Is Soylent Good for You?

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Soylent is a line of meal replacement powders and premade drinks containing soy protein isolate as the main ingredient. Soylent also contains high-oleic sunflower oil, canola oil, and isomaltulose, and is packed with healthy fats and essential vitamins and minerals. All Soylent products are vegan and are free of nuts and lactose.

The company was founded in 2014 by Silicon Valley engineers seeking a healthy, "no-fuss" alternative to junk food. But is Soylent healthy? Like other meal replacement drinks, there are pros and cons to choosing this beverage over real, whole foods. But Soylent can be part of a healthy, balanced diet if you occasionally need to replace a meal and you're not sensitive to soy.

Learn more about Soylent ingredients and nutrition facts to find out if these meal replacement drinks are right for you.

You may remember the name "Soylent" from the 1973 dystopian thriller starring Charlton Heston.

What Is Soylent? 

Soylent beverages contain healthy fats and protein, it can be much better for your body than some of the sugary drinks served at coffee bars. You can choose from premixed bottled drinks or use the powder to create your own quick beverages and even smoothies at home or on the go.

Soylent Complete Meal

These drinks are available in several different flavors (Creamy Chocolate, Banana, Mint Chocolate, Strawberry, Vanilla, and Original) that you can choose to purchase in a sampler pack. Soylent Cafe drinks are caffeinated and come in Mocha, Chai, and Vanilla flavors, and can be used as a replacement for breakfast. Each drink is a complete meal containing 20 grams of plant-based protein, 39 essential nutrients, and "slow-burning" carbohydrates for sustained energy.

Soylent Complete Protein

This is a chocolate-flavored, high-protein nutrition shake with 30 grams of plant-based protein, 39 essential nutrients, no sugar, 5 grams branch-chain amino acids (BCAAs), and 1,000 milligrams of fatty acids.

Soylent Energy Drink

This beverage is chocolate flavored and contains a blend of B vitamins, caffeine, L-theanine, L-tyrosine, and alpha-GPC for energy and focus. It has 15 grams of plant-based protein, 39 essential nutrients, 450 milligrams of omega-3s, and 3 grams total sugar. 

Soylent Powders

These come in original or chocolate flavor and contain 400 calories, 20 grams of protein, 39 nutrients, 3.5 grams BCAAs, 330 milligrams of omega-3's. The main ingredient for these would be the water added.

Other Products

Soylent Squared bars are on-the-go snacks in flavors like Chocolate Brownie, Citrus Berry, and Salted Caramel). The company sells accessories like a blender bottle and powder scoop, and also offers a 3-Day Complete Nutrition Energy Shake Pack, which includes 15 ready-to-drink Soylent Complete Meal shakes.

For some consumers, part of the appeal of Soylent is the company's commitment to sustainability. The company claims that its food system is better for the planet because it requires less water and produces less carbon dioxide than livestock, and requires less refrigeration than fresh fruits and vegetables. The company is also dedicated to giving back and has participated in food bank programs that deliver its products to "those who need greater access to nutrition" in the U.S. and around the world.

Soylent provides pre-mixed beverages for consumers who want quick nutrition when they don't have time to prepare a full meal or snack from whole foods.

Soylent Ingredients and Nutrition

Some soylent ingredients can be confusing for consumers because the names you'll find listed among the ingredients are not familiar food items. Here are the main ingredients found in bottled Soylent beverages.

Soy Protein Isolate

Soy is a plant-based protein, which may appeal to vegetarians and vegans. There has been some controversy about soy consumption because soy provides phytoestrogens that mimic estrogen in your body. Still, many people rely on soy-based foods, including soy protein isolate (a supplement that is 90% protein), to meet their daily protein needs.

Soylent products are not suitable for those with soy allergies.

Allulose

Allulose is the main source of slow-burning carbohydrates used in Soylent products. It is a low-calorie, naturally occurring carbohydrate that, according to the company, is "70% as sweet as sugar, but contains only 0.4 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram for sugar." It can be found in food sources like figs, raisins, maple syrup, and molasses. The allulose in Soylent drinks is produced through a sustainable fermentation process. 

Soylent states that Allulose does not spike blood sugar or insulin levels in healthy individuals or people with type 2 diabetes. This means that Soylent beverages have a low glycemic index (GI).

Soylent products are considered low glycemic foods because each product's glycemic index is below 55. Soylent Powder has a glycemic index of approximately 41 and a glycemic load of 16. The glycemic index of Soylent Drinks ranges from 36 for the Nectar flavor to 44 for the Soylent Drink original flavor (glycemic load ranges from 13 to 14). The glycemic index for Soylent Cafe is 38 with a glycemic load of 14.

High-Oleic Sunflower Oil

The healthy unsaturated fat found in nuts, vegetable oils, and avocados is an important and necessary source of macronutrients. This particular type of sunflower oil is higher in oleic acid, a healthy monounsaturated fatty acid that can boost heart health when used instead of other (less healthy) forms of fat, like saturated fat and trans fat.

Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid commonly found in canola oil, olive oil, and high-oleic sunflower oil.

Canola Oil

Soylent uses both high-oleic sunflower oil and canola oil for their heart-health benefits since they are a great source of omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids. Canola oil is very low in saturated fats and high in unsaturated fats and is associated with a reduced risk for heart disease.

Isomaltulose

Isomaltulose (also known as palatinose) is a simple carbohydrate added to Soylent drinks for flavor. A small amount of this carbohydrate is found in honey. Research shows this low-calorie, naturally occurring sweetener is healthier than sugar because it digests more slowly and may lead to more stable blood sugar levels.

