There’s no magical way to lose weight
I found out from a blogger friend of mine that there is a new fad diet called Sensa that involves sprinkling so-called ‘tastants’ on your food. They are supposed to make the food taste and smell better and then result in you eating less.
It sounds to me just like another scam to make money off of people desperate to lose weight – the 6-Month Starter Kit costs $210!
Is it magic?
They claim that you can eat whatever you want and don’t need to change anything with your eating or exercise habits. They even say on their site: “There are no food restrictions, and no change in lifestyle. … And you can continue to eat all your favorite foods!“.
That alone – even if some people do lose weight with it – should sound some alarms. Eating healthy foods and exercising isn’t just for losing weight. The nutrients found in foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains are needed for us to stay healthy. Cardiovascular exercise helps us to keep our hearts strong and strength training helps us to maintain muscle mass and to strengthen our bones.
Additionally, I don’t see any mention of the research for this product being published in a peer-reviewed journal, only a very brief summary of a clinical trial. No details of the methodology are included. It is only mentioned that the control group “was given a placebo — crystals that looked like Sensa Tastants, but unlike Tastants, did not enhance smell or taste”. If the ‘placebo’ tastants had no taste or smell, then obviously everyone in the study knew if they were in the test or the control group which could of course skew the results.
What’s in it?
According to the site the ingredients of the tastants are:
1. Maltodextrin (a thickening agent and sweetener)
2. Tricalcium Phosphate (an anti-caking agent)
3. Silica (inert, as far as I can tell)
4. Natural and Artificial Flavors
5. FD&C Yellow 5
7. Contains Soy and Milk ingredients
Apparently nothing in them needed FDA approval and seem only to do what they claim – add flavor and smell to the food.
Evidence based science?
The guy who is selling this stuff (Alan Hirsch) founded and is the director of the ‘Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation‘ which I believe conducted the ‘research’. I don’t have any other information about this foundation to be able to evaluate the scientific legitimacy of the foundation or its research.
Worth mentioning also –
<sarcasm> his research must be legitimate since he was interviewed by the ‘Prestigious’ medical journal ‘Alternative & Complementary Therapies’
</sarcasm>, as it stated on his foundation’s site.
Smell and appetite
On a personal note – the basic idea of sensa is that if you make food taste and smell better, people will feel full faster and eat less. I have never had a good sense of smell and have alway been pretty skinny. I attribute part of my thinness to my inability to smell. If your sense of smell is strong it seems to me that the smell of good food increases a person’s appetite, while for me – I can hardly smell food and so I don’t get hungry when I’m near it.
Around the blogosphere
Other bloggers who have already written about this include JoLynn Braley and Mike Howard. I would love to hear what medical bloggers like Dr. Val and science bloggers like Orac and those at Denialism would say about sensa, as they have written about weight management and obesity issues.
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16 Responses to 'There’s no magical way to lose weight'
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on June 24th, 2008 at 11:39 am
Hi Trisha, excellent excellent points!
The part about the placebos not having any taste or smell, wow, didn’t think of that at all. And your point about the publications of their study – you are really up on what constitutes a respected, published medical journal vs. one that isn’t.
And of course you know that I’m totally with you on the fact that they do not promote a change in lifestyle – heck, that is the Only Thing That Works!! If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you’ve GOT to make healthy lifestyle changes.
I’d also love to hear from the other bloggers you mentioned, I hope they write about this topic, too.
on June 24th, 2008 at 7:14 pm
There is only one ‘magic’ way to lose weight. Repeat to yourself that you are ‘in training’. You have a goal. You have a mission. Take action and achieve. You are in training.
on June 28th, 2008 at 1:06 am
[…] you’ve read my post on The Sprinkle Diet and also this weeks post on MSG. Well Trisha shared her take on The Sprinkle Diet (a.k.a. Sensa) and she brings up some really great points that I didn’t think of in my post […]
on July 10th, 2008 at 3:30 pm
I emailed the Sensa Website twice asking where I could read the complete published clinical study… no response. I then called them. The woman on the phone did not even know what a clinical study was and kept saying it was “on the Website”. I patiently explained that there is no abstract posted on their Website. I explained an abstract of a clinical study would have much more detail and have safety results as compared to placebo. She still didn’t know what I was talking about. She then took my email address promising to get back to me. That was weeks ago and I’m still waiting…
on July 10th, 2008 at 3:56 pm
Heh, this is the first I’ve heard of this “product” – I wouldn’t spend my money there. I tend to agree with you on the sense of smell bit. I have never had a sense of smell and my trouble is gaining weight when I want to. Losing weight is easy; I just have to stop running for a few weeks.
on July 10th, 2008 at 3:56 pm
Hi Becky, thanks so much for leaving your comment here on Trisha’s post, that’s rather interesting, wouldn’t ya say?
