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We Tried It: Soylent, a Food Replacement System

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Courtesy Jamie Bufalino
What is it: Soylent is a powdery mixture (you just add water) that’s supposed to provide all the nutrients your body needs to feel completely nourished.

Who tried it: Jamie Bufalino, PEOPLE Senior Editor

Why he did it: I’m not a juice cleanse guy, or really even a dieter. The thing that attracted me to Soylent was the claim that consuming only the concoction of vitamins, minerals and “macro-nutrients” would have me losing weight, feeling more energetic and always feeling full.

How crazy is it on a scale from one to Kim Kardashian’s blood facial?: Probably 4. It’s a little strange to drink all your food, but by far the craziest part is the name. We don’t know why they called it that, and no, it’s not made of people.

First up: Juice cleanses tend to involve recognizable fruits and veggies like mangoes and beets, whereas Soylent (which is still in its pre-mass production start-up phase) comes looking like the photo above.

On day one, I grabbed a baggie of Soylent, dumped it into the pitcher, added water and shook that sucker super hard for awhile in order to obliterate the dreaded “clumps” I was warned about. I added a couple of teaspoons of vanilla extract to add some flavor to the biochemical blend.

The first chalky sip was a tad off-putting, though familiar to anyone who’s ever had a protein shake.
Although I did feel energized and alert, my stomach definitely felt empty. Keeping the shaker bottle handy at all times staved off the worst hunger pangs and I made it through what seemed like the longest workday in history without a morsel of actual food. Watching two hours of The Bachelorette without anything stronger than Soylent crossing my lips was harder.

Tuesday I woke up feeling well-rested and spry. I felt totally on top of work, clear-headed and firing on all metabolic cylinders without hunger pangs. I even stayed up late without wanting to dive into a bag of pretzels.

But on day three, I debated whether I really wanted to continue this experiment. I didn’t want to seem like a quitter, so I whipped up another batch. But by lunch time I realized that, though I enjoyed the energy, I wasn’t into feeling hungry. Next thing I knew, I was in line at my favorite sushi joint and back to my regular food-consuming existence.

The Verdict: Honestly, I think I could have stuck with a Soylent-only diet if it actually made me feel full. It’s convenient, it saved me money and time (no waiting in line for my usual Pret a Manger sandwich) and I lost a couple of pounds in the process. The mixture is still being tinkered with, so maybe the next batch will be more effective on that front. At this point, though, I can’t envision this futuristic food mix in my dietary future.