Establishing a Baseline

For useful comparison, it’s necessary to establish what my norm was before Soylent.

Basic Stats
Starting out, I’m a 6 foot tall male in my late 20s, weighing in at roughly 215lbs, with a medium frame. I have a significant amount of muscle on my legs from my days cross-country running and rowing (even though I haven’t done that in years), so my body fat percentage is between 18% and 20% depending on the calculator (my scale which calculates bf% by capacitance tells me 20% pretty consistently), which falls slightly above the percentages usually quoted for “fit” males of my age, or in the “acceptable” category. In other words not great, but not terrible. Those stats have remained pretty stable since I started tracking them electronically via the Fitbit ecosystem 6 months ago.

I play softball once a week, and my Fitbit tells me I usually walk between 6,000 and 10,000 steps per day. I exercise only occasionally at this point, usually due to time constraints imposed by my job (which is about 70% desk job), and not really having the energy left over at the end of what are sometimes very long days/weeks.

My average sleep time works out to between 6 and 7 hours a night, but that averages much shorter sleep times during the week with longer sleep times on the weekend. This is an unfortunate reality when workdays during the week can end up pushing 16 hours. My Fitbit sleep tracker tells me that between 30 minutes and an hour and a half each night I’m “restless” or “awake”, which I assume means I’m moving around an awful lot.

I’ve never been good at tracking what I eat with any detail, so that is an obvious weakness in the comparison.  I generally start the workdays with an Egg McMuffin with Sausage or BLT Bagel and a coffee from McDonalds which I eat on the way to work, so I can squeeze the extra time out of the 5-6 hours of sleep I get. Some days I’ll have a cup and a half of yoghurt as a mid-morning snack with some seasonal fruit. Usually some sort of meat sandwich and some bagged salad blend for lunch, and some form of pre-prepared food for dinner. The Safeway near home has a lot of options for pre-made dinners (soups, Chinese, noodle/veggie bowls, salads, etc.) some of which are reasonably priced, and there’s also a lot of options for take-out of varying healthfulness, like booster juice, coffee shops, sub shops, a donair place, rice bowls, sushi, vietnamese, wok box, pizza places, Timmies, McDonalds, etc… That’s just within a block! Occasionally I’ll have a home-cooked dinner. Usually I purposefully avoid desserts, but very occasionally when I’m at a restaurant I will have some ice cream, a piece of cake, or some novelty on the menu.

All told, my daily caloric intake likely falls between 2500 and 3200. I rarely consume alcohol anymore (once per month or less), so I don’t really factor that in. The actual nutritional content of my diet is anybody’s guess, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I were getting too much of some nutrients (likely sodium), and not enough of others.

According to various formulas, my basal metabolic rate should require roughly 2200 calories. Depending on the interpretation of activity level, that would put me somewhere between 2640 and 3025 calories to maintain my weight. That sounds about right given my constant weight and estimates of caloric intake.

What do I expect to accomplish with Soylent? Well, it’s somewhat cheaper than my current diet, and no doubt it’s more balanced nutritionally than 90% of the meals I eat. I hope to replace many of the take-out meals with it. I definitely don’t plan on going 100% Soylent, although I might try it for a few days or even a week just for novelty’s sake. Like everybody else, I enjoy good food. I enjoy cooking too, and am not too bad at it. There are simply other things that I feel my time is better spent doing most of the time. Also, I hope that it will provide an easier way to keep track of and control what I consume, to the point where I can establish a calorie deficit without sacrificing nutrients.

That said, I’m under no illusions that it’s the healthiest thing in the world. The creator admits as much! His point is that it strikes a good balance between cost, healthfulness, and simplicity. Nothing else on the market even attempts that. I’ve seen the types of meal plans you can get from nutritionists. They’re far less convenient, far more perishable, not particularly satiating, and they end up running between 3x and 10x the price. And honestly, even their healthfulness is debatable.

All that, of course, is assuming I can stomach the stuff and live at least as happily, mentally alert, and energetic as I do without it. The gold standard would be to be more alert, to have more energy, and be motivated by that energy to be more active in my off time.  I’ve got “7” days’ worth of it (14,000 calories), so we’ll see how it goes!


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