The Future of Food May Not Be Food At All


Yeah, but what does it taste like?

If you could be healthy, lose weight, and save money all without eating food, would you? I recently read an article on a product called Soylent (obvious nod to Solent Green, except it’s not made from people, I hope) that claims to be the future of nutrition.

Created by Rob Rhinehart, a former electrical engineer, when he was too poor to eat a balanced diet. He decided to do some research on what nutrients were needed in the human diet, ordered the nutrient powders online and proceeded to create a recipe for a shake that one could subsist and even thrive on without the need for actual food.

His personal experiment became so popular that Soylent’s kickstarter campaign of $100,000 was funded within 2 days (they were hoping to succeed within 2 months) and there are now over $1 million in pre-orders. Clearly, others are interested in doing away with the inconvenience of buying, preparing, and eating real food.

The formula is constantly being updated and currently consists mainly of oat powder and maltodextrin for carbs, an EPA/DHA blend, flax seed and MCT’s for healthy fats, and a rice/pea protein isolate blend (switched recently from whey protein due to concerns with allergies and vegan compatibility).

My concerns with this type of diet are digestive atrophy and micronutrient deficiencies. Soylent makers claim that there are no detrimental effects to being on a liquid diet long term; but adding a few solid food meals a week should offset these concerns. As for micronutrients, the complete Soylent recipe isn’t published to protect their formula and I’m sure they have taken this into account. However, the human diet has variety for a reason. This wide variety of foods helps ensure we have maximum absorption of macro and micronutrients. I have a hard time believing a single formula can provide long term health benefits.

It might be nice to have a nutritionally complete meal replacement such as Soylent on occasion, but personally, I’ll stick to eating real food. There’s no substitute for the pleasure of a well-made meal shared in good company.


What I Learned From Nutrition Tracking

I have a lot of clients who use the My Fitness Pal website to track their calories. I decided to make an account and try it so I could become familiar with the process.

It has been several years since I have bothered with nutrition tracking. I believe if you eat the right foods you shouldn’t have to count calories. I learned something interesting though; I don’t eat what I thought I did.

Mistake #1: I thought I ate more calories. I have always struggled to eat more than 1200 cals/day. I figured since going paleo, the additional fat in my diet would fix that. Nope. Still barely making it to 1200. This is too low, especially for an active individual.

Mistake #2: If my carbs are low, my sugars are low too. In my world, these are the same thing but MFP breaks these into separate categories. My carbs are doing well with under 120 grams most days, but my sugars are typically going over the recommended amount. That means the majority of my carbs ARE added sugars. Not good at all and probably the reason I still crave sweets. I’m feeding the monster without even realizing it.

I have also realized that the simple act of logging my food intake helps me make better choices. I feel guilty if I have to confess to eating something I shouldn’t. It’s there in black and white right in front of me, driving up those sugar grams!

My opinion on nutrition tracking has changed somewhat. I DO think it’s a good thing to do. Do you have to do it forever? No. Should you become obsessed and stressed out with your logging? Hell no! But logging can be helpful to determine where you are actually starting so you can more realistically define your goals and change your habits.

MFP is free and easy to use. It is a little time consuming at first while you build your library of foods that are typical for you, but it does have a pretty extensive library which makes it easy to find foods, even specific brands and restaurants. There is some guesstimating involved but it doesn’t have to be perfect.

A note on MFP: It automatically calculates target macronutrients based on your goals. These numbers are based on the USDA food pyramid and therefore, not accurate for those following a different diet. Your protein and fats may be in the red, while it expects you to exceed 150 grams of carbs/day. You may need to mentally adjust the targets to support what works for you.

UPDATE: Yes, you can change your macronutrient profile! Took some digging to find where to change the settings, but you can adjust these goals to fit whatever diet works for you.


Target nutrients based on weight loss goal of .5lbs/week.

No crunches necessary

I had heard of models having shadows and highlights strategically applied to their torsos to create more defined abs for photoshoots, but now you can order a kit for $69 to do it yourself at home.
I also ran across a few reviews that mentioned the Dancing with the Stars contestants use it to appear in better shape than they actually are.
Not fair. I feel betrayed.

On a related note, I heard a while ago that France is moving forward with plans to require a disclaimer on all images that have been digitally manipulated. I think this is a great idea although I can see it becoming problematic with minor retouches. I’m assuming there will be some guidelines.

The Expense of Running Shoes

Moses found a great link to an article about how the most expensive running shoes in the world don’t provide any injury prevention and in fact, are more likely to cause it. I know a lot of my friends are runners so I thought this article may be of particular interest to them.

You can read up on the details in the article, but basically the way your foot behaves in a shoe is completely different than when walking or running barefoot. The altered gait is responsible for the common injuries the majority of runners will eventually face.

Runners wearing top-of-the-line trainers are 123 per cent more likely to get injured than runners in cheap ones.

A Nike researcher filmed athletes running barefoot:

Instead of each foot clomping down as it would in a shoe, it behaved like an animal with a mind of its own – stretching, grasping, seeking the ground with splayed toes, gliding in for a landing like a lake-bound swan.

I’m not a runner, but I can say from my experience with dancing barefoot what a difference it makes in the way your muscles are used. Since I have been on a hiatus from the daily dance activities I used to do, I’ve noticed that when I do the occasional performance my feet get tired, will often cramp, and my knees and lower back become sore. All this discomfort just from atrophy in the stabilizing muscles in the feet and ankles.

I also noticed when I watched the Olympics last year that the runners nearly all had very thin shoes that conformed tightly to the feet. They must be in the know and not falling for the millions of dollars spent in advertising the newest most technically advanced running shoes.

I think next time I look for shoes, I’ll try my best to find some of the lightweight, less cushioned shoes and see how I do in them. As an almost trainer, if you were to switch from expensive shoes to simpler ones, or even go barefoot, I’d recommend starting out very slowly. It takes a lot of time for the muscles, tendons and bones to adapt to stabilizing the impact of running.

I wear the Under Armour Proto shoes and I love them specifically because they are so cushy and really hug the foot. Maybe I should try the bushman shoes instead.

Nike Shox $165

Masai Warrior footwear $0

Diet, A Word

I heard about this study on the news the other day and Grumpator just found a summary from the New England Journal of Medicine regarding how much weight people lost on diets that focused on either fats, carbohydrates or protein. The gist is that is doesn’t matter what type of diet you’re on, the weight loss was essentially the same across the board. The trick is to stick with it over time. In my opinion, the word “diet” has become synonymous with short term, quick weight loss experiments that often fail. In reality “diet” should be a long term method of eating nutritious meals that work for you. “Diet” is part of your lifestyle.

Obesity Epidemic Explained

You always complained that eating healthy foods was more expensive than eating pre-packaged junk food, and you were right.

Here’s an excerpt about this very topic from the New York Times.

Last year, Dr. Drewnowski led a study, published in The Journal of the American Dietetic Association, comparing the prices of 370 foods sold at supermarkets in the Seattle area. The study showed that “energy dense” junk foods, which pack the most calories and fewest nutrients per gram, were far less expensive than nutrient-rich, lower-calorie foods like fruits and vegetables. The prices of the most healthful foods surged 19.5 percent over the two-year study period, while the junk food prices dropped 1.8 percent.

Just think how much more Top Ramen and Kraft Mac n Cheese will be consumed with the recent economic downturn. ~shudder~