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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Does Sensa Work? A Real Life Review

A long time ago, back when I was regularly doing product reviews, the lovely people at Sensa sent me a package of Sensa sprinkles for me to try. Why did you never hear about it back then? Well, because I didn't think it was even blogworthy. It seemed like such a lame idea that I didn't want to waste my time writing about it, or "trying" it for more than a few days. Since back then, I told them I would try their product and *possibly* write a review about it, I had no pressure to actually write it. In fact, I put reviews on the back burner completely and simply turned down everything I was offered (except Medifast) for awhile. But the other day, I was cleaning under my bed and found a box full of Sensa sprinkles. Ah, the memories! So just for fun, I'd like to tell you about my experience with Sensa.

Basically, Sensa is supposed to work by triggering your "Sensory Specific Satiety" and making you feel full faster. That means Sensa is supposed to enhance smell and flip your "I feel full" switch sooner, so theoretically you will stop eating sooner, thus eating less and losing weight. You can read the clinical study Sensa conducted here, which showed an average weight loss of 30.5 pounds in 6 months.

So I got these little plastic containers of Sensa sprinkles and the instructions said to sprinkle it over everything I eat. There were two different kinds: one for sweet foods, and one for savory foods. You just shake it on the outside of everything you eat. It supposedly has no taste, only a smell. So I tried it.

First of all, it becomes terribly annoying to carry these shakers everywhere and before you eat a bite of anything you have to shake this stuff on it. "Hey Mary, try a bite of these low fat whole grain energy bars I made!" "Okay, hang on while I shake this stuff on it first." "Hey Joe, want some pretzels while we watch the game?" "Sure man, first let me shake my Sensa over the bowl." "Hey Lori, how about some fresh carrot sticks and grapes?" "Awesome! First let me spray it with a fine mist* and sprinkle my powder on them!"

*If the sprinkles won't stick to your food, Sensa suggests spraying the food with a fine mist of water before sprinkling.

Second, you are not supposed to use the sprinkles on anything that is not solid or semi-solid. So if you are eating a lot of cream soups, or milkshakes, or if you have a problem with sodas or lattes, this is not going to help you there.

What's good about Sensa? Well, it has no harmful ingredients. There are no stimulants or anything bad in there so there are supposed to be no side effects. In fact, the ingredients list includes only Maltodextrin (derived from corn from the USA), Tricalcium Phosphate, Silica, Natural and Artificial Flavors. They do warn that there are soy and milk ingredients in the flavorings, though, so if you are allergic, be aware of that.

What else is good? It's simple. You supposedly don't have to change your diet or exercise (hmmm...). It takes pretty much no effort.

But I didn't see any results, either. The thing is, if you are like me, "feeling full" is not going to stop you from finishing that piece of cheesecake. So even if Sensa trips your full switch sooner, it will have no effect unless you actually stop eating at that point.

Now, as for how it works and the experience itself:

I dutifully sprinkled the savory Sensa on my veggies, on my sandwiches, on my rice. After awhile, I noticed it smelled pretty much exactly like onion powder. And that got annoying. Seriously. If *everything* you eat smells like onion powder, YES, it gets old and you get sick of it and it becomes a turn-off. Is that how this is supposed to work? It did turn me off. And the sweet sprinkles? They smelled pretty much exactly like crushed-up Smarties. I put them on my pudding, my strawberries, my cereal. And after a very short time I was quite sick of smelling Smarties every time I ate. But instead of eating less, I just quit using the sprinkles.

Every month there is a new little box of "different" smelling Sensa sprinkles so that your senses don't get used to the smell and acclimate. So you get new smells every month. All this for only $59 for a one-month starter kit (on sale at the time of this review; regular price is $79) or $289 (down from $354) for a six-month supply. Yikes!! Although you can find it cheaper on Amazon sometimes; check out the customer reviews while you're there... interesting stuff.

I would like to humbly make the following recommendation:

Get two shakers at the dollar store. Salt & pepper shakers or whatever. Fill one with onion powder, and fill one with crushed Smarties. Now put them on everything you eat for 30 days... the onion sprinkles for savory foods and the Smarties for sweet foods. See how you like it. See if it affects how you feel about food and how much you eat. That is pretty much the experience I personally had. No, it is NOT the same as Sensa, because Sensa has no taste... BUT, because taste and smell are so linked in our bodies, the foods DID taste like the smell of the Sensa sprinkles to me. I did, in fact, feel like I was eating food coated in onion powder or crushed Smarties.

So there you have it.

Have you tried Sensa? I'd love to hear your experience!

**UPDATE: As on January 7, 2014, according to CBS News, Sensa has been fined for false advertising. According to the article:

"The marketing company behind Sensa was ordered to pay $46.5 million, but was only determined to have the ability to pay $26.5 million to settle with the FTC.

The FTC said the company “exhorted consumers to ‘sprinkle, eat, and lose weight’” but didn't have the scientific evidence to support these claims.

Sensa Products, LLC was also cited for compensating consumers who endorsed Sensa. The consumers received between $1,000 and $5,000 and free trips to Los Angeles for their statements."

Well, all I have to say about that is, HEY! Where's my money and free trip????

*FTC-required disclosure: A long time ago, Sensa provided me with a box of Sensa stuff for me to try for free. I am getting no other compensation for this review.*

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