly what you’re getting every time, and unlike a lot of prepackaged goods, Soylent offers a lot of nutritional value in exchange for overall flavor.
But we’ll get to that.
My experience drinking Soylent while bodybuilding and weightlifting.
A lot of people drink Soylent for the convenience. Don’t have time for lunch? Grab a Soylent instead!
But for me, like I said, I was mostly interested in something with a known quantity of nutrients that would give me lots of energy to make gains in the gym while lifting weights.
For the past few months, I’ve started most days with a relatively low calorie protein bar (200-250 calories). And while delicious, and a good source of protein, I often found that by the time I got around to going to the gym at lunch time, I was feeling pretty hungry and drained.
I wanted something with a little more oomph to help me keep up the intensity while weightlifting and bodybuilding.
I tried my first bottle this week.
The best way to describe the flavor is… neutral? There’s not much to it. Soylent is a thick-ish, gritty concoction with a wheaty flavor and a subtle, subtle sweetness. Think of oatmeal with nothing in it but a small dash of sugar. It’s certainly not good, but it’s not really bad either.
My first bottle didn’t exactly go down easy. I sipped it slowly over the course of about an hour, and I’d be lying if I said my stomach was thrilled about it. But I’ve read that many people have this reaction their first time drinking Soylent, and as your body becomes accustomed to it, it becomes easier to drink.
About two hours after finishing my Soylent Drink, I headed to the gym for some weightlifting
I’m happy to report that my energy level was high and I felt like I was able to attack some new PRs. I wasn’t exactly full, but something about Soylent kept me nice and satiated for a little longer than I would have been otherwise.
My second time drinking Soylent was MUCH more enjoyable. It went down incredibly easy, and I daresay I actually enjoyed the subtle hint of sweetness. Clearly, Soylent is an acquired taste.
I plan on drinking a Soylent in the morning on training days for a couple of weeks, and will update this post with any new findings!
What other people are saying about Soylent and bodybuilding and/or weightlifting.
My small sample size aside, I’m not the only person out there wondering what effect Soylent has on bodybuilders and weightlifters.
Reddit user CompulsionUF spent 2 months lifting while getting about 75% of his calories from Soylent, and reported huge gains in the gym. He credited it to lots of energy from the nutritionally-balanced Soylent in addition to being able to keep his overall macros in check easily:
How I feel: Great. When I was lifting using a regular diet in December, I felt tired and beat up. Also, fat. The weights felt heavy. So heavy that I just came into the gym, did my big lifts, then went home exhausted. Even with pre-workout.
These days the only pre-workout I have is a cup of coffee while I wake up, then a glass of Soylent just before I head out the door to the gym. Now, I come in, throw the weight around (even though it’s heavier than anything I’ve lifted before) then still have energy to do assistance work.
Other users around the web report similar benefits including:
- Improved energy for weightlifting
- Precision in calorie and macro tracking
The most notable drawbacks reported around the web by bodybuilders and weightlifters were the taste and overall enjoyment of drinking Soylent. I can relate to that, but ultimately it seems like a small price to pay.
Does Soylent work for weight loss?
Soylent offers a nutritionally complete meal for about 400 calories a pop.
Compared to standard, whole-food meals, that compares pretty nicely.
It’d be super easy for even a relatively health dinner to come in at 500, 600, or more calories per serving, for example.
So in terms of getting an exact calorie count, and controlling portions, Soylent can be great for weight loss diets!
However, the biggest factor as to whether you’ll lose weight in the long run is how well you adhere to your diet, or your “calorie deficit.”
If you don’t enjoy what you’re eating, it’ll be really tough to stay on the wagon long term.
And if you don’t eat foods that fill you up and keep you satsfied, it’ll be tough to hit your targets.
Unfortunately, this is Soylent’s downfall when it comes to weight loss.
Yes, the taste is alright, but if you’re restricting your calories and craving more delicious foods, you might find it really tough to stick to a Soylent diet.
However, again, the pre-portioned nature of Soylent and its excellent balance of macronutrients make it at least worth a shot. You might try replacing one meal with Soylent and shaving a few calories out of your daily meal plan.
Where to buy Soylent.
You can get Soylent direct from Amazon here.
Hope this helps!
Thumbnail image by JohnnyBGoode11 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons