Ex-Marine describes why he loves Soylent and how it changed his life

Reddit user “lewis0451” says he was a US Marine who let himself go when he left the service, and whose weight went up to 255. He consumes mostly Soylent now, and is down to 180 pounds.

He credits Soylent, a liquid food substitute that supposedly has all the nutrients you need to live. The manufacturers claim you can live healthy on a diet of only Soylent. Some enthusiasts do that, although most, like “lewis0451,” are on a mostly-Soylent diet and have real food for special occasions.

I decided to order some for myself and see how things would taste. After a week, I decided I might want to try to pull off a 30-day challenge of nothing but Soylent, and I tried my best, but stumbled a few times. I stuck with it and used it as much as I could. I knew I could lean on it to meet a weight loss goal, but I never thought it would allow me to reshape my entire life. I’m so much more positive, slightly richer (no senseless food expenditures), and way more responsible. I no longer live to eat. Here’s the best part – I still take time to ENJOY GOOD FOOD. I’m not going to come off Soylent for frozen pizza since I’ve had it about 1,300,543,000 times in my life before, but I will absolutely take time to order a beautiful piece of grilled salmon with fresh veggies that snap when you crunch through them, along with red potatoes or something akin to that. I try to make good choices and when I eat food, I make sure I’m doing it to engage all my senses. I do it for the experience — not to just hide from everything, binging on junk food.

lewis0451 wants to be the Soylent spokesman, like Jared from Subway, but “without all the creeper stuff.”

The fact that he even mentions Jared means he’s going to need some serious marketing training before Soylent signs him on. Heh.

[Soylent: Can I be your Jared? (without all the creeper stuff). I’m the weight loss dude w/ the logo fail. I don’t feel like re-uploading. / lewis0451 / reddit.com/r/soylent]

I tried Soylent for a full day in the summer. I wrote about the experience on Light Reading. [I Ate Soylent for a Day: ‘Food’ Special / Mitch Wagner / Light Reading]

I liked it enough to think that I might want to use it for occasional food-on-the-go and ordered a one-week supply – which is now, alas, sitting in the pantry with the clock ticking toward its expiration date.

I’ve had better luck with MealSquares, which also advertises itself as everything you need to eat healthy, in one package. But unlike Soylent, MealSquares is actual food. It’s a dense, square muffin. To eat it, you need to take small bites, and chew thoroughly.  I find it tasty and satisfying, though it’s very rich and dry. Julie dislikes it.

I often carry a MealSquare or two in my bag when I’m out and about.

I’m going in for a colonoscopy March 30 (nothing wrong, just a routine, baseline check), and might subsist on Soylent for a week prior to the test, rather than go through the confusing and complicated dietary restrictions. MealSquares too, if they’re allowed.

And yes the name comes from the movie. But the manufacturers say real-world Soylent doesn’t have people in it. Which is exactly what they said in the movie!

Long-term weight loss ‘nearly impossible’? Pfui!

I was discouraged by a Cory Doctorow blog a few days ago pointing to a CBC article that concludes weight loss is “almost impossible.”

But I finally read the article and came away with a different conclusion.

The article describes research showing only 5% of people who try to lose weight succeed. The article suggests — but does not actually say — that the researchers define success as keeping the weight off after 5-10 years.

Every fat and formerly fat person reading this is now shrugging and saying, “Yeah. Tell me something I don’t know.” Everybody already knows losing weight is hard.

The article (and possibly the researchers) make the mistake of conflating statistics with destiny. And it’s true that some statistical outcomes depend on luck. You can’t do anything about those. But other outcomes depend on individual choice.

The lotery is an example of an outcome dependent entirely on luck: Only a tiny sliver of the population ever wins the lottery. And there’s nothing you can do to improve your odds. The books and people who try to tell you which numbers to pick based on psychic powers are peddling lies. You can’t buy enough tickets to influence the outcome because the number of tickets sold is so vast. Buy one ticket, buy a thousand tickets, your chances of winning are pretty much the same. Indeed, statisticians say your chances of winning the lottery if you buy a ticket are about the same as your chances if you don’t buy a ticket.

On the other hand, the chances of a middle class or poor kid getting in to Harvard are also pretty slim. But it’s possible if the kid works hard and gets scholarships. So it’s worth a try.

Successful weight loss is more like getting into Harvard than winning the lottery.

The headline on that CBC story stinks. Because losing weight isn’t nearly impossible, Five percent success doesn’t say “nearly impossible.” It just says “very difficult.”

The article and the research do touch on a couple of interesting questions: Why do so many people fail at losing weight? It’s not will power. Fat people hold down jobs, raise families, and do all the things requiring will power that thin people do. Fat people have just as much will power as thin people have.

I think part of it is environmental, which explains the global obesity epidemic. My current pet theory: Farmers feeding antibiotics to livestock.

Another cause of obesity is how our brains are wired for food. When I hear recovering alcoholics talk about their relationship to alcohol, it’s like how I feel about food, particularly high-fat, high-salt, high-carb, high-sugar foods. Most people can have a handful of M&Ms and say, well, that was lovely, and move on. Not me. I can eat a one-pound bag of M&Ms and then start looking around for a one-pound bag of mini-Snickers to chase it down.

The other interesting question raised by the article is whether healthcare providers should be presenting alternatives to weight loss. Given that 95% of fat people are going to stay fat, should healthcare providers concentrate on getting them to eat well and be active, making them healthier fat people?

I wrote about this earlier: Research finds long-term weight loss is nearly impossible.

None of this should be taken as a criticism of Cory, the researchers, or the guy who wrote the CBC article, all of whom are doing great work — Cory, in particular, is someone I admire a great deal. Also, Cory lost about 70 pounds and has kept it off far longer than I’ve kept off my weight, so he certainly has every right to weigh in on this subject. So to speak.

Image: Annals Of Weight-Loss Gimmicks: From Bile Beans To Obesity Soap