Does Sensa Really Work

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Could it be that the fountain of weight loss has been discovered and it flows in form of tiny crystals? The people at Sensa would like everyone to believe that.

The Sensa weight loss system was engineered by Dr. Alan Hirsch who is a board-certified neurologist, director and founder of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. Although Hirsch has impressive credentials, there are some reasons consumers should be skeptical about the claims of his product.

Research Credibility

Some health experts state there are some issues with Hirsch’s research study.  Because the Sensa study was not peer reviewed or published in a peer-reviewed journal, it’s “impossible to know how the subjects were selected, how they were selected, how they were weighed and the range of weights that they lost,” says Adam Drewnowski–director of the nutritional sciences program at the University of Washington in Seattle and renowned expert on taste, appetite and obesity–in the Los Angeles Times article “Can Sensa Curb Eating or Is It Just Fairy Dust” by Chris Woolston.

The ingredients in Sensa are maltodextrin, tricalcium phosphate, carmine, soy, and milk. These ingredients are believed to be safe and have few side effects, but they do not have any credible evidence to support their effectiveness for weight loss. Drewnowski also states that there is no evidence that proves the ingredients in Sensa, especially the main ingredient maltodextrin, help people lose weight.

According to Kathleen M. Zelman in WebMD‘s article “The Truth about Sensa,” the company’s scientific evidence is “based on a ‘clinical’ study (not to be confused with a clinical trial, which is the gold standard for research) done by Hirsch. In other words, the study has never been validated, nor published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.”

According to the Sensa Web site, consumers do not need to restrict calories, restrict foods or make any lifestyle changes to lose pounds on Sensa. The lack of credible research and the fact that the program does not endorse diet or fitness guidelines should be a red flag for consumers. These dubious claims to avoid food restriction and exercise suggest that even if Sensa does work, it may not be effective for long-term weight loss success.

Sensa Weight Loss System

The Sensa weight loss plan, also called the Sprinkle Diet, consists of Sensa crystals or “Tastants” that when sprinkled on food promote feelings of fullness. Hirsch also claims that his study shows people can lose 30 pounds in six months.

The only thing people need to do to lose weight is sprinkle Sensa on food right before they eat. Sensa comes in containers that are similar to salt and pepper shakers.  According to Hirsch, Sensa works by tricking the body into believing it’s full. As people eat, smell and taste receptors send messages to the brain which release hormones that tell the body it’s time to stop eating. This is a phenomenon Hirsch calls “Sensory Specific Satiety.”

Sensa Weight Loss Trial

The credibility of Hirsch’s studies is not the only thing that should make consumers cautious about trying Sensa. Even though people can try the product for free for 30 days–as long as they fork over their credit card number–Consumer Affairs cautions people that the free trial is associated with an automatic enrollment plan and incurs an additional charge if all of the product back is not returned within 30 days, says Zelman. Other complaints from consumers include having a difficult time getting a refund and having to pay for shipping after the product was returned.

The bold claims and tenuous scientific evidence, along with a lack of diet and fitness guidelines should make consumers think twice about trying Sensa.


Woolston, Chris. “Can Sensa Curb Eating or Is It Just Fairy Dust.” Los Angeles Times. March 14, 2011.

Zelman, Kathleen M. “The Truth About Sensa.” WebMD.

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