Can I fuel my human body off just SPIZ (nutrition drink), water, and the occasional "recreational" meal?
October 8, 2009 2:26 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone ever attempted or documented using a "nutritionally complete" drink such as SPIZ that has all your daily values over a long period of time?

I've read some other threads here, but not finding much. It is nearly impossible to Google anything diet related these days, too much spam and nutjobs. My goal here is to think of food merely as fuel, and just scrap the whole eating what I crave thing.

Going to talk to my family MD and ask for a referral to a nutritionist, too. But before I do, and because I know I'll be met with some criticism to my desires, I wanted to get some more info.

Where is the food pill already?!?
posted by mikee to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Slightly off target but, Link (new window)
posted by kanemano at 2:37 PM on October 8, 2009

Ah, the long-sought-after Bachelor Chow. Staying tuned to see what you get.
posted by bartleby at 2:47 PM on October 8, 2009

The nutrition listing doesn't mention anything about fiber, so if you tried to live off SPIZ alone, while it might not kill you from malnutrition, you'd suffer some distinctly unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:03 PM on October 8, 2009

Detainees at Guantanamo (and also at black sites) have been semi-starved by being fed only Ensure over long periods. Not a recommendation.Here's one account.
posted by Mngo at 3:35 PM on October 8, 2009

Nutritionally complete drinks already exist. They're used mostly in clinical settings, generally administered through a tube, but some of them are flavoured to drink by mouth. Some of them even include fibre.

I don't know much about SPIZ, but I'd be more likely to choose an appropriate clinically-used formula over something like that if I were depending on it for basically all of my nutrition needs.

However -- supplements aren't food. As "nutritionally complete" as they may be, they're still not *as complete* as eating real food. There are risks, especially long-term.

I'd say definitely talk to a dietitian about this, and your reasons for wanting to do this. They can either help you do it safely, or help you come up with an alternate plan that will still achieve your goal.
posted by Ouisch at 3:48 PM on October 8, 2009

Well, I used Optifast for over 6 months to lose just over 100lbs. Optifast is a "nutritionally" complete liquid fasting program that has egg whites as its primary source of protein. I had no other food or caloric drink but the Optifast 4 times a day. My total caloric intake was 800 calories. I also gave up caffeine at the time.

When I first started, I had the caffeine withdrawal headaches. Those passed about two weeks into the fast. I am the kind of person who can eat the same thing everyday and not have a problem with it (i.e. tomato sandwiches for lunch everyday at school). So, even though they had chocolate, vanilla and strawberry flavored Optifast, I stuck with the chocolate.

I loved it--I didn't have to think about food. I didn't have to buy food. There was no ambiguity--if I ate food or drank something with calories I was off plan. No questions.

However, I had to have blood drawn weekly to insure I wasn't doing myself injury somehow. I was under a Doctor's care the whole time. I had to attend behavior modification and nutrition classes etc. with the idea that we'd be back on food after we lost the weight.

The most disturbing side effect was a result of the plan was (and this was because of the low calories) I would hit a wall if I went beyond my scheduled time for my next "shake" I would not be able to move or if I was more active than usual. I was out with friends and lost track of time--I hit the wall and had to sit immediately. I couldn't move at all. They had to run get water and they had to mix a packet right there so I could drink it in order to continue our walk. It was the weirdest feeling.

The other side effect, of course, is that you don't poop a whole lot. I would imagine that would cause problems down the road if I'd continued indefinitely.

Other than that, I had no side effects. I felt great most of the time. My blood pressure went down, aches and pains went away and craved food only rarely. I wasn't a big drinker so I didn't miss the alcohol. All my bloodwork was great during that time--I don't have sugar issues, but my cholesteral became picture perfect and my iron went up to normal.

The problem was that I didn't really change any behavior or my "food issues" so that all slapped me back in the face when we stopped the fast. Also, since the hospital wasn't selling the expensive "shakes" and blood tests once you got back on food, their promised "ongoing support" went away. So I gradually gained all the weight back--plus some. That didn't stop me from trying it one more time with the same result.
posted by agatha_magatha at 3:54 PM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

I know of a few people who've done the Lighter Life diet... here is a link. The idea is that you substitute nutritionally complete "shakes" etc. and take up counselling which breaks the link between emotional eating and, well, food. The people (all 3 were friends of friends, so treat this with caution) all put the weight back on once they stopped drinkin' the shakes and payin' the fees. I hate to link to the sun almost as much as i hate to link to diet nazis, but they had a slightly amusing story recently: link.

You're going to get a lot of opinion in the responses to this about the value of meal replacement versus a sensible diet; my opinion is that a sensible diet - whilst hard - is probably better for you in the long run; and that small changes coupled with exercise are probably even better. I'm a long term dieter who's tried pretty much everything. You don't really want to know about me, but settling on weightwatchers (european style so you get to eat as much pasta/rice/etc. for a fixed cost & you're never hungry) has worked fairly good for me (~25kg gone, but the last 5 are proving really hard to shift). Having a restricted list of foods I can do - some of which I like - has got me thinking more about food as "stuff we need" than food as "stuff i want", anyway.
posted by handee at 3:55 PM on October 8, 2009

Awesome replies, thank you. I agree; SPIZ doesn't have fiber and is really only intended for cyclists and athletes fueling up during races, etc.

I think what I'm planning to try is someting like SPIZ or Optifast to hit 4 of those 5 small meals a day. Then have dinner with my family like always, but perhaps less portions.

@agatha_magatha How often did you have to get blood drawn? Interested in Optifast. Seems like something you have to be prescribed?

If anyone else has any other info on the other nutritionally complete drinks like Optifast or the shakes they used in medical settings for cancer/AIDs patients, etc would appreciate some links! Going to talk to the doc next week, gotta do my research :)
posted by mikee at 8:19 AM on October 9, 2009

We had weekly blood draws which I think was a little bit of overkill--I never had anything abnormal occur. The other side effect I had that I forgot about was that my skin, hair, nails, etc. got dry and brittle--which you'd expect from a completely fat-free diet.

It was funny--as I said, I had no problem with the shakes and when I craved food it was mostly veggies or meat. But some of the folks got very creative about making the shakes more "food like." We had people in the group who would use less water when making the shakes to make them pudding-like and another woman would pour the shake in an omelet pan to make something like a crepe or omelet. To me that was a cheat--plus I was trying to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible.

The second time I did the fast (at a different hospital about 5 years after the first) I was allowed 5 shakes for 1,000 calories a day and so didn't run into the "wall" as much--I am 5' 10" and the extra 200 calories made a big difference. The second time we did weekly blood draws as well so that appears to be the standard. I'm not sure what exactly they were look for--probably liver/kidney function.

During both fasts I lived alone and so was able to get rid of all the food in the house which was a big help. I really felt sorry for the women with families who still had to get dinners and fix lunches for the kids, etc.
posted by agatha_magatha at 9:00 AM on October 9, 2009

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