The One Year Meal Replacement Experiment

The One Year Meal Replacement Experiment

It’s 1Feb2016 and The One Year Meal Replacement Experiment is upon me, for all who do not know what is at stake, I will be consuming solely water, herbal teas and meal replacement shakes from two companies (Joylent and Pulve.com) for an entire year. Periodically I will undergo medical testing in the form of blood serum work to see what (if any) positive or negative effects it has on my body.

Why do something so intense you ask?

I truly believe that these type of foods, are foods of the future. As a nutritional business owner (and current dietetic student) I am bombarded with questions from people about how to lose weight, stay healthy and live long nutrition filled lives. I think the answer to many of our nutritional woes can be found in products like Joylent and Pulve.

How did I become a human guinea pig?

Let’s rewind several months ago to October 2015. After finishing up an appointment with one of my clients, I decided to take a preemptive stance to human nutrition. I feel one of the biggest challenges we are up against is that our brains have not fully “adapted” in a sense. In the primal times, when food was scarce our brain’s would reward us when ever we eat a meal with high fatty caloric dense content. Why? Because we did not know when our next meal would be. Fast forward to modern times, and our brains still reward us when we eat “junk” food. Our has environment changed but we did not. After running this scenario through my mind, I thought there has to be something better than this endless mountain of empty calories that encompasses the traditional western diet.

A few Google searches later I fell upon blendrunner.com. A smorgasbord of nutritional companies who offer the solution to the evolutionary shortfall we were given. Upon landing on this website I sent an email to every company that could ship to my continent, Europe that is, talking about The One Year Meal Replacement Experiment. Within minutes I received an email from Joey of Joylent, letting me know how excited he was to hear from me and how he would love to participate in this experiment by donating the necessary food for the whole duration of the experiment. I was impressed by Joey’s resolve, to me this was a man who was not afraid to stand behind his product, that took “balls” so to speak. It wasn’t before long I had an invite to Joylent headquarters in Amsterdam, Netherlands to meet it’s eccentric crew. Upon arriving at Joylent HQ, I was introduced to it’s work force. A cleverly assembled group of Dutch people, whom had a great sense of humor. They had the comradery of a battled battalion, each feeding off one another to keep the environment positive. This would be explained by Joylent’s expansion from 2014 to 2015, from what I’ve seen and heard they earned the title of the Soylent of Europe =)

Shortly after the Joylent correspondence I got an email from Pulve.com, an Utrecht, Netherlands based meal replacement company. Not too long after that I had a meeting with it’s two co founders, at a quaint pub in Den Bosch. We spoke in depth about how the food industry needs a face-lift, and how their product could be the surgeon in charge of such an operation. It did not take me long to decided that these guys really love what they do and should be included within The One Year Meal Replacement Experiment.

Let’s jump into a time machine and head back to the present time, welcome back to 1Feb2016 the first day of the experiment. To elaborate, I will consume Joylent for the first six months (1Feb2016–30Sep2016) and Pulve.com for the last six months (1Oct2016–1Feb2017). The order of participation was decided based on whom accepted the experiment first. Both companies (in my eyes) deserve the upmost respect for what they do. Entering a new food into the industry is never easy, but I have faith that they will be here in the long run.

My expectations

While I don’t expect to develop super ninja powers while on this lifestyle, I do think that it will have an overall positive impact on my general health.

Blood Lab Work; what will be tested?

My Glucose, Urea Nitrogen, Creatinine, eGFR, Sodium, Potassium, Chloride, Calcium, Protein Total, Albumin, A/G Ratio, Bilirubin Total, ALT (SGPT) Alkaline Phosphatase, Uric Acid, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Lipid Panel, Chloesterol, Vit B1, B6, B12 and D.

Tools of the trade

Every 3 months I will undergo the aforementioned blood serum testing I mentioned earlier. I will post the results comparison percentages, here at this blog space. Every week (Sunday) I will upload the averages for all anthropometric data for that particular week, it will be compared to the previous week in a graphs like the ones shown below.

To obtain the blood sugar and pressure readings I will use the Trueresult and Omron Hem-711DLX instruments I bought from amazon.com. I will test my morning, before and after each meal and nightly blood sugar levels. I will test my blood pressure, heart rate and weight every morning shortly after waking up. To add, I will also incorporate creatine monohydrate (5g) into a meal each day. This was done due to the lack of it within Joylent, creatine is typically stored within muscles (animal protein). Our bodies are capable of making creatine from the protein we ingest (2–3grams), but this is typically sub-par to what we need in a day. Last will be the consumption of chewing gum while eating the Joylent meals, I decided to add this based on previous people completing a shorter length challenge complained of jaw pain from lack of use. In addition, digestion of carbohydrates begins in the mouth. Typically chewing activates the salivary glands, which secretes salivary amylase the enzyme responsible for initiating the break down of carbohydrates in the mouth.

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Day 0 30Jan2016

Just prepared my first batch of Joylent and placed it in the fridge, bring on the excitement!

