A friend alerted me to a weight loss product recently. He saw a commercial for it and initially thought that it was a joke. Unfortunately, it’s no joke, although the likelihood of its effectiveness is.
This product,SENSA, allegedly works with your olfactory and taste receptors to hasten your satiety when eating. How it does this without altering the taste or odour of your food (as they claim) is a mystery to me. After a little bit of wandering around the product website I was able to find the ingredient list: “Maltodextrin (Derived from Corn from the USA), Tricalcium Phosphate, Silica, Natural and Artificial Flavors. SENSA® also contains Soy and Milk ingredients. SENSA® is sodium-free, sugar-free, calorie free, and there are no stimulants, drugs or MSG.”
Maltodextrin, is a partially hydrolized starch. As far as I’m aware, there is no evidence that it’s useful in weight loss. In fact, many body builders use it after a workout to encourage weight gain. Tricalcium Phosphate is a calcium salt. Again, there is no evidence that it’s useful in weight loss. I find the presence of silica rather off-putting. That’s what’s in those little freshness packets in your new sneaker or purse that are clearly stamped “DO NOT EAT”. Prolonged use of silica supplements may result in deficiency in essential vitamins (1). I’m also not convinced that it’s actually useful in weight loss. I certainly couldn’t find any reasonable evidence. As none of the ingredients alone have any discernable weight loss properties, I sincerely doubt that there is any synergistic effect making this product an effective weight loss tool.
I know that many people are engaged in lifelong struggles with their weight. I also know that many people likely made New Years resolutions to lose weight. Products such as this may be appealing because they promise that you can continue to eat all the foods you love, you just have to sprinkle them with magical powder. Yes, you can continue to enjoy the foods you love and lose weight but you may not be able to enjoy as much of them as frequently as you would like if your favourite foods are potato chips and cookies rather than broccoli and celery. The hard truth is: weight loss and weight maintenance are work. Even if this powder does work (which I’m extremely dubious about) it’s not a sustainable change. Would you be prepared to spend money (and it’s not cheap: one month of SENSA is $60) on powder to add to every food you eat for the rest of your life? In order to see sustainable weight loss you need to make sustainable changes.