Meal replacement powder exists as a weight management tool but in the event of a natural disaster or space exploration could someone live off them indefinitely?

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Meal replacement powder exists as a weight management tool but in the event of a natural disaster or space exploration, hell even homelessness or world hunger, could someone live off them indefinitely? Obviously it wouldn‘t be pleasant but it is possible? Or would someone waste away, lose vital muscle mass and cognitive abilities etc?

Answer: Thank you to those that answered. In the case of disaster relief It seems the biggest issue with powder is access to clean water not health related reasons or the actual cost of making it like I thought may be the case. As for space exploration if a base formula is tailored to an individuals specific needs it’s viable.

In: Biology

10 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Everyone dies, there is no indefinitely

However, nutrition is an extremely rare cause of death. It takes very little to keep us alive until we die.

Anonymous 0 Comments

I think the answer is that in theory, yes. In reality, when you get sick you need different nutrients. We all have had cravings which are our body’s way telling us we need to eat something different.

You might need a little more flexibility than exactly one powder composition.

For example, an anemic person would need extra iron.

Anonymous 0 Comments

I was on a liquid diet for 6 months called Optifast. I lost 140 pounds. Long term some issues that might present in an apocalypse or other similar scenario are kidney stones, but theoretically I feel like you could make it work for many years athr very least. 

You’re much more likely to develop kidney stones and must stay hydrated consistently. In a scenario like the ones you’re mentioning if water were scarce you’d be much more likely to have kidney stones and they’re excruciating and can cause death. 

Anonymous 0 Comments

About ten years ago, my food intake consisted of about 90-95% Soylent 1.5 for about six months. (The version numbers notes various recipes that have evolved over time.) I tried it on a whim then just found it really convenient to have sustenance that I could make very quickly with minimal effort, and consume the same way. I didn’t have a medical professional checking me at the time but I definitely had more energy and felt like I could continue for longer, but I just wanted to cook more so I scaled by my Soylent consumption. I still use Soylent to fill in for solid meals a few times a week.

The supposed origin of Soylent was to create a food produce for countries where where malnourishment is common, so it’s at least made with long term consumption in mind, but I doubt it’s been studied. It may be possible to survive on a liquid diet indefinitely, but you would definitely need a different composition of nutrients and minerals at different times/stages of life.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There was a fat dude who once shaved the weight by taking multi vitamins, nutritional yeast, and water for an entire year

So depending on the powder its definitely possible

Anonymous 0 Comments

There are people who hav lived almost entirely off of Soylent for several years.  Supposedly they haven’t had any negative effects.

Anonymous 0 Comments

I don’t think people are fully answering your question, cause the body is much more complicated than a ELI5 could go in depth for. Sure it take “very little” to sustain a body and liquid diets can used in extreme situations, but your body has processes that require a particular amount of Marconutrients and micronutrients.

Marcos comes from the form of dense energy-filled caloric items. We list them as simply Fats (triglycerides), carbs (carbohydrates, which can be very complex to explain), and protein (amino acids to form protein chains).

Micronutrients usually consist of the varying vitamins and minerals that our body needs, including fatty acids. Minerals are self explanatory, and vitamins are “vital” organic molecules that act a role in how our of cells work in our body.

These both categories are needed, but only one make up the caloric needs. Calories, or kilocalories to be more accurate, is a measure of energy. Our bodies consume this energy in various ways (many different processes your body needs), but ultimately it’s just a measure of energy and what it takes for your body to consume and use it. When you eat a 500 calorie shake, it’s split from these three categories. Majority of your calories will be carbohydrates, in various “chains” (see the different types of sugar and starch). These chains are split and used by various parts of your body to function.

Protein are basic building blocks of life. Almost everything you have in your body requires the formation of protein chains, more than just building muscle. Our bodies need 21 amino acids to form the necessary protein chains, but we cannot synthesize ( make on our own) 9 of them, they have to be found externally. This is mostly why we are omnivores; it’s easier to get it from animals that can synthesize them, but there’s also plant versions as well. So when we eat protein, we are actually breaking down them back to their amino acids and rebuilding them for our use.

Fats are more complicated than a ELI5, but the terminology can be misleading, as they are officially known as triglycerides. Tri for meaning there’s 3 fatty acids in the chain, but again, ELI5. All you need to know is that fats that we eat are not a 1:1 of the fat stored in your body. They are almost essentially the same thing, but they play vital roles in your body, such as storing energy for later use, cell support, and absorption of nutrients correctly.

All this is to say: as long as the meal replacement can simulate and match your essential nutrient needs, then theoretically, yes. Keep in mind that the main reason why the population seems to be getting bigger is because we have unfettered access to foods that are calorie dense, and also not moving around as much. If we had to switch over to a powder of sorts, I would worry about having the right amount of Calories and water for the body to function correctly.

EDIT: forgot to add carbs. These are your simple energy systems used by your body. Everything you do will use some sort of carb, which is why it’s usually the most caloric item you will consume. Everything from your muscles ( in the form of ATP) and your brain will need carbohydrates (for your brain, it’s usually in the form of a sugar called glucose)

Anonymous 0 Comments

The true origin of these products is as enteral tube feeding formulas for comatose patients, and they have been around in this form for decades. Patients can live indefinitely off of these formulas.  The companies that make them for hospitals and care homes (like Nestle) have simply repurposed their products for the grocery store.

Anonymous 0 Comments

To add to the space travel usage, NASA had mostly tube food at first but for long missions in the ISS, just liquid or tube food is depressing. Making and sharing a meal is good for the mental health of the astronauts. Plus, the French sent up their people with just the most fancy meals ever and the Americans were like “what the hell‽ Get us some of that!”

Anonymous 0 Comments

The short answer is, yes, you certainly can, if it’s formulated properly, but you don’t want to DIY it, because it’s easy to screw it up… lots of micronutrients in a diverse diet that may be missing from a monotonous “meal replacement”. (E.g… your meal substitute is vegan… did you remember B12? Or it’s the opposite of vegan… where is your Vitamin C? Is your protein source complete? Enough Potassium? Iodine? Dietary Fiber to keep your colon happy?, etc.)