I also wrote about Sensa/The Sprinkle Diet (Trisha linked to it in her article in her last paragraph) and have actually gotten very unprofessional and character attacking comments from people who are promoting it. They actually put down the fact that I promote a product that is all about eating whole healthy foods and getting regular exercise, part of a healthy lifestyle.
Instead they promote eating whatever the heck you want, all those processed foods filled with the addictive ingredients that do nothing to help you live life at an optimum level of health and all you have to do is sprinkle some stuff on your food that based on my research contains MSG.
BTW, if you ever have someone tell you their product doesn’t contain MSG ask them for a “free amino acid” assay. If there is any free glutamic acid found, you can assume that the product contains MSG – check out this link for more on that – http://www.truthinlabeling.org/
on July 22nd, 2008 at 7:43 am
The patent number for sensa is 20030147938. Type in the number at the uS patent office found here: http://appft1.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/srchnum.html
on July 23rd, 2008 at 3:28 pm
Thanks! That is really cool! I’ll have to look that up sometime. My husband is a patent scientist too, so I’ll have him see what he thinks when he has the time. I’ll pass this on to JoLynn too!
on October 1st, 2008 at 9:56 am
With so many diets why are we so fat? There is some good information, but it is being overshadowed by a lot of junk. There is a reason why we are fat (fat factors). Most people don’t realize what they are doing to sabatoge their weight loss goals.
Del-Metri Williams, MBA NC CTLC
Weight Management Coach smartweightloss4u.com
Del-Metri Williamss last blog post:Fat Factor #5 Chronic Stress from her/his blog at nodietingzone.com
on October 28th, 2008 at 8:27 pm
I really think that there is no magical way to loss weight. It’s all in the way we focus on how we could loss weight. Everyone of us want’s to loss weight, but sometimes we don’t really focus on the things that we have to do to loss weight.
on November 13th, 2008 at 5:41 pm
Thanks–great info. Have you ever heard of anyone using a heart rate monitor for weight loss? Someone mentioned it to me but I wonder how accurate it is.
on January 16th, 2009 at 4:12 pm
Wow, I don’t know about Sensa. Never tried it before, but great post. I tried modelherbs.com and had really good success with it. I don’t think it was a placebo effect, as it was all natural and proven herbs that have been used for years. It really isn’t “magical” just common sense. But I know you need to also eat healthier and exercise to really maintain weight loss!
on March 6th, 2009 at 7:56 am
Great post! I never heard of Sensa either.
Sprinkles on your food? Who would of thought of that to lose weight. I don’t think I will try it. I like my food just the way it is.
on March 11th, 2009 at 5:39 am
Great post again mate. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there. Losing weight doesn’t have to be hard ywet mose people fail to realize the basics
on May 23rd, 2009 at 7:48 pm
Here are some of the ways that you can tell if a diet is a reliable, proven diet or if it’s just a fad diet that you should probably avoid. Don’t try any diet that:
# Says that you can lose huge amounts of weight in weeks or months
# Says that you can lose weight while eating whatever you want
# Overly simplifies the diet and ignores complex issues surrounding weight loss
# Only has testimonials as proof of success, no recommendations from medical professionals
# Has very dramatic claims of success that have no medical proof
# Tries to sell its own line of products or books as part of the diet
# Has no studies proving its effectiveness that have been reviewed by medical personnel or dietary researchers
# Doesn’t make allowances for people that have medical conditions, allergies, or other health concerns
# Restricts what you can eat from one of the food groups or says you can’t eat anything from one particular food group.
# Doesn’t offer any information about the effects of the diet over a long period of time
# Predicts huge weight gain and dire consequences if you go off the diet
on September 27th, 2009 at 9:49 am
Well lets wait and see what side effects come out in the press in 5 years time, I think lots of these so called weight loss pills will carry heavy side effects that have not been fully explored