Ample vs. Soylent
We get a ton of questions about product comparisons to Soylent, and while we do occupy a similar product space, we have very different goals when it comes to building a “complete meal” in a bottle. To put it briefly, we are focused on providing optimal, current-science-based nutrition to balance out your diet, while Soylent solves for simple, affordable FDA-based nutrition. Here’s our little FAQ for those who are curious!
How does Ample compare in flavor to Soylent?
Ample has been described to us as tasting like a nutty snickerdoodle cookie with a sprinkle of salt on top. When mixed with milk, there’s added creaminess and body. Compared to a cookie though, Ample is very subtly sweet. There’s a richness from the sweet potato, macadamia, and coconut oils, and a nutty finish with a pinch of cinnamon and vanilla.
If we were to draw an analogy in flavor profile, Soylent is the smooth white bread of the meal replacement world. Ample would be the whole-grain bread with seeds and nuts.
How do the two products differ?
- Form: Each Ample comes in its’ own bottle, with a measured serving of mix inside, while Soylent comes in bulk powder or a pre-made drink.
- Cost: Ample is more expensive than Soylent. Ample is $5 per meal for a 400-calorie 12 pack, vs. Soylent 2.0’s $2.69 for their 400-calorie bottle. With Ample, we didn’t optimize for cost by using government subsidized goods that are derived from GMO soy and corn.
- Sugar: Sugar causes obesity, diabetes, and leads to many chronic inflammatory diseases. Ample has less than half the sugar of Soylent: 4g compared to Soylent’s 9g per 400 calorie serving.
- Saturated Fat: Saturated fat has been unnecessarily demonized for the last 30+ years. Current science shows that it is necessary for proper health, providing benefits for cell membrane stability and brain health, in contrast to outdated FDA guidelines. Ample has 11g of saturated fat per serving from coconut oil to stay consistent with what current science shows about the benefits of saturated fat. Soylent has chosen to stay consistent with conventional wisdom with just 2g of saturated fat.
- Protein: Ample contains 6 more grams of protein than Soylent. Ample’s protein comes from grass-fed whey, pumpkin and grass-fed collagen vs. Soylent’s from soy. In Ample X, a paleo- and vegan-friendly alternative, the whey and collagen are substituted for sprouted brown rice protein.
- Fiber and Prebiotics: Fiber and prebiotics support healthy gut bacteria and increase micronutrient absorption. Ample contains 11g of fiber, and 6 additional grams of prebiotics in the form of resistant starch and inulin to support a healthy gut microbiome. Soylent contains 3g of fiber and no resistant starch or other prebiotics.
- Probiotics: The health of your gut microbiome is critical to absorbing nutrients, producing neurotransmitters, minimizing inflammation, and optimizing hormone production. Ample includes a probiotic stack designed to seed the gut with healthy microbes, plus prebiotics for them to thrive off of. Soylent does not.
- Processing: The type of processing affects the way the body can incorporate ingredients. Heating food above a certain temperature (which varies depending on the chemical) creates advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) through Maillard reactions, which are detrimental to health and have been linked to premature aging, as well as a reduction in nutrition. Ample does not engage in high temperature processing. Soylent’s manufacturing facility uses aseptic UHT (ultra high temperature) processing.
- Antioxidants: Ample contains 15x the antioxidants (as measured by total ORAC) than a cup of spinach from wheatgrass, barley grass, spirulina, and chlorella. Soylent contains no plants, or plant-based nutrients.
- Bioavailability: Bioavailability refers to the body’s ability to properly absorb nutrients. Generally, bioavailability decreases when the chemical form is adulterated from the biological form that humans have evolved to incorporate with. Ample uses “natural” ingredients in their most whole food form to optimize proper absorption. For instance, we derive our folate from spirulina, whereas Soylent uses folic acid, which converts to folate poorly, and can be dangerous, especially in those who have the MTHFR gene mutation.
- GMOs: Genetic modifications can alter the way the organism interacts with someone’s microbiome and health. Ample is GMO-free for several reasons, which are detailed below. Soylent believes “genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be a safe and economic option for industrial food production”.
- Sweetener: Ample’s sweetness comes from sweet potato, chicory root and stevia [not included in Ample X]. Soylent is sweetened with sucralose (Splenda), which has been shown to reduce colonies of beneficial gut bacteria.
- Anti-nutrients: Anti-nutrients are molecules that inhibit the body from absorbing nutrients or damage the gut lining in some way. An example of this is gluten, which is a lectin that disrupts the permeability of the epithelial membrane. Ample does not contain gluten. Soylent does.
