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 a 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 to prepare for long term travel. One of the first hurdles is living without access to a kitchen. Here are some of the many ways one could tackle this problem:
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 so the sheer volume of food required would not be practical. However, this is the diet I have felt healthiest on by far.
The most favourable of these options, in my opinion, is eating out. I could argue that not paying rent would offset the increased expenses from having others cook your food although that would have to be analysed on a case by case basis.
Finally, camping stoves aren't that bad an option as they are small/light. However, I don't like the thought of relying on a fuel source, and also I could run into problems with local laws.
I was stuck weighing the pros and cons until I heard of future foods.
Future foods are meal replacement powders/drinks which contain the recommended daily intake (RDI) of all vitamins, minerals and macronutrients. The market is relatively 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 a tremendous appeal to busy people who find themselves without 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 worry 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 could save you money! NZD$412/per month is good considering you are getting a nutritionally dense diet. You can also save more with bulk purchases.
The most significant disadvantage of Future Food is that its long term efficacy hasn't been studied. Though, dieticians approve some products, like Huel. Similarly, worries about nutrient bioavailability and the healthfulness of government RDIs come to mind (I want better than average!).
Soylent is usually a very bland concoction; maximising nutritional content while minimising costs. Luckily for me, the go-to brand in New Zealand is Sipreme which has a range of flavours available. Though for some, a neutral taste may be 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 scaled for around 2000 calories per day. However, there are ketogenic and (laughably) even 'paleo' brands available. It will be interesting to see how a change in macro-ratios will affect my weight and energy. In the same vein, I do wonder how this could influence the warrior diet/intermittent fasting.
Another thing some people worry about is how doing an 'all liquid' diet might affect their bowel movements. From my research so far, it seems that it shouldn't be of concern at all. Fibre, being part of dietary requirements, is included in the ingredients, which ought to help. People with sensitive systems often report an improvement in digestion as they can control their diets more effectively. I have read reports of body odour/flatulence etc. however this was usually associated with previous recipes or adapting to the change 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 I'm going to enjoy this month.
As I gingerly took my first sip, my first thought was: "Thank God, it tastes good!". I was prepared to chug down some protein shake concoction with clearly artificial flavours. Instead, the drink greeted me with a rich chocolate smell and a taste similar to that of melting dark chocolate. There is a distinctively oaty undertone which is very familiar - like a breakfast bar. It doesn't taste like 'the food of the future' (in a good way). Looking at the ingredients I'm surprised they were able to achieve such a sweet taste.
The consistency, on the other hand, isn't so great. Today I mixed up the powder with the recommended amount of water and gave my bottle a quick shake, leaving a clumpy, chewy mixture. I'm sure if I gave it more muscle it would be smoother, but it's something to note. The lumpiness is useful though as it reminds my jaw to chew and take its time, helping with satiation and digestion. It is recommended to blend Sipreme and then chill it for a few hours.
(As recommended it took three days to get used to consuming Sipreme. I was blending it up with bananas so couldn't comment on taste, but the consistency was smooth which is reassuring.)
As someone on the warrior diet, I am a tough customer to please in this area. The amount of rice I can eat in one sitting would be enough for a...uh, warrior. And yet here I sit. Humbly satisfied. After consuming the recommended four meals in one session, I feel full - at least enough for me to be confident in saying it would be fine for the average consumer.
There is a good reason that they recommend three days to adapt. Wow, I haven't burped or farted so much in my life! Luckily I'm only eating in the evening; otherwise, this would be a significant problem! It'll be interesting to see if this persists.
Another worry I have is that my daily calorie intake has halved to 2000 calories. With a day of biking, climbing and callisthenics - 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 earlier, I'm trying to stay away from the house - after today I'm interested to see how this will go.
With the mindset of not intending to go home, I spent 8:00 am - 8:00 pm 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. I can easily imagine sleeping in a hammock in someone's garden (or even just a park somewhere), biking to the gym at 6:00 am, and then hang around on campus until the library closes at 11:00 pm. 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 the blog).
The end of the first day has got me excited. Hopefully, I won't be eating these words in a few days, 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 by actually following the instructions: blend with 375 ml of water and chill.
