The following is a collection of archived post from my old blog, published circa September 2016. Since then Sipreme seems to have stopped production. However, I feel the discussion is generally applicable to 'future foods' and is relevant to an upcoming post on my experience with Huel, a British equivalent.
So I just went ahead and bought approximately a months supply of New Zealand's very own soylent-esque meal replacer. Dubbed, Sipreme.
I've been putting some serious thought into what would be required to eliminate my reliance on owning a home in order to prepare for long term travel. One of the first hurdles is living without access to a kitchen. Now there are probably many ways one could tackle this problem. Here are some that I thought of:
Raw food is a problem because of the time and money needed to invest in gathering all the produce. I would not have storage space soÂ the sheer volume of food needed would not be practical. The holy grail would be having some sort sustainability garden but sadly this is not a reality... for now.
The most favourable of these options in my opinion is eating out since it could be argued that the increased expenses from having others cook your food would be offset by that of not paying rent. Although that would have to be analysed on a case by case basis.
Finally camping stoves aren't that bad an option as they can get pretty small/light however I don't like the thought of having to rely on some sort of fuel source, and also I could run into problems with the local laws.
I was stuck weighing the pros and cons until I heard of future foods.
Future foods, put simply, are a meal replacement powder/drink which contains the recommended daily intake (RDI) of all vitamins, minerals and macronutrients. The market is fairly new, with a brand named 'Soylent' arguably leading the trend in America. Since then various clones have popped up around the western world - for this reason I'll use soylent as a general term.
The benefit of these powdered food replacers is how little time is needed to prepare your meal. Just shake your bottle and you're good to go. I'm sure this has huge appeal to busy people who don't find themselves with enough time to be cooking (and cleaning) or can benefit from 'food on the go'. As someone who only eats once a day... this doesn't really bother me. Although I must say my feasts do take a long time to prepare.
Another benefit is peace of mind; it's good to know that I'm getting a full spectrum of nutrients from a sustainable, vegan source. If you find you need to take supplements, this might be of interest.
Depending on your food bill these kinds of products can actually save you money! NZD$412/per month is good considering you are getting a nutritionally dense diet. Money can also be saved on bulk production and thus is usually even cheaper.
The biggest disadvantage soylent has is that it's never been tested long-term as a 100% food replacer. Some products like Huel are approved by dieticians etc. but none can point to studies. Similarly, worries about nutrient bioavailability and the healthfulness of government RDIs come to mind. I want better than average!
To speak generally soylent is usually a very bland concoction. Maximising nutritional content while minimising costs. Luckily for me here in New Zealand the go to company Sipreme has a range of flavours available. This may be a good or bad thing; often a neutral taste is favourable because it allows you to add what you like to the mix (cinnamon, stevia, etc.). However I'm trying to be as un-reliant on food as possible, so this works out great for me; having a selection of flavours keeps fresh what would be an otherwise bland/boring diet.
Very few, if any, dieticians would agree on my macronutrient ratio being healthy (~80/10/10) and yet I feel great on it. The focus on government nutrition tables leads to a rather bland availability of products sometimes lacking things like phytochemicals and almost always only around 2000kcal per day. Having said that, there are ketogenic and (laughably) even 'paleo' brands available. It will be interesting to see how a change in macro-ratios will effect my weight and energy. In the same vein I do wonder how this could influence the warrior diet/intermittent fasting. I guess I will find out!
Another thing some people worry about is how going a 'all liquid' diet might effect their bowl movements. From my research so far it seems that shouldn't be of concern at all. Fibre is included as a dietary requirements and as such is present in future foods. Due to the homeogeneous nature of a soylent diet people often report an improvement in digestion! I have read reports of bad body odour/flatulence etc. however this was usually associated with earlier recipes or adaptation and doesn't seem to be as much of an issue anymore.
As I sit here in the campus cafeteria sipping on my chocolate flavoured Sipreme I have to say I think Im going to enjoy this month.
As I gingerly took my first sip my immediate first thought was... "THANK GOD IT TASTES GOOD". I was prepared to chug down some protein shake potion with chemical flavours. Instead, I was greeted with a rich chocolate smell and taste not unlike that of melting dark chocolate. There is a distinctively oaty taste which is very familiar - like a breakfast bar. It does not taste like "the food of the future" and to me that is a good thing. Looking at the ingredients I'm surprised they were able to achieve such a sweet taste.
