Going to try a new supplier

I’m out of Whey Protein and won’t be getting it until Wednesday because Amazon took 2 days to actually ship my order. Same thing happened a few weeks ago with my Potassium Citrate and my Calcium/Magnesium/D3 powder. So I’m going to give supplementwarehouse.com a try and see if they can do better. We’ll see. Their price on Cal/Mag/D3 is better but shipping almost takes away that advantage.

Update: So my supplementwarehouse.com order just shipped, so let’s talk about processing time. I ordered on July 14 and it shipped 2 days later on July 16.

When I ordered the same Whey Protein from Amazon it took 2 business days to process and ship as well, the Calcium/Magnesium/D3 took 4 business days to process and ship from Amazon though. So far supplementwarehouse is doing somewhat better (in addition to costing less).

Update again: Well, it had NOW whey protein isolate in it, was a fair price and came quickly. I’ll likely order from there again.

Posted in Ingredients, Soylent Tagged with: ,

Just tried Soylent (the official)

Someone was nice enough to sell me 2 days of official Soylent a while ago and I’ve been looking for an opportunity to try it. So I finally mixed it up today.

Official Soylent in the bag

Official Soylent in the bag

Yep, smells like a yellow cake mix. The directions on the bag say to put the powder into the pitcher you get in the starter kit, then fill it up with water. I didn’t have the starter kit so I had to search around to find how much water to mix with the powder. I found instructions for mixing it in a blender: 1 liter of water, 1-2 cups of ice (nice mixture of imperial and metric measurements there!), the powder and the oil. So I mixed it up in a blender following those instructions.

Mixing Soylent

I did have an issue with dry powder clinging to the sides and had to get out a big spoon to get those going, aside from that the blending was good. The ice is recommended if you’re planning to consume it immediately; so I poured some in a glass and took a drink. My first impression is that I like people chow with a touch of cocoa powder much better. Maybe it was that I was expecting a smoother mouth feel but it actually seemed grittier than the copious amounts of corn masa in people chow. From experience I know that if I try to mix up people chow and drink it down that fast, it’s not going to be very good and 30+ minutes “thinking about what it did” (but in the fridge, not the corner with a dunce cap) does wonders for (S)oylent. So I cleared a space in the fridge and will try it again in a bit.

Yes, it blends.

Yes, it blends.

Update: several hours later I tried it again. The texture was somewhat better after having sat in the fridge but it still wasn’t as smooth as I would like. It’s also way too sweet tasting for me. I’ll be sticking with people chow.

Posted in Soylent

soylent at the Amusement Park

As part of my continuing effort to take pictures of soylent (still DIY, people chow to be specific) at notable locations around Utah I now present soylent at Lagoon:

Soylent at the Amusement Park

I just happened to get both “Colossus” and “Wicked” with riders about to go over the initial drop. This was a triumph, I’m making a note here: “huge success”…. wait… sorry too much time with GladOS.

We brought lunch and dinner in a cooler. Preparing the food for the kids took about 30 minutes. Dumping two half cups each into two blender bottles for my lunch and dinner took 2 minutes, mostly because the blender ball was missing and I had to look for it; I was also filling up a water cooler so I would have something to drink and mix up my soylent. Lagoon is unique among just about every entertainment location I’ve ever heard of in that: outside food and/or drink IS PERMITTED. In fact a large portion of the park is pavilions with picnic tables for people to eat their food they’ve brought in coolers. Personally I’m reticent to bring my stuff into the park and just leave it sitting around for a few hours so We left ours in the car and at lunch time we ate in the walkway that goes through the old wooden roller coaster.

Posted in On Tour, Soylent Tagged with: ,

“The gig is up” – increasing costs, but still cheap(ish)

So I just placed another order for 5 kg of Hard Rhino whey protein isolate. Some months ago, I switched from NOW wpi to the Hard Rhino and did a review of it; in that review I talked about how they had raised their prices on the bulk packages, looks like they did it again.

