Liquid Sustenance

Rob Rhinehart is giving up traditional forms of food:

I don’t want to lose weight. I want to maintain it and spend less energy getting energy. I hypothesized that the body doesn’t need food itself, merely the chemicals and elements it contains. So, I resolved to embark on an experiment. What if I consumed only the raw ingredients the body uses for energy? … I haven’t eaten a bite of food in 30 days, and it’s changed my life.

He describes his non-food drink mixture, which he calls soylent:

For the fat, I just use olive oil and add fish oil. The carbs are an oligosaccharide, which is like sugar, but the molecules are longer, meaning it takes longer to metabolise and gives you a steady flow of energy for a longer period of time, rather than a sugar rush from something like fructose or table sugar. … It tastes very good. I haven’t got tired of the taste in six weeks. It’s a very “complete” sensation, more sweet than anything. Eating to me is a leisure activity, like going to the movies, but I don’t want to go to the movies three times a day.

He’s now on month two:

This past month 92% of my meals were soylent. I haven’t given up food entirely, and I don’t want to. I found if I wake up early I sometimes crave a nice breakfast, I’ve gone to lunch meetings, and on the weekends of course I love eating out with friends. Eating conventional food is a fun leisure activity, but come Monday I usually have a strong craving for a tall glass of Soylent. In fact, with the money I save, I have the freedom to eat well when I do go out. I didn’t give up food, I just got rid of the bad food.

Jennifer Welsh thinks the experiment is dangerous. She points out that “Rhinehart’s claims are completely untested, have never been included in a clinical trial, and his diet isn’t being monitored by a doctor”:

His self-experiment is ludicrous and most likely dangerously unhealthy. While the diet is essentially trying to be like the medical food that is injected into a patient’s stomach when they have a feeding tube, Jay Mirtallo of Ohio State told the Washington Post that these are “very complex products, in terms of making sure you get them in a form that’s palatable but that stays in a form that’s bioavailable to the body.”