The consistency on the other hand...Well, let me preface this by saying I'm trying to be as independent of my house as possible. That means no blender (I'll only be blending/cooking as part of the review). Today, in the cafeteria a quick shake with the recommended amount of water leaves a clumpy, chewy mixture. No big surprises really. I'm sure if I gave it more muscle it would be smoother but it's something to note. To be honest thought the lumpiness is good as it reminds my jaw to chew and take it's time. Helping with satiation and digestion. The company recommend blending and chilling it for a few hours.
As recommended it took three days to slowly get used to consuming Sipreme. During this time I was blending it up with bananas so couldn't really comment on taste but the consistency was smooth which is reassuring.
As someone on the warrior diet I am a tough customer to please. The amount of rice I can eat in one sitting would be enough for a...uh, warrior. And yet here I sit. Humbly satisfied. Consuming the recommended four meals in one sitting (not recommended) I feel full - not as much as I'm used to but enough for me to be confident in saying it would be fine for the average consumer.
There is good reason that they recommend three days to adapt. My god I haven't burped or farted so much in my life, the smell isn't pleasant either! Luckily I'm only eating once a day or this would be a major problem! It'll be interesting to see if this persists.
Another worry I have is my daily calorie intake has basically halved to 2000kcal. With a day of biking, climbing and calisthenics - not to mention working my brain studying physics - I doubt RDIs are enough for me. Will I have enough energy to do the same again tomorrow?
As I mentioned ealier, I'm trying to stay away from the house - after today I'm really interested to see how this will go.
With the mind-set of not needing/intending to go home I spent literally 8am-8pm on campus today. My poor laptop is struggling to keep up with me. Being in public all day forced me to get on with work, be that research for the blog or coursework. I cornered myself and it worked out very well. At least how I live right now I can easily imagine sleeping in a hammock in someone's garden (or even just a park somewhere), biking to the gym at 6am, work out, shower etc, and then stick around campus until the library closes at 11pm. I'd be so exhausted I'd fall straight to sleep. Not only would I be saving money, but if my productivity remains as it has today, arguably I'd be making money as well (indirectly via better grades/time spent on blog).
The end of the first day has got me excited. Hopefully I won't be eating these words in a few days time, out of hunger or otherwise.
It seems like the future of food involves having a blender.
Second, first impressions!
Today I decided to give Sipreme a fair review, y'know, actually follow the instructions. Blend with 375ml of water and chill.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the lumpiness I mentioned yesterday has gone. However the grittiness remains - an almost sandy texture omnipresent in the mixture. You can feel it in on your tongue and inside of your cheeks. Despite the description it isn't a deal breaker and perhaps if (when?) I try different brands I'll see if this is a problem intrinsic to powdered food in general (spoiler, it is).
I've had the chance to try every flavour now. The description on their website is surprisingly accurate:
"Sipreme tastes like a Vanilla, Chocolate or Strawberry cereal smoothie. It has a faint gritty texture from the oat flour used.". That's exactly right, there is a cereal overtone that dominates each flavour. I like it. Compared to yesterday (when I wasn't chilling the drinks) I wouldn't have agreed with the smoothie analogy. More like a smooth porridge, but today has brought back my pre-vegan memories, sipping on an ice cool milkshake.
So far my favourite flavour by far and is what I reviewed in day 1, the chocolate oaty mix is a comforting, familiar one, It seems like it's thicker as well?
To my amateur taste-buds this is strawberry only by name, They've done well with the smells and colours. As far as I can tell they are just making up for the taste with a strong "strawberry milk" aroma.
Definitely a hard flavour to pull off without coming across fake or engineered but they've done the trick. I found myself just wanting to smell the drink... weird.
Breaking the Rules
Yesterdays worries about calories were confirmed when I woke up this morning aching from muscles that hadn't recovered... too bad average in todays society is sedentary. I think it would be interesting to do the research into where these RDIs come from and how/if they differ from what science considers optimum i.e. do governments downplay their recommendations to make them sound more achievable (five-a-day)? Anyway, I decided I needed more. Four meals? Try six (3000kcal 150% RDIs). We'll see if that was a mistake tomorrow.
I can't believe I'm about to say this but I haven't eaten any food for a week now... and I feel great! I didn't think it was necessary to post daily on the subject so here's collection of the weeks observations.
The Physiological Changes
Physiologically I have no doubt this everything is going well - he says after just a week - after adjusting my calorie intake to suit my needs I now feel as good, if not better than I did before. The thing about making such a big change is it's hard to pin cause with effect. Keep that in mind with these posts!
I've been feeling less hungry in the evening and more hungry in the morning. Is this because of Sipreme? It could be because now that I don't need to cook I am able to eat earlier and much more regularly. Perhaps my body is simply adapting to expecting this meal-time. However my macro-nutrient ratio has also changed so...I don't know.