Unsurprisingly, the lumpiness I mentioned yesterday has gone. However, a 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. I think this is a problem with meal replacers in general.
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-cold milkshake.
So far my this is my favourite flavour by far. The chocolate, oaty mix is a comforting, familiar one.
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 powerful 'strawberry milk' aroma.
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!
Breaking the Rules
Yesterday's worries about calories were confirmed when I woke up this morning aching from muscles that hadn't recovered (too bad average in today's society is sedentary). Anyway, I decided I needed more. So I upped to 3000kcal at 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, and I feel great! I didn't think it was necessary to post daily on the subject so here's a collection of this week's observations.
Physiologically. I do not doubt that everything is going well; 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 significant change is it's hard to correlate 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 can eat earlier and much more regularly. Perhaps my body is merely adapting to expecting this meal-time. However, my macro-nutrient ratio has changed too, so I'm not sure.
Previously after a massive meal of rice, veggies and legumes I'd be bloated and wake up throughout the night to use the toilet which severely reduced the quality of my sleep. Sipreme solves this problem as well; I sleep like a baby. I've shaved almost an hour off of my sleep cycle.
Ever since I can remember I've had grey around my eyes. 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. Either way, they have been looking healthier lately. Could it be that the 'nutritionally complete' food is helping me with a long term deficiency? Correlation does not imply causation; it could be because my sleep is improving or I've been using the extra time to be outside. All I can do is continue to update.
Finally some objective information! At the start of the week, I weighed 75.3 kg. Now, I'm at 75.2 kg. Sipreme is not causing weight-gain or loss. I'm sure I would lose weight if I continued with recommended four servings per day. I'm not looking to change my weight, so this is excellent news for me. I must say I'm surprised since I am consuming a lot more fat now!
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 exciting 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 felt 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 change 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 ritual out of it; after cooking for 40 minutes or so I would sit down with my massive pot of food, sometimes for around 2 hours, watching YouTube or a film. 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 only because I don't know what to do! Already I can tell that this opens me up to more social events in the evenings or read a book in a quiet corner of 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.
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 most considerable 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 nowhere private, nowhere to call your home. I found myself wanting to go home in the evenings, just for the sake of it. 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. But when I ask my future self: "How much do you want it?" the answer isn't so clear.
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. I would recommend this to others. It can get monotonous chugging down a beverage for every meal. Warming up Sipreme is an excellent 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 it's even simpler 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 comes into its own here. With the sweetener, it 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 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 err 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. Food usually has water in it anyway. Therefore, it's essential to drink a lot of liquid when cooking with Sipreme.
My first reaction when cooking vanilla Sipreme was how it looked like pancake batter. It feels like you're scoffing your face with a 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 are closest to that of what you'd expect when thinking 'porridge'. It took some courage tucking into the pink, strawberry goop.
I want to amend some of my earlier comments and say that chocolate is now my least favourite flavour, not particularly for its taste but because of its 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 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 of the others. It mixes easily, tastes fruity and smells great.
I've been trying to figure out the gas problem; its correlated to how well mixed my last meal was, either way, it's happening less often and with less 'fragrance'. It seems I'm adapting. But honestly, the way my body is reacting isn't promising for the future of this experiment.
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, 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 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 (mainly so that I don't end up going through this month's 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 the 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 eating real food.
A Shopping Trip
Having a three week fast from shopping has opened my eyes; just like in the film 'They Live' the fog over my senses has lifted. I'm able to experience consumer culture for what it is. My first shopping trip was depressing; the repetitive music was 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.
Using the Kitchen
I've got exams coming up, deadlines looming and blog posts to write and what am I doing? Chopping vegetables. That doesn't seem very goal orientated to me. It's surprising 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 useful.
Something was comforting about knowing my afternoon could take me anywhere - lately the library - anytime, I'd be good to go.
It's got me 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 an active person who managed to spend only NZD$168 (make that NZD$30 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 for another month, however this time as a supplement to regular food. If you live frugally, future food (I concluded) was not worth it. Here I am trying it again as of November 2017.