By Cristina Caldwell of FueledandFocused.com
A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to try a new complete nutrition meal replacement product called JouleFuel. Quite a catchy name if you’re familiar with physics. Joule is a unit of energy, so quite fitting. I was pleasantly surprised by its taste. There are 4 flavors on the market, and I tried two; the chocolate cookies and cream and vanilla cookies and cream.
With our on the go, never stopping lifestyles these days, it’s easy to see how a complete nutrition drink can fit into your life. In just a few shakes or a whir of the blender, you’ve got a full meal, ready to go. There is another complete nutrition meal drink on the market called Soylent. And from what I can see, it is pretty popular. So I set out to compare the nutrition information between the two products. My view is from an athlete’s perspective, however this will apply to anyone who is looking to be health conscious and provide the best fuel for their body. Here’s a breakdown of the two products based on overall nutrition content, macronutrients and micronutrients.
Nutrition Content: (per serving)
Calories 500kcal Calories 550kcal
Total Carbohydrates 57g Total Carbohydrates 58g
Fiber 3g Fiber 9g
Sugar 15g Sugar 5g
Total Fat 23g Total Fat 22g
Saturated Fat 2.5g Saturated Fat 3.5g
Protein 20g Protein 32g
Sodium 380mg Sodium 420mg
Initially they look pretty similar right? There are a few major differences that need to be pointed out.
Fiber: If you were to drink these meal replacements 3-4x a day, only JouleFuel will provide enough fiber to meet your daily needs. The 9-12g provided from Soylent isn’t enough.
Sugar: The recommended limit on sugar per day is 25g of added sugar a day. Soylent will give you 45-60g of added sugar, while Joule Fuel is within the acceptable range of 15-20g. 45-60g of sugar is quite a lot around 4-5 tbsp of sugar.
The rest of the macronutrients do fall within a healthy range, however when we look closer we’ll see there is quite a difference in where the nutrients are coming from.
Soylent: Canola and Sunflower Oil Powder, Maltodextrin, Modified Food Starch, Mono and Diglycerides
JouleFuel: Whey protein, Organic Oat Flour, Organic Brown Rice Four, Almond Meal, Chia Seeds
Already you can see there is a large discrepancy in quality of ingredients. Soylent provides an oil based powder, sugar, food starch and a fat additive. Protein isn’t even in the top few ingredients. JouleFuel’s first ingredient is whey protein. This is the best protein source for healthy active adults. Rounding out their top ingredients are healthy whole food carbohydrate sources and heart healthy fat and omega 3 fatty acids.
Soylent gets its carbohydrate sources from maltodextrin. Maltodextrin is a sugar, and due to FDA regulations, it doesn’t need to be labeled as such. It is often corn based, and heavily processed. It also has a very high glycemic index, which means it causes a larger spike in your blood sugar levels vs. the whole grains (oats and brown rice) in Joule Fuel. Oats and brown rice are complex carbohydrates which cause a slower rise in blood sugar, and contain significant other nutrients including fiber.
JouleFuel provides the number 1 protein source for athletes, whey protein. Whey has a complete set of amino acids, which will provide your muscles the refueling and rebuilding power they need. Whey is a fast acting protein which means your muscles will start their repair as soon as you ingest the drink. Soylent provides you with rice protein. Rice protein does not contain the full count of amino acids, so off the bat you are lacking in complete muscle rebuilding. In addition, the Protein Efficiency Ratio of whey is 3.45 vs. rice at 2.75. You body will digest the whey easier, and more protein will be available for use.
Soylent is the clear loser when it comes to healthy fat sources. It contains canola and sunflower oil. While these oils do contain omega 3 fatty acids, they are highly processed and when it comes to healthy fats, not one of the top choices. Joule Fuel contains heart healthy almonds, chia seeds and flaxseeds, which are bursting with heart healthy omega 3’s. While the fat contents are similar, where the fat comes from is the difference.
If consumed 4x a day, Soylent will provide the RDI for the micronutrients your body needs. As athletes and active adults, or body often needs more then the RDI for micronutrients to gain peak performance and health. Joule Fuel provides a much wider array of micronutrients, focusing on the B-vitamins, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. These micronutrients can be needed in higher amounts for athletes and healthy adults. The B vitamins are needed to help your body to make energy, while Vitamin C and E act as antioxidants, protecting the body from free radical damage. I am a little concerned that taking Joule Fuel 4-5x a day might approach too high of a level of Vitamin E as the fat soluble vitamins have lower toxicity ceilings.
Additional Nutrition Info:
JouleFuel uses several high quality organic ingredients (a step in the right direction), Soylent does not use any.
Soylent uses sucrolose as a flavoring agent. Sucrolose is an artificial sweetener, and the jury is still out on whether or not it is safe.
While JouleFuel does cost slightly more ($15 for 5 meals), it is of much higher quality from an ingredient and nutrition standpoint. Soylent costs $12.50 for 5 meals.
Soylent is gluten free and dairy free, so those needing to avoid those are safe to drink it. JouleFuel does contain dairy, so while it is vegetarian, it is not vegan.
If I were to use a check mark system to have a winner in each category, it would clearly go to JouleFuel. They have high quality ingredients, complex carbohydrates, high fiber, high quality protein, heart healthy fat sources, no added sugar and no added artificial sweeteners. I have to admit I did not get a chance to try Soylent, so from a taste perspective I can’t really judge that. I can say that JouleFuel was tasty and I would use it again. If you’re in the market to try a meal replacement, give JouleFuel a try. Its convenient, tasty, affordable and can even help if you’re trying to lose weight. If you’re trying to stick to a set calorie goal like 1650kcal or 2200kcal, you know you are getting the exact number. This can be very helpful and take the pressure off of what to cook.