Buying and Storing Soylent

You can buy Soylent as a one-time purchase or as a subscription. The price you pay for the product depends on which option you choose.

The most expensive drinks are the Soylent Cafe options and the flavors of Soylent Drinks, which costs $3.09 to $3.50 per single-serving bottle. The original Soylent Drink costs about $2.69 to $3.25 per bottle, the Soylent Complete Protein and Soylent Complete Energy both cost $2.48 to $2.75 a bottle, and the Soylent Powder (Original and Cacao) cost $1.50 to $1.82 a meal (35 meals per pouch).

When you buy Soylent products through the company's website, you'll be automatically signed up for the subscription service unless you toggle the button on the purchase page to "One-Time Purchase." Subscribers receive regular monthly deliveries of the product and are billed automatically. You can also purchase Soylent on Amazon or in select 7-Eleven stores, primarily in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas and a few other select locations.

Soylent should be stored in a cool, dry place. After opening or preparing the product, keep it in the refrigerator and consume the beverage within 48 hours. All products are marked with a "Best By" date and expiration date. According to the company, the shelf life of the product can vary depending on warehouse location. Available stock and unopened products are good for at least two months (and possibly up to a year) after purchase depending on where the product was shipped from.

Soylent recommends that you consume the product according to the package label. If you consume the product after the expiration date, the taste of the product may change.

Is Soylent Healthy?

Soylent products aim for a balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. One bottle of Soylent contains 100 calories from protein, 189 calories from fat, 144 calories come from carbohydrates.

Soylent Nutrition Facts

The following information is provided by the USDA for one serving of original Soylent.

  • Calories: 402
  • Carbohydrate: 36g (12% DV)
  • Fat: 21g (32% DV)
  • Protein: 20g
  • Sugars (added): 9g (18% DV)
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Sodium: 300mg

If you consume about 2,000 calories per day, a single Soylent drink can provide adequate protein and fat but is low in carbohydrates, which may work for you if you're following a low-carb diet. You'll also get a dose of fiber to promote satiety. Soylent drinks also contain about 20% of various vitamins and minerals for the day like calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. However, the number of total sugars, which is mostly added sugar, might be too high for a single beverage if you're trying to reduce your intake.

Though the type of fat in Soylent is considered healthy, a single serving provides nearly a third of the recommended daily value of fat. That would mean drinking more than three beverages a day would exceed that recommendation unless you are following a high-fat diet. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) no longer provides a daily limit for total fat intake, which could make it safe to drink more than three Soylent beverages a day to make sure you're getting enough calories. The USDA does recommend that the consumption of saturated fat be limited to 10% of total calories.

Some nutrition professionals still adhere to the previous recommendation which states that you should consume no more than 30–35% of your total daily calories from fat. In that case, if you consume Soylent as one of your meals, you would need to ensure that your other meals contain less fat to keep your total daily fat intake within those guidelines.

Soylent appeals to those who might not have the time or energy to prepare nutritious meals every day. The company's co-founders created the brand out of frustration after eating a steady diet of corn dogs and ramen. For them (and people who share a similar experience), Soylent is a step up nutritionally. But for others, it might provide too much fat and not enough satisfaction to maintain healthy eating habits or a healthy weight long-term.

Nutrition experts probably wouldn't recommend replacing every meal with Soylent. But it's probably suitable for the occasional busy day or for those without particular dietary needs or health concerns.

Using Soylent for Weight Loss

Soylent does not market itself as a weight-loss company and does not provide any weight loss claims on its website. By comparison, a SlimFast shake provides 200 calories, a Shakeology chocolate shake provides 160 calories, and a Nutrisystem Nutricrush shake provides 110 calories. You can also make a weight loss smoothie with fresh, nutritious ingredients for 300 calories or less.

Some users might try using Soylent to lose weight. Meal replacement shakes are an effective and easy option when you are trying to slim down, but Soylent weight loss might not be a smart plan, since the drinks are higher in calories (about 400) than other meal replacement shakes.

A Word From Verywell

The main issue with Soylent—or any nutritional supplement—is that it takes the joy out of eating. True, Soylent makes mealtime simpler and faster. But for many people, sitting down for a meal is one of the most enjoyable parts of the day.

Eating a healthy diet is not about a single meal or a single food that you choose to eat. Good nutrition comes from creating a comprehensive plan to provide your body with the energy it needs to function well and reduce your risk of disease. More often than not, this includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, legumes, carbohydrates and dairy products (if you can tolerate them), and healthy fats.

For some people, drinking a Soylent product a few times during the week may help them save on time or reach a weight loss goal. But if you enjoy cooking or if you have the time each day to prepare nutritious meals made with whole foods, then Soylent probably won't provide you with better nutrition—and it won't be as much fun to eat. 

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5 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Soylent. Soylent Blog. Healthy Fats and Their Role in Meal Replacements.

  3. Lin L, Allemekinders H, Dansby A, et al. Evidence of health benefits of canola oilNutr Rev. 2013;71(6):370-385. doi:10.1111/nure.12033

  4. Keyhani-Nejad F, Kemper M, Schueler R, Pivovarova O, Rudovich N, Pfeiffer AFH. Effects of palatinose and sucrose intake on glucose metabolism and incretin secretion in subjects with type 2 diabetesDiabetes Care. 2016;39(3):e38-39. doi:10.2337/dc15-1891

  5. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Soylent Ready-to-Drink Meal.

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