- Allergens: Ample contains whey, macadamia nut, and stevia, which some people have an adverse reaction to. Ample does NOT contain gluten or soy, which Soylent does. Ample X, a lactose-free alternative version, substitutes sprouted brown rice protein for the whey and collagen and removes the stevia. Soylent is nut-free.
- Dietary Restrictions: Ample contains whey and collagen. Ample X, an alternative version, is paleo and plant-based/vegan. Soylent is vegan.
Soylent 2.0 delivers exactly 20% of daily recommendations of vitamins and micronutrients based on a standard 2000 calorie diet, but Ample doesn’t. Why?
Most meal replacements add a vitamin blend to check the boxes for exactly “the right” amount of every micronutrient that the FDA has recommendations for. And while the FDA may do its best to approximate passable nutrition, its recommendations are scientifically outdated and politicized. In fact, daily values for vitamins and minerals were established in 1968 and haven’t been updated since.
Secondly, adding a multivitamin blend would provide nominal benefits in some cases, and be potentially harmful in others. Here are a few examples.
- Calcium and iron compete with each other for absorption, so adding 20% of both does not actually deliver the promised amount.
- Magnesium usually comes as magnesium oxide or stearate, both of which are absorbed at a rate of 50-60% at best. So 20% DV really equals 10-12%.
- The FDA doesn’t require brands to specify between Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2. Thus, when you see Vitamin K, you usually see the cheaper K1, which converts poorly into the more usable Vitamin K2.
- The FDA allows Folic Acid on a label to count as Folate (what your body actually needs), though there are 4 biochemical intermediaries. People who have the common MTHFR gene mutation can’t convert folic acid to folate, and can develop a very harmful buildup of one of these intermediary chemicals.
These are examples that we know of, and many others could exist. We believe that adding a synthetic multivitamin blend creates a false sense of security that gives us permission to not eat vegetables and high-nutrient foods. It glorifies what we have metrics for, while downplaying the known and unknown benefits of real food that don’t show up on a nutrition label, like the thousands of phytonutrients present in natural ingredients.
Ultimately, we see the addition of a synthetic multivitamin blend as a form of marketing rather than a true attempt at optimal nutrition. We don’t believe that supplements in and of themselves are bad, but they should be present in a healthy and absorbable form, and for a reason other than looking good on an FDA label.
I know people can survive off Soylent for 30 days. How long can I live off Ample alone?
Without a synthetic multivitamin blend, Ample is missing some of the micronutrients necessary for long-term health. That’s a challenge we’re going to tackle with even more mineral and vitamin-rich ingredients going forward. But we’re not here to make compromises for quality, so we’re not ready (and wouldn’t recommend) replacing 100% of your real food.
For now, we’re tackling the hard stuff. It’s difficult for many of us to get high fiber and a full range of healthy fats through whole foods alone. The same goes with complete proteins, greens, and pre-/probiotics.
Having an Ample a day should enrich your diet and add many of the things that may be lacking already. Our goal isn’t to replace all foods, but to provide a healthy meal when life gets in the way.
Why all the hippie ‘natural, non-GMO, organic’ garbage? I thought you were supposed to be about science!
Soylent supports using GMOs but you don’t. Why?
Absence of evidence ≠ evidence of absence. Something that’s new bears a massive burden of proof so “no evidence GMOs are unsafe” doesn’t prove they are safe either.
Nutrition studies take time. The dangers of smoking and sugar took decades to uncover, and for these, we had the benefit of knowing who smoked or ate sugar. With GMOs, we have no idea because they’re not labeled.
Risks are unknown and unknowable. If after decades, they turn out to be harmless, then we took a needless precaution. But if they are harmful (even if the probability is low), then we’ll have subjected ourselves to decades of harm needlessly.
The term “GMOs” is a catch-all term. Each year, new genetic modifications are added to our food. By saying “yes” to one, even if they are harmless, we’d open the door to future modifications that may be more extreme and harmful. And regulations companies aren’t required to say which genetic modification was used.
We have a responsibility to every single consumer, and we’re not going to risk it. Ultimately, whether or not GMOs are harmful to us and/or to the environment, we’re being conservative until proven wrong.
How does your vision differ from Soylent’s?
We can’t speak to Soylent’s company vision, but we can pull a few takeaways.
We believe that there’s a huge difference between “passable” and “optimal” nutrition. We’re not looking to meet the minimum FDA requirements label with the cheapest mass-produced ingredients and a synthetic multivitamin.
We’re optimizing for performance. That means addressing the wide variance in people’s nutritional needs, using the highest quality natural ingredients possible, and playing a massive role in advancing the nascent nutrition science. If there’s a choice between two ingredients, we’re going for the good stuff.
And if our mission is to get people optimally healthy, we’ll be fostering a supportive community to educate people on how to eat natural, nutritious food for their non-Ample meals.