If you are just getting in to doing your own DIY soylent, Hard Rhino can be a good source because it sells packages all the way down to 500 g for $15. With the new pricing, the bulk saving have gotten smaller.

prices May 2014
brand pound kg price per KG per lb per 55g serving
NOW 10.00 4.55 115.31 25.37 11.53 1.395
NOW 5.00 2.27 64.99 28.60 13.00 1.573
hard rhino 1.10 0.50 14.99 29.98 13.63 1.649
hard rhino 2.20 1.00 27.99 27.99 12.72 1.539
hard rhino 11.00 5.00 104.99 21.00 9.54 1.155
hard rhino 22.00 10.00 199.99 20.00 9.09 1.100
prices July 2014
brand pound kg price per KG per lb per 55g serving
NOW 10.00 4.55 119.82 26.36 11.98 1.450
NOW 5.00 2.27 71.02 31.25 14.20 1.719
hard rhino 1.10 0.50 14.99 29.98 13.63 1.649
hard rhino 2.20 1.00 27.99 27.99 12.72 1.539
hard rhino 11.00 5.00 135.99 27.20 12.36 1.496
hard rhino 22.00 10.00 265.99 26.60 12.09 1.463

With the price changes, it’s now less expensive to buy the 10 pound box of  NOW wpi. Right as I started to write this paragraph I realized that, called Hard Rhino, and cancelled my order so I could order the NOW wpi from Amazon. Anyhow, as it stands the NOW whey protein isolate is currently the least expensive if you buy it in the 10 pound box.

Another cost increase is GNC Mega Man Sport. Ever since I started doing DIY you could get 50% off a second container if you bought 2 at the same time. Add a GNC Gold Card discount and you could get it for much less than the official $50 a container ($67.48 for two). Well the 50% off on the second container has ended. Your only option for a discount now is getting the Gold Card. Why do I stick with GNC? well to start with: it’s fun to have bright yellow pee from all the B vitamins! Seriously though there are a lot of things in the GNC that have been hinted at helping your body but don’t have a RDA. It’s also conveniently powdered and isn’t terribly expensive. Other people use vitamin pills from Kirkland to great effect, I just haven’t wanted to get into balancing out all the micro nutrients. I tried it once about 4 months ago but just came back to MaxK’s original recipe.

The end result is the cost of people chow has gone up some. It’s still cheaper than going to McDonalds every day (and far better for you) but cost increases suck. I still have some stuff I bought at the lower prices but (probably tomorrow) I’m going to raise the prices I charge people for a week of People Chow.

Posted in Ingredients, Soylent Tagged with: , , ,

Daily Storage

So a recent thread on /r/soylent asked what people use to store their daily Soylent. Here is what I do. Storage Containers I’ve been consuming People Chow for over 6 months now and have 4 empty containers from GNC Mega Man Sport. Three of those are from mixing and selling People Chow over the last 3 weeks. Anyhow – The labels come off quite easily, they seal well and I can fill one up with about 7 cups of powder, making for around 7 meals. I leave one at work for lunch and have two at home (my recipe yields three 1 cup meals a day). When I only had the one container I would just take it to and from work every day. I started doing it this way right about the time I started mixing 7 days of powder at a time. For oil you can fill a container with oil and just use a measuring spoon to get the right amount out for each meal. I’ve mentioned it before but for oil I just plug my nose and down the daily oil when I’m getting ready in the morning. It’s not something that hardly anyone could put up with, I’m not recommending it.

Scooping out the powder from a bulk container instead of trying to get 1/3 from my daily bag has made preparing my lunch at work a 20 second job. A co-worker messages me that they’re leaving for lunch and all I have to do is scoop out some stuff into a blender bottle and make a quick stop at the drinking fountain to fill up on water. Yes, those are laundry detergent scoops in the picture. They’re 1/2 cup, fit into the mouth of my blender bottles easily, come to a point (making getting into corners easy), and it’s what was sitting on the counter one day when I needed a measuring scoop. So I washed it and have used it ever since.

Posted in Preparation, Soylent Tagged with: , ,

Old masa and diminishing tortilla flavor

I’ve been running through ingredients rather quickly lately since I started shipping out people chow to people.

Hence why I have 6 bottles of calcium/magnesium/D3 on hand right now

Hence why I have 6 bottles of calcium/magnesium/D3 on hand right now

I discovered something surprising: the strength of the “tortilla” taste appears to be directly related to the age of the Masa Harina (corn flour) that is used in People Chow. I had previously purchased a 50 pound bag of Maseca Masa off Amazon at an incredible price and had it stored in airtight containers in a cool, dry place. Right about the same time I bought the 50 lb. bag I had also purchased several bags of Great Value (walmart) Masa that I forgot about whilst I was using up the Maseca. I finally finished off the Maseca and started using the Great Value right abotu the same time I started shipping out people chow. I kept the Great Value for my own use and bought new Maseca (since that’s what was in the recipe) to send out.

I hadn’t really noticed but the strong tortilla or tamale flavor of the masa had been diminishing as I worked through the 50 lb bag and was essentially gone when I was consuming the smaller bags. It wasn’t until I was emptying the last of the Great Value that I noticed the “best before” date on the bag. November 2013. Wait, what? I wasn’t worried about getting sick from it but sheesh, that stuff was past expiration when I bought it! (that’s a PSA in and of its self, apparently).

The next time I mixed up a batch with the new Maseca (oddly enough it was week after I shot my “how to mix up a week of dry ingredients in 12 minutes” video) and took a drink with fresh masa in it I was very surprised. Took me a second meal of the new stuff to realize what the difference was. I personally really like the tortilla/tamale taste and I was amazed I hadn’t noticed it was gone until it came back, because there was a huge difference.

I guess the moral of the story is: if you like the tortilla/tamale taste: buy the freshest masa you can get. If you think the corn taste is the worst thing about people chow look for masa that’s nearing it’s expiration date instead (or buy some and hoard it for a few months?), though I can’t say what that will do to the nutrient profile – maybe nothing?

Posted in Ingredients, Soylent Tagged with: ,

Mixing Vitamin K supplement into my batches

For the past few months I’ve been using olive oil in my DIY soylent “People Chow” because it’s supposed to be better for you than soybean oil and humans have been consuming it for a couple thousand (recorded) years. One thing that Soybean oil has that Olive oil doesn’t is vitamin K. Vitamin K does the exact opposite of rat poison (among other things) in that it helps blood that’s leaking out of you skin coagulate and form wheaties. You can get vitamin K from green veggies and in particular from parsley.

Some people are wary of Soybean oil because of the phytoestrogen factor (does it mimic estrogen?) but everything I’ve read says that isn’t something you need to be concerned about. QuidNYC has a great write up in the notes of his Super Food recipe about oxidative stress in Canola and Soybean oil. And then there is the issue with vitamin K in soybean oil being destroyed by UV light. It’s not likely a container of oil is going to go out into the sun. But People on anti-coagulants like Warfarin need to watch their vitamin K intake. This site has a handy tip:

For those of you passionate for your soybean, canola and vegetable oils – there is good news. Exposure of oils to sunlight or fluorescent light destroys approximately 85% of the vitamin K. You must expose them to sunlight or fluorescent light for at least 48 hours.

Last time I bought oil at the grocery store it was on a shelf exposed to florescent light for probably a lot longer than 48 hours. So if you don’t want to bleed out you’ve got 2 choices:

  1. Get your oil from a bottle that wasn’t ever taken out of the original box or the container is opaque like metal
  2. Use a different oil and use a vitamin K supplement

I opted for number 2. To that end I found two vitamin K2 supplements. One is MK-4 and the other is MK-7. There is a lot of discussion as to which is better for you though most agree that the K2 variants are better than K1. So because I have two different supplements I’ve been taking one caplet on even days of the month and the other on odd days of the month. After my recent video on mixing 7 days at a time someone suggested I should just mix it in with the powder.

I have been hesitant to add it to the powder mix because the MK-4 supplement is made partly with alfalfa and I didn’t want it to affect the taste. Well, I tried it this morning.

MK4 caplet

MK4 caplet

When I mixed up my morning soylent I emptied a caplet into the powder. I wanted it to be a bit of an extreme test with 3x more than there would normally be – an entire days worth in one blender bottle so it could be the “worst case scenario.”

That be Alfalfa

That be Alfalfa

After mixing it all up and letting it sit in my backpack on the way to work, like always, I can’t taste any difference. So I’m going to call this one confirmed.


The end result being: from here on out I’m going to be adding the powder out of 3 and 4 of the caplets to each week batch and mixing it all in. That will be one less step for my own consumption and for the people buying mixed people chow from me.

Posted in Ingredients, Soylent Tagged with: ,

soylent at the dance recital

A few months ago I posted an image of me downing some DIY soylent at Delicate Arch. Now I present to you: DIY soylent at the dance recital.

soylent at dance recital


I do the dance video for a local studio called Wasatch Arts Center, mainly because my kids are in it. We had to get there and set up and I was the only one that had time for dinner. I threw some People Chow into a blender bottle and DONE! Every once in a while when there wasn’t much action going on I could give it a (quiet) shake and drink my dinner. Score another for the sheer convenience of (s)oylent, be it the official or DIY.

Inevitably we’ll end up discussing it so: I usually record from the sound/lighting/projection booth because

  1. It’s a better angle
  2. No little kids are running around bumping stuff (including my own)
  3. No body is standing up blocking me
  4. No one is talking
  5. Power outlets!

I run to cameras and then cut between them in post. My main one is a HDV Canon XH-A1 that still records to tapes though whenever I’m stationary like this I hook it up directly to a laptop via firewire and record to disk instead. Secondary is a HF-100 that does a passable job ab being the fallback when the main camera footage is too shaky or (as has happened before) something goes wrong with the feed from the main camera and it’s the only source I have. The HF-100 does record AVCHD to SD cards so at least there’s no prolonged “press play and capture” going on. For editing I use Sony Vegas Pro and I’m currently a version or two behind because my plugins aren’t available on version 13 (I think, haven’t checked in a few months).

Posted in On Tour, Soylent Tagged with: , ,

My thoughts on (s)oylent

Over on the Soylent discussion forum, Nicole Goodkind asked for people’s thought on Soylent. I emailed her and decided I might as well put it up here too.


Some people on the forum and reddit get uppity if you call the DIY soylent “Soylent” with a capital S and I’m not cool enough to have gotten the real stuff.

I saw the kickstarter campaign back when it first happened and initially thought it was a joke campaign somebody put together with a relabeled energy bar labeled “Soylent” as a play on the movie. I though “dangit – I should have thought of that!.” It was nearly 2 weeks later that I realized that it was an actual thing with a real product that wasn’t a joke. I talked with some friends at work about it and I got pretty excited when I saw the Ars Technica series on it. I wanted to order some but didn’t want to pay $250 for a month and didn’t want to wait.
New Years Day 2014 I finally decided I was going to DIY it, mostly as a way to control calories and lose weight. I researched a bit and arrived on the most popular recipe “People Chow” as the one I would go with. I drove around to vitamin stores in my local area trying to find all the ingredients but being a holiday I was stymied in my efforts. I ordered what I hadn’t been able to buy locally off Amazon and waited a few days for the stuff to arrive.
My family has been supportive, mostly because I’m not drinking soylent 100% of the time. I did that at first and still try to stick to it as much as possible to lose weight; but it’s hard to pass up a really nice dinner that I’ve cooked for the wife and kids. When we have a big get together I don’t even worry about it; why would I eat soylent when there’s bbq chicken or broccoli covered in nacho cheese?
The convenience of mixing up a cup of powder in a blender bottle is the nicest part (see my post at http://www.people-chow.com/tile-is-done-its-soylent-timetm/ or my post at http://discourse.soylent.me/t/soylent-at-delicate-arch/12948 ). For counting calories it’s ideal – I put in my exercise, add “Low Cal People Chow” for breakfast, lunch and (usually) dinner and I’m done. I recently changed my method for measuring the ingredients and now I’m doing a week’s worth of meals in 15 minutes. I feel better than I did before I started and my blood work was rather good last check (http://discourse.soylent.me/t/2-months-lab-results-most-looks-good-except-vitamin-d/11820) except for a vitamin D deficiency that’s easily fixed with a supplement. I’m planning on continuing on DIY soylent for quite a while (years or longer). Back in March I bought a bunch of bulk ingredients and computed that I had spent $500 so far on the endeavor but had enough ingredients to last me until early June (yep, still true – it’ll be time to reorder some stuff in about 2 weeks) and $100 a month for food is a pretty good figure.
Recently I’ve been investigating Keytogenic DIY soylent. I first heard of the concept when my son was having seizures and going on a keytogenic diet was one of the proposed treatments. Trying to manage that kind of diet (little to no carbs, all fats and protein – think Atkins-ish) sounded like a nightmare and we were able to control his seizures with medication that he’s since grown out of. But with soylent, the prospect of doing a major and radical diet change like that is more about picking a recipe, modifying it a bit for my requirements and buying the new ingredients I don’t have already. It’s a complete paradigm shift in the way *I* look at food. This is, however, one area the current official Soylent falls short: the customizability. You’re on a sodium restricted diet? Soy Allergy? Vegan? Wheat intolerant? I’ve seen recipes for all of them. Rob and the rest of the Rosa Labs crew has, however, talked about the possibility of different formulations in the future.
I don’t know if Soylent (or soylent) is THE future but I suspect it has enough traction that it’s going to be a food option for the future. I’d love to get my widower father-in-law on Soylent since he doesn’t cook much more than Mac and Cheese since his wife passed and rarely eats veggies. He’s a perfect case for it – I’m just not sure if he could handle the taste of the official (I’m certain he wouldn’t handle mixing up the DIY). One of my work buddies likes the idea of using Soylent for a shelf stable emergency food – sounds like a perfect application. I highly doubt “muggle” food is going anywhere but Soylent is great option for easy, convenient, unremarkable meals.
Posted in Preparation, Soylent Tagged with: ,

Mixing your Own Calcium Magnesium and D3: good idea or not?

TLDNR: probably not, unless you like buying 9 months worth at a time.

So I ordered some stuff from bulksupplements.com through amazon (choline and potassium citrate) and was looking at some of the other stuff they sell. Among others, they have pure calcium citrate, magnesium citrate and vitamin D3. The one ingredient I go through faster than any other is the NOW foods Calcium & Magnesium – 8 oz. – the price on it tends to fluctuate a lot. I bought it last week for $12.27 including shipping, now it’s $10.17 including shipping and I think at one point I got it for $6, I started wondering if I could mix my own equivalent for less.

It’s Spreadsheet Time!

So I ran the numbers. The first thing to be aware of is this handy note from bulksupplements about the D3: “This supplement contains around one hundred thousand IU per gram and has no fillers of any kind present in it.” So 1g has 100,000 IU in it? holy crap! Check out the rest of the warnings on this page. Based on that, I’m thinking it’s prolly not worth doing the D3. Not when I can get caplets of whatever dose I want from Wal-mart for $0.06 a dose.

Let’s ignore the D3 then and talk about the calcium and magnesium. Based off the labels, I’d need 2.66g of Magnesium citrate and 1.92g of Calcium Citrate to get the 400&400mg of actual Magnesium and Calcium that’s in the NOW which has 50 doses per bottle. If I buy 500g bags of both and make 500 doses it’s going to cost me $9.69 in bulk ingredients. If it get all nuts and buy the 1KG bags, each group of 50 doses will cost me $7.43 (both figures assume free shipping). It would result in using 3.54g of Magnesium Citrate and 2.54g of Calcium Citrate daily to equal the 6g of NOW that’s in People Chow 3.0.1.

End result: yes buying the bulk powders and mixing your own *would* save you money. But you’ll need to buy it in 1kg bags (which would last 282 days for the magnesium and 393 days for the calcium) in order for it to be cost effective. You also would need to either get a scale that can measure 2.438mg of D3 for a day or use a capsule supplement.

More fun facts: getting the 1kg each of the bulk powders would cost you $63.92. To get 282 days worth of NOW Cal/Mag/D3 would be 8 bottles, and at today’s rate of $10.17 that’s $81.36

Posted in Ingredients, Soylent Tagged with: , ,