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Day 1Feb2016

I just finished up the first day on Joylent. While I’ve eaten Joylent for 2 out of 3 meals before for 3 weeks, this is a first to consume nothing but it the whole day. I was pleasantly surprised that throughout the whole day I did not feel hungry. In fact, with my previous lifestyle it was common around 3:00pm that I had an afternoon dip of energy. While on Joylent for the whole day, I failed to hit that lull. =)

Day 2Feb2016

I feel great as I breezed through my afternoon workout. A thing that I noticed, every time I go to the gym while on the same treadmill I check my active heart rate. Usually when I run 8.5 km an hour my active heart rate is around 175, today it was 166. I realize that their are a lot of variables here. I will use my personal heart rate monitor to track this from now on and see if I notice any other occurrences in the future. While running it felt a bit easier, and my heart had to work a bit less.

Day 3Feb2016

On day three of the experiment, and I’ve seem the hit the infamous gas so bad you can clear a room with it, stage. While digestive wise everything is fine, I do not have horrible painful gas building up. It’s just the smell of these bad boys is very pungent. I read from previous experimenters that this stage is temporary. My Fiancee will be glad to know that the Dutch Oven days will come to an end =). Regarding my energy levels, I feel great and haven’t had an afternoon dip like on my previous lifestyle.

Day 4Feb2016

On to day 4, the turbulence in my stomach finally subsided. =) My Fiancee will be glad to know that is over and she can breathe without any fear. This morning I had a normal bowel movement. It seems my body needed some time to get used to this new lifestyle. Earlier today I went to the gym and had an amazing workout. I have found for the time being that exercising on Joylent is relatively easy. I will continue to monitor it’s progress as it is possible that it could be a placebo effect. (in my head, based on face value, I can see that Joylent has a much more balanced nutrient profile when compared to every day food.) Another thing I noticed was that my heart burn has gone away, previously I was put on a proton pump inhibitor to control my stomach’s acid levels. I stopped taking the medication for this experiment, and was surprised to learn my heart burn issues no longer exist. Very cool =) BTW, the mango flavor tastes really good. I like how Joylent shakes have a hint of flavor, but it’s not over powering.

I decided to change up the order of which flavors I eat. For the first three days I ate nothing but strawberry, this became tiring pretty quick. From now on I will rotate flavors, picking three for each day. Below is a photo of tomorrow’s line up.

7Feb2016 Sunday Week 1 Synopsis

Glucose Readings are in mg/dl format

Series 1= Week 0Series 2= Week 1

Above are the charts comparing Week 0 to Week 1. It’s important to mention that Week 0 readings were taken over 3 days, while week 1 readings comprised of 7 days. The numbers were averaged for each week.

This week has been quite interesting, for the first 3 days of 100% Joylent I had horrible smelling sulfuric gas. My Fiancee and I were pleased to find out that my intestines normalized by day 4. I attributed this to the intestinal flora getting use to this new lifestyle. I noticed that my previous (before the experiment) afternoon dips of around 3 p.m. went away this past week. Additionally, while exercising I had steady energy, which helped me in completing my workouts.

While grocery shopping today (7Feb16) I had a brief urge to consume other foods. While this was not physical (Joylent kept me satisfyingly full all day long), I did feel a since of psychological hunger. I feel my body for the time being is having an issue, adapting psychologically. Joylent regarding it (consumption wise) is new. Over time I feel that I will be able to adapt and the issue of mental perspective will subside. All in all it was a good week.

14Feb2016 Week 2 Synopsis

Series 1 Week 0 (Before the Experiment)

Series 2 Week 1 of the experiment

Series 3 Week 2 of the experiment

Here we are wrapping up week 2. From the charts placed above you can see regarding my blood glucose readings that I have had steadily lowered my blood sugar over the past couple of weeks. So far it seems that living 100% on Joylent, has not be detrimental to my overall blood sugar health. My energy levels are great, what I noticed so far was that my energy levels has been steady throughout the day, no more afternoon dips. My workouts are very fulfilling and I noticed that I am able to think more clearly. (less brain fog).

For valentine’s day today my Fiancee attempted to make me Joylent pancakes. Here is a picture of how they came out:

As you can see Joylent is not an ideal pancake batter, it did not cook very evenly. (in it’s defense it was cooked on a non stick pan with no oils added) Appearance aside it tasted amazing. =) It was nice to have a hot meal for a change. I will experiment with Joylent muffins and post pictures a bit later.

Back to the experiment, earlier this week I went to a campground for two days with my family in Belgium. We had an amazing time, as it was very relaxing. =) A thing I noticed while eating Joylent in front of them at each dining session was that they immediately had a form of “food guilt”. They would begin to talk about different foods but would pause to stop and say “sorry, I keep on forgetting that your choices are so limited”. This was interesting to me as before the experiment began, this never really occurred. I attributed this to their unfamiliarity with the product. On paper, Joylent is a much superior meal (nutrition wise) than the majority of what we eat in a typical Western diet. It seems that my family looked at Joylent with a bit of suspicion. This is understandable in a way, as it alters the way people look at food. It becomes transformed from a social ideal/collective to more of a question of nutritional quality/efficiency.

