What if there were a powder that you could sprinkle on your food and cause you to lose weight, no matter what you ate? That powder may be Sensa, a new weight-loss product that claims to change how you smell and taste food. It was created to stimulate the brain in a way that compels you to eat less, and therefore lose weight.
What Is Sensa?
Sensa is a weight-loss program that uses unscented, flavorless crystals called “tastants.” The crystals are sprinkled on food. The power of the tastants comes from its ability to manipulate your sense of smell.
The physician who developed Sensa, Dr. Alan Hirsch,noticed that if patients lost their sense of smell, they experienced significant weight gain. Therefore, Dr. Hirsch developed this supplement to enhance the smell and taste of food.
Sensa targets “sensory-specific satiety.” In other words, it activates the brain’s pathway to satiety through the part of the brain that controls smell. Usually, as you eat, you don’t feel full until a signal from your stomach travels to your brain to tell your brain that you are full – this can take 30 minutes or longer. By targeting sensory-specific satiety, Sensa is designed to make you feel full faster.
In a research study that Dr. Hirsh performed, his participants lost an average of 30 pounds in 6 months.
Does It Work?
To prove its ability to cause weight loss, Dr. Hirsch conducted two studies. The first study took place over 6 months and involved 83 subjects. The experimental group in this study lost about 28 pounds. The second study involved 1436 subjects over 6 months, and the experimental group lost an average of 30.5 pounds. That’s an average of 15% loss of body weight.
Despite the weight-loss claims, Dr. Hirsh’s studies have not yet been published in a reputable journal nor have they been reviewed by multiple scientists in a similar field (otherwise known as “peer-reviewed”).
One of the studies’ flaws is the lack of a “placebo group.” When testing the effectiveness of a supplement or drug, most medical research studies include a group of persons who take a non-effective placebo to see if the effects of a particular drug or supplement are actually due to the drug or because of something else. Without a Sensa placebo group, one can’t be certain that the weight loss seen in the study is actually due to Sensa’s ingredients or because Sensa just made people more aware of their food intake. In response to this criticism, Dr. Hirsch intends to conduct more studies on Sensa, saying that a research project with a placebo group is his “next step.”
Is It Safe?
The ingredients in Sensa have been deemed safe. It consists of commonly used food additives and fillers that include:
- Malodextrin: Made from cornstarch, it acts as a filler and is commonly used as a sugar substitute.
- Carmine: A food coloring agent/dye. It may cause mild hives, itchy skin or other allergic reactions.
- Tricalcium Phosphate: A calcium salt used as an anti-caking agent.
- Natural flavors: These ingredients vary from flavor to flavor of the tastant crystals. However, they are all generally recognized as safe by the FDA.
This combination of ingredients is mostly safe. Most side effects people experience include stomachaches, headaches, nausea, constipation and heartburn.
Should I Use Sensa?
Because the FDA has deemed the ingredients in Sensa to be safe, there’s no harm in trying this program. It might work for some, but it may not work for others. More research needs to be done on its effectiveness and its mechanism of action. However, if you do chose to use Sensa as a weight-loss aid, don’t solely rely on it for long-term weight loss.
What Is the Right Way to Take Sensa?
In the Sensa package, you get several crystal shakers with different tastants. They include flavors like cheddar cheese, onion, horseradish, ranch dressing, cocoa, raspberry, etc. You can use the tastants on all the foods you eat. You may want to keep one in the kitchen, one at work, and take one with you when dining out.
Each shaker has two sides: a sweet side and a salty side. Sprinkle salty foods, like meat, pasta or sandwiches, with the salty side. Sprinkle sweet foods, like fruit, pastries or cereals, with the sweet side.
Even though the product claims that you can lose weight without changing your regular diet, we still recommend making healthy food choices by cutting down on junk foods and fatty foods and incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet.
Most importantly, The Dr. Oz Show will not and does not promote any particular brand. If you see any ads or receive any e-mails that claim Dr. Oz is promoting or recommending a specific brand, ignore it and let The Dr. Oz Show know about it.