Soylent, the pioneering food replacement company co-founded by Rob Rhineheart and backed by Andreesen Horowitz is back with two new flavors of their ready-to-drink Soylent beverages: Cacao and Nectar. In this review we check out Cacao, by far our favorite among the new flavors, and what I suspect is probably the best flavor for new customers.
What is Soylent?
Soylent is a meal-replacement drink that is designed to provide an optimal balance of nutrients. Soylent is supposed to be nutritious and convenient at the same time. Currently the Soylent website notes that Soylent offers “20% daily nutrition” which allows you to “get rid of hunger and get on with your day.” It comes in ready-to-drink bottles, powder you mix yourself, and bars. (Bars are currently unavailable because they made a small set of users sick.) This is a Soylent Cacao review, covering the chocolate-flavored version of the ready-to-drink bottles.
Cacao tastes like a weak hot chocolate or perhaps chocolate flavored almond milk. It doesn’t quite qualify as dessert, but it is a lot closer than original Soylent 2.0. I’ve seen a few commenters online mention that they can’t handle the taste of Soylent alone so they frequently mix it with chocolate power or Nesquick. If this is you, you’ll probably love (or at least like) Cacao.
As someone who got onto the Soylent train back in the powder days, I believe that Cacao is a little too sweet, and Nectar is an absolute travesty.
Ultimately, Soylent Cacao is a win.
However, taste is, by its nature, a subjective discussion. (The Romans knew this 2,000 years ago.) So your results my vary. On Reddit I’ve seen a polarized discussions arguing which flavor is better, but most of the controversy seems to be centered around whether Nectar is amazing or terrible.
Cacao, Nectar, and the original Soylent 2.0 all have slightly different formulations, but the effect is essentially the same. They’re all 400 calories and they all contain 20% of your recommended daily vitamins. Soylent is supposed to be balanced, with each bottle providing one-fifth of your recommended nutrition. There is a gram or two difference of fat, but the percentages are roughly the same: 32% of daily fat, 12% of daily carbohydrates, 9 grams of sugar, and 20 grams of protein per bottle. (Full nutrition facts here.)
Fats, Carbs, Protein
Each bottle of Soylent has 32% your daily recommended fat intake, while it has only 12% of your recommended carbohydrate intake. So, if you drank your 2,000 calories in Soylent, you’d be getting 160% of your daily fat intake while only getting 60% of your daily carbohydrate intake. You’d also be getting 100 grams of protein. How much protein is too much will vary by person. It has long been a rule in the weightlifting community to get 1 gram of protein per day, meaning living off Soylent would provide too little protein. But, using the standard baseline of a .36 grams of protein per pound of body weight means that you’d need to be 278 pounds to need 100 grams of protein.
What’s it all mean? Nutrition is complicated, varies by person, and you should talk to a doctor to understand what your ideal nutrient balance is. While Soylent is not going to provide the right mix for everyone, I commend them for doing a decent job of trying. Check out this nutrient calculator for more.
Each bottle of Soylent has 9 grams of added sugar. However, Soylent argues that since this is in the form of isomaltulose, it is much less harmful than fructose. The chart they provide which can be found by clicking the previous link is compelling, but I am not in a position to make a judgement. What I do know is that the average American eats far too much sugar, and to the extent that drinking Soylent prevents someone from eating a candy bar, it is a compelling step forward.
Given that I’m trying to reduce my sugar intake as much as possible, I generally drink a max of two Soylents per day. But, if you had to live on it, you could choose worse foods–drinking 2,000 calories of Soylent would add up to 45 grams of sugar, 5 grams under the recommended limit of 50 grams.
Soylent Cacao costs $3.25 per bottle ($3.09 if you subscribe). Nectar, the other new flavor, costs the same. The original flavor costs $2.83 a bottle, $2.69 if you subscribe. A 42 cent difference isn’t huge, but given that you’ll be buying these in bulk, it adds up. A 12-pack of original is $5 cheaper than a 12 pack of Cacao or Nectar. Given that I believe original is still the best flavor, it’s hard for me to justify spending more.
How does it compare to other Soylent flavors?
Soylent Original tastes like almond milk, Cacao tastes like weak hot chocolate, and Nectar tastes like lemon aspartame.
Cacao comes a close second to the “original” flavored Soylent 2.0. On the one hand, it is much sweeter and more approachable than the Original flavor. On the other, the sweetness is slightly grating to me.
It’s sort of like when I switched from Colgate to Crest. Crest tasted so much better than Colgate that I was skeptical it could clean my teeth as well. A similar effect is at play here. Soylent Cacao is almost too chocolatey, too sweet, and it makes drinking it feel less healthy. I bet the average person will far prefer Cacao to Original. Me, on the other hand? I prefer something a little more toned down, so I’ll stick with original.
Cacao is at least 10 times better than Nectar, which is undrinkable and tastes like aspartame, lemons, and soap. (There is, however, a passionate group of Nectar defenders online who claim Nectar tastes like candy or fruit loops.)
Ultimately, Soylent Cacao is a win. It tastes like a chocolate almond milk, which is probably about as good as you can get while continuing to pack in the nutrition Soylent is known for. Soylent Cacao is not perfect, and I suspect purists will prefer the original flavor–I know I do. However, new customers will probably gravitate towards Cacao as a great-tasting chocolate-flavored meal substitute. A select few will love Nectar (click here for our review), although I did not.
You can also buy Soylent Cacao at Amazon, which is currently offering a 20% off coupon. Amazon offers various subscribe and save options as well.
You can buy Soylent at Soylent.com but if you use this referral link you’ll get 50% off your first order of 12 bottles and Soylent will donate 4 bottles to the World Food Program USA. (Take Risks Be Happy does not receive a monetary benefit from this link.)
What did you think of our Soylent Cacao review? Did you like the flavor? Let us know in the comments!