Previously after a massive meal of rice, veggies and legumes I'd be bloated and wake up throughout the night to use the toilet. Severely reducing the quality of my sleep. Although a couple of days before this 'Future Food' experiment I had switched to pasta and took out the legumes. The bloating and interrupted sleep improved. Was this a problem of volume? Macronutrients? Again, I don't know but I do know that Sirpeme solves this problem as well.mMy sleep has been astonishing. I sleep like a baby. On top of that I've shaved perhaps an hour off my sleep cycle now (I sleep without an alarm).
Ever since I can remember I've had grey, sullen skin around my eyes. Although I think this is just aesthetic I would prefer to change it. It has been something I've been trying to understand from a nutritional perspective for a long time now - some say it's connected to overwhelming the liver with protein but I can't find any studies that agree. I'll have to look into this more as I've certainly had false positives where I think they are looking healthier but it was't the case. That all being said this is the most consistent I've seen them looking healthier. If it is the case though, what is the reason for this happening? Is it something that I was deficient in that I'm now getting in the nutritionally complete Sipreme or is it due to me getting deeper sleep now? It could even be simply that I've been spending more time outside/exercising which is improving my skin. All I can do is continue to update.
On day three my acne broke out quite badly and hasn't improved. Again, with a thing like acne though there could be so many reasons.
Finally some objective information! At the start of the week I weighed 75.3kg. Now, I'm at 75.2kg. Sipreme is not causing weight-gain or loss. Although I'm almost certain I would loose weight if I continued with recommended 4 servings a day. I'm not looking to change my weight so this is great news for me. I must say I'm surprised since I am consuming a lot more fat now!
The Lifestyle Changes
Adapting to eating only Sipreme is a multifaceted thing. I knew my body would have to get used to the dramatic change in diet. But what I didn't expect was how my lifestyle needed some catching up to do as well!
This first week has been very interesting for me. Without having to prepare, buy, and even consume food not only have I got extra time on my hands but I also don't have to get distracted transitioning between those tasks. I don't know how to describe it. Ever since going 100% powdered food I've just been... free.
Work and Time
Day 1 wasn't just an exception, I've been spending a lot of time on campus and in the library; from straight after the gym in the morning to well into the evening. This has been strange for me as something I liked about the warrior diet was how it created a clear cut off point for work and rest. This line has melted away, leaving me confused; before when I'd eat I made a real ritual out of it, after cooking for 40 minutes or so I would sit down with my massive pot of food and eat... sometimes for around 2 hours, watching YouTube or a film, I'd just relax. There was no shame in it, I couldn't get much real work done while stuffing my face now could I? Well... that ritual is redundant now. Especially since I can sip on Sipreme while I work.
My meal is so light I don't get that usual evening food coma. So far this has been a bad thing about the change. Simply because I don't know what to do! However this is obviously a benefit in the long term. Already I can tell that this opens me up to more social events in the evenings or read a book in a nice quiet corner in the library. The options are, well, overwhelming. Even with organisational skills from books like First things First and Getting things Done I'm struggling to prioritise and make proper use of all this time. This is a separate problem but certainly relevant. Are you so stripped of time that you would benefit from future food? What would you do with your extra time? (Really try to think about how much time you put into food).
Part of this experiment has been learning what it would mean to live without a home, or at least somewhere very basic. Rent is my biggest expense so if I can find a way to reduce it, I will.
So far this week has given me a lot of confidence, and a lot of ideas. But one thing it's taught me is that there is a lot I take for granted. I hadn't even considered what it would be like to have no where private, no where to call your home. I found myself wanting to go home in the evenings, just for the sake of... home. Privacy is one thing I know I'd miss if I do end up pulling through on this idea.
In the morning I wake up, dry and warm - even when there's a downpour outside. I could relax and watch some YouTube clips in my bed and get changed comfortably. How would I deal with that with a hammock and a tarp for instance? Where could I dry my clothes? Store my Sipreme? These questions are answerable, and doable. But when I ask my future self: "How much do you want it?" the answer isn't so clear.
Cooking Sipreme as a cooked dish
Although I'm trying to be less reliant on having kitchen equipment I decided to give cooking Sipreme a go. According to their twitter the ingredients are heat safe. So I gave it a shot... for science.
Although counter-productive for me I would totally recommend this to others. It can get boring chugging down a cool beverage for every meal so warming up Sipreme is a great alternative if you find yourself reminiscing about that 'warm belly' feeling.
Also it may sound ridiculous considering how future food has got to be the easiest food to prepare but I must say I found it a lot easier to dump the packets of Sipreme into a large pot and warm it instead of screwing around getting it into a bottle.
Taste, Texture, Smell
Unfortunately I feel like the... subtle flavours of Sipreme are lost on me when it gets heated. However the oaty flavour really comes into it's own here. With the sweetener it really does taste like a smooth, high-quality porridge. It's a delight to cook as well because the rich aromas of each flavour fill the kitchen. It's probably bad that I was just leaning over the kitchen hob while it was heating.
I guess it's a matter of preference on how watery you want your nutritionally complete porridge to be, but I'd er on the safe side and add more water than usual. I found it could dry you out if you weren't sipping on water during the meal. This is because food usually has water in it anyway. Therefore it's important to drink a lot of water when using the cooking method.
My first reaction when cooking vanilla Sipreme was how it looked more like pancake batter or cookie dough. It really feels like you're scoffing your face with cake mix but with none of the shame. With that in mind I'd say if you are going to do this with any flavour, do it with vanilla. The colour and sweetness is closest to that of what you'd expect when thinking "porridge". It took some courage tucking into the pink, strawberry mix.
I'd like to amend some of my earlier comments and say that chocolate is now my least favourite flavour, not particularly for it's taste but because of it's texture. Although I haven't read anything about this being true, I'm pretty sure the flavourings make it harder to mix. At this point I've been able to get the other flavours nice and smooth without even a blender but chocolate is still being a pain. I think strawberry is becoming my new favourite, ever since I imagined it as strawberry milk I've found myself wanting to take it campus with me instead the others. It mixes easily, tastes fruity and smells great.
I've been trying to figure out the, urm, gas problem. It seems to be correlated to how well mixed my last meal was, either way, it's happening less often and with less...fragrance. Seems I'm adapting. While we are talking about the personal stuff. I'm used to my wonderful high-fibre vegan poos and have been struggling to read my new bowl movements. Often I find myself going to the toilet only to release what I'm feeling is the sensation of trapped wind and constipation. This might be related to how much water I'm consuming as well.
Mixing it Up
This week I've also started experimenting with mixing in other foods, I am no longer eating only Sipreme. However it is still over 90% of my calories. I've been training a lot more recently and so my appetite has increased, even with six meals of Sipreme I find myself wanting to snack on something afterwards. Last week I know I was being satiated because although my stomach didn't feel full I was not craving anything. Six meals are definitely more than enough for most in my opinion.
Using what I learnt from the refined sugar challenge I decided to add around 50g of sugar to my 1.5L water bottle for my morning training on the bike (40mins to an hour or around 18km) this is so my legs still feel strong throughout the day. Then depending on how hard I train in the evening (another bike ride and body-weight circuit) I will add sugar/oats/nuts/seeds to Sipreme. This is mainly just so I don't end up going through the months supply of Sipreme in a couple of weeks. I've been feeling good doing this. I've noticed that my taste buds have reset, sugar tastes extremely sweet now.
Well that was a quick month...
As I was eating more than recommended amount of Sipreme, this week caught me off guard as I opened my cupboard to find only a few more days worth of Sipreme left. And with a final, magnificent feast I was back to... normal gasp.
A Shopping... Trip
Having a three week fast from shopping has... opened my eyes let's say. Just like in the film 'They Live' the fog over my senses has lifted and I'm able to experience consumer culture for what it really is. My first shopping trip was depressing. The repetitive music yearning for conformity, the blinding lights shining on the well-decorated products, screaming for my attention. I genuinely think my senses were getting sharper after being able to avoid the mind numbing effect of these places.
A bit melodramatic but it was honestly a weird sensation walking down the familiar isles. I got out as soon as I could.
Actually using the Kitchen
I've got exams coming up, deadlines looming and blog posts to write... And what am I doing? Chopping vegetables. Now that doesn't seem very goal orientated to me. It's surprised me just how quickly I had adapted to not focusing my evenings around food. No shopping, no need for cooking. I was itching to do something, I don't know, useful.
There was something comforting about knowing my afternoon could take me anywhere - lately the library, but you get the point - anytime, I'd be good to go.
It's actually got me kind of worried. I've gotten used to this so quickly, enjoying the benefits, that I'm finding it hard to see my life returning to normal. Are the time savings and mental freedom worth the cost? Almost certainly for the average consumer, but for a active person who managed to spend only NZD$168 (make that NZD$30 future me) on food last month... Damn it's a hard thing to let go. And that's not even considering how Sipreme is nutritionally complete.
That marks the end of my posts on Sipreme. If I remember right I continued on for another month, however this time as a supplement to normal food. If you live frugally, future food (I concluded) was not worth it. Yet here I am trying it again as of November 2017.