Saturday, February 6, 2016

Homemade Soylent (Schmilk)

In 2013 I read about Soylent, a "nutritionally complete" meal replacement beverage invented by a software engineer, who started a 30-day experiment to see if he could survive on the stuff. His experiment morphed into a crowdfunding campaign with a feed-the-world-cheaply theme and he raised millions of dollars to start mass-producing it for sale.

Do people need "real food" to survive and thrive, or can we break food into its macro- and micronutrient components and reassemble those pieces to create something equivalent? Possibly better?

A lot of people were intrigued by the same question and the "powdered food scene" seemed to grow a lot in 2013 & 2014.

The shipping date of Soylent to Canada was never confirmed. When I started getting serious about losing weight in 2015 I started doing some research on homemade, powdered food meal replacements. The appeal was:

  • Easily portionable and measureable (to meet caloric needs)
  • Inexpensive 
  • Easily hackable (for instance, easy to bump up the protein content or lower the carbohydrate content by adjusting the formula) 
  • The buzz-phrase "nutritionally complete" kept popping up. 

As it turns out, Soylent (the company) hosts a recipe section on their website where users can submit and review recipes.

A 450-calorie serving of homemade Soylent

I found one called Schmilk Chocolate that I thought I'd try. It uses whole milk as a source of fat and protein. I made a batch and had it for breakfast every day for a week. It was pretty good! Bland, but not offensively so.

Since early summer 2015, I have been eating/drinking this homemade Soylent every workday for both breakfast and lunch. For supper and meals on weekends I have "real food". I have observed no ill-effects whatsoever (including excess flatulence, which some Soylent users had trouble with).

The positives are:

  • Easy to make. I mix the powdered ingredients with whole milk a meal ahead; the consistency is better if it sits in the fridge for a while.  
  • Easy to measure (12.6 grams of powder + 100 ml of whole milk = 108 calories. Scale however is appropriate. I started drinking 670 calorie portions, then 550, currently 450). 
  • Easy to consume - you just drink it! 
  • Tastes okay. Hard to describe; it's so bland that there are not any defining offensive flavours. The balance of fat, salt, and everything else seems to tell the body "this is good". I usually add an espresso shot for flavour. 
  • Makes me feel satiated and satisfied until the next meal. 
  • Keeps me regular.
Now that I'm basically at my goal weight, I don't think I am going to stop with Soylent any time soon. It's a part of my routine, and something I miss if my routine is interrupted. 

Recipe - Schmilk Chocolate - "5 day" Batch

1 kg Oat Flour (Only Oats brand comes in 1 kg bags) 
60 g Cocoa powder
53 g Acacia Fibre
30 g Psyllium Husk powder
16 g Iodized Salt 
5.5 g Potassium Citrate 
5.5 g Choline Bitartrate 
2 g Stevia Powder 
1.5 g Xanthan Gum 
5 g (or 5 daily servings) Multivitamin (powder)
9500 ml Whole Milk

Recipe notes:
  • Most ingredients can be found in health food stores, all can be found online. 
  • Mix all dry ingredients ahead of time.
  • Food scale required. 
  • 12.6 g powdered mixture + 100 ml whole milk = 108 calories.
  • Recommend mixing at least 1 hour before consuming for better consistency.