21-Feb-16 Week 3 Synopsis

Series Legend:

Series 1: Week 0 (before the experiment began)

Series 2: Week 1 of the experiment

Series 3: Week 2 of the experiment

Series 4: Week 3 of the experiment

So here we are ending week 3 of The One Year Meal Replacement Experiment. Last week I mentioned how I went to a vacation park in Belgium for two days with my family. Well at the beginning of this week I came down with the flu. I noticed something very interesting though, previously my typical “I’m starting to feel better phase” would begin about after 5 days of having the flu. While on 100% Joylent I hit that phase 3 days earlier at just day 2 of the flu. I found that to be rather remarkable.

Another thing that I found to be interesting was that my blood sugar have been doing rather well. From the above chart you can see it fluctuates but has never really gone into the bad zone, as it’s recommended to be below 140 mgdl two hours after a meal. I noticed that while I was performing exercise it would rise between 124–132 mgdl but would return to between 94–100 mgdl shortly after exercise.

My anthropometric measurements have also shown some slight improvement. Since beginning the experiment I lost two kilograms and my overall blood pressure has improved slightly. The only negative thing I’ve noticed is that I get a bit gassy at night after my last meal, by morning this seems to clear it self up. My fiancee equates them (smell wise) to that of a “dogs fart”. I will keep an eye on this, it maybe that my body has yet to fully adjust to this new lifestyle.

28-Feb-16 Week 4 Synopsis

Legend

Data Set 1= Week 0 (before Joylent)

Data Set 2= Week 1 (after Joylent)

Data Set 3= Week 2 (after Joylent)

Data Set 4= Week 3 (after Joylent)

Data Set 5= Week 4 (after Joylent)

*If you subject 1 from the data set, that will give you what week it pertains to.*

Alas the first month of The One Year Meal Replacement Experiment has come to an end. It’s been quite an interesting couple of weeks, what I would like to focus on this week is how eating Joylent changed my mind set on how I looked at food. A few years back I read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma.(a great read about humanity and food) One theme in this book talked about how eating in this day and age is difficult as an omnivore. Since we as humans can eat both meat, grains and vegetables, we have a more difficult task understanding what is proper to eat. (essentially more choices can lead to more mistakes) With the marketing around food, it’s hard to understand what is exactly “healthy”. Eating meals like Joylent and Pulve seem to come up with a solution to the omnivore’s dilemma in that it’s keeps the guess work out of eating. You rip open a pack, add some water, shake or blend and you are good to go. It brings everything back to basics, no need to sit and ponder about food. I like that aspect about these meals, it simplifies nutrition.

A lot of people have asked me, if I ever get tired of eating the same thing over and over again? The answer to this question depends on a lot of variables, I take a look at the whole eating experience as a whole. As an example, Joylent comes in five flavors; Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, Banana and Mango. I have found that it’s easy to rotate the flavors every day. This helps break up the boredom of eating the same type of meal everyday. In addition the preparation and clean up time is a breeze. The downside is that each meals are cold, this is something I have to get used to especially around dinner time as this is when I would eat a hot meal.

So far my energy levels have been great, through out my days I have steady energy. The gas issues I mentioned earlier seemed to have solved them selves. I still do have a bit of gas later in the night but the frequency has gone down. Regarding my bowel movements, every thing seems normal. All in all so far it seems that Joylent is able to keep me running at pretty optimal levels. Since the beginning of the experiment I have lost about 5kg. =)

Legend

Week 0= data 1 (before the experiment began)

Week 1= data 2

Week 3= data 3

Week 4= data 5

Week 5= data 6

Basically just subtract by 1 to find out which week it pertains to regarding the experimental timeline.

Another week down, being over a month and a week in I have adapted pretty well to 100% Joylent. It is worth mentioning that I upped my caloric intake from 2397 kcal to 2700 kcal starting at the beginning of this week. I found that 2397 kcal was inadequate for my level of activity. Since beginning the experiment I lost over 7kg =). My current BMI is 23.1 for my height and weight (180 cm and 75kg, using metric is more universal, sorry America =) which is within the normal/ideal range. My weight has stabilized to around 75kg for the past couple of days. Blood glucose wise, I have had a steady drop since the beginning of the experiment. My energy levels have been relatively steady throughout the experiment. I’ve also noticed an improvement in my workouts, being able to last longer with less effort.

I do miss the social aspect of eating, while Joylent is ideal for nutritional wellness. It does lack certain influence within the social sphere. As an example, my Fiancee and I try to eat together every night but sometimes it takes longer for her to prepare her solid meals. I try to eat around the same times everyday for fluidity. When those days occur (I am unable to eat at the same time with her) it kind of dampers the mood a little. A big positive aspect about eating is the social bonding you form with the other person in the room. On the other hand for me, breakfast and lunch are smooth as silk. (My Fiancee is not a big breakfast eater and usually grabs something while